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An Advocacy Guide

An Advocacy Guide

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An Advocacy Guide

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  1. Communicating with the Media An Advocacy Guide Women Thrive Worldwide Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  2. How to use this guide • This guide provides an overview of how to work with the media in order to meet your advocacy objectives. • This guide draws on content from: • UNA-USA Advocacy Resources • CARE Advocacy Tools and Guidelines • Modules 4-5 in ‘An Introduction to Advocacy’ Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  3. Communicating with the Media • Who or what is the media? • Newspapers • Magazines • Radio • Blogs • TV • Social media • Why use the media? • Use the media to deliver your advocacy message to the public and reach multiple audiences, in order to attract public interest and supporters, and increase your profile and credibility with policy-makers. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  4. Before You Communicate Choose the best method and outlet, based on your message, intended audience, access, and policy objectives. Consider which outlets are available to you, how they are controlled (government-run or independent), and which are the most influential. Ask why the media should be interested in you: are you publicizing a position or opinion, or is there also an aspect of your story that is news? Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  5. What is Your Message? Craft a compelling central message that is targeted toward a specific audience. Try to imagine what the average person, who doesn’t know about your issues, would think about what you are trying to convey. Always keep the message simple and easy to understand. Make it short enough to fit into a fifteen-second "sound-bite”. Decide exactly what information you want to get out to the general public. Too much information may obscure your message. Simplify your language. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  6. Building Relationships Relationship building is so important - you can't expect to send out a press release and have it picked up without some solid contacts already. Remember, journalists are always looking for great stories, but they are bombarded with people trying to get their attention. Make it personal for them. Begin by reaching out to a few key journalists and asking if you can have coffee so you can not only let them know why your work matters, but get a sense for their interests and the stories they want to tell. This will help you tailor your pitches, which should always be individualized. Be consisitent in maintaining relationships. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  7. Making Media Connections Determine if an outlet is fair, reliable, and well-known, and if it usually covers stories like yours. Choose outlets that are likely to be seen by your intended audiences. In addition to major outlets, consider smaller community papers, local talk radio, city magazines, area cable stations, and alternative press. There are also services to subscribe to that help build media lists. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  8. Media Communication • Outreach to the media often occurs prior to an event you hold, in order to garner attention. • However, you can use the media at any time to raise awareness of your issues. • Forms of communication with the media: • Media Alerts • Press Releases • Edit-Memos • Op-Eds • Letters to the Editor • Social Media shares • Press Conferences • Interviews (TV, Radio, Print, Online) Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  9. Media Alerts Media alerts (or advisories) alert the media to an upcoming event. Send an alert several days before an event, and call to follow up with reporters. Tell who, what, when, where, and why in the alert. Include a short description of the event and a contact person. Avoid giving too much detail. Prepare a more extensive press release to distribute at the event. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  10. Press Releases A press release is a written statement that alerts the press to an announcement or event that you are making, or to an important issue. A press release should be one page. You are not writing an article, just trying to interest someone in your story. A press release is issued at the time of the event or immediately afterward. It can also be a statement about an issue. Send the release to a specific person. Check the mastheads of your local papers or call and ask someone in the news department who would be most interested. See if any of your members have media contacts. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  11. Press Releases • A release should include all the information a reporter needs to write an article, and contact information for follow-up questions. • Press release model: • Top of the page: contact information • First paragraph: Timliness/most newsworthy aspect of your announcement • Second paragraph: Descriptive information about the event (when and where) • Remaining paragraphs: Background information that suggests why the event or statement is important Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  12. Press Releases • Some tips for good press releases: • Stick to the facts. Avoid overstating the case. • Answer the basics: who, what, when, where, and why. • Make the case for why your story is newsworthy. • Keep it short. • Use graphics or photos whenever possible. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  13. Edit-Memos Edit-memos are similar to a press release, but they provide needed background information on an issue to your media contacts, either on an upcoming event or an important topic. Provide contact information in your edit-memo so press can follow-up for interviews or additional information. An edit-memo can encourage press to editorialize on a particular issue. