6. Media: Online and Offline

Agenda

Total Length: 1 hour 50 minutes
Why Media? 15 minutes
Get Online 15 minutes
Working With Reporters 15 minutes
Team Work: Interviews 35 minutes
Your Media Plan 10 minutes
Sample Media Advisory 10 minutes
Sample Press Release 10 minutes

Session Materials

Participant guide: .doc .pdf
Powerpoint: .ppt

Host Materials

Facilitator notes: .pdf

Campaigning is all about communicating. You can be very well organized and have every detail taken care of, but if you don’t spread your story far and wide, people won’t know your event happened. From getting in the blogs and broadcasting your event on Facebook to getting covered on TV and in your local newspaper, this session will help you amplify your action through new and traditional media.

The goal of media outreach is to amplify your event so that it gets the attention of more people (and decision makers!), both to build for your event and to extend its impact after you are done. Whether you are Facebooking, calling reporters, or sitting down with bloggers, every media hit you get will mean your message is seen and heard by more people–so start spreading the word!

 

Why should we engage with the media?

  • Put pressure on your targets
  • Generate Buzz/Hype around your campaign
  • Educates the general public on our work, puts a local story to climate change
  • Spread the word & recruit volunteers to your cause
  • It can be a great energy boost to group members
  • Advance your campaign
  • Hold officials accountable (positive or negative accountability)

Define your goals, know your audience, and map out your story

Before you start blasting your event around the new media or calling reporters, go over your goals and the story you are trying to tell.  Do you want to influence a decision or policy? Do you want to create awareness? Do you want to build support for an activity or project? Do you want to change behavior?  Keep your goals in mind as you craft your message and tell your story.

Define your audience

Once you have figured what you want to achieve through your communication, you need to think about whom you need to reach in order to meet this objective. This is your audience. You can have more than one target audience group – this will probably include the targets you developed in the campaign planning session, as well as the people you want to mobilize to join your campaign.  Develop a profile of your audience – who are they, and what do they care about?

Develop your message

Keeping your goals and audience in mind, this is when you want to think about the message of your event. Or, how will you communicate your goals and the reasons they are important to your audience?

A good message:

  • Is specific;
  • Communicates clearly to your audience (will likely change depending on your audience);
  • Is linked to something they care about;
  • Is believable and can be backed up by evidence/hard facts;
  • Conveys a sense of urgency.

Develop your story

If you don’t have a good story, even the best message can get lost. The story is about a more emotional personal touch to your message. This is the why of your event, and its what people will take away. Facts and figures are great, but they won’t win hearts and minds.

 

What makes a good story? What will reporters want to cover?

They don’t call it a NEW-spaper for nothing. The first thing to understand is that reporters, editors, bloggers, and even folks on twitter are deeply interested in what’s new and fresh. By contrast, they’re deeply uninterested in anything they perceive as old—as in yesterday’s news. You should therefore always be thinking up new tactics and actions to call attention of reporters. Hook them with a storyline – everyone covering the news loves stories, here are a few to try out:

The superlative. Find a way to boast about your action. Is it the “first interfaith gathering in the area on global warming”? Is it “the longest march in Cairo in a decade”? Don’t make outrageous claims (“perhaps the biggest” and “among the first” are useful phrases when you can’t prove your superlative without a doubt).

David vs. Goliath. With the media, it can be an asset to be seen as the underdog – people always root for the little guy. In discussing 350.org, we usually emphasize that we are a handful of youth climate activists and a writer, and hence a little clueless. This has the advantage of being both true and interesting, and has made the impact of 350.org more unique.

Strange bedfellows. One of journalism’s favorite narratives is the odd couple- people you wouldn’t expect or who normally don’t get along coming together. For example: Republicans and Democrats in the US, faith leaders and business leaders, veterans and student activists. Try teaming up with a local union, religious organization, athlete, or artist: any new alliance can make for a good story.

