After nearly 12 years in public relations, I still miss my days in the television newsroom during election season, especially on election night. The excitement, the blaring noises of 10 competing televisions, the late night pizza, and my favorite part – being able to declare a state red or blue. While it was a highlight, it was also very nerve-racking (the feeling you get when you are about to hit send on an email to the entire campus). While, midterm elections aren’t the big show, they still give me a rush, and what happens this November will determine many issues for the 2020 election.
While I do miss the newsroom during this time, being on the other side of the screen has numerous benefits. Instead of sitting and watching a 30-minute interview for a 15-second sound bite, I actually get to sit and listen to professors and other experts share their views on specific candidates and issues, which in turn, helps me to pitch their expertise in different areas to different outlets. I also get to help shape the story from the other side. While a reporter has an idea in his or her head, it’s a wonderful feeling after they’ve talked to your source, if they take it in a different direction.
It’s not too early to start getting your midterm election experts ready. Reach out to your political science regulars now to see what they are willing to discuss and if they have different takes on certain issues. Try and get their voice out there now, whether through expert commentary or an op-ed, then come election season their names will already be on political reporters and editors’ radars.
Don’t limit yourself to political science. Look to your religion department, can they weigh in on the evangelical vote or what types of voters candidates from both parties should be going after this election cycle? Or perhaps an English professor can decipher campaign rhetoric? Tap in to your economics department. How will this election impact big and local business? Don’t count out psychology faculty. Many have studied different parts of the election process.
Is your college in a state with a swing district? This is a chance for your expert on local politics to talk nationally since many will be watching these races.
So, what are you waiting for? Start sending your emails, making your phone calls, and scheduling coffee or lunch with your professors. Even if your side doesn’t win the House, your faculty can win over the media.