AAC is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public
education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.

 


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WORKING WITH YOUR LOCAL MEDIA

What this article contaings:


Download this customizable press release (.doc file) to edit and send to your local media. Read on for more tips and reasons why this is helpful to the event.


WHY REACH OUT TO YOUR LOCAL MEDIA?

In 1997, a participant conducted a live radio interview with a station in her home town while vigiling in front of the Supreme Court. Her participation was also covered by the local newspaper. Every year since then we have has *some* media attention, but each year is different.

The Fast and Vigil is growing in size and gaining visibility with the press. You can make the most of your participation by alerting your local media to the fact that you are coming to this event. Think about the communities you are in. Does your school have a news paper? Does your diocese? Does your major metropolitan newspaper have a "Community" section that invites people to submit their own material?

The bottom line is this: We can't afford to buy advertising to spread our message, but we can EARN what amounts to free advertising by getting ourselves covered in the media. If we are lucky they will accurately portray our perspective. If we are really lucky they will run a photo with our web page and/or phone number in it. If we are successful in getting the local media where YOU are from to cover YOUR participation in this national event, then thousands of people will get our message. Perhaps tens of thousands or even millions of people can be exposed to our message. But if you don't ask, you get nothing.

The Abolitionist Action Committee and the F&V co-sponsors will do our best to attract the national media, but it is up to each participant to work it from the local angle. We'll help, but in the end it is up to you....


BUILDING A MEDIA LIST

You already have a media list. It's right there in your local telephone book. Just look up Newspapers, Television, and Radio. Call the news departments, ask for their fax number or e-mail address, send them your release (see below for a sample Press release you can customize), and call them back to follow up....

Another good place to start when building a media list is http://newslink.org/. And another good place is your local or state anti-death penalty coalition - e-mail Abe at if you don't have a contact there already.

Be sure to bring your press list with you to DC. If something big happens, you want to be able to reach your hometown media to give them a local angle....


SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE I

15th Annual Fast and Vigil
For use through July 2, 2009
Contact: (your name, phone number)

(From June 28 to July 2, please call XXXX (TO BE DETERMINED), the AAC press liaison in DC.)

LOCAL RESIDENT TO PARTICIPATE IN NATIONAL ANTI-DEATH PENALTY EVENT

(YOUR NAME), a resident of (YOUR CITY) will travel to Washington, DC to participate in the 15th Annual Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty, held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court each year. Death Penalty Abolitionists from across the nation and from other countries join together each year for this event to maintain a four-day presence in front of the Court and to educate the public about alternatives to the death penalty.

The Fast and Vigil begins at 12:00 AM on Friday, June 29, the anniversary of Furman v.Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1972 decision which found the death penalty to be unconstitutional in practice, forcing all states to rewrite their death penalty laws. The Fast and Vigil ends at midnight on Monday July 2, the anniversary of Gregg v. Georgia, the 1976 decision which allowed the resumption of executions in the U.S.

[Insert a relevant quote here, such as " I am proud to travel to Washington to participate in this important witness against state killing", said (YOUR NAME). " I am following in the footsteps of great women and men who spoke up against slavery and evil. I am standing up against the culture of violence and asking our nation to adopt alternatives to the death penalty and stop the killing".]

The primary goal of the June 29-July 2 activities is to educate the public. This is the 15th year in a row that Abolitionists will stand vigil in front of the U.S. Supreme Court between these historic anniversaries. The primary goal is to further educate the public about why the death penalty is a bad public policy, and everyone is invited to stand with us for alternatives to the death penalty. But the Fast and Vigil also serves as an opportunity for activists to come together and renew their commitment to the struggle for abolition.

Interviews with (YOUR NAME) can be arranged prior to the event by calling (YOUR NUMBER).

A live interview from the steps of the Supreme Court during the event can be arranged by calling XXX (mobile). For more information, please visit www.abolition.org.

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Or, you can simply send the following, exciting release, with a cover note that "I am attending this national event, if you would like to have a local angle to the national story...."

SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE II

PRESS RELEASE
CONTACT: Your Name, Phone, E-mail

JUNE 23, 2009

Local Resident Attending National Protest at US Supreme Court

Your City ≠ Your City resident Your Name will travel to Washington, DC next week to participate in the 15th Annual Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty, held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court each year.