Pay attention to current events and link your news to them. Was your elected official recently in the news talking about climate change or clean energy technology? Was your community recently affected by increasing pollution, an oil spill, or climate change related weather event? Take the opportunity to call up the media and relate your action to what they are already covering. The run-up to an international meeting where climate change will be discussed also presents an opportunity to bring local issues to the attention of the media and to generate public debate.

Think Visually. Climate change is a challenging issue to convey – it’s abstract to most people, and happening slower than your typical disaster. That’s why staging actions that help visualize climate change can be very powerful for the community, and the media. One example is a group of activists in Beirut, Lebanon that wrapped caution tape around the city at the potential level of the ocean if it would be inundated by sea level rise.

Use the right messenger. Having a good message is not enough; it is important to use the right messenger. A popular musician or athlete is likely to be a more influential messenger among young people than a scientist or politician. On the other hand, a decision maker or politician may be more receptive if technical specialists and community members deliver the message.

You don’t have to be famous to be a good messenger. If the goal is reaching an elected official, often they want to know what their voters think. That means community leaders, whether small business owners, moms, or teachers, can often have a huge impact. Everyday people dedicating themselves to action on climate can  deliver a powerful message.

Photos – they say 1,000 words. The visual for your event is as important as your spokespeople, it is one more way to deliver your message to the wider public, media, and fellow 350 volunteers. Your action photo is KEY, its your best tool for leveraging your event in the media and the community after the fact. Here are just a few tips on getting it right:

Plan it: Use your message and goals when coming up with the image you want people to remember. Make sure you plan out photos before the event, and think out what props or signs will help tell your story.

Designate a photographer: it could be a professional, a volunteer, a friend – whoever you can find who is reliable and can take a good photo.

Put it on the agenda: make some time in your event schedule to get everyone together to take a photo. Nothing’s worse than realizing everyone’s gone home before you can take a photo to remember it. Some questions to ask yourself: Will you have a lot of people? Where could you take the photo from to get a shot of the whole crowd?

Send it to 350.org: email your photo to photos@350.org so that we can help get it out to your fellow 350.org supporters across the globe!

Now you are ready to start getting media coverage!

 

Get Online

The Internet and evolving forms of communicating have made it harder to know what is and isn’t media. For organizing, the definition you want is any media that people read. Anyone who creates content that is read by a number of people on or offline should be considered media, and you should use any and every type of media to amplify your story and event. There are tons of online tools to help you spread the word online from email to facebook, and from twitter to blogs.

In the previous session, you took a few minutes to analyze your audience. When you are thinking about your new media outreach, think about where your audience goes to find out about local news and events. That’s where you want to be!

We feel strongly that the Internet is best used to get people together face-to-face, for action on the ground — using online tools, however cool at times, are not an end in themselves. We see the web as a tool to help save our threatened planet. Tackling global warming is going to require an unprecedented level of collaboration and communication at every level of society—and that’s precisely why it’s so vital that we learn to take advantage of the connections that the Internet provides.

The web is just one tool in your toolbox – if you don’t have a compelling strategy, narrative, and action plan, your Facebook group won’t make up for that. So before you start online, make sure all of your outreach is part of your larger strategy. It often takes three or four contacts with a person to get to attend your event, and new media is just one of those opportunities to connect with people! With that in mind…

Use online media to:

  • “Crowd-build” for your event
  • Attract the attention of traditional media
  • Get the attention of elected officials and community leaders
  • Amplify your message after your event

When thinking about online tools and media, remember that they are not separate from the offline world. Just like in other mediums, people are more likely to help you out if you meet them in person or talk to them over the phone. Think about including online asks when you talk to people offline. With that in mind, a few tools to help multiply your impact online:

Blogs. A great way to build buzz for your event is to reach out to folks already active and blogging in your community- and get them to write or post about your event! Reaching out to bloggers is similar to reaching out to reporters, try to connect with them by phone or in person if possible, or email them if that is the only contact info you have. Introduce yourself, let them know why you care, and ask them to help promote your event. Try offering to write a guest blog if they are short on time, or give them a ready made flyer that they can easily post.

Want to really get their attention? Make sure to know what they write and care about before you contact them. Bloggers who write on progressive issues, the environment, biking, or even community events are great folks to reach out to.

