Media Advocacy Terms and Explanations

    Community groups can generate news interest by creating events for the media. The goal is to achieve coverage — not for simple publicity purposes, BUT for spreading your advocacy message. Media events need to be:
    • brief
    • simple
    • new information and/or action focused
    • strategically timed
    • For television they must also be visual
    • For radio they must have good sound
    This is a self-written information piece about your message or event that is sent to the news media. To grab the attention of news editors and assignment desks your advisory needs to:
    • be clearly, concisely and cleanly written
    • contain all the vital information of "WHO, WHAT, WHERE,
    • WHEN, WHY and HOW."
    • have an interesting headline and attention grabbing beginning
    • have a contact name and telephone number for more information or interview arranging
    This is a self-written information piece about your message, news story or event with more depth and detail than an advisory. News releases are especially helpful to smaller newspapers and radio stations that can't write or get out to every story. Parts of a good news release often will be printed or used in a news short just as submitted. It tells a story and comes to life with:
    • facts and figures
    • names and quotes
    • calls to action
    These can be very effective for advancing your advocacy goals, BUT require careful planning and preparation. Do your homework — be prepared with main talking points, data, arguments and counter-arguments.
    Tips: Before accepting an interview invitation, know all you can about the station or paper. Be clear about their "ground rules," the host and any politics. Is the host or interviewer truly interested in serious discussion OR just going to provoke conflict and confrontation? If you are not sure, remember not all exposure is good exposure.
    These go into one of the most widely read sections of newspapers. Letters from readers create a public forum. They are heavily read and help to define community sentiment on current issues. These letters need to be brief and well focused on a single point. Many newspapers publish guidelines for writing and submitting letters in their letters section. (samples of letters to the editor can be found on the
    Media Advocacy Background Information page).
    These are columns usually opposite a newspaper's editorial page. While usually written by established journalists, many papers will publish guest columns or opinion pieces by issue experts in the community. It is important to know a papers' policies and requirements regarding guest Op-Eds. These columns, being longer than letters, provide the opportunity for more in depth presentation of issues and solutions. (samples of Op-Ed pieces can be found on the
    Media Advocacy Background Information page).
    These may be useful as part of a larger media advocacy design. However, production costs, lack of control over if and when they are broadcast, and political sensitivities regarding message content suggest PSAs are not that practical or effective an element in media advocacy activity.
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