Getting the word out, Part Two

This week I spoke to members of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) about legislative communications. My hope […]

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This week I spoke to members of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) about legislative communications. My hope is that the tips in this series of posts are helpful year-round.

Get to know advocacy groups

Many advocacy groups offer training on how to tell a story. Find the group[ specific to your part of the state or disability. Connect with them on upcoming workshops, podcast and web pages for information. The information is very helpful.

Materials for legislative advocacy and rally days typically contain tips on telling one’s story. Use that information all year long.

Write an elevator speech

Think of being in an elevator with someone, and having the brief chance to introduce yourself and your issue. Unless the elevator is slow or gets stuck, you don’t have lots of time. Think of how would I say who I am, where I am from and why my issue is important. Practice with a family member or friend. Jot notes on a card and keep it in your pocket if that is helpful, or enter it onto your phone or other device.


Lots of resources are out there for writers. Community education programs can be very helpful. Podcasts are also a great help. The Minnesota Newspaper Association has even offered a “citizen journalism u” for people wishing to be trained to write for newspapers in a short course.

Numerous websites offer useful advice for letters to the editor and commentaries. Here are our top three:

Find your media outlet

Access Press is Minnesota’s disability news sources, but we’re not alone. Our legislators and community leaders read the newspapers in the home districts. For Minnesota newspapers, start with the Minnesota Newspaper Association:

For regional community and BIPOC papers:

Another Minnesota media list:

A broadcast media resource:

Be a source or resource:

Newsrooms everywhere are doing more with less. Our staffs have been cut. It’s all too easy to rely on the same few news sources.

If you are comfortable speaking publicly about your disability and disability-related issues, or the issue a family member lives with, consider dropping a note to your local newsroom and offering to be a source. You may or may not be taken up on the offer, but putting your name out there gives a journalist a new contact on your specific disability.

Be respectful

All of us in the news business work on deadlines – daily, weekly, twice-weekly or monthly. Meeting deadlines as well as submissions requirements is really, really important, especially when newsrooms are short-staffed. Our print deadline at Access Press is always the 15th of the month, or the Monday after if that date falls on a weekend. We’re all part-time.

Know your deadlines and know when it’s good time to be able to talk a journalist. Ask if that person is working on deadline or has a minute to talk.

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