I have had quite a bit of success in getting media coverage for my advocacy and organizing work. Some of this was undoubtedly due to the prominence of the issue of immigration during the time in which I was working on it, but I think that I can take some credit for the tone and quality of the coverage, if not necessarily its quantity. But this post isn’t about getting media coverage, although I would welcome your questions and comments about that topic. Instead, I want to focus a bit on what I see as a failing of some nonprofit advocates–not adequately ‘milking’ your media coverage for all it’s worth!
Once you get what you consider to be good coverage–an article that highlights your policy concern, something that references the perspective of people experiencing the social problem, a letter to the editor that demonstrates that at least some of public opinion is on your side…then you have to figure out how to make sure that the piece has maximum impact. Below are a few suggestions for how to make your media work ripple throughout your advocacy campaign but, first, a couple of general rules:
1. Sometimes advocates make the mistake of thinking that it has to be your coverage for it to count–you have to be quoted, or you have to have done the work that generated it, and that just isn’t true. Any media coverage that reflects the position(s) you want to see ascend in the minds of policymakers is good coverage, and you can and should use it as though it was yours.
2. Similarly, don’t assume that coverage has to be ‘all good’ for it to be valuable to you; often, an article will include the opposing viewpoint(s), but you can always highlight the parts that you want people to pay attention to (see below for some examples).
3. Save everything that comes out about your organization or your specific campaign–check it to make sure that it’s accurate, use it as much as you can, and then save it as a reference.
So, then, to ‘make your media echo’:
Especially in today’s media-saturated environment, getting coverage isn’t nearly the challenge that it once was; there are so many outlets that there’s a nearly incessant demand for content, but getting anyone to pay any attention to the coverage once you get it is the bigger hurdle. What other ideas do you have for how to get the most out of your media coverage? What are your greatest success stories from your media advocacy? What lessons do you want to share with others? I’d love to see examples of your media coverage, too, and I’ll pass along any great tips.