Communicating through the news media is an effective way to bring the small business message to the general public, influence policy makers, and draw attention to important issues. NFIB relies on our members to speak to media because you’re the expert on how issues impact your business. And no one is better at explaining that than you.
Share the Small Business Perspective
NFIB has a very active media department. It is their job to interact with journalists who cover important political and business issues, like taxes, regulations, and healthcare. Every week, NFIB receives requests from reporters who want to help their readers understand how public policies affect small business. Often times they ask to speak with a small business owner.
Being a media spokesperson is not for everyone, but if you think you would like to help NFIB educate reporters and their audiences, which includes voters and policymakers, then we would like to get you involved. This is a great way to explain our positions and move public opinion in our direction. Our media team will coordinate the interviews and help prepare you with briefing materials and practice sessions.
Tips to keep in mind when speaking to a reporter or doing a live interview:
- Prepare and practice. Do your research and practice your lines before an interview. This will help you organize your thoughts and stick to your main points. It will also make you more confident.
- Be conversational. You don’t have to sound like a college professor or a technical expert. You just have to tell your story clearly, and the best way to do that is to speak to reporters the way you talk to anyone else.
- Relax. Talking to reporters can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Most reporters just want to understand the issue from your perspective. They’re not trying to trip you up. So relax, speak slowly, and smile.
- Be direct. Nobody likes long-winded answers, including reporters. If you can say what you want in a few words, then that’s the best way to answer. Trying to fill up time with words either gets you in trouble or turns a simple answer into a complicated one that is less effective.
- If you don’t know the answer, say so. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know an answer. Reporters won’t hold it against you. So if you’re not sure, don’t guess. Tell the reporter you will get back to them with the answer and then follow-up on that promise. NFIB can assist you with answering questions or supplying information.
- Reference your membership. Tell the reporter you are a member of NFIB.
If interested in being an NFIB spokesperson, complete our Business Champion Survey and check the box option “Work with NFIB to speak with the media.” To request a copy of the Business Champion Survey, email your NFIB Grassroots Team at [email protected]. If you have state-related media questions, you can find contact information for all our state offices here.
Letter to the Editor
A letter to your local newspaper’s editor is an effective way to reach a broad audience and draw attention to an issue. Letters to the editor published in local newspapers are widely read by community leaders, elected officials, and their staff. They are especially useful as a way to localize national and statewide issues and influence your community.
Want to get your legislators’ attention? Include their name in your letter. Thank them for a vote or encourage their support on an issue. Today’s technology allows legislative staff to pull all news articles referencing a legislator’s name and include them in the legislator’s daily news clips.
NFIB can help you write a letter or share information so you can draft your own. We can also identify news outlets and editors in your area.
Tips to keep in mind when writing a letter to the editor:
- Be brief and follow submission requirements. Most newspapers limit letters to the editor to 200 words or less. So you need to make your points in two or three paragraphs. If requirements include your full name and a telephone number, that’s so they can verify you are the author.
- Make your main point early in the letter and then again at the end. Your main point is the one you want readers to remember.
- Consider the audience. You are writing for average readers who might not understand business as well as you do. Use terms that are plain and simple.
- Read previous letters to the editor in the publication to which you plan to write. What do the published letters look like? Which letters draw your attention? Which letters do not get your attention? Use these letters as a guide in drafting your own letter.
- If you use statistics to support your argument, make sure they are accurate. Do not make statements you cannot back up. Use NFIB resources, such as findings from the NFIB Research Center, to support reasoning.
- Never make personal attacks or insults.
- If your letter is not printed, do not get discouraged. Newspapers receive more letters than they can print. Unpublished letters are still read by the editors and may help them determine future topics and influence the editorial board of the paper. Keep writing and encouraging other business owners to submit their own letters to the editor.