Before an Incident

Identify a spokesperson (and a backup).
  • This person needs to be disciplined in delivering a short, concise message and able to avoid discussing topics you are not prepared to discuss.
  • Filtering all communication through one person ensures you stay on message and voters get accurate information.
  • Make sure all volunteers and staff know who this person is, how to reach them in a crisis, and that they should point all media inquiries to that person.
Build relationships with members of the media.
  • It is a good idea to have contact with reporters before the election. This will help you know who to call if you need to get a message to voters—and this helps members of the media know who to call when they need information.
Become familiar with your county’s official social media accounts.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more are crucial communication tools. Know which accounts your county manages. Larger cities or counties often employ a digital communications specialist to handle such things, and will include a list of social media accounts on their website, for example:
Keep acceptable on-camera interview attire readily available.
  • It is important to have clean, camera-ready clothing on hand in the event of an unexpected incident and a subsequent on-camera interview. Avoid prints/ stripes and shirts with logos. Solid colors are better on camera.

During an incident

Realize that you will need to communicate with voters—and with your staff and volunteers.
  • The media can be an excellent resource to help voters understand what happened and how you are working to address the situation.
  • Jot down a few key points and keep returning to them. Repeat them in interviews and on social media.
  • Internal communication is just as important as external communication. Make sure employees and volunteers are on the same page and are not using social media to give sensitive updates in times of crisis.
  • Your election team must be on the same page and speak with “one voice” when it comes to communications, whether it’s via print/TV media,
  • social media, emails, etc. All communications should be vetted by the appointed spokesperson as well.
  • Check in on the social media chatter.
  • Rumors can spread quickly on social media.
Get official information out on your social media channels as soon as possible, and keep updating it as the facts change.
  • If possible, assign someone to watch for questions and answer them quickly and with empathy. Incorrect information should be corrected quickly and with compassion as well.
  • Provide accurate information.
  • This is challenging during a developing crisis incident because you won’t have all the answers. It is OK to say, “I am working on this and I will get back to you.” A failure to promptly get involved in a larger communications strategy can allow a situation to spin out of control.
  • When called out of the blue, ask to reschedule the interview, even if it’s just 15 minutes later, and then jot down or review your key points.
  • Keep it simple! Voters are not election experts. Craft a message that is easy to understand—less is more. Refer to your key points from above.

Other Tips

Be timely: Get back to reporters quickly.
  • You may be misquoted, so encourage the reporter to contact you with questions or to check facts. Provide useful contact information, such as your cell phone number.
  • You can spend a lot of time with a reporter but not be quoted.
  • Don’t say anything that you would not want to see in print. Reporters can garble “off the record” commitments or choose not to honor them—and they aren’t retroactive, as in, “I don’t really know what’s going on, but don’t quote me on that.”

Have questions or need help?

The Office of the Indiana Secretary of State is here for you. Contact Valerie Warycha, director of communications and media contact at or 317-233-8655

This information is a collaborative effort of the State of Indiana Secretary of State and Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research.

Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research

Innovation Center
2719 E. 10th Street, Suite 231
Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: 812.856.0458
Fax: 812.856.7400