Sometimes it is crucial to lead an emerging debate in order to control the framing of the issues at stake and make sure that the appropriate environmental arguments are heard. This task is difficult because we often have to work without grassroots backing or the support of an established campaign. Another challenge included in this situation is spurring the right kind of media coverage -- ideally filter-down coverage that starts at a major media outlet and spreads to smaller, regional outlets. This pattern will optimize coverage and ensure the credibility of your issue. Below is an example of a media event that resolved this problem, by introducing the public to the relatively new issue of wild versus hatchery-raised or farmed salmon, while also improving media relations with a target media outlet.
In order to leverage journalistic (and ultimately public) interest in the issue, EMS chose to appeal to people's love of food by organizing a taste-test of farmed, hatchery-raised and wild salmon. EMS also chose to focus its resources and energy on one media outlet -- the Wall Street Journal -- offering its reporters an exclusive on the story. This would both pique the editor's and reporters' interests and ensure more in-depth coverage of the issue in a resulting story. A successful event/story would also pave the way for future work together.
EMS worked with a local chef from a prominent restaurant to organize an exclusive mid-afternoon, blind taste-test and arranged for local experts on endangered salmon, sustainable fishing, and aquaculture to be present for questions. A panel of impartial journalists was also assembled to serve as the taste-testers.
In a decided affirmation of the quality and taste of Northwest wild salmon, attendees voted unanimously for the wild salmon. An article detailing the differences between farmed, hatchery-raised and wild salmon and some of the environmental arguments for wild varieties appeared in the January XX issue of the Wall Street Journal. Illuminated was the emerging debate over salmon farming and its environmental threats.
A win on the issue of consumption of wild salmon vs. hatchery-raised and farmed salmon requires a change in consumer purchasing habits. A media campaign of this type requires creative approaches to reaching the public that utilizes consumer food, restaurant, and chef angles.
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