Print Media Basics

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The media work you do in your district and state can have powerful and far-reaching results for your climate advocacy. Keep reading for details of your basic best practices for getting started, plus some ideas for ways you could go further if you have additional time, energy, or volunteers.

TOC and Guide Section
Step 1: Sign up as a CCL media manager
  • Why? A media manager gets email updates about new op-ed templates, press releases, media outreach ideas, and support from CCL staff. If you are on our media manager list, we can help you to get all the resources you need. 
  • Here’s how: Ask your Group Leader to mark you as a “media manager” in your chapter’s roster OR you can email and ask to be added. Click here for guidance for Group Leaders about how to add media managers to the roster.
  • Go further: Join the Writers’ Circle on CCL Community, a place where you can get peer support for writing, plus feedback and ideas from other media managers. Subscribe to the Media Relations Forums where our communications team posts regular topic ideas for letters to the editor, and CCL volunteers take part in discussions and ask questions about all kinds of media work.
Step 2: Find and share letter writing opportunities

Why? As your chapter’s dedicated media manager, you can mobilize volunteers in your chapter to write letters to the editor of local newspapers. This is a highly effective and speedy way to spread the message about the need to act on climate. It’s an opportunity to reach a wide audience to highlight CCL’s work to pass carbon pricing legislation and grab the attention of your members of Congress by mentioning them by name. 

Here’s how: Head to CCL Community to check out the latest timely LTE topics we have compiled from national news stories. At a local level, look out for articles that you can respond to in the local paper and notify your chapter members or even other volunteers keen to write letters in your state. 

Some chapters like to share opportunities via group email, while others have set up a spreadsheet that media team members can update with opportunities and subscribe to. 

Encourage volunteers to commit to writing regularly by organizing a monthly Letter Writing Zoom Party. During a highly productive hour on Zoom, you could share a short training, discuss ideas for letters, mute for 20 minutes to write, and then reconvene to share what you’ve written. You could invite other chapters in your state to participate as well.

Go further: Consider creating a rural LTEs project to target newspapers in more rural areas of your state and expand CCL’s presence. Ideally, letters should be written by volunteers who live in the circulation area (you could ask your state coordinator for help locating these volunteers) but it is still worth writing from other parts of the state as some newspapers do publish letters from further afield.

Step 3: Boost your visibility with bigger pieces

Why? Op-eds can have a powerful impact and give authority. A study published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science found that people across the political spectrum can be influenced and have their views altered by reading an op-ed in the newspaper. The word count of an op-ed is also longer than your average letter to the editor with between 600 and 750 words to make your case.

Here’s how: CCL provides timely op-ed templates that you can adapt to your own city or state and add in personal perspectives. You could also write something of your own or ask a local endorser to work with you to write a piece about why carbon pricing is an important component of solving climate change.  

Go further: Who edits the opinion page? Would they take a call from you to discuss the kind of fresh, new voices they are looking for? Think about the diverse range of voices with interesting stories and perspectives you have in your chapter and via endorsements, and see if they are willing to work with you on an op-ed.

You could also follow the lead of several states who have created Economists’ Statements. In these states, CCL volunteers have organized for local economists to pledge their support for a price on carbon, resulting in news coverage. Could you compile your own economists’ statement, or even a faith or business leaders’ proclamation, and publish it as an op-ed?

Step 4: Link up with your liaison

Why? Your chapter liaison is the person who speaks regularly with your local congressional office and arranges lobby meetings. Subsequently, they will be very knowledgeable about what and who motivates your member of Congress.

Here’s how: Ask your Group Leader to connect you with your chapter’s liaisons and ask them to tell you what issues your members of Congress (MOCs) have raised in meetings. Who are they influenced by, and what are they concerned about? You can tailor your letters and op-eds to feature insight on these issues and make a case for how combating climate change and putting a price on carbon can aid them in the goals that are unique to their district. 

Go further: If your letter or op-ed is published, ask the relevant chapter liaison to pass your success on to their contacts in congressional offices.  

