We’re deep into primary elections here in the US, and with it comes lots of campaign coverage. Going live certainly presents lots of challenges, especially when dealing with higher stakes events like national elections, but there are many steps you can take to make it as smooth as possible. 

(And whether it’s doing an onsite remote or bringing in a guest political commentator, we have tools that can help make this election season a breeze. Shoot us a message if you want to chat about our different solutions – email Comrex.)

Long before the first cable is pulled out of the road kit or before the first battery is checked, a long and elaborate process of negotiations needs to take place to secure locations, credentials and necessary permissions.

Here are some of our best practices for covering elections:  

Get credentials early

For those that have never participated in a national presidential election, the process of getting credentials can take a few months. Even more harrowing is the process of getting FBI and Secret Service clearance for broadcasting from certain locations. 

Learn the rules for your broadcasting location

In large cities, electrical and telecom circuits are managed under union supervision. Knowing local labor laws and having contacts handy at all times can be the difference between getting on air…or not. Be prepared to make lots of phone calls and make sure to be patient and professional.

Know your contacts

Preparing a complete contact list of phone numbers for every person, place and thing that will have an influence on broadcast day is a must. Make sure everyone on your team has access to this information, and that it’s compiled in one place. You could even keep it attached to your credentials lanyard so you always have it! It’s that important.

Assess your primary and backup networks

Oftentimes, we don’t have the luxury of using our preferred transmission medium due to location or demand. While a site survey is not always possible, you can still assess the resources you’ll have access to. 

Know who the local broadband Internet providers are and get the best service you can afford (e.g. Comcast Business Service, Verizon FiOS, AT&T Fiber) but always have a backup.

Knowing both primary and backup transmission paths is critical for the success of your broadcast. For example, you can check Verizon coverage and AT&T coverage on their websites, and connectivity quality with tools like Open Signal.

Set yourself up for a stable connection

You may not be able to get a perfect set up, but you can have a priority list for ideal network qualities. For example:

  • When possible, you should use a wired, dedicated line for the strongest possible connection
  • Invest in the best circuit you can afford. It’s better to spend a little more than it is to have dead air!
  • Ask your service provider for a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This agreement sets expectations for what kind of service the provider will supply. An SLA ensures that the service provider has to provide a certain level of bandwidth and stability.
  • Employ network redundancy, and have a wireless backup. That way, if something goes wrong, you’ll have something to fall back on. You could set up redundancy through your codec, use a tool like CrossLock to coordinate a back-up network, or set up an application like Gagl to get your contributors on the air quickly from their phones (or laptops).
  • Research the reliability measures your codec can provide. Make sure that you’re making the most of your codec’s capabilities, and that you’ve got the best tools possible. (For example, if you’re using a Comrex codec, you should make sure you’ve got CrossLock enabled.)

Election season can be stressful, but you can get all the tools you need to make it happen. 

Let us help you through election season – contact us today!