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Editorial Boards

The meeting - what to expect

Meetings are not commonplace, and are usually reserved for new, complex issues, major recent developments, or visiting experts. Most likely, you will sit down with only an editor and editorial page editor. If you have a really "hot" topic, there may be as many as six or seven other people, plus the publisher.

If you arrange a meeting, plan to present your case in brief, using facts and figures that are verifiable to add credibility. Opening statements should be limited to no more than three minutes. Quickly summarize your organization's position on the issue, supporting evidence, and anticipate and adequately address your opposition's criticisms.

Then, let the editorial board ask questions. They may seem 'unfriendly' or 'against' your viewpoint. This does not mean that they are predisposed to disagree with you, but they must consider counter-arguments that they will receive from their editors and readers through letters.

They may also want to test the validity of your position by playing devil's advocate, so be sure to anticipate the common criticisms of your position ahead of time and prepare to defend against them. If you cannot adequately defend your opinions, neither can the newspaper.

Always remember that the editors are extending a favor to you by listening and considering your viewpoint. Be sure to respect their opinions, positions, and constraints.

Meeting Preparation:

  • Have a short practice session before the meeting, responding to potential questions.
  • Take no more than three people.
  • Prepare your people. Well-known experts are great as long as they can express their views clearly and concisely.
  • Don't expect the meeting to last more than 30 minutes.
After the Meeting

If the newspaper does not write a favorable editorial, or decides to write nothing at all, suggest that they print an op-ed piece or a letter from your organization. Do not offer this alternative unless you are sure that they will not run an editorial.

If the editors decide not to agree with you, make it clear that agreement on any particular issue does not affect the future relationship - always maintain mutual respect. Editors stay around a long time, and getting on the wrong side of an editorial board, or a single editor, can be costly for years to come.

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