Step 5: Make the news

Why? Pitching to local media outlets in your area can help you spread the word about your chapter’s work locally, attract new volunteers and grab the attention of your member of Congress. 

Here’s how: Start to pay attention to who writes and edits what in your local newspapers. Are there journalists who cover climate or conservation stories? Collate this information into a spreadsheet and gather email addresses and phone numbers from the “Staff” and “Contact” website pages of the newspaper. Keep an eye on your local television and radio journalists too. Who seems interested in covering environmental stories?

Compiling a contact list with emails and phone numbers for local journalists and newspaper newsdesks will speed up the process when you want to send out a press release or share timely news. 

Go further: Follow any local journalists you can find on Twitter and other social platforms, and thank them when you like a story they have written. Or ask a local journalist if they’d be willing to chat on Zoom or meet for a socially distanced coffee. 

Nurturing a relationship with local journalists ensures they are already familiar with CCL, carbon pricing, and you! It will enable you to go straight to them when big news happens on carbon pricing and climate change. In turn, being seen as appreciative and knowledgeable could mean you become that reporter’s go-to authority on climate change.

Step 6: Aim for an editorial

Why? When it comes to the hierarchy of content in newspapers, editorials are up there with front-page news. The “editorial” is the official view or stance of the newspaper and is often written and decided upon by an editorial board, independent of the news arm of the newspaper. Editorials are very influential, covering important topics and sometimes endorsing a candidate for elected office. 

Here’s how: Identify if your paper has a local editorial board. If so, look up their contact information so you have it on hand. This may be listed on the newspaper’s website or you could call the switchboard or newsdesk of the paper to ask. At key moments (we’ll alert you!), you will want to be ready to reach out and ask them to write an editorial endorsement.

If your newspaper doesn’t have an editorial board, you should focus on achieving other earned media such as articles, TV segments, and radio stories.

Go further: Get familiar with CCL’s “Why Carbon Pricing?” editorial packet. This has been compiled especially to give in-depth insight to editors and journalists about carbon pricing, the urgency of tackling climate change, and CCL’s mission.

You could also dive into our more detailed training about generating editorial endorsements. 

Step 7: Get social

Why? Social media is a fantastic way to leverage your media success. It gives you a free megaphone to highlight your work, congratulate a volunteer, give appreciation to a news outlet, and — importantly — tag your member of Congress! 

Here’s how: Coordinate with your chapter’s social media team so that they can broadcast your media work. Be creative, thinking about great visual ways to showcase your success, for example, photographing the writer proudly holding the opinion page with their letter to the editor.    

Go further: Mobilize your chapter for maximum publicity! You could consider sending out an email with easy-to-access links urging your volunteers to retweet, like, and comment on your social media posts.

If you and your chapter can take these seven steps, your media work will be in great shape. Thank you for all you are doing to build political will for a livable world!

CCL Media Basics Interactive Training

If you are interested in engaging more deeply with this content, we have an interactive training available for you to explore here.

Press play to start the video (39m 52s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

(0:00) Intro & Agenda
(7:45) Step 1: Become A Media Manager 
(10:48) Step 2: Find & Share LTE Opportunities
(14:41) Step 3: Boost Visibility w/ Op-Eds
(25:02) Step 4: Link Up With Your Liaison
(28:28) Step 5: Make The News
(32:21) Step 6: Aim For An Editorial
(35:04) Step 7: Get Social! 

  • Charlotte Ward
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (39m 52s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.
  • (0:00) Intro & Agenda
  • (7:45) Step 1: Become A Media Manager 
  • (10:48) Step 2: Find & Share LTE Opportunities
  • (14:41) Step 3: Boost Visibility w/ Op-Eds
  • (25:02) Step 4: Link Up With Your Liaison
  • (28:28) Step 5: Make The News
  • (32:21) Step 6: Aim For An Editorial

(35:04) Step 7: Get Social! 

  • Charlotte Ward
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