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WRITING FOR THE MEDIA
Editorial Boards

When to schedule an editorial board meeting

Editorial board meetings should be scheduled before a paper writes on your subject. Approach the editorial board or editorial writers when you have important insight or information on:

  • an issue that is breaking 'news' currently being covered;
  • an issue that is closely related to a current news item;
  • a topic that the paper has covered in depth before;
  • the 'other side' of a story that has been in the news;
  • a respected scientific or other expert, government official, or another high profile figure who is only in town briefly who would be available for an interview;
  • a new report that is particularly timely or coincides with other news currently being covered.
Editorials are influential because the people who write them usually carry weight in a community or in the nation. Even if you do not expect to land an editorial that is favorable to your position, try to visit the editorial boards of major outlets in your area. If you don't, editors will most likely never hear your side of the issue.

Request a Meeting

Since editorial boards are never at a loss for interesting topics, you will have to request a meeting. If you don't already know someone on the editorial staff, contact the editorial page editor to arrange a meeting. When you are contacting a large metropolitan daily, ask to speak to the writer who specializes in your issues. Have your information ready to send, messenger, or fax, and don't forget to try to get to know this editor for the future.

When you call an editor you do not know, introduce yourself, your organization, and your issue. You can do this as background, but you will increase your chances of a meeting if you have a new report or new information on a timely subject to share, or if you are offering them an opportunity to speak with an expert or resource person who is only in town briefly.

Calling Editorial Page Staff

  • Editorial writers are busy, just like other journalists. Make your pitch concise, compelling, and to the point. More on Press Calls.
  • Be aware of deadlines. The beginning of the week and the morning are best times.
  • Answer questions directly.
  • Ask them what information they need from you.
  • Never try to answer a question that is beyond your knowledge. Tell them that you don't know and that you will find out. More on Interviewing Skills.
  • Send a follow-up note with written information/background.
  • If they disagree with your position, suggest they publish a guest opinion written by you or someone who shares your perspective. More on Op-Eds.

Meeting Preparation

Be sure you already know what stand the paper has taken on this issue and what they have written in the past. You cannot expect a paper to take a particular stand on an issue if you don't know what the paper has already said. This research will also help you choose what aspects or special interests will appeal to your audience.

Read the paper on the day of the meeting - make sure that you read any articles on your issue or organization, because the editors certainly have.

Back to Editorial Boards.


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