Putting a face on EITC
You have probably helped many people in your community get the Earned Income Tax Credit. If so, you know how meaningful those extra dollars were to them and their families. A feature article about how the credit made their lives a little easier -- and how your organization made it possible -- can put a face on the EITC story, elevating it from a news item to a human interest story with impact. People enjoy reading about (and talking about) other people.
If you want to create a buzz about EITC, consider pitching a feature story to your local media.
Where to begin
First, identify who the story will be about. Look for EITC recipients with interesting, heart-warming, or surprising stories. The best candidates are open, outgoing people who can paint a picture with their words, are passionate about EITC and want other eligible taxpayers to get the EITC they have earned.
Talk with your potential EITC spokespersons. Get details about their lives, their families, and the changes that EITC made possible. Ask if they are wiling to share their story with the public. Most importantly, ask for permission to pitch their story to a reporter and identify which personal details you can divulge.
Determine the best media to tell this story. Television is good if your story is highly visual and can be told in a few words. Newspaper is the media of choice if the story is more detailed and needs space. If you opt for a newspaper, is a large daily paper best or a smaller, weekly community paper where many readers know each other? Prioritize your choices.
Decide the best time to sell your story...mid-January, when people are gathering their tax records and waiting for their Forms W-2, late January when many volunteer assistance sites open, or other dates.
Identify the most appropriate person at your chosen media with whom to speak. Is there a features reporter who covers similar stories? Would a consumer reporter be interested? Should you contact the lifestyles editor?
Determine the most arresting features of your story...what makes it interesting, unique, valuable, or must-tell.
Make it personal
Pitch your story in person, either face-to-face or by phone. Reserve e-mail for nailing down the details later. Tell your contact why this story is important and how it can help others in your community. Describe what you can do to help pull the story together. Ask for the coverage.
If you don't succeed with your first contact, go to the next media outlet on your list and try again.
Arrange the details. Coordinate a time for the reporter to speak with your EITC spokesperson. Does the reporter want to speak with the head of your organization for background? Is a picture part of the story? If so, coordinate a time and location.
See it through to the end
Be present for the interview and picture and ready to support your spokesperson. Be ready to run down any additional EITC facts the reporter may want. Ask when the story will appear. Tie up all loose ends.