Campaigning tips for candidates in the SU elections

The Student Media team are here with some tips for campaigning online! Find out how to film good video, edit audio and promote yourself on social media for the NUSU elections

multiple writers
16th February 2021
Image: Chinnarach

Filming videos on a shoestring

  • Use props! You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve got around you that can be repurposed into the ultimate video prop/
  • Come up with a theme, or a visual message (such as using cutouts of a newspaper for editor candidates, or centring it around a specific film or musical). In the past candidates have used Mean Girls, Matilda, La La Land and even Yorkshire Keep it short and sweet - there will be plenty of videos coming out and very few will watch yours all the way through. Grab attention quickly and early.
  • Don’t overlook humour - it will make you memorable and appear friendly!
  • Be creative! This is your chance to create a lasting impression and have voters remember you.

Getting good audio from home: tips from NSR

  • Try and record in a quiet room to minimise background noise, echo and reverb (if you are relaying audio over the top of a video, try recording the audio under your duvet or surrounded by soft furnishing to compress the sound).
  • Your phone is a great little microphone you can use, and it is super easy to export the audio for editing, but ask around your friends to see if anyone has a microphone you can borrow as it really does improve the quality (and let’s face it, everyone has a podcast these days)!!
  • Audacity is a great, free sound editing software and is very easy to use - there are plenty of simple tutorials out on the internet to help you aswell, but GarageBand is also good if you’re on Mac.
  • Try not to read off a script as it sounds very unnatural, but practice rehearsing a couple of key points so you stay focused and don’t have to spend ages editing (will also miminise um’s and will sound more down to Earth).
  • If you don’t know what you’re saying, or you fumble, just stop, leave a few seconds of silence, and start again. This will make it easier to go back and cut out the mistakes.
  • Practice recording a couple of short clips to test the levels of your microphone so you know how far away from the mic you need to be for the sounds to be loud but still clear.
  • Don’t overthink it! The more you think about the script and the way you say it, the worse it sounds! Just be confident, be chatty and sound like your natural self. Have a few takes and there will always be one that is just about perfect.

Audio editing tips: tips from NUTV

  • Fades are your friends, if audio is clipping when editing, fades help massively in stopping the audio from spiking and usually it just involves pulling down from the top left on software like Reaper. 
  • Compression is an easy addition to any audio that helps reduce some of the peaks to keep the audio fairly level and can be found usually in FX sections. 
  • Reverb helps if you are using a close up microphone to make it sound less abrasive and close but don't add too much. You're not Cher from the 90s (sorry Cher we love you). Again, this can usually be found in the FX section.

Affordable audio and video editing apps:

Audio
  • Reaper is the best free audio software we know and it is pretty intuitive
  • Audacity is free and the easiest to use but lacks a few key features
Video
  • Davinci resolve is a great free application, a bit tough to run on weaker computers but great if you can run it with a lot of great features.
Images
  • Photopea is a free online website that basically works as Photoshop which is really nice

