Sometimes the key to getting your message out correctly is to SLOW THINGS DOWN, and get the attention of your (still relevant) key media audience, with an old-fashioned face to face meeting, called an Editorial Board Meeting.
Yup, put down the cell phone, close the laptop and go pay them a visit.
But hold on a minute….before you go marching in the door of the local daily demanding a word with the editor, the publisher and the reporter covering the relevant beat, there are some key steps to put in place, so that you don’t walk away dragging a trail of negative tweets and a damning editorial in your wake.
I’ve organized Editorial Board Meetings for many groups, and if done properly, they seldom fail to deepen media understanding of an issue and almost always result in more balanced coverage.
If you want any more than that, consider taking out an ad. Media will only support you if they believe you and if you do a good job in making your case.
Seriously, Editorial Board Meetings still have a place – with one effective meeting you can get some, if not all, of the following:
An editorial explaining both sides of an issue, irrespective of which side you are on – this is a plus if you have been getting the short end of the stick;
An editorial fully sympathetic to your position;
More balanced news coverage where spokespeople from both sides of an issue get fair play;
More balanced debate in social media venues;
If it’s a public issue, more queries and calls to local politicians asking for clarification or expressing support for your position;
In a natural crisis, you’ll get more time and public patience as you set about to fix what’s most urgently broken, explain how it got that way, and lay out future plans to make sure it never happens again.
Here are the first four steps for a successful Editorial Board Meeting (the remaining seven to come tomorrow):
- Make sure the media understand that You are coming to Them. (I recall clearly one snafu where the managing editor, editorial page editor and a reporter were waiting patiently for us in their boardroom, and my client thought the media were coming over to their house. My bad, I didn’t make it clear enough, and that’s why I’m including this point here.)
- Have a clear objective. (e.g. “We would like your paper, radio station, etc. to help us keep the public informed about the flood review/Environmental Assessment process, including significant milestones along the way. Senior staff will be here to help and the meeting will the transparent and open.”
- Explain in advance that you wish to do a short presentation so they won’t be caught by surprise. Then make sure you do it, and that it lasts no longer than 15 minutes. That leaves time for questions.
- Do be prepared to answer any and all questions. Once you’ve made your presentation, you are fair game. They can ask you anything, and they probably will.
Editorial Board Meetings take some courage, but they are well worth it. In my next post I’ll provide more tips on how to walk away satisfied that you’ve successfully made your case.