Media Advocacy Tips

by Robert Bray, Fight the Right Media Trainer, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
This section presents tips on developing and executing an effective strategy for attaining non-paid media coverage to complement your efforts to move campaign messages through paid advertisements, voter identification polling, canvassing, and direct mail. Remember that the purpose of developing and executing a non-paid media program during a campaign is to re-enforce campaign messages.

The ability of the right wing to win in elections is based on a strategy of deception and stealth. Our job is to expose voters to the truth so that they can make informed decisions when they answer ballot questions. Good research into the groups we are fighting, voter attitudes regarding the issues, and well informed analysis of the groups of persuadable voters we want to reach are critically important.


Identify newsworthy events, initiatives, or announcements


Shape your news into one key message, with one or two supporting messages. Refine and distill the overarching news themes or events into concise, essential messages that must be picked up by the press. Return to and emphasize the key messages over and over during interviews and in press releases. Make a point of briefly and concisely refuting the "special rights" arguments we perpetually face. We do not seek any rights other than the civil rights and freedom from institutionalized discrimination that all citizens desire.

Our opponents are seeking special rights: the right to discriminate and create a second-class group of citizens, and the right to violate separation of church and state by legislating their form of Christian morality. For example, a news story about an anti-gay referendum attempting to amend a constitution to exclude gay men and lesbians from civil rights protection might have the following key messages:

A. Measure # 5 is an amendment to the bill of rights of the constitution to unfairly promote discrimination for the first time in history. The measure, which will appear on the May ballot, legalizes discrimination in employment, housing, restaurants and public accommodations for reasons not relevant to job performance or ability to pay.

B. The sponsor of the measure is a fringe religious extremist group which hopes to impose discriminatory and unfair laws limiting citizens rights based on perceived sexual orientation. (Be prepared to prove it or don't say it!)

C. Reasonable and fair minded people are in opposition to this discriminatory measure.

D. Please Vote No On Discrimination. Vote No On # 5.

Remember that you are reinforcing messages that will appear in advertisements, on brochures, and in the scripted pitches of telephone and door-to-door canvassers. Keep the message short, make it easily understandable, repeatable, and very simple.


A. When attempting to communicate the idea that your opposition is a fringe religious extremist group, it is always best to use Christian clergy and other religious leaders to convey that message. Religious leaders who are opinion leaders in the broader community will be seen as authorities on who is and is not "fringe" or "extreme" within the religious community. Additionally, the involvement of religious leaders will inoculate you from one of the right's traditional tactics, which is to say that you are discriminating against or bashing Christians.

B. Don't hide. The community will know that the issue before them concerns gay and lesbian people. There is no reason to pretend otherwise. However, it is important to demonstrate that gays and lesbians are not alone, and that discrimination is an issue for the whole community, no matter who is most directly affected. The right will try to create the impression that only gays and lesbians are affected by their discriminatory campaigns. We must prove them wrong, and give heterosexual people role models who can help create the social space for them to "come out" in support of our rights.

C. You must appear more reasonable than your opposition if you hope to convey what undecided and persuadable people will accept as truth. Remember that homophobia is based in fear Qthe right wing is relying on us to provoke fear in order to reinforce their message. Don't be scary!


Contents: Mail or hand deliver the press kits to reporters, producers, editors, assignment desks, wire service managers, "daybooks" (media calendars) for local Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI), and other media sources.

Media Advisory: If you are doing a press conference or visibility event (e.g., demonstration, candlelight vigil), send a media advisory out at least one week before to invite reporters. The short advisory should inform reporters and assignment editors of the time, place and purpose of the event (the Five W's).




Every statement you make to the media can either bring your campaign closer to people who can be persuaded to oppose right wing campaigns, or distance you from them. Be careful! Remember who you want to persuade and then target your messages so they understand you.

For more information or to request a complete Fight the Right Action Kit, call NGLTF at 202-332-6483, TTY 202-332-6219.