Promoting yourself on Social Media

Using Canva
  • Canva is a free online design platform, used to create graphics for any kind of visual content. It provides templates for logos and posters, as well as specific templates tailored to Facebook and Instagram posts.
  • When using a desktop browser, Canva is easy and simple to use, with user-friendly tabs along the left hand and top left toolbars.
  • If you’re stuck for ideas, within the different templates, Canva provides many basic designs to get you started!
  • When you start a design, by clicking ‘Create a Design’ on the top right hand corner, you can insert your own photos etc from your PC (or other device).
  • Features you can add to your design also include text, audio and video, as well as icons and elements provided by Canva. Canva provides a wide range of background styles, fonts and colours to choose from, and allows you to make your own shade of colour through the colour palettes. 
Scheduling posts
  • When scheduling posts, it is important to understand your target audience, as to post when you know they will be most active.
  • As candidates for positions with NUSU, your main target audience are students of the University, and as a student yourself, you will know when we are all active.
  • While most students, or the ones I know anyway, tend to dip in and out of social media all day, think about when they will be most engaged with your posts, rather than just scrolling without really paying any attention.
  • According to Instagram's analytics, people are most active on a Wednesday evening, but for students this would be any evening really.
  • You want to remember to schedule regular posts to keep your audience as engaged as possible. Posting once per day will show your audience that you are dedicated to the cause, and are engaging with them; in return, hopefully they will engage with you. 
Building up followers
  • The best place to start is with you friends. We all know how quickly word can spread, so you want to ask your friends to follow your pages and spread the word of your campaign.
  • Sharing posts from any of your social media accounts will also help to build followers for you and your campaign.
  • Making your main manifesto bullet points available clearly on your page, such as the cover photo on Facebook, or using the Instagram grid to create a larger image using the squares. People are more likely going to engage with your content and follow you if they are able to clearly see your points without having to book very far.
  • Hashtags are also a great way to have you accounts/pages liked and followed. Using a Hashtag that is closely linked with your campaign will allow the right people to find your account. #NUSUElections2021 is probably a good place to start!
  • While building up followers on your pages is important, you can build up support and followers for you and your campaign through becoming endorsed by a society.
  • Don’t forget about First Years! Use University Freshers pages to share your campaign pages and manifesto points. Either before or after the debates, students may have questions to ask you based upon your campaign points. It is great to talk to students about what they want to see. A great way to do this would be to hold a Live Q+A session (which can be done on both Facebook and Instagram), for students to ask you questions. This also allows you to create a rapport and relationship with students and society members.
  • Similarly, utilising student Facebook groups, for example NewFess and Castle Leazes Ticket Exchange, to broadcast your campaign and manifesto points will allow you to expose yourself to a wider audience that you would not have access to otherwise. Doing this will allow you to become recognised, and becoming a friendly face will put you in good stead to gain followers. 
Making the most of the platform
  • It is important to remember that the Instagram and Facebook algorithm works in a strange way. These algorithms mean that the posts that people interact with the most, appear at the top of their page, so it is no use just having followers and likes on your pages, you need people to interact with your posts by linking, commenting, saving and sharing.
  • Think about the audience of your pages too! Instagram tends to be used more for visuals, rather than longer paragraphs/captioned posts. These visuals are best suited in the form of an image.
  • However, Facebook works better with longer captions and videos. Don’t forget the ‘Story’ feature! For Instagram, this feature allows you to directly engage with your followers; keeping them up to date with your campaign progress and reminding them of your key manifesto points. 
Making your campaign cohesive
  • Now who doesn’t love a colour coordinated Instagram feed? Making your posts flow together nicely will allow your feed to be easy on the eye. Followers are more likely to engage in something they think looks pretty!
  • Using digital design tools, such as Canva, you can create logos and posters that follow the same design. Stick to something that stands out, but don't make the post too cramped or cluttered.
  • Make sure you’re getting your main campaign points into your posts. Repeat these in different posts, to ensure that people remember your take-home messages.
  • Using the same font and colours will ensure that your followers know the posts are yours when they see them; making them more likely to ensure with them!

Looking after yourself

Image: @byhollystartup on Instagram
  • Campaigning can be tough. It’s intense, time-consuming work, and you may find the constant self-promotion draining and against your nature. 
  • Remember to take care of yourself first over the next few weeks. In the wise words of our current Welfare and Equality Officer, Nadia, “you can’t give from an empty cup”!
  • Assign time in your day to spend on your campaign, and factor in enough time for your degree, extra curricular activities and socialising and rest on top of this! Giving the campaign your all does not mean taking no breaks. 
  • We are constantly told that comparison to others is detrimental to our mental health, but avoiding this can be difficult in an election. Try to detach your self-worth from the job you are applying for. If a friend is supporting someone else, for example, this is not a reflection of you as a person! It’s just whether your campaign goals line up best with them.
  • Failure is redirection, and if you had the balls to put yourself out there in the NUSU elections, you’ll go far. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by pinning all your hopes on this job.
  • And hey, maybe even try to enjoy the campaigning process- it’s a unique opportunity to get creative and build up skills for the future. Now get out (um, we mean stay in) and smash it!

The Student Media Team

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