Feel passionate about a cause? Want to do something about it? This is part 3 of a 4-part series about how to identity and develop an advocacy campaign.
Part Three: Reaching out to media – using the media to promote your policy
When we talk about “Media” or “The Media”, we’re talking about the main means of mass communication as a whole — the ways you can get the word out to large groups of people.
Not only is there online social media, but other old school media can be considered. Depending on who your audience is, you can figure out your methods. For examle, if you’re creating an alcohol dangers awareness campaign for your peers, perhaps you’d tweet. If you have adults in the mix, an email or Facebook campaign might be more appropriate.
Some methods of mass communciation and how to utilize them:
- Letters to the Editor. Respond to something you saw on TV or read online. Every publication welcomes your viewpoint, especially as a young person. Check the Letter to the Editor guidelines before starting your letter.
Example: VC Star guidelines
- Comment online. Most articles are online and are open to comments. Compose your remarks carefully and be sure to indicate who you are representing.
- Start a blog, either through Facebook, your website, or a blog site like Tumblr or WordPress. This is a great opportunity to become a publication yourself. Again, make sure you have enough people that are interested in participating to keep the content fresh.
- Read and comment on other blogs. There are lots of issue-driven local blogs that you can contribute to by offering to write an article, or to comment on current posts.
Television and Radio
- Local affiliates. If you have an issue or event that you feel could be on TV (for example, an upcoming rally), you can contact the local affiliate assignment desks. They will also accept press releases.
- Radio. There are dozens of radio stations in the area that will air public service announcements and information about your group; and there are quite a few shows that may be interested in interviewing someone in your group.
- A partial list of Ventura County publications include:
If you have an event you want to promote, there are many local online calendars that you can post your information to. Almost every local radio station and newspaper has a calendar to which you can submit your information.
Social networking, also known as social media, can definitely be included in this discussion.
General Guidelines – Social Media
Social networking can be as easy as verbally asking friends to “pass it on.” Spend some time to find out about the groups of people you want to reach, and how they communicate. Perhaps a paper flyer would be effective, or taking the time to make some phone calls.
It’s important to only take on what is reasonable for you or your group, and to make sure that information gets networked regularly and correctly.
- It’s all about cross-posting. Through your Facebook Page, Twitter account, website, and/or Google+ page, information can be cross-posted; that is, the same news bits can be spread through different channels.
- Keep your content fresh. No one likes a dead page; new stuff needs to be posted regularly to your social networking outlets. Only take on what you can manage — make sure several people in your chapter are admins and that you all work together to keep information up to date. Have a regular posting schedule.
- Why is it important? This is critical information you are spreading to people that need it. To be highly visible and professional is to create awareness and respect for your group. Helping to maintain a successful organization looks good for college apps and job experience.
- Follow the rules. Be sure to check with a teacher or representative of your school to make sure what you can and cannot do on school time. There may be restrictions on creating a public page for a school club, or there may be certain policies regarding what kind of information can be endorsed.
With a Facebook Page, you are able to track page views, fan demographics, and other data that will come in handy when tracking your group’s growth and reach. You may be asked to make a presentation to other groups; it will be very helpful to have this information about the people that you’ve reached out to.
- Make sure everyone in your group invites their friends and family
- Search for other pages focused on the same cause, and select “Add to My Page’s Favorites”
- Outreach: write messages on walls of similar or related organizations; invite them to “Like” your Page
Maintain your Page.
- Upload pictures of recent activities
- Post links to interesting articles or online resources of note
- Create events
- Start a discussion and invite others to join in
- Starting a GSA in your school or raising visibility of your existing group
- Participating in World AIDS Day events
- Providing a resource table at a school event
- Collaborating with other, similar groups in the area
- Raising awareness about issues such as bullying or discrimination
- Bringing attention to a related local, state or federal policy
Twitter can be a useful way to post and distribute short, real-time announcements, particularly calls to action.
Cross-post to/from Facebook.
If you post information or a resource to your Facebook page, you should alert those following you on Twitter. You can also use the Facebook Twitter App to cross-post information.
Instagram is powerful and popular. Many advocacy groups, students and other advocates promote their causes by posting images and text. Be sure to #hashtag your content (see below under Resources for more about hashtags).
Social Networking Help and Resources
- Mashable.com – The Social Media Guide
- 12 Tips for Nonprofits On Getting Started With Social Media
- Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag – Mashable