VOTES COUNT IN THE 414
Media Relations and Influencer Outreach
In October 2020, Athena Communications was engaged by Creative Marketing Resources (CMR) as a on a project for the City of Milwaukee Election Commission (MEC) to create and implement a comprehensive voter education campaign for the November 2, 2020 Presidential Election. The goal of the campaign was to improve voter confidence in the election process and to increase voter knowledge of how to successfully vote in the election. Campaign components included a paid media campaign of both social and traditional media; website design and development; community outreach; and media relations. Athena Communications led the media relations component of the project.
Within just one month, Athena planned, launched, and executed a successful earned media campaign to educate eligible Milwaukee voters on the multiple ways to safely and effectively cast their ballot, all during a public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Athena Communications created a comprehensive PR plan for this project, which included traditional media outreach and influencer activation tactics.
We provided a multitude of services, including drafting talking points for Mayor Tom Barrett and MEC Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg in preparation for an Oct. 27 news conference which focused on the Presidential Election, drafting an opinion piece by Ms. Woodall-Vog, and placed a Public Service Announcement with Azteca 38.
In addition, we planned and implemented several other strategies on behalf of the MEC.
To officially kick off the Votes Count in the 414 campaign, we planned a very unique press event. We combined a traditional news conference with Mayor Barrett and Executive Director Woodall-Vogg giving prepared remarks and questions from a podium with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Milwaukee Election Commission warehouse, walking members of the media through every step of the upcoming Presidential Election.
The press conference took place on Oct. 7, 2020 at the MEC warehouse. Athena Communications was responsible for planning, facilitating, and staffing the event. This included:
Creating a comprehensive media list
Drafting and distributing a media advisory and making follow-up calls to media
Tracking media RSVPs
Conducting a walk-through of the warehouse
Drafting the run-of-show
Drafting talking points for Mayor Barrett and Ms. Woodall-Vogg
Drafting a press release
Drafting two fact sheets to provide information on the multiple ways to vote and the lifecycle of an absentee ballot
Compiling press kits
Providing onsite support
Following up with those media outlets that did not attend the event;
Compiling a media coverage recap.
Coverage of the event was secured with Shepherd Express, CBS-58, Courthouse News, Spectrum, TMJ-4, FOX-6, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WISN, Urban Milwaukee, KITV, Telemundo, and Newsbreak.
Many of the targeted audiences the MEC campaign was targeting were not recipients of traditional media information. As such, Athena prepared an influencer outreach strategy to specifically target those potential voters.
We prepared a list of Milwaukee community influencers representing a broad spectrum of Milwaukeeans. We contacted these influencers directly via email and encouraged them to share digital collateral materials developed by CMR with their distribution lists and to post campaign material on their social media platforms.
We also planned an event we coined “Bus on the Block.” The idea was to target specific communities by taking a Votes Count in the 414 branded bus and distribute informational and promotional materials to make potential voters aware of how to vote. Ultimately, the event was scrapped due to public health concerns related to COVID-19.
ELECTION DAY SUPPORT:
Recognizing Ms. Woodall-Vogg’s demanding schedule on Election Day, we proposed managing media inquiries by providing three news conferences throughout Election Day to convey the MEC’s messaging and still keep the media as informed as possible. We planned, facilitated, and helped staff the Election Day news conferences. This included:
Drafting and distributing a media advisory and making follow-up calls to media;
Tracking media RSVPs;
Conducting a walk-through of Central Count;
Drafting the run-of-show;
Drafting talking points for Mayor Barrett and Ms. Woodall-Vogg;
Drafting a press release;
Providing onsite support; and Compiling a media coverage recap.
Journalists from the following local, state, and national media outlets were in attendance: CBS-58 / Telemundo, WTMJ-4, WISN, FOX-6, Spectrum 1 News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Independent, Urban Milwaukee, UWM Post, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Watch, Wisconsin Law Journal, Wis Politics, CBS National, CNBC, Fox National, Fox Business, NBC National, WGN National, CNN, Associated Press, Bloomberg, New York Post, New York Times, Washington Post, American Public Media, National Geographic, NPR, and Newsbreak.
This project demonstrated Athena’s ability to serve as a trusted and effective partner, to work quickly and effectively, to provide innovative and unique solutions, to clearly articulate complicated messages, to engage local influencers, and to successfully achieve significant earned-media coverage.