List Managers. Community organization, online communities, or even informal community groups often have large email lists. Remember the rule above, anyone with a large number of readers or viewers (whether on email, youtube, or a blog) counts as media! Ask folks in control of email lists to send out information about your event.

Remember, you can create your own list as well! Update volunteers and supporters interested in your event regularly by email. When your list of supporters gets too long, think about creating your own listserve! Google Groups are a great way to send emails to large groups of people without risking them getting flagged as junk.

Social Networking. The first rule of organizing is meeting people where they are at: so get online and start meeting people where they are every day — on social networking sites! Create an event or page on facebook, tweet about it, and consider looking into what other online communities your supporters are a part of. ‘Friend’ new supporters on facebook and follow them on twitter to keep them updated on your events and make sure they feel in the loop.

Photo sharing. Uploading your photos online after an event provides a one-stop shop for reporters, bloggers, and supporters to pick up images for articles and to send to their friends. A picture is far more powerful than your words in describing an event, and  often will move folks who didn’t make it to your event to cover it after the fact. Remember–you can always send photos to photos@350.org, and they will show up in our flickr stream automatically.

Web sites like Flickr [flickr.com] allow you to create centralized online albums of photos and to contribute photos to public “pools,” or groups of photos around an event, a theme, a city, a neighborhood, or anything else you can think of. Make sure that you tag your photos 350ppm and upload the best ones to 350.org as soon as your event is over. You can also send any photos you have to photos@350.org, and they will show up in our flickr feed automatically. Always upload the highest quality photos your web connection will allow.

Video sharing. There are only a few big players in online video, with the most dominant being YouTube [youtube.com]. After registering on their site, you can easily upload videos and embed any video in your web page or blog. Make sure to tag your videos with 350ppm. If you have a high-quality or very large video you’d like to post, Vimeo is also a good service. Video has the added bonus of making your facebook page, blog, or website more exciting for visitors, and gives your friends and partners a reason to share your content with their friends.

How to become an email guru. Though it may not be the most exciting tool in the box, email is nonetheless the cyber-activist’s single most powerful weapon. Some tips to writing a compelling email:

Keep Your Message Focused. Keep it short and sweet to avoid ending up in the trash. Keep each message focused on one-two action items at the most.

Make an ‘ask’. Make sure every email you send has at least one clear way someone reading can act on the information you give them. While your rate of success in getting people to volunteer or participate will always be astronomically higher when you call or talk to them in person, email is still a great way to layer your asks, remind people of what needs to be done, and every once in awhile get a few extra volunteers!

Examples of clear asks: Come make calls with us on Tuesday at 6pm; sign up to table with us on Saturday between 9am and 1pm; join our next planning meeting Thursday at 6pm.

Break Up Your Text. If you absolutely have to convey a lot of information in a single message, make sure to break it up into small chunks. Avoid long, stream-of-consciousness blocks of text. Instead, break down the information using bullet points, underlines, and bold formatting.

Nail the Subject. You get fewer than a dozen words, and you need to make the most of them. Make it catchy, use a hook, and keep it as short as possible!

Double Check. Ask a friend or colleague to proofread if you can, and make sure to re-read it for content, spell checking, and grammar.

Make a video. Consider taking video as a compelling way to get the word out before your event, document your action, and amplify your impact. Make your video stand out:

  • Make a storyboard or quick outline of your video before shooting so you know what shots you need to take, archival footage to find, or photos to include.
  • Focus on what’s fun, funny, or what you’d want to watch.
  • Avoid the talking head. There’s nothing less interesting than watching 3 minutes—or even 30 seconds—of a person talking at their desktop computer’s webcam.
  • Choose lively locations for your shoot that are interesting and play up your local angle.
  • Take steady, easy-to-watch shots that can be easily spliced with other video.
  • Keep it simple, and edit quickly.  In the case of documenting an action, making a simple video that you can edit and upload quickly is key – people want to watch that night or in the coming days about the march they just took part in.  Don’t worry about being perfect – just get it out!
  • Add some music – adding a great song over footage can make a video really come together.  Just be sure to credit the artist!
  • You can always upload videos at http://350.org/video and they will show up on the 350.org vimeo feed.

