of most powerful ways to influence decision-makers and to gain the publicís
support on an issue is to win the editorial support of your local newspaper.
Editorial Board meetings provide you with an opportunity to do just that.
During these meetings, youíll have a chance to persuade your newspaper opinion
editor and other key contacts at the newspaperósuch as columnists and reporters
on your beatóabout the importance of your issue, as well as why the newspaperís
readers would be interested in the story.
With a 10-15 minute overview of your case, you
can present the essential information for an editorial, which is the official
opinion voice of the newspaper. Your meeting also may help make the case for
coverage in the news section. With preparation, good data, and an effective
presentation, the result will be that the paper will endorse your position.
Arranging an Editorial Board Meeting
To arrange an editorial board meeting you contact the newspaperís editorial department
via email with a pitch letter about why your issue matters
Follow up with a call and ask for the individual in
charge of scheduling editorial board meetings. Briefly explain the issue again,
your stance on the issue, and who will attend the requested meeting.
Keep the size of the group
you bring to the meeting to a minimum but offer individuals who present different
points of view for your meeting.
Preparing for the meeting
Prior to the meeting, find out how much time the editorial board has
scheduled for your meeting. This will help you focus your presentation to get
across your main points especially if you have more than one speaker. Determine
also with the newspaper whether there are logistical things to be aware of,
such as whether you need to send materials upfront, follow certain parking or building
entry rules, etc.
Find out who
will be attending the meeting. Editorial board members and reporters may be
Your group should plan a 10-15 minute overview of the issue, providing background
information and building a case as to why the newspaper should take a certain
position on the issue.
Create a packet of background
on your issue to have on hand for each attendee.
Be sure you already know what the paperhas written previously on your issue, and
have taken a stance.
Practice responding to potential questions, and do not be
surprised if the board plays devilís advocate. They need to test the validity
of your argument.
If at all possible, ask a prominent member of your community to accompany you. Think
about board members, donors, and local experts who might be willing to show
Presenting at the meeting
Make introductions, cover your most important points,
and then be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
Donít be afraid to say, "I donít know. Can I get back to you with that information?Ē
drawn into arguments. Donít give ammo to the other side. Stick toyour position. Donít help opponents
by bringing up
their side of the story.
At the end of the
meeting, donít leave the room without
making your ask: re: what specifically you want the editorial board to
write about. The board may not support your cause, but ask anyway.
If the paper wonít be writing an editorial or is open to this in addition to an editorial, inquire about whether the paper would print an op-edfrom you on the issue.
items you will be getting back to the editorial board on, assure them you will
follow up, and thank them for their time.
Follow up with any
questions that were left pending from the meeting as soon as possible.
Send thank you letters restating your
position, along with any materials you promised to send.
If you were
left to expect an editorial and nothing appears in the paper within one or two
weeks, call the editor to see if
they plan on printing the editorial. If not, ask them why. You can also inquire
again about submitting an op-ed piece if they have decided against an editorial.