Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Now the Media is Listening, How Do You Convey Your Message (Jennifer Pozner)

Live blogging from this session is also happening at Women in the Media & News, but Jennifer is now taking a break to be a panelist.

It's so important to reach out to ethnic media. Example: immigration marches were originally covered by Spanish language radio and newspapers, which gave organizers better access to organizing more people for the May Day rallies and pushed the mainstream media to cover the events.

In 2006, the March for Women's Lives brought together more people to DC than any protest up to that time (larger than the 60s anti-war protests, larger than the previous anti-Iraq war protests). That story was deemed to be largely inconsequential, would not have an impact on politicians, predominantly reported on for one day and largely under-counted the attendance, then there were "balanced" stories about the 200 or so anti-abortion activists who showed up. (I remember this event; I left a WILPF board meeting early to return to DC for the rally...I was living in DC at the time.)

Every time you read a story about feminism being dead the underlying message is "have we killed it yet?"


U - unpack acronym speak. Do oppositional research to understand how conservatives are speaking about your issues, and also, just as importantly, how the mainstream media is describing your issues. Understand right-wing spin (e.g. "if we don't fight them over there, we'll have to fight them over here.") Create frames and messages that work to unpack that particular idea. Spin Works is a great book with "the brother-in-law test." Explain your issue without jargon, that respects his intelligence and makes him understand that your issue impacts him is a good test of unpacking message.

S - Spin. Can be translated into propaganda. Can also be a positive thing: creating a message that is easy to understand, be ethical.

E - Engage. engage the media at every point in your work from beginning to end. Don't just send a press release and wonder why they don't show up. If you see a piece in the media that inaccurately covers your story, try to educate them. If they cover it positively, feed them research.

M - messaging

E - educate. Educate yourself to become spokespeople. Then you're better prepared to educate the public through the media.

D - Debate. Understand that it is a stacked deck. Women and people of color are vastly under-represented in broadcast media. It is important to not self-select out of the debate.

I - Initiative, Insistent, Innovative, Intuition: keep at it. Understand what has been said before about your organization and unpack them.

A - Accessible. Really important to pass the brother-in-law test. Reach as large an audience as possible while staying pertinent to your core audience. Arm yourself with information: prepare and practice soundbites. Don't go into interviews cold. Practice. Role-play with someone playing the inaccurate journalist throwing at you the craziest anti-feminist crap.


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