Asking Your Newspaper to Write on Your Issue

Write to Request An Editorial Board Meeting. Always write to the Editorial Page Editor and ask for a meeting with the editorial staff (larger newspapers will have a specific person assigned to environmental or health issues, while smaller ones will have one person in charge of the editorial page. Call the editorial page phone number of your newspaper to find out whom you should send your request to about setting up an editorial board meeting). You should include a short cover letter detailing the importance of the issue and how the legislation will affect the readers of the editor’s newspaper. Include supporting information in your packet, but limit the number of articles to three or four, as editors are busy and will not read more than a few pages.

Call to Confirm the Meeting. Follow up your letter with a telephone call to make sure the editor has received your request. You will want to call early in the week because editors become busy towards the end of the week when they are preparing for larger weekend editions. Leave as many voice-mail messages as it takes to get set up the meeting. Be persistent, but courteous. Newspaper editors are very busy people, so it may take some time to get an answer. Make sure you have crafted a succinct explanation of the issue that you can use in your voice-mail messages. If you know reporters with the newspaper, ask them to help guide your request through the often-bureaucratic channels within newspaper companies.

Make a Professional Presentation. Thoroughly prepare yourself and other colleagues for the meeting. You will want to limit the number of participants to no more than five local leaders, including yourself. Bring a diverse group of local leaders that may include landowners, business experts, historians, recreation specialists, elected and non-elected officials, smart growth proponents, wildlife advocates, youth sports leaders, health professionals and other important members of the community that are involved in the issue. The participants should be well versed about the campaign and the legislation. It is important to note that newspapers look at themselves as local entities and are therefore more apt to support issues that have positive effects on the municipalities where their newspapers are sold. Make sure you come to the meeting prepared to answer questions about how this issue or program(s) have benefited the local community. Also, be aware of both the current federal and state park and recreation needs for the area.

Follow up. Make sure you get a commitment from the newspaper to either run an editorial about the campaign or cover the issue in an article or series of articles. Provide them with the necessary materials to write the editorial. Keep in touch with reporters and other staff of the newspaper to get further stories covered in the publication. Always write a handwritten note to the editorial page editor to thank them for the editorial.