 

Use Offline Media to Amplify your Story

Newspapers, radio, T.V. news: this is the stuff of traditional media, and it’s the stuff that gets read and watched by your elected officials and reaches the most people. All of thee mediums offer you an opportunity to reach a wider audience when promoting your event, and to amplify the impact of your event after the fact.

Recruiting media to cover your event is much like recruiting a new volunteer or folks to attend your event: its about building relationships, selling your work by making it seem like the most exciting thing happening, and confirm-confirm-confirming.

Getting media requires putting in the time and the effort: building a relationship, sending a quality advisory/ invitation, calling to invite them in person, and confirming they are going to show up. This section will cover timelines for your media plan, the how-to’s of advisories and releases, and how to maximize your coverage.

 

Working with reporters

Create a Relationship. The temptation when dealing with reporters is to send a press release and leave it at that. Ignore that impulse! Press releases drift into newsrooms like snowflakes in a blizzard.

A better idea: Get to know reporters and editors long before you need them for your story. Call or email and ask if you can meet with a potential contact for ten minutes early in your campaign. Journalists want to know the people in their communities who will be making news, and get a sneak preview of your plans. (Tip- this is also a great way to introduce yourself to bloggers!)

Once in the office, lay out the basic plan for your campaign and how it relates to your community (and how it relates to what they write/ care about), the things you plan to do in the lead-up to your event, and the kinds of people you have involved so far. This isn’t the time to press for commitments—all you’re doing is establishing a relationship and demonstrating that you’re a helpful source.

Choose a Media Coordinator. The first step to meeting your media goals is identifying ONE member of your team to be your media coordinator. This person will hold the initial meetings and build relationships with reporters and editors–they will also edit your media advisories and templates, make follow up calls to press outlets, and coordinate with media at any events. The media coordinator doesn’t necessarily need to be on camera, but they should be capable of identifying good messengers, capable and confident enough to speak in public, and optimistic and knowledgeable enough to sell your events to reporters. Your media contact should also be easily available–it doesn’t matter how great a person they are if they don’t return emails and calls from press quickly!

Web-based trainings, media lists, and phone support are all available to media coordinators through 350.org’s central media team: so this is a great role for a talented person interested in new skills! Hit us up at organizers@350.org for more information about media training.

Build Last-Minute Buzz. In the final twenty-four hours before your event, you want to create an overwhelming sense of urgency around it in the newsrooms. Don’t worry any longer about a single point of contact. Have 6-10 people call the news tips line (leave individual confirmation calls to your media coordinator) for every outlet the day before and of your event. Precisely because news is a last-minute business, journalists are set to cover things on the spur of the moment, and you want to provide that last push to get them into action.

 

Tips for pitching your story:
  • Keep it short! Your contact is likely busy, so try to summarize your event and motivations in 3 sentences.
  • Be friendly! Being pushy won’t make them any more likely to show up, think about it like you would think about recruiting someone to show up at your event: you have to sell it.
  • Call between 10am and 2pm. These are often slower times of day, so you are less likely to interrupt while they are trying to meet a deadline.
  • Don’t forget the details: Who, what, where, when, why, and make sure to ask if they are attending.
  • Have a hook. Why is this news? What makes this event special? What’s the local spin? High school students? Teachers? Local small business owners? Unexpected community leaders or alliances?

 

Interviewing Basics: appointing and building a powerful spokesperson:

Appoint Spokespeople. This section is full of great skills for everyone, but remember previous advice about messengers. When deciding on spokespeople for your event, choose stories and people who fit into your message.

Identify, train, and use your spokespeople as much as possible. Include your most interesting spokespeople in press advisories and releases, and make it clear that they are available for in-person or phone interviews in the week leading up to your event!

Spokespeople are great for building excitement for an event, streamlining the message that comes out of your event, and generating press, through interviews, after the fact. They don’t have to be famous- they just have to have a hook and fit into your message. What makes them interesting? Sell them like you would sell the story- and your whole event will benefit!

