If you think that surviving your state’s primary or caucus now means you can chill, I would urge you to think again. While covering the political machinations leading up to the party conventions or Nov. 3 might not be glamorous or exciting, to your readers it’s just as important.
For many newspapers, covering the caucus or primary meant the creation of landing pages or a micro-site, blog(s) and possibly experimenting with sites/services such as Twitter or Facebook. Days of planning, reporting and writing went into your coverage, not to mention the involvement of staff from probably throughout your organization. So why let all that work go stale with only the occasional local or AP story to perk it up? And why allow all that new traffic that you garnered to just wander away?
Here are some ideas to keep your political engine chugging and your readers coming back for more:
- Identify and profile local convention delegates and super delegates. While your states selection process may not have begun yet, you can speak with people who have previously attended and identify those who are planning to apply. You can also provide an primer on the application process as it does differ from state to state.
- If you haven’t already, identify local political bloggers and create your own blog network. Consider aggregating all their feeds on your site, you can even divide it by party affiliation.
- Join the Publish2 Election News Network. As Scott Karp (Publish 2 founder) explains it, this would allow you to “post links to coverage in states that still have primaries upcoming and of course national coverage. This could be a great editorial supplement in states where there’s not much to report locally with the primary past.” And I couldn’t agree more.
- Keep an eye on the money. With candidates still vying for the Democratic and Republican party nominations, fund raising will continue in earnest. Use these sources to track who is donating in your coverage area:
- Look at how the campaigns are spending money locally? Are they still running any ads, still planting political signs? What are they doing to keep supporters engaged?
- Invite local campaign coordinators to blog about their efforts. (Think you have a problem staying motivated!)
- Have any locals running as Third party candidates?
- Check out this widget set from MSNBC. Might be an easy way to dress-up your page and keep the data current.
- Offer a Google Maps mashup showing where the candidates are on a given day. Here’s one effort via Slate.
So those are a few from me, what are your thoughts? What stories and/or features are you thinking of doing? I think this is one of those areas where their is no reason to reinvent the wheel, so share your thoughts and ideas, by helping someone else you might just help yourself.