PRESS RELEASES Don’t be put off by the words ‘press release.’ You don’t have to be a journalist to write a press release. Think of a press release as a way to educate a reader or help a journalist write an article about your event or issue. If written well, it might pique the interest of a newspaper or a news station to cover your event or story in more detail. Here are some tips on writing a great press release: • Create an eye-catching, accurate headline For example: Good headline: Advocacy groups join forces to make a direct impact on saving the lives of patients. Bad headline: Local group strives for change. • Tell your story (briefly) and establish your connection to the issue • Use quotes from someone impacted personally by the issue • With their permission, quote an elected official, if they were involved • Provide your contact information • Tell the reader where they can go to learn more OPINION LETTERS An op-ed is an opinion piece usually written for a newspaper that is balanced with factual information. Write clearly and concisely, but assume the reader knows nothing about your issue. Your op-ed should focus on one point and have one objective, and help readers understand why this issue should be important to them. Every newspaper will have guidelines on how to submit an op-ed; know these guidelines and follow them. Here are some tips on writing a great op-ed: • Create an eye-catching, accurate headline For example: Good headline: 55 Years of Advocacy Told in 55 sentences. Bad headline: How advocacy can make a difference.
• Tell your story (briefly) and establish your connection to the issue • Get to the point quickly
• Develop 2-3 main talking points • Close with a powerful conclusion LIVE TESTIMONY
Live testimony at a public hearing can provide information to elected officials about how a law (or change in a law) might affect you and others. All committees often hold public hearings, and this an area where advocates can have their voices heard. By visiting the website for your local or state government, you can find the list of upcoming public hearings addressing key policy areas. Here are some tips on preparing for a live testimony and check out the resources and support tools at the end of this chapter: • State your name and any associations or organizations you are affiliated with • Incorporate your story into the message • State why this issue is important to you and others • Support your story with facts about the issue • Be specific about what you are asking them to do • Thank them for the opportunity to speak POSTCARD CAMPAIGNS Postcards aren’t just for telling your friends and family about the terrific time you are having on your vacation. Postcards can speak volumes to elected officials about issues important to their constituents. If there is an important issue to your organization, a postcard campaign can be a very effective and efficient way of allowing your advocates to express their opinions. Create a postcard with an eye-catching headline or picture that addresses your issue on the front, and allows your advocates to add their personalization of it on the back. Consider enabling your advocates to download the postcard from your website where you can provide instructions on completing and sending their postcard. Here are a few tips on creating a great postcard campaign:
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