Do's and Don'ts for Meeting with Editorial Boards

December 16, 2014
by Jay Evensen, Senior Editorial Columnist, Deseret News

Jay Evensen is a past RESULTS Cameron Duncan Media Award winner and a longtime champion for health, education, and economic opportunity through his work in the media. Here he shares top tips for working with editorial boards.

Do's and Don'ts for Meeting with Editorial Boards

Do understand what an editorial board is. It’s a group of the newspaper’s top editors and editorial writers, and they are seeking issues behind which they can put their institutional clout.

Do request a meeting with the board via email; it’s the quickest and best way to make contact.

Do explain specifically the topic you wish to discuss. Tell how many people you will bring. Ask how many people the newspaper will have in attendance. Ask how much time you will have and plan to stick to this limit.

During the meeting, do tell the board the type of editorial you hope to see them write. This will help focus your presentation.

When possible, do tailor your message to the editorial slant of the newspaper, emphasizing things you think would resonate with their core positions.

Do ask about the possibility of writing an op-ed.

Do keep track of what your local paper writes on your subject. Acknowledge a favorable editorial with thanks.

Do let editors know when their editorials have a positive effect. Every writer wants to know he or she has influence.

Don’t complain about an editorial that isn’t what you had hoped. Keep a positive relationship and keep meeting with the board.

Do bring in guests with expertise.

Don’t bring in more than one guest, unless they are either prominent or illustrating the same point. Keep the message simple.

Do have a spokesperson to move the meeting along and keep focus. Too many people speaking at once can lead to confusion.

Do bring simple-to-understand and concise handouts that summarize your issue. Be quick to offer more information if questions arise that aren’t answered in these handouts.

Do anticipate objections or questions and be prepared with answers.

Do remember you are speaking with people who are not experts on your subject. Avoid acronyms or jargon. Be simple. Clarify concepts.

Do understand you may not get what you are seeking. Be gracious.

Do follow up with an email after the meeting either providing more information or asking if there are any further questions.

Don’t pester the board about whether they intend to write anything on your subject. However, do feel free to ask for another meeting in a few months when a new hook or issue comes up.

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