Tools. Updates. Action.

Talking With a Reporter

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This tip sheet is for anyone who is getting ready to talk with a reporter.

Talking with a reporter is your chance to help the public see why they should support us — to help them see that we are not just fighting for ourselves but fighting for them.

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Writing Sound Bites

This tip sheet gives advice on preparing effective sound bites.

 

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Preparing a Media Spokesperson

This tip sheet is for someone who has to prepare another person to speak to the media, especially if the spokesperson is not used to speaking to reporters.

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Organizing Media Events

This tip sheet is about how to prepare for running an effective media event.

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Writing Guest Opinions

This tip sheet provides advice for preparing a guest opinion to submit to a newspaper or blog. Read More

News Release Principles

KEY PRINCIPLES

  1. Be brief. Reporters and editors are busy and work on tight deadlines. They are not likely to plow through long documents. Keep it to one page if possible. You can add a separate page of background if needed.
  2. Tell why this makes a good story for the media. Most reporters and editors are less interested in whether your cause is just than in whether a story will appeal to their audience. They are looking for controversy or unexpected or new developments or information, and in many cases compelling visuals.
  3. Frame the story to show the public interest connection. The first impression reporters and editors get may influence how they report the story. If our goals are good for the public interest – and not just the special interests of our organization or its members — we need to reflect that from the first news release in the headline, lead sentences, facts provided, and the choice of who is quoted and what they say.
  4. Make clear that people, not just institutions, are taking action. “Thousands of ____ in our community” are doing something, not XYZ organization.
  5. Be credible. Use a factual, and not sarcastic or angry, tone. Give facts that back up key assertions.

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Writing Letters to the Editor

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  • Keep it short – Keeping your letter to about five reasonably short sentences will increase the chances of having it published, reduce the chance that it will be edited for length in a way you don’t like, and make it more likely to be read if it is published. In any case, it has to be within the paper’s word limit.
  • Connect it with news – Your letter is more likely to get printed if it responds to an article that has recently appeared in the paper or an issue that is in the news.
  • Make it timely –The sooner you submit your letter after the original article is published, the better chance you have of getting it printed.

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Tips for TV Interviews

Eye Contact

  • Look the reporter in the eye when you’re being interviewed in person
  • Look the camera in the eye when you’re talking from a remote location to a studio anchorperson
  • Look alert and interested
  • Have a slight smile on your face — it makes you seem warmer to a TV audience

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Common Punctuation Questions

This tip sheet covers some of the most common punctuation questions that come up in advocacy writing. For a complete review of punctuation principles, consult reference books or online guides.
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