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

  • a news release on the event
  • a fact sheet with important or interesting facts or statistics
  • organization brochures or fact sheets
  • biographies of key people involved
  • a schedule of events listing locations and times
  • business cards
  • captioned photographs

For many municipal commission and volunteer organization activities, a simple press release and schedule of events will provide enough information.

Letters to the Editor (see examples below)

Letters to the editor should be brief, concise, and informative, and not based on too much emotion. Organized groups of people, as well as individuals, can be engaged to send letters to the editor. Letters can react to news or editorials, policy or new legislation, or decisions and actions of elected and other officials. A letter to the editor also can clarify important points and positions, correct misinformation, present your organization’s position, tell people about your efforts, and encourage their involvement.

Editorial-Opinion Columns or Op-Eds (see examples below)

Op-eds are columns written by community members for a newspaper’s editorial page. Op-eds allow you to express your own views and opinions. They usually provide the following information:

  • a focus on a single issue
  • a clear idea or opinion presented in the first few sentences
  • support for your idea or opinion using information understandable to your community
  • a forecast of the results of future scenarios that surround your position
  • a conclusion with proposed solutions
  • suggestions for those who want to help or act

The most important point is to hold the reader’s attention. Use a bold opening statement or opinion, such as “Not preserving open space is hurting our municipality” or “Public trees need maintenance to be safe.” The column’s sentiment should be forceful and strong and the concept easy to understand. Use supporting opinions and facts throughout the column. Try not to over-generalize—newspapers need facts. If you use a sentence like “Trees are our most important resource,” you need to explain why using facts.

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