Practice, Practice, Practice. it takes time to master the art of using interviews to further your message instead of simply responding to questions. With practice comes confidence: your goal is to deliver your message as concisely and clearly as possible!

Keep it short! The trick to getting the story you want in print or on TV is to only give the message you want. Like in the previous exercise- try to practice saying your goals, your personal motivations, and even describing your event in no more than 30 seconds each.

Personalize your message. Leave the wonky lingo for the halls of Congress; emotions win supporters and volunteers over facts every time. Use a personal touch as a part of every quote and quip. Some examples: “As a mother of a child with asthma, clean air is hugely important to my family.” OR “As an avid hunter and angler, the ability to enjoy the outdoors is important to me- that’s why I want to see laws in place to protect our environment against climate change.”

Name your opponents and targets. Once you personalize yourself, don’t be afraid to call people out. Is your local elected official holding up progress on bike lanes? Is your Senator leading the charge in climate denial? Or are they selling out to dirty energy industries instead of representing you? Name them. For example:

“As a mother of a child with asthma, clean air is hugely important to my family. Sherrod Brown’s vote to gut the Clean Air Act was unacceptable, and it put special interests before the health of my family.”

If you don’t know the answer, say so–never guess! Nothing is “off the record.” A great way to deal with this, especially if you are talking to a print journalist, is to offer to get back to them when you have the information they need.

Pivot! If the question they ask you is irrelevant to your story and message, pivot! That means that you move away from the question, usually with a connecting word, and then answer with your own message.

Stay calm and confident! Speak slowly, pause if you need to, and try to relax on camera- it will make you look more confident.

Team Work: Interviews and Pivoting

Agenda Time
Total Time: 35 minutes
1. Find a partner. 2 min
2. Using the scenario above and your actual personal story craft a 30 second pitch to media about your efforts. 8 min
3. Practice making pitch with a partner. Each try once and provide peer coaching after each person. Reflect on the most and least influential parts of each pitch/ story. What was most compelling? What was superfluous? What should they focus on next time? 1o min
4. Pivot exercise (see below) 10 min
4. Return to full group and reflect on lessons from the exercise. 5 min

Scenario: You are a part of Columbus, Ohio, USA’s 350.org team, and you are hosting a massive bike rally for Moving Planet. Your team is expecting 3,500 cyclists to meet up at the Ohio State University Campus. From there, cyclists holding a 25 foot puppet of Senator Sherrod Brown holding sacks of dirty energy money and other cyclists towing 5’ x 5‘ signs decrying Senator Brown’s vote on the Clean Air Act will ride across town to a final rallying point in front of the State Capitol. Rally goers will demand that Senator Brown stand with them in fighting for a clean energy future, and the event will end in a rally and program in front of the State Capitol featuring the Mayor of Columbus, Michael Coleman, and a number of local religious leaders. The major demand of the event: that Senator Sherrod Brown stop letting Dirty Energy industries influence his votes on clean air and climate legislation.

Pivot! Now that you have a bit of feedback on what works best from your story, lets mix up! Interviewers rarely ask you the questions you are prepping for: so now we are going to practice fitting your message into any question. That’s when we pivot! The interviewer’s job is to ask an irrelevant or provocative question, and the interviewee’s job is to take that question and “pivot” to their pitch.

Take 5 minutes and try it out!

At the end, take a moment to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. Good connector words? Things to include? Things to leave out? Did you personalize it and then name your enemies?

 

 

 

Record your notes, and own critiques here:

 

 

 

 

Your media plan and toolbox

To really maximize your coverage: lay out a timeline so that you don’t miss any opportunities. Here, you will learn the basics of a good media timeline and also the basics of writing press advisories and releases.

Getting the media to cover your story is an art – but anyone can do it – and there is a simple and important formula to follow.

 

Timeline

Below is an ideal timeline for getting maximum coverage pf your story.  As you can see, it can be quite a bit of work.  Get started early, designate a person on your team to be the main press contact, and follow the basic timeline below:

1-3 months before – start building relationships with reporters and bloggers as well as researching who is writing about events/ stories like yours.

