Find out in advance who will be at your editorial board meeting.
You’ve got your foot in the door, the meeting time is set, your presentation is ready to go and you’ve limited the number of people you are bringing with you to three….but remember, the Editorial Board (often the publisher, managing and/or executive editor, and possibly the city editor) can pull in a “citizen” – and that’s fair ball. If this happens, don’t whine or complain. Fall all over yourselves to be gracious and to field questions from everyone.
Designate a single spokesperson or when you have a hot issue – an “issues manager.” Two at most.
Too many voices clutter the message and can add a quixotic component. This is something you do not want.
Don’t give the other side (if there is one) any ammo. Stick to your purpose. This means you cannot dissect the newspaper (or radio station) editorials, news coverage or commentaries. You can refer to a news item or editorial when questions are asked, if appropriate and purposeful. Remember the goal: you want the media outlet’s top decision-makers to understand the issue and the process, and to give fair coverage so that all stakeholders are well and fairly informed. This means you take the high road, no matter how miffed or unfairly treated you may really feel.
Find out how long the meeting will be and take no more than half the time to do a presentation. (An hour is optimum).
Then use the rest of the time to field questions and do your best to answer them all. If you don’t have the answer, note the question down and promise to get back to them with the answer. If you can text somebody to get it right then and there, do so.
Don’t expect the Board to do an about-face.
It’s very hard for a newspaper to change editorial policy, so that’s why you are going in and ignoring any negative history and asking for something new: their support. That gives them a chance to shift in the near future and save face at the same time.
Ask the writers to back your cause. Tell them at the very end of the meeting that you would appreciate their support and the community needs it. Stress community benefits throughout your presentation.
Do not engage in argument. The editorial board meeting is designed to come out with handshakes, a better understanding and a new path forward.