Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Prepare for a Newspaper Editorial Briefing

Want to convince your newspaper to take a stand on your issue and write a favorable editorial? Schedule a newspaper editorial briefing – a meeting where you meet with the newspaper’s editorial board to educate its members about your cause, why it’s important to the community, and why they will want to support it.

Here’s how to do it:
  1. Research whether or how the newspaper has covered your topic in the past to gauge what the people you're meeting with might already know about it and whether there might be a bias.
  2. Contact the paper's editorial page editor to request a meeting.
  3. Prepare a briefing sheet to use as a meeting agenda and handout. State the problem and outline barriors to solutions. Explain why it's important to readers. Describe the impact. Conclude with your solution.
  4. Create any necessary educational materials to leave behind -- backgrounders, position papers, copies of research documents, etc.
  5. Determine who will speak. Plan on using 15 to 20 minutes to make your case, then answering questions.
Even if the board decides not to write an editorial endorsing your position or solution, an editorial briefing is still a wise investment of your time. The board representatives will be more informed about your topic and you'll have started the relationship building process with an important media gatekeeper.

For more information about how to plan and prepare for newspaper editorial briefings, see chapter 8 in my book, Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions.

Have you participated in a newspaper editorial briefing? What was the outcome?

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