1 month before -- community calendars! Now is the time to make sure your event is listed in every community calendar in town: try newspapers, blogs, radio shows, organizational websites, etc.

5-7 days before – send media advisory by email; include info on interesting spokespeople able to do interviews by phone or in-person.

3 days before – follow up with a phone call to pitch the story and make sure they received the advisory

1 day before – Re-send advisory, follow up by phone with confirm calls.

Day of – confirm they are coming!

Next day — send your press release!

Reminder! Do not call reporters to ask if they got your release. They do not have time to respond to every release they receive. Instead, call them to pitch the news and remind them about the release. Be prepared to send another if the first one was misplaced.

Media Advisories. Media advisories inform the media about an upcoming event, like a march or rally: think of it as an invitation. Just like an invitation, the goal of an advisory is to grab the reader’s interest and make them want to come. What’s the hook that makes this the do-not-miss event? No need to get caught up in long descriptions, this is more of a teaser: it is sent about a week before your event. Follow it up with a phone call to really sell your event.

It should include:

Who is organizing the event/activity, including what makes them interesting.

What the event or activity is, including your hook. (i.e. puppets! Street theatre! Students and elderly people riding bikes together! Etc.)

Where the event is, just the name and address is great.

When it is, basically just the date and time.

Why it’s newsworthy. (Re-state hook, why it matters, brief background of why now)

 

Below is a sample media advisory for an event:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

5/20/11

Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@350.org

******* MEDIA ADVISORY *******

Local Families to Rally at Senator Brown’s Boston Office to

Link Clean Air Act Vote to $1.9 Million in Fossil Fuel Industry Related Campaign Support

Rally is accompanied by 15 ft Scott Brown puppet holding large bags of money and crowd-funded ads in Boston T stops targeting Brown

Boston, MA: This Friday, dozens of Boston area families are gathering in front of Senator Brown’s Boston office with a 15-foot effigy of the Senator holding large bags of money to protest his recent vote to gut the Clean Air Act and the nearly 1.9 million dollars poured into his campaign by the fossil fuel industry and related front groups.

WHAT: Rally in front of Sen. Scott Brown’s district office of concerned local families with signs, and a giant 15 foot puppet of Scott Brown holding bags of money, denouncing Sen. Brown’s vote to gut the Clean Air Act.  The rally will be followed by a march and chants through Quincy market.

WHO: More than 50 concerned local residents.

WHERE: Senator Scott Brown’s office — 15 New Sudbury Street, Boston, MA, followed by a march through Quincy Market.

WHEN: Friday, May 20th from 12pm to 1pm

VISUALS: 15 foot tall “Scott Brown” puppet, two “fat cat” puppets named “Coal” and “Oil”, children and families carrying signs, chanting, and singing.

The campaign drawing attention to his vote will also include ads in the Boston T connecting the dots between Senator Brown’s recent vote to gut the Clean Air Act and the over 1.9 million dollars of campaign support he received from the fossil fuel industry and related front groups. The ads, which were crowd-funded by Massachusetts’s residents with the support of climate campaign 350.org, will be going up in the Boston subway in the coming weeks. Both actions are part of a nationwide backlash against politicians that recently voted to gut the Clean Air Act.

Every year, coal pollution results in 251 deaths in Massachusetts. According to OpenSecrets.org, the fossil fuel industry and related front groups poured over 1.9 million dollars into Scott Brown’s election in 2009. Local residents organizing the rally question whether Scott Brown’s judgment was clouded when he sided with polluters to gut the Clean Air Act.

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Press Releases

 

Press releases are what your ideal article for an event would look like. The goal is to give reporters all the information they would need to write a story, even if they didn’t show up. Here’s a basic guide to how you can structure your press release:

In an email, the subject line is RELEASE: Your Headline. Copy and paste the rest of your release into the body of the email, and bring print copies to your event.

Headline: Include the most important/interesting news, in no more than 7 words. This is your chance to grab attention!

