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Generating Editorial Endorsements

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This training explains the role of a newspapers’ editorial board, the ways you can engage your local editorial board, and the resources CCL creates to help you do this.

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Role of an editorial board 

In a newspaper, factual news and editorial content are separate. Reporters write the news. An editorial board controls the newspaper’s opinion content. 

As part of their role, the board will often write pieces called “editorials,” which are the newspaper’s own opinion on a subject. These editorials can be very influential. They cover important topics and often endorse candidates for elected office. 

Note: Your paper may not have an editorial board. Newspapers have consolidated a lot in recent years, and not all of them maintain an editorial board anymore. If your local paper does not have an editorial board, then they likely aren’t writing or printing their own editorials.

In that case, we suggest a pivot over the news side. Work to get earned media, such as articles, TV segments, and radio stories, instead of relying solely on the shrinking opinion pages to get your message out there. 

Examples of editorials

If you do have an editorial board that’s writing editorials, you should approach them to write an editorial about the Energy Innovation Act. Dozens of newspapers across the country have already written editorials about the bill.

One example is the Sun Media Group in Florida, who wrote an editorial titled “Bill to curb climate crisis would impose a fee on greenhouse gases. Citizens get monthly check. What’s not to like?” The editorial reads, in part, “Imagine if energy producers, big manufacturers, and oil barons actually sent you a check for greenhouse gas their businesses produce. Before you think that could never happen, you need to check out a plan being pushed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby.” 

Another example comes from The Daily Sentinel, in an editorial titled “A carbon solution.” The editorial reads, in part, “At a time when the Green New Deal and other onerous measures seek similar outcomes, from a partisan perspective we like carbon fee and dividend because it doesn't involve new taxes or unfairly hammer or favor any one industry. Costs are shared, but more importantly we pull our heads out of the sand and start constructively addressing climate change without adversely impacting the economy.” 

You can find more examples of editorials supporting the Energy Innovation Act here. These might be useful to share with your own paper’s editorial board to show them perspectives from other newspapers.

Ways to engage your newspaper’s editorial board

In the same way we build relationships with our members of Congress, you can build a relationship with an editorial board. This could include things like:

  • Meeting with them to educate them and learn their thoughts on climate change, CCL’s work, and the Energy Innovation Act. (We’ll focus mostly on the meeting in this training.)
  • Sending them editorial packets to keep them updated
  • Following them on social media to learn more about their perspective 
Request a meeting 

When you first begin building a relationship with your local editorial board, a good first step is to have a meeting.

Before you request a meeting, do some research on what the newspaper is writing about on their opinion pages. When you have that background, look on the newspaper’s website to find the contact information for the editorial page editor. 

Reach out and request a meeting when you see a good opportunity, such as when they’ve published something related to climate, or when you get a new editorial packet from CCL staff that contains new information to share.

In the request you make, open up with who you are, reference what the newspaper has done on the issue and mention what you want to educate the board about and perhaps get some support from the newspaper. 

Prepare for the meeting

First, form a team to attend the meeting. Decide who from your chapter will attend. A lot of groups have assigned a media manager who might be the lead person for doing a meeting like this. You might also consider who else could contribute a valuable perspective, such as a local business owner or influential community member.

Next, create an agenda for what you want to cover in the meeting. CCL’s editorial packets can help guide your agenda. 

Assign roles. Similar to a lobby meeting, assign someone to be the leader, someone to take notes, and so on. You want everyone to know what their role in the meeting is.

Determine what your “ask” will be in the meeting. What do you want the editorial board to do? 

  • We recommend that your primary ask be for the board to write an editorial endorsement of the Energy Innovation Act.
  • A secondary ask might be for them to write an editorial about climate change more generally, if they haven’t written something like that already.
  • Another secondary ask to consider is asking the newspaper to publish an op-ed from someone in your group. 
Run the meeting 

Begin the meeting with some quick introductions, especially if this is the first time you’ve met with the editorial board. Be prepared to say a little bit about Citizens’ Climate Lobby and how we work.

Next, clarify the purpose of the meeting. You could say something like, “We think the newspaper’s voice is valuable in this discussion. Your paper could encourage Rep. Smith to act by publishing editorials endorsing the Energy Innovation Act. That’s what we’ve come here today to ask.” 

Do a quick overview and hit the high points of the legislation. 

Allow time for questions. You might say, “We’d like to stop now and hear from you. What are your thoughts, questions, and concerns about CCL’s work or the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act?” 

Closing the meeting 

As you wrap up the meeting, be sure to clearly make your ask: “Will you write an editorial endorsement in support of the Energy Innovation Act?”

  • If the answer is yes: Thank them. Offer one local CCL contact as a resource for more information as they write. When they publish their editorial, be sure to share it on social media, give it to your MOC’s liaison to make sure the editorial gets to the congressional offices, and file a field report.
  • If the answer is maybe: Thank them and determine when to follow up and with whom. 
  • If the answer is no: Thank them for their time. Ask when they would be interested in revisiting this and when they would be willing to weigh in. (Maybe when a local member of Congress gets on the bill? When there’s a big climate impact happening? When local CCL volunteers go to DC to lobby for the bill?) Then, move on to make your secondary ask if it’s appropriate. 
Follow up

After the meeting, write a thank you note and include an electronic version of the editorial packet you shared with the board members. 

Continue to cultivate the relationships you began at the meeting. Who is the main contact on the editorial board that you should be communicating with? Be in contact often enough so they don’t forget who we are. (You can use new CCL editorial packets as an excuse to reach out!)

Info on editorial packets

Several times a year, CCL’s communications staff produces an editorial packet. This several-page document provides background about CCL’s work and progress of the Energy Innovation Act. 

Use these packets when:

  • You need to guide a meeting with your editorial board
  • You’re having a hard time getting a meeting and need to send them something that can start the conversation
  • You’ve met with the board recently and want to keep them updated
Length
Press play to start the video (33m 20s)
https://vimeo.com/showcase/6737517
Video Outline

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Role of the editorial board
(1:52)

Examples of editorials
(5:12)

Ways to engage your newspaper's editorial board
(10:42)

Preparing for the meeting
(16:43)

Closing the meeting
(24:18)

Instructor(s)
  • Steve Valk
  • Flannery Winchester
Downloads
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (33m 20s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Role of the editorial board
(1:52)

Examples of editorials
(5:12)

Ways to engage your newspaper's editorial board
(10:42)

Preparing for the meeting
(16:43)

Closing the meeting
(24:18)
Instructor(s)
  • Steve Valk
  • Flannery Winchester
Downloads
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Category
Training
Topics
Media Relations
Format
Audio / Video
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