Influencing editorial opinion and responding to editorial opinion is key to any effective campaign. Editorials educate readers on important public policy issues, shape public attitudes and influence local, state and national policy decisions. Editorial writers are interested in ideas and facts. A successful media strategy should include getting editorials published that support your position. Once a newspaper editorializes on a subject it is difficult to reverse that opinion, so it is important to influence editorial boards early on in a campaign.
Find out which member of the editorial board of a paper covers the issue of bottle bills and/or recycling. Set up a meeting with that individual or with the entire editorial board, if that is appropriate. Let the secretary know who will attend the meeting and what you wish to discuss. Decide who will say what in advance of the meeting and who will be the spokesperson for the group. If you cannot arrange a meeting, send an editorial board packet. The purpose of the meeting is to provide the writer with information so that he/she will consider doing an editorial in favor of the issue. Provide fact sheets and other supporting documents. Do not stretch the facts. Above all, you want to insure your credibility with the writer and the paper.
A positive editorial is a powerful tool. Not only will it be read by hundreds of thousands of individuals among the general public, it will be also be read by policymakers and legislators. Send favorable editorials to elected officials and use to recruit other groups to your issue or coalition.
Op-Eds (editorials that run opposite the editorial page in most newspapers, sometimes known as "commentary") are generally written by editors of the paper or syndicated columnists, but newspapers, especially small town papers, are often happy to run "guest" op eds. Op-eds are generally 500-800 words, and are a good way to get your message to the public with more detail than is possible in a letter to the editor. Look at the sample op-eds below for inspiration, then visit your newspaper's website or call their editorial department to find out the requirements.
Letters to the Editor are one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper and reach a large audience. They afford citizens an opportunity to comment on the way issues are being addressed in the media and to influence what topics the paper covers. Elected officials often monitor this section of the newspaper and take notice of constituents' opinions.
Talk your face off. Type your fingers off. But a picture is worth a thousand words. In the end, be sure your information gets to editorial cartoonists as well as editors. With proper permission, an editorial cartoon can be used to great effect in your campaign materials--for example, the cartoon at the bottom of the first page of the 10-Cent Incentive to Recycle [PDF] brochure.