Introductory paragraph: Short, hard hitting. Describe the event, including your hook.

Second paragraph: Focus on the issue.

Quotes from key people: pack in your most interesting information, the punch line, and your most compelling story in miniature to influence the feelings of readers. Make sure to include at least one personal quote, and always a quote by someone from your climate group – preferably the leader.

Next, present and explain the solution – i.e. why you are taking action, and how we will solve the problem.

2nd quote: You can also add a quote at the end of this paragraph.

The last paragraph in the press release is your demand. What are you asking for? What is your goal?

Now you need to put your contact details so that the media can contact you for more information and materials (photos, more facts, etc.)- this is also where you include information on speakers available for interviews.

Add ### to the bottom of the press release – this is so that reporters know where the critical information ends.

After the contact details, you add the editors‘ notes, which can include: a short paragraph (maximum 5 lines) about 350.org and your local climate group – i.e. who you are, and what you do.

 

Sample Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

5/ 20/11

Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999molly@350.org

Local Families Launch Campaign to Connect Senator Brown’s vote to Gut the Clean Air Act to $1.9 Million in Fossil Fuel Industry Campaign Support

Raucous Friday Rally at Brown’s Boston Office is accompanied by crowd-funded ads in Boston T Stops

BOSTON, MA: Starting Friday at 12pm, as a 15 foot puppet of Scott Brown alongside two fat cats named “Coal” and “Oil” were hoisted into the air, more than 50 mothers, kids, and community members gathered in front of Scott Brown’s office to decry his vote to gut the Clean Air Act.

Rally attendees held up a jumbo version of an ad they funded soon to be plastered across Boston T stops, the text read: “Senator Brown: On April 6th you voted to gut the Clean Air Act. Was it because dirty energy companies and their corporate front groups poured more than $1.9 million into your campaign last year? Are you working for people or Big Polluters?”

Vanessa Rule, a Somerville resident and mother of two organizing the rally explains the importance of both the ads and the action in front of Brown’s office: “As a mother of a child with asthma, I find it unacceptable that Scott Brown voted to gut the Clean Air Act,” said Rule. “We want to know if he took that vote because of the 1.9 million dollars Big Polluters spent to support his election.”

Rally attendees started in front of Scott Brown’s office at 15 New Sudbury St, and continued on a march through Quincy market to spread the word on Brown’s vote, with the puppets rising far above the raucous attendees.

“This isn’t about partisan politics, it’s about accountability. Scott Brown should be representing his constituents, and this vote to undercut the Clean Air Act put the interests of big polluters, like coal plants, over our families. It was unacceptable,” said Josh Lynch of Jamaica Plain, MA.

The ads targeting Brown’s vote will appear in Boston T stops in the next two weeks. Both actions are part of a nationwide backlash against politicians that recently voted to gut the Clean Air Act, with residents of Ohio taking similar actions against Senator Sherrod Brown (D, OH).

Every year, pollution from coal-fired power plants causes 251 deaths in Massachusetts, not to mention countless asthma attacks. The Clean Air Act is the only protection communities have in combating the pollution from coal plants, which includes arsenic, lead, mercury, and carbon pollution that lead to climate change.

According to OpenSecrets.org, the fossil fuel industry and related front groups poured over 1.9 million dollars into Scott Brown’s election in 2009.

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Review, and connecting the dots.

Take-home points:

  • Start by looking at your goals.
  • Figure out your story.
  • Write your media time line, and appoint a media coordinator to see it through.
  • Identify and train your messengers.
  • Reach out to new and traditional media reporters to build relationships.
  • Use community calendars.
  • Leverage twitter, Facebook, and online networking to contact traditional reporters, and promote any traditional media you get through new media to create buzz.
  • Send your advisories well in advance with personal emails, and follow up with phone calls.
  • Use your spokespeople to promote your event through pre-event interviews.
  • Send a catchy press release with a link to photos after the event!
  • Don’t forget to contact the 350 communications team if you have any questions! Molly@350.org or Jamie@350.org

 

 

Continue to Step 7. Putting it All Together…or go back to 5. Build a Campaign