Print

U.S. Poverty Laser Talk: Generating an Editorial on Protecting Anti-Poverty Programs

Generating media is a powerful tool to influence public policy. In April 2016, we are working to generate editorials and op-eds to protect and strengthen key anti-poverty programs. This EPIC Laser Talk can be used for calls to editorial writers about writing editorials on this issue. Before making the call, do three quick things:

  1. Email the editorial packet to the editor at least two days in advance.
  2. Scan the editorial pages to see if they’ve taken on any poverty issues in recent months (or published one of your letters or op-eds!). If they have, lead your pitch with a thank you.
  3. Look up your local data about the impact of expanding the EITC and the number of people who depend on SNAP. Find EITC data here and SNAP data here. The more local you can make your pitch, the more appealing it will be.

Engage: Hi, This is [your name], a local volunteer with RESULTS. I’m calling to follow up on my email about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan on poverty and its effect on [your state]. Do you have two minutes to chat?

Problem: Earlier this year, Speaker Ryan formed a new Congressional Task Force on Poverty. [It actually includes local Rep. XXXXXXX]. This Task Force offers opportunities to focus attention on poverty, but also could be devastating for low-income Americans – depending on what they decide to do together.

Inform: Two really key issues are in play right now. The first is ensuring that no American is taxed into poverty – and there important reforms to the tax code that to address this actually both Speaker Ryan and President Obama support. If Congress takes this on, it would boost the EITC for [XXX,XXX] low-income workers in [your state] —an important first step. The second is protecting SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp program) from what could be devastating cuts under veiled policies that could undermine the effectiveness of the program. As you probably know, SNAP is the reason [XXX,XXX] people in [your state] are able to put food on the table at night.

Call to Action: Right now is a critical time to influence the Poverty Task Force before they make their recommendations. I know an editorial here could be hugely influential in what they decide in Washington. Would you consider taking this on?

If you'd like to see an example of what this conversation might sound like, see the conversation below which was role-played on the April 2016 U.S. Poverty National Webinar:

M: Star Tribune, this is Meredith.

C: Hi, This is Colin Smith, a local volunteer with RESULTS. I’m calling to follow up on my email about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan on poverty and its effect on Minnesota. Do you have two minutes to chat?

M: Not sure I saw that – but, sure, I have a second.

C: Earlier this year, Speaker Ryan formed a new Congressional Task Force on poverty. It actually includes local Rep. John Kline. They haven’t yet come out with any recommendations – and when they do, it could be really good news or bad news for low-income Minnesotans – depending on what they decide. I saw your great editorial last month on child care for low-income workers in Minnesota – and I thought a follow-on piece about what this Task Force could do for that same group would be hugely influential.

M: So there’s no plan yet, right? Do we have a sense of what they’ll do?

C: Well, I wanted to point out two really key issues in play right now. Two really key issues are in play right now. The first is ensuring that no American is taxed into poverty – and there important reforms to the tax code that to address this actually both Speaker Ryan and President Obama support. If Congress takes this on, it would boost the EITC for 200,000 low-income workers in Minnesota —an important first step. The second is protecting SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp program) from what could be devastating cuts under veiled policies that could undermine the effectiveness of the program. As you probably know, SNAP is the reason a half a million Minnesotans are able to put food on the table at night.

M: Got it. What’s the timing on this?

C: The task force was just formed earlier this year, and now is when they’re considering their recommendations. We expect to hear in the next 2-3 months – but this is the moment when they’re actually making decisions – so media pressure will play a key role. Do you think you might be able to find space on the editorial page for this?

M: Why don’t you send me some more background?

C: Absolutely – I’ll send you background on both issues, and if helpful to connect you with an expert or any other data, very happy to do it. How should I follow up with you on this?

M: This time -- Tuesday morning -- generally works great. Give me a week or two to review and give me a ring if you haven't heard from me. Thanks, and have a good day.