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  14. Op-Eds An op-ed is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a writer who is unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board. Op-eds should be submitted a week prior to your event to promote it, or immediately following a news event on which you wish to comment. Educate readers with specific data as you try to persuade them. Localize the issue as much as possible; make it relevant to readers. Op-eds are typically 500-800 words, depending on the outlet in which you’re placing it. Avoid being repetitive in your argument. Make 3 or 4 points and back them with facts. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  15. Op-Eds Op-eds arent just in print newspapers - increasingly they are featured in online-only outlets, too. Timing for pitching your op-ed will really vary depending on the issue discussed, the paper, and the news cycle. Op-eds are rarely the best option for events because op-eds are thought-leadership pieces. If your organization is not best positioned to place the op-ed or author, consider co-authoring or ghost writing. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  16. Letters to the Editor A letter to the editor is a letter sent to a publication about concerns from its readers. Letters to the editor are often easier to get printed than op-eds. Respond immediately if a relevant article appears in your newspaper. This is an opportunity to express a strong opinion. Letters to the editor are often written in response to an article that you disagree with, to point out inaccuricies or faulty reasoning and supply facts. They can also be submitted when you agree with an article but feel like a point could be added for context. LTEs are extrememly short - usually between 150-300 words. It's important to be quick in getting your letter in - make sure the paper hasn't already started running letters to the article you're responding to. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  17. Social Media Shares Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to raise public awareness about your cause, and mobilize followers to act on specific issues. Provide short, interesting links, blogs/articles, images, and action items for followers to click on and share. Bold, colorful graphics are most likely to be noticed. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  18. Press Conferences Press conferences are events in which members of the media are invited to hear an important announcement. They are an important tool in getting your message out to the general public. However, they require a lot of work and should be taken seriously.  You should call a press conference for big events - to release a study by your organization, to grant the press access to an important speaker they otherwise wouldn't have. Timeliness of a press conference is the key to getting coverage. Every press conference needs a "hook" or reason why the press should attend. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  19. Interviews As soon as you issue a release or contact a media organization, be ready to conduct an interview. Prepare talking points (very short statements that summarize your main points) before an interview. Practice interviewing with your colleagues. Model potential questions and answers so you know how to respond. Interviews can be conducted for TV, radio, print and online media outlets. Determine which format is most likely to reach your audience. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  20. Pitching a Story ‘Pitch’ means to convince someone that your story is worth covering. It's not always easy to get someone to take your call, let alone listen to your pitch. Use your connections to contact a reporter, or see which journalists often cover issues like yours. The final decision about which events are covered lies with the managing editor, so try to contact that person. Be persistent, but don't bother a busy reporter with several phone calls. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  21. Pitching a Story Explain why your subject offers something new and timely. Make sure your story fits in the outlet’s guidelines. Keep your scope narrow. Present a positive perspective on your issue. If reporting is involved, be flexible about how and when the media coverage will occur. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  22. Pitching a Story • Stay focused on your message; be brief and to the point. • Emphasize why your story is important to the public and the fact that your organization reflects that public interest. • Emphasize the importance of using this story as a "local tie in" to a larger national or international story. • Don't be offended if they turn you down. Establishing a long-term relationship is most important. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  23. Tips on Speaking to the Press • If a reporter calls, take the call.  • Don't be intimidated or afraid to deal with media inquiries. If you are not sure of the answer to the reporter's questions, tell the reporter that you will call back later with a response. • Be specific. • Find out what the reporter needs. Does the reporter want a quote, or just background information? •  Don't stonewall or ignore the media. • Try to answer the reporter's questions as quickly and completely as possible. Don't become defensive with tough questions. Respect the reporter’s time and maintain a good relationship. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources

  24. Tips on Speaking to the Press • Verify the reporter's deadline. • Be sure to get back to the reporter before that time. • Nothing is ever ‘off the record’. • Keep that in mind, and your media relations will be friendly, yet professional. • Feel free to call reporters when you want to pitch a story. • But, don't bother reporters with unnecessary calls - be selective as to when a "follow-up" call is necessary, and use that opportunity to pitch your story. Reporters' time is precious, and if you respect their schedule, they will see you as a more reliable news source. Women Thrive Worldwide Advocacy Tools & Resources