Getting Media Attention for the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Image of newspaper icon (angiechaoticcrooks0/Pixabay)

So you’d like to get some media attention for the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)? Excellent! Doing so is a great way of spreading the word to more potential pledge-takers.

After each instance of media coverage, more people visit the PTP website, and some of these visitors take the pledge. Whether they do so depends on the visitors, of course: it’s not under your control. What’s under your control is taking the steps that would lead to coverage of the PTP both by traditional and digital media.

Letter-to-the-Editor

A letter-to-the-editor about the Pro-Truth Pledge is a super-easy way anyone – and I do mean anyone – can make a meaningful difference in less than 15 minutes! Here’s a link to a guide on writing letters to the editor. In a nutshell, you’d want to respond either to an article or op-ed published in the newsletter, or write about some top-of-mind news event or calendar date. Follow the instructions of your local newspaper(s) when submitting letters to them.

Your goal is to insert a reference to the Pro-Truth Pledge, along with a link to it, in the letter. It is very unlikely that the link will be published, but it will give the editorial staff a chance to check out the website and realize it’s a credible and serious project.

An example of a successful PTP-themed letter is this one by Carl Baker. As you will see, it’s a very generic letter. You yourself can take this exact same letter and send it to your own newspaper (Carl will be happy for you to do so). Doing so will take you less than 15 minutes, and there is no copyright or any other problem with you doing it.

Another example of a successful PTP-themed letter is this one by Stephanie Frizzell. This letter is slightly more complex, but has a stronger impact. It was topical because it was shortly before the election, and named the candidates in the local area who took the PTP, boosting their reputation as a result. This kind of letter is especially helpful to write shortly before an election. Again, please adapt it for your needs: in fact, Stephanie adapted it from a similar letter I wrote earlier.

A third example of a successful PTP-themed letter is this one by Russ Frizzell (the husband of Stephanie Frizzell). This letter again had a tie-in to newsworthy events, namely the recent election. You can use this letter as well for your needs.

Op-Ed

Writing an opinion piece for a newspaper or online venue is another way of spreading word about the PTP. To get an op-ed published takes a combination of writing skill and strong opinion. It’s not for everyone. If you want to try it, here is a link with guidelines about writing op-eds.

We had a number of op-eds published about the PTP. For example, this one is devoted exclusively to the PTP, and so is this one. Note that both of these are in community newspapers, which do not have nearly as much competition for op-ed space. On the other hand, this one and this one sneak in the pledge into the content of the op-ed, giving it a couple of sentences. These op-eds are in very prominent newspapers, which would not have carried an op-ed simply about the PTP.

Feature Piece

Want to get a feature piece in your local newspaper, or on your radio or TV station about the Pro-Truth Pledge? It’s easier than you think. Just find the names of all the journalists at the newspaper, and hosts and producers at your radio and TV stations, and send them a pitch email inviting them to take the pledge and/or do a story about it.

Some will take the pledge, which will be a good outcome. Some will want to write a story about it. That’s how we got this feature story about the PTP in a major newspaper, as well as this feature story in a community newspaper. You’ll have more success with community newspapers than major ones, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

In case you’re worried about how to find the emails of reporters, it’s pretty easy. After all, reporters are looking for tips. Just search for the staff director or contact section of the newspaper in your area. As an example, here’s the contact list of the major newspaper – The Columbus Dispatch, 35th largest newspaper in the US – that did the feature story about the PTP. Don’t be worried about “spamming” reporters either. It’s their job to get the news, and the PTP is definitely a newsworthy story. I’d say getting a feature piece is easier than an op-ed.

If you’re doing some event related to the PTP, try calling reporters in advance and encouraging them to show up. For instance, that’s how we got the PTP on television at the March for Truth event in Central Ohio.

Social Media Venues

There are many social media groups which you can approach to encourage them to share about the Pro-Truth Pledge, such as Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, LinkedIn groups, Reddit subreddits, and so on dedicated to science, philosophy, politics, ethics, psychology, and similar topics of relevance to the Pro-Truth Pledge. In most of these venues, unless they have a specific policy forbidding sharing about external projects, you can simply make a post about the PTP, with a message about how it relates to the group’s purpose.

For example, for a political discussion group on Facebook or Reddit, you can propose that everyone abides by the tenets of the PTP. That will get some people to check it out and promote an engaging conversation. The likely outcome will be both improving the quality of discussion in the group, along with some people taking the PTP. For a LinkedIn group on ethics, you can post about the PTP as a way of promoting ethical behavior among professionals. In short, adapt the PTP to each group.

Note that in some cases, groups are heavily moderated. Heavy moderation applies especially to larger groups, which of course are ones where you tend to have a bigger impact when posting about the PTP. In those cases, check who the group’s admins are, and ask them if they would approve a post about the PTP. For checking on Facebook who the admins are, see the directions here. Do a Google search for finding admins on other social media if you can’t figure it out easily. Then, pitch them on the PTP via the templates available here. If they take the PTP, suggest posting in the group about it.

Association/Organization Media Venues

Various associations and organizations often have their own media venues. Some will have a bigger likelihood of being friendly to the PTP, such as ones associated with science, philosophy, politics, ethics, psychology, and similar topics. To spread the message via these venues, first pitch the people in leadership roles in the association on the PTP via the templates available here. Then, once they take the PTP, ask them to spread it to their audiences.

In some cases, they will ask you to write an article targeted to their audience. That’s great! For example, when we wrote this article for the Skeptic Society, it went to their email list of 100K, and resulted in about 700 people signing the PTP. Another example is this article for the United Coalition of Reason. Get the halo effect going for you by associating the PTP with that organization and the relevant audience. For example, in the Skeptic Society article, the title was “THE PRO-TRUTH PLEDGE: An Effective Strategy for Skeptics to Fight Fake News and Post-Truth Politics.” It would have been just as accurate to use the phrase “for people” as “for skeptics,” but using the latter phrase helped the audience identify with the PTP and made them more likely to take it.

Guest interview

You can also try to get on media venues as a guest to talk about the PTP. Doing so takes figuring out the contact information of the media venue and specifically the person booking guests; getting in touch with the person and showing them why the PTP would be relevant for their audience; and then showing why you would be a good person to be a guest on the show to talk about the PTP.

It helps if you have any of the following five characteristics: 1) have been active in the PTP movement for a while (over 6 months); 2) have previous interview experience; 3) are a public figure; 4) have expertise in a certain area of the PTP, for instance are a behavioral scientist with expertise in the research behind the PTP; 5) belong to a certain demographic served by a media venue, for instance if you’re a resident of a city and a radio show focuses on that city, or if you belong to a certain demographic and a podcast focuses on that demographic. We have many guest interviews you can check out as models for talking on shows about the PTP: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Conclusion

We’re excited to learn about your efforts to get media attention for the PTP! Post comments here with successes and failures, and make any suggestions on improvements in the strategies describes in this blog.

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