Insider Tip:
Most publications will cover events within a 100-mile radius so you can seek publicity in several publications. Don't forget city/county magazines or small county weekly newspapers.
Getting supportive editorials
   Readers of newspaper editorial pages are often decision-makers and opinion leaders so this is a great way to reach and influence a powerful audience. Most newspapers take editorial positions on important local, state and national issues, although small newspapers frequently focus on local issues or how larger issues affect the local community. It can be a great boon to your organization or cause to have a positive editorial position taken by your local newspaper. Getting such coverage and endorsements is not as impossible as people think. Here are some helpful suggestions:
   Schedule a meeting with the editorial board. Editorial boards typically consist of the publisher, editor-in-chief, managing editor, editorial page editor and editorial writers. Editorial boards provide you the chance to meet the paper's staff and more importantly, to discuss your organization and its key issues.
   Be prepared. Editorial board members are busy people so it is important to be organized and to the point in your presentation. Prepare no more than three to five points that outline why the paper should support your issue and provide background information and data, if available. (Newspaper staff love data and statistics.) Prepare a brief handout (one to two pages) that also gives the name and telephone number of your spokesperson for follow-up questions. You will be much more effective if you have read the paper's editorials and are familiar with its previous positions, particularly on children's issues. Refer to those that will help your case.
   Maximize the use of supportive editorials. Frame them and hang them on your wall (if restaurants can do it, so can child advocates.) Make copies and send them to your elected officials. Editorial endorsements of candidates often determine the outcome of an election so elected officials are keenly interested in what their newspaper's editorial board thinks. It is also helpful to send copies of editorials to state or national advocacy organizations for use in their efforts. If an editorial board is not interested in taking a position on your issue, thank the group for its time and ask if they will print a guest editorial for you instead.


Making your editorial board meeting a success

Red Bullet Be prepared. Your ability to clearly state the background and significance of your issue or program is critical. If you don't know the details and background on the issue, bring a staff person who does.
Red Bullet Be enthusiastic. Personal demeanor and non-verbal clues can reveal much about an advocate's commitment and sincerity. If you are excited about a program or passionate about an issue, they should see that in your body language and tone of voice.
Red Bullet Be honest. If you are unsure of the answer to a question, say so, but offer to provide the needed information immediately after the meeting. If there are problems or unresolved issues with a program, admit it. Don't dodge the issue. They will forgive you for almost anything but dishonesty.
Red Bullet Focus on your goal. Editorial writers are paid to be skeptical and to see behind public relations gimmicks. Sometimes they are friendly. Sometimes they are not. Your goal is to get a favorable editorial written about your issue or to diffuse a potentially negative perspective they may have already had. If the meeting becomes a battle of wits and the board seems stacked against your issue, do not get angry or accusatory. Stay focused on your agenda.
Red Bullet Stick to the issue. Don't get sidetracked with unrelated issues. Most editorials deal with one issue. Provide plenty of background but don't get too far off the subject.
Red Bullet Ask for their support. Like any good sales presentation, it's important to close the deal. Summarize what you've told them and ask for their support.
Red Bullet Say thanks! After the meeting, promptly send a thank you note to the board members - even if they never write about your issue. It's simply good public relations.

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