Your Name, a member of Your Group, will join other death penalty opponents from across the nation and from other countries for this annual event to maintain a four-day presence in front of the Court and to educate the public about alternatives to the death penalty.

The Fast and Vigil begins at 12:00 AM on Friday, June 29, the anniversary of Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Courtís 1972 decision which found the death penalty to be unconstitutional in practice, forcing all states to rewrite their death penalty laws. The Fast and Vigil ends at midnight on July 2, the anniversary of Gregg v. Georgia, the 1976 decision which allowed the resumption of executions in the U.S.

The 2004-2008 US Supreme Court session has seen the abolition of the death penalty for juvenile offenders, and in the last several weeks there have been strong rebukes to both prosecutors and defense attorneys that will absolutely reduce the number of people executed in this country.

ďAs the YOUR STATE legislature deliberates over a proposed moratorium on executions, I am traveling to Washington to join with others who believe ≠ as I do ≠ that the death penalty system is horribly broken,Ē said Your Name. "We are very excited this year because of the momentum that is building in the movement to abolish the death penalty. This year we will celebrate these victories and continue to educate the public about why the death penalty is a bad public policy."

Interviews with Your Name can be arranged by calling Your Number. A live interview from the steps of the Supreme Court during the event can be arranged by calling 561-371-5204 (mobile) -- Or Your Cell Phone. For more information, please visit www.abolition.org

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STAYING "ON-MESSAGE"

Please also review the following for suggestions on working with the press.

"HOW TO STAY ON MESSAGE" From the Ruckus Society's Media Manual

RUCKUS: Settle on one simple message Accept it: You are not going to be able to communicate all the main points, sub-points, and shades of gray about the issue as you would like to. An action is like a freeway billboard: It is designed to hammer home one - and almost always only one - message. If you can't focus on one issue as the main reason you are doing the action, you shouldn't be doing the action at all.

AAC: Our issue is "The Abolition of the Death Penalty."

RUCKUS: Choose a strong image that clearly communicates the message Remember the freeway billboard: With one glance it is (or should be) unmistakable what product or idea is being sold. Ideally, your action should communicate the message without any words of explanation - and always in as few words as possible.... If you find yourself saying, "They'll understand it when they read the banner," your message isn't clear enough.

AAC: We have a series of large standing signs (4x8 feet) that together present a longer overall message. These provide great visuals, but they are meant more as visuals than "sound bites." Therefore, the following is important as well:

RUCKUS: Craft sound bites that communicate and enhance the message. Assemble the media team. Take out a legal pad. Lock the door. Brainstorm simple, short, declarative sentences that express your message. Remember that the average sound bite on U.S. TV is less than 10 seconds....

AAC: We've done a lot of this already. You probably have too. We will have a variety of signs and T-shirts that are short and to the point. To help you get "on-message," the T-shirts are available to registered participants AT REDUCED PRICES. We urge you to wear the message, because that way, if the media uses your image, even if they misquote you or take you out of context, your message is clear from the image. Here are a few "sound bites." Please know them, practice them, and use them.

(If you have other suggestions, please feel free to offer them!)

"(Morally, economically and socially,) The Death Penalty is Bad Public Policy"

"Execution is NOT the Solution."

"(What we are saying is) It is wrong to kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong!"

"Don't kill in my name!"

"If we can't trust our government to fill potholes, tax us fairly, or run an election, we shouldn't trust them with the power to kill."

"We seek the total abolition of the death penalty in the United States and worldwide."

"97% of murderers who face the death penalty get the alternative of Life Without Parole. Why not all of them?"


SAMPLES OF SUCCESS!

Some participants have had success getting hometown media coverage, along the lines of "John Smith, who lives here is abolitionville (or, who is a student here at X University), has traveled to Washington DC to participate in the 15th Annual ....

Here are some examples of successful such efforts. People just took our press release, modified it for themselves, and it got picked up.

Some of our press coverage Some of our press coverage
Some of our press coverage Some of our press coverage


Abolitionist Action Committee (AAC)
P.O. Box 89
Ghent, NY 12075
800-973-6548   aac@abolition.org

   

This web site is sponsored by:
Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty