You’ve finally convinced your local newspaper’s leadership to sit down with you for a formal editorial board meeting. Now what do you do? Obviously you’ll want to prepare, but for what?
An editorial board typically is made up of the editor, reporters, editorial writers and sometimes the publisher. The newspaper usually relies on this group to weigh issues of public interest and express the opinions of the newspaper. At smaller papers the group may only consist of the editor or a reporter. The meeting can last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes depending on the topics/issues up for discussion.
The Fairmount Group’s tried and true tips for helping clients navigate the sometimes murky waters of the editorial board meeting will help you deliver your message efficiently.
Five Steps for an Effective Editorial Board Meeting
- Know your audience. On a regular basis someone from your organization should monitor and analyze the newspaper’s editorials and news coverage to understand their viewpoints.
- Identify your goals. Often the goal of an editorial board meeting is to get a newspaper’s endorsement for a cause or candidate. But sometimes it’s merely good to aim for maintaining regular contact with the newspaper’s power structure. Whatever your goal make sure it’s clear to you and your organization before you go to the meeting.
- Prepare three key messages. If you want them to remember anything about your organization you need to bring everything back to three key messages. Anything more is overkill and confusing. It’s also helpful to bring handouts for everyone.
- At the meeting: It’s all on the record. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security by warm welcomes and professional manners. Everything you say at the editorial board meeting is fair game for the next print edition.
- After the meeting: Follow up. Whether a print story results from your meeting or not, it’s appropriate to follow up with a thank-you note as soon as possible. Don’t wait to see if your story materializes in print. And if you do get a story and it’s not what you expected, don’t complain.
It’s also a best practice to schedule editorial board meetings at least once a year to keep editorial leadership informed and to keep your organization connected with the community. You’ll also want to watch the newspaper carefully for future opportunities that may present themselves.
Is Your Organization on Board with your Media Relations Strategy?
Contact The Fairmount Group today. We offer services from crisis media relations training to media relations strategy and more.