Working with the Media
Working with the media can be a key component of any advocacy effort. There are a few ways you can utilize the media to get your message out to a broader audience.
- Press releases are factual, informational announcements about events, awards, programs, studies, accomplishments, etc. They generally come from an organization, as opposed to an individual; convey who, what, where, when, and why; and are distributed to multiple media outlets at the same time. An effective press release can easily be turned into a short article. You would use this if you were a part of an organization planning an advocacy day or letter writing campaign.
- Op-Eds are an opinion piece published in a newspaper but written by someone who is not on that newspaper's editorial staff. They are usually 500-800 words written by someone with subject matter expertise in an area of public interest.
- Letters to the Editor are brief, directed responses to a story that has been or is being covered in the newspaper and usually run on the paper’s official editorial page. They are very short (150-250 words), come from an individual (not an organization), and almost always convey a local perspective. You can use a letter-to-the editor to respond to a specific news article or column, to share your perspective/expertise, to point out or correct an error, to reinforce a point, and/or to reflect on the significance of an event.
Regardless of how you interact with the media, it is important to remember these simple guidelines:
- Think local. Start with your local papers. Major papers are inundated with submissions of all kinds and are very difficult to break into.
- Be relevant, clear, concise, and accurate. When writing for print, make sure your topic is relevant to the community. Try to tie in a local angle to help the audience connect personally with the story. Avoid meandering sentences and using acronyms. This will help you keep the audience's attention. ALWAYS make sure to check (and double check!) your facts and sources of information.
- Understand your audience’s perspective. Even when trying to convey the simplest information, you will be much more effective when you consider why people would care, what is in it for them, what role they may play in the problem/solution, and how the solution or information you are presenting meets their needs.
- Identify the preferred method of submission. E-mail has become the primary means of submitting written work to media outlets. Most outlets will not accept e-mail attachments, however, so be sure to paste your draft into the body of the e-mail.
- Submit the piece to the right person. Press releases generally go to the news or metro editor or desk. Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds would go to the editorial/opinion page editor. This information may be available on the website; if not, simply call the main number for the newspaper and ask for the person who handles the topic or type of piece you are submitting.
Media Outreach Through Newspapers
This PDF was created to help guide your work with the media.
NASP Press Releases
Use NASP's press releases to guide you in crafting your own.
School Psychology in the News
Use these examples of NASP members in the news as examples of how to talk to and interact with the media.
The goal of the Communication Matters column is to provide NASP members with diverse ideas, insights, and inspiration for creating change and making improvements across the range of comprehensive school psychological services.