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The Planet
Natural Resources

Editor's Note:

This Q & A feature of The Planet is a combination of how-to tips and activist experiences. Sometimes we'll consult an expert in the field; other times we'll solicit expert advice from our readers.

This month's question:
What's your tip for working with the media?

"Establish a good relationship with a reporter by phoning or sending a note when he or she prepares a good story - especially a story you're not involved in. Reporters hear complaints when they make a mistake or make someone angry, but they rarely get praised. You'll be surprised by how such goodwill can pay off."

- Elden Hughes, Chair California-Nevada Desert Committee

"Instead of reciting a string of facts followed by a conclusion, start with the conclusion and then back it up with facts: 'President Bush is robbing wildlife programs in order to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It's nothing but a shell game.' Then go into the details."

"And outline your points clearly. Think of the 'grocery store test.' If two people are making conversation while standing in line at the market, one should be able to make the key points to the other without any trouble."

- Kim Haddow, Communications Consultant

"If you have a line that works, don't change it. I've said, 'The biggest single step we can take to curb global warming is to make our cars and light trucks go farther on a gallon of gas' about 10,000 times since 1989. But every time I say it, it gets quoted. Another tip: Stay in your job long enough to be the only person they can interview. And I'm only being partly facetious."

- Dan Becker, Director Global Warming and Energy Program

"They're looking for a story, so give them one. 'Doris Wilson's home was flooded when developers destroyed a nearby wetland using a rubber-stamp wetland destruction permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.' It's good if you can follow that up with a quick fact they can use - and a solution to the problem."

- Brett Hulsey, Midwest Senior Regional Representative

Coming up:

What was your first action as an activist?
How do you get your neighbors or work colleagues to act on environmental issues?

Send your stories and advice to "Natural Resources," The Planet, Sierra Club, 85 Second St., Second Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94105 or

Deadline: October 15

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