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LOCALIZE YOUR STORY!


THE PROBLEM:
You've got an important statewide issue with a great news hook and all the key media components you need -- compelling facts, engaging spokespeople and enticing visuals. You want to make a splash and spur maximum coverage across the state in multiple media markets. Unfortunately, the reality is, in today's tight media markets most local outlets aren't usually enticed by broad, statewide stories unless you can prove that they directly involve or impact the outlet's own audience.

So, how do you give your statewide story local appeal?

The example below illustrates how EMS interested regional and local media outlets across Oregon in the statewide launch of the "Oregon Wild" campaign.


STRATEGY:
Think of the kind of news you really want to hear about your own city, town or neighborhood. Who are the people you respect as credible spokespeople on issues affecting your community? What kind of information would convince you that you should support a statewide issue? Start by asking yourself these questions and apply them to your news story. Remember, presenting the opinions of a wide range of sources -- religious, business, environmental, political -- will increase your chances of stimulating a broad range of public support on your issue. Also, the public is often eager to hear about how local grassroots actions or progressive business practices in their own communities are helping to move bigger regional or national issues and campaigns. Citizens always want to know how their own resources and quality of life may be affected by change.

So, make templates for materials that can be customized for different locations, gather a list of local spokespeople that can directly relate local perspectives on your issue, find regional examples of threats to your issue and visuals that illustrate how different locales fit into the statewide picture, and get started!

CASE STUDY:
To make the Oregon Wild Campaign and the issue of wilderness appealing to outlets across Oregon, EMS created and mailed comprehensive press kits to reporters, broadcast a statewide press release tailored for each specific media market, and held simultaneous press conferences in all of the significant media markets in Oregon featuring local spokespeople and coalition members at each.

Our press kit included: backgrounders on wilderness history, economics, polling, grassroots wilderness programs in Oregon, quotes from high-profile political, scientific and religious leaders, a list of coalition members and supporting businesses, a map of unprotected wilderness areas in the state and a list of specific projects threatening particular wild roadless areas. These background pieces provided the key components for a general wilderness story.

Next, we developed a template for the press release indicating designated spaces to insert specific local campaign contacts, quotes from business, political, economic, environmental and religious spokespeople, and local examples of threats to nearby wilderness areas. Adaptations were made to the release for each media market and then sent to appropriate journalists.

Press conferences were held in Portland, Eugene, Medford, Ashland and Bend, Oregon which provided an easy opportunity for most reporters in the state to get localized quotes, sound-bites or video for their stories. Unlikely allies, including religious and business spokespeople, were available for comments at the events. Pitch calls encouraging reporters to attend the briefings and to cover the story highlighted local information and spokespeople.

RESULT:
The launch of the Oregon Wild Campaign achieved saturation media coverage, with stories in nearly every daily and weekly paper and on the major TV and radio stations across the state. Reporters covering the story contacted the local groups and spokespeople listed in their releases and included them in their stories. For example, Vickie Aldous of The Ashland Daily Tidings highlighted the Ashland-based Headwaters group's involvement in the campaign kick-off. Many stories offered local examples of threatened forest areas and resources including local watersheds and views that might be protected under the Oregon Wild plan.

FOLLOW-UP:
EMS will return to the reporters who covered the Oregon Wild launch with updates on Oregon Wild's research and news on their impending wilderness proposal. Also, as the National Forest Service continues to hammer out their policy for Clinton's Roadless Area Initiative, EMS will encourage reporters to follow progress of the initiative, the Forest Service's management plan and the specific roadless areas protected under the plan as they relate to Oregon.


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