The power of the press

By Jonathan Novoa

 

Never underestimate how powerful the media can be when it comes to making - or breaking - your project. Getting quality, positive press coverage can push your project to the next level by increasing awareness around your organization and garnering support around your cause.

In this Day Two workshop, JKV Strategies president Joanna Klonsky spoke to delegates about the importance of getting on the good side of reporters. She began the workshop with an explanation of her background and experience in political journalism with a number of high-profile campaigns. She explained that the essence of her career so far has been helping progressive elected officials explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. The individuals she represents often meet media backlash lash due to the fact that the nature of their work tends to be controversial.

One of the instances in which she had this type of backlash was a bill in 2014 for minimum wage increases in Chicago. Opponents of the bill insisted that wage increases would lead to job loss and a negative impact on the economy of the city when in fact there was substantial evidence that the opposite was true. Getting this information to the public in the right outlets was crucial to changing public perception of the bill as well as having it pass. The role of media in providing public pressure to accelerate or stop a bill was summarized into three main points:

 

  • Means to an end

  • Create political will

  • Expose a problem

 

Using the media to help each delegates’ project in one of the ways above is the best way to raise awareness and push their project forward at the same time.  

Klonsky also addressed the problem of lack of access to such outlets and how in one instance this obstacle was overcome. In 2011, The New York Times issued a story about protesters who sat in front of City Hall protesting the closures of several mental health clinics. Their actions gained traction and landed them a front page cover story on the Times.

However, since most GES delegates are relative unknowns, they are likely to be turned down by most outlets, she admits. Therefore, developing relationships with people on the ground is instrumental. By strategically finding who the important reporters are in their city who are covering the issues related to their project and getting in contact with them, young social entrepreneurs will put themselves in the best position to get the media coverage they need.

She closed the workshop by answering some of more specific questions that the delegates had and explaining some of the intricacies of dealing with news stations and newspapers that she had experience.