“UNPAC’s Helpful Election Primers”
→ Back to Main Listing of UNPAC’s helpful primers on Women & the Election
ENGAGING THE MEDIA:
An election is coming! The media are eager to cover the issues that are important in the community. It’s up to us to let them know what issues matter to us. How can you do that?
- Talk with the media
If you’re at a public event and see media, consider going up to them and sharing your views. They’re always looking for people to talk with! If you get a chance to be on radio or television, take it! Practice makes perfect; every person who looks good on TV started with a first interview in which they probably felt awkward and nervous. Remember that it’s much easier to talk clearly about an issue when you feel passionately. Use personal examples and statistics to make your words believable. Take time beforehand to practice with a friend or colleague. It helps a lot! You can also come up with a few “sound-bytes” that summarize your issue in short phrases.
- Hold a media event
Work with your neighbourhood group, community organization or other group and organize a media event to raise the election issues that are important to you. You could organize: a forum on affordable housing, a debate on childcare issues, a public demonstration on neighbourhood safety or an all-candidates forum in your community. Invite candidates as well as the media. Candidates will come to your event to show their support for the issues and the community.
A Public Service Announcement — that answers the questions who/what/when/where/why — will let the general public and media know about the event. You should send it out at least 2-3 weeks in advance if you want it to appear in community bulletins. You can also send a media advisory (who/what/when/where) out on the day of your event and a news release within several hours of your event highlighting the issues raised (this is a more fleshed-out but still usually one-page document that can be helpful to media who did not attend).
- Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed
Getting your opinions in print is a straightforward way to get the issues that matter to you into the media. When writing a letter to the editor, be clear and concise. Use statistics and personal stories to bring your letter to life. It’s good to respond (within a few days) to issues that come up in the news. However, if you find your priorities are not being mentioned in the media, this is also a good place to raise them. 250 words is a good length. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number or your letter won’t be printed (they need this to confirm that you’re a real person).
If you have more energy consider writing an opinion editorial (op ed). Call the editor of your local paper and ask if they’d be interested in your op-ed piece. Remind them why the issue you’re writing about is timely and important. An easy structure to follow is: a beginning which identifies the problem in one or two paragraphs, the middle where you explain the reasons (including facts and data) for thinking the way you do and proposing the solution you recommend, and the ending one or two paragraphs that tie the points you made in the middle to the problem you identified at the beginning. 750 words is a good length.