Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

For example, if you are planting new trees downtown, think about who will benefit from the trees (local businesses and shoppers), how they will benefit (attracting shoppers to the area, increasing shopping there, boosting revenues), who will be involved in the planting (volunteers from schools and businesspeople), who supported and funded the planting (borough council and local businesses), and the need to plant and manage trees in other parts of the municipality. These types of local angles and interests will help get your story in the news.

When you communicate with the media about trees and other natural resources, be sure to provide important facts and relevant resources. If you don’t, reporters may not be interested. Such facts and resources might include:

  • how many trees are removed each year
  • the cost of damage to trees from storms
  • statistics about accidents and fatalities resulting from poor tree care
  • how many acres of open space are being lost in development
  • how many miles of streams are damaged
  • how many people are involved in tree care and who they are
  • information about budgets, donations, and peoples’ efforts
  • names of people who can be interviewed

Benefits of Street and Park Trees

According to recent figures, 75 percent of the U.S. population lives in cities and towns. Again and again, scientific studies have demonstrated that trees provide a number of economic and other benefits for our communities. These benefits include:

  • Adding natural character to the places we live.
  • Providing colors and beautiful shapes and forms.
  • Screening harsh views.
  • Creating feelings of relaxation and well-being.
  • Providing privacy and a sense of solitude and security.
  • Shortening post-operative hospital stays when patients have a view of trees.
  • Producing enough oxygen each day on a single acre for 18 people.
  • Absorbing enough C02 on an acre over a year to equal the amount produced when a car is driven 26,000 miles.
  • Reducing mean summer temperatures 3 to 10 degrees and lessening the need for air conditioning by shading and cooling our homes and urban places.
  • Storing about 13 pounds of carbon annually, reducing the “greenhouse effect” or global warming.
  • Reducing soil erosion and the amount of storm water.
  • Encouraging people to linger and shop longer (customers have proven willing to pay higher prices for goods in business areas landscaped with trees).
  • Increasing productivity—people working in businesses landscaped with trees are more productive.
  • Increasing property values—healthy trees increase a parcel’s value up to 15 percent, affecting home prices and municipal taxes.

Benefits of Parks, Open Space, and Greenways

  • Open space, parks, and greenways increase property values up to 20 percent, affecting home prices and municipal taxes.
  • Progressive companies recognize the benefits of healthy employees. Planned parks and open spaces attract companies to places.
  • Planned open space, greenways, and parks attract tourists.
  • By conserving open space rather than allowing intensive development, municipalities may reduce costs for public services such as police and fire, road maintenance, and education.
  • Open space provides opportunities for family activities not dependent on age or skill levels.
  • Open space preserves beauty and historic landscapes.

Communication is important

Communication is essential in building a favorable image for your organization and your issues. The abilities, service, contributions, and needs of your commission or organization mean little when people do not know about them.

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