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Communication & Action Toolkit

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Getting your ELO program in the public eye is an important key to running a successful advocacy campaign. Newspapers, television and radio stations provide great ways to increase visibility and to build support and momentum for ELO programs. The following are ideas, along with some how-to information, for getting your message out to the media about the importance of Expanded Learning Opportunities.

Newspapers
Your local newspaper's opinion pages are an important, but sometimes overlooked, outlet for the message of the importance of ELO programs. In addition, encouraging your local newspaper to write an article about the importance of ELO programs and inviting them to cover special events are great ways to increase public awareness. Frequently newspaper editors need stories. There are numerous ways to engage your local newspaper, including:

  • Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper (View sample letters to the editor now.)
  • Write an opinion article
  • Talk with the editorial writer of your local newspaper and encourage them to write an article about the importance of ELO programs
    Send news releases
  • Always invite your local newspaper to events

News Releases
Also called press releases, news releases are 1-2 page reports of a newsworthy event. These can be sent to newspapers, as well as television and radio stations. News releases should be written in a reporter's voice, not an advocate's. The news release should have a headline and a "lead paragraph" that clearly states the news of the release, and answers the questions who, what, where, when and why. Also, don't forget to include contact information. View sample news releases and additional tips now.

Local Television and Radio Stations
Invite local television and radio stations to cover any special events that are occurring in your ELO program. It is often beneficial to send a brief media advisory to inform them of these events (this can be emailed to the appropriate TV/radio contact - see sample media advisories now). These advisories inform the media of upcoming events, and convince them that these events are genuine news stories that are worthy of coverage. Media Advisories are excellent tools to use to attract media to your afterschool events, such as an open house, STEM events and Lights on Afterschool celebrations. If your mayor or Congressional representative is attending, make sure this is emphasized in your Media Advisory.Look for a local cable television interview opportunity or a local radio talk show to advocate for the importance of ELO programs.

Proactive pitching
Pitch letters are personalized letters to reporters/producers urging them to cover a particular topic or to book a particular guest. Pitch letters can also ask columnists or newspaper reporters to write about a particular issue. You may try sending a pitch letter offering your ELO program as a unique twist on back-to-school stories or as a local illustration of a national news-making event (for example, when Congress passes a bill that affects the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative). View sample pitch letters now.

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