Media Tips for County Collaborations

By Donna Myrow, Commissioner

September 2009

Commissioner Myrow is executive director and publisher of L.A. Youth, the newspaper by and about teens. Following the U.S. Supreme Court's 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision that allowed school administrators to censor student newspapers, Commissioner Myrow launched L.A. Youth. Today it is the most prominent youth publication in the country, with award-winning issues that serve a readership of 500,000. In 2003, she began the Foster Youth Writing and Education Project to recruit and train youth to share their compelling personal stories with L.A. Youth readers. She has served on the California BRC since its inception in 2006.

The exciting work of your local foster care collaboration is worth sharing. Here are a few tips to get out your message about foster care reform. Using a variety of media tools you can be an effective media advocate and inform policy makers, civic leaders, friends, neighbors, and others about your work.

Take advantage of social networking tools-Twitter, blogs, and Facebook and also reach out to traditional TV and radio news organizations. Keep these objectives in mind:

  • Visibility: Focus publicity activities on those that elevate the local commission's profile among its target audiences.
    • Pitch feature coverage of the local commission to key local and national media.
    • Draft letters to the editor in response to specific issues to foster care.
    • Write and place op-ed pieces.
    • Write news releases and secure placements for them (possible subjects: profiles on emancipating youth, group homes, foster parents).
    • Develop a local press kit that includes a general news release, fact sheet, testimonials by local community or elected leaders, photos.
  • Enhance existing programs and activities with strategies that help shape effective public policy.
    • For example, host town hall meetings in local communities.
  • Use your website as a vehicle for providing foster care insight.
    • To increase traffic to the site, hand out a postcard with the website to foster youth, parents, policy makers, and community leaders.

Remember, staff to the Commission and your county liaison are available to provide technical assistance on getting the message out on your foster care reform efforts.

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“Foster Care Reform Update: A Briefing for County and Statewide Collaborations” is produced by the AOC Center for Families, Children, & the Courts. Questions, comments, or article ideas on editorial content should be directed to Chris Cleary. All other questions and requests for subscriptions may be directed to Carolynn Bernabe, Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care at 415-865-7556.

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