Contacting the Media
There are several ways to use the media to publicize the FairTax measure. The most recommended means of using the media are:
- Writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper
- Calling radio talk shows
- Writing letters to the national print media
Written correspondence should be issue oriented and clearly state the point being made. Letters protesting biased coverage of tax reform issues help influence the media’s presentation of this subject, as well as inform the public of the facts supporting our position. Keep in mind that your letters can be positive. When rebutting negative coverage, include the correct information. Also, if you see a positive story related to tax reform, specifically those about the FairTax, contact the media outlet to thank them, and encourage them to keep up the good work.
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the editor provide citizens with the opportunity to comment on articles and editorials appearing in their local newspapers. Studies show that people read the letters to the editor section of the newspaper more than they read editorials by journalists. Moreover, letters to the editor are widely read by community leaders and lawmakers to gauge public sentiment about current issues in the news. Here are some helpful guidelines to follow when crafting your letter to the editor:
- Type or write clearly. Include your name, address, and telephone number. Papers often call to verify authorship and they may do an Internet search on the content – so make the letter your own! Newspapers generally will not print anonymous letters.
- Address your letters to the “Letters Editor” or “Dear Editor.”
- Be brief and specific. Letters should never exceed one page. State the purpose of your letter in the opening paragraph, and stick to the topic. If your letter pertains to a specific article or editorial, identify it accordingly. Try to keep your letter under 125 words. Always adhere to the paper’s guidelines, which should be clearly stated on the editorial page of the paper.
- Nothing but the truth. Mentioning documented studies and statistics in your letter will enhance its effect, but don’t overdo it. Your message can become lost in a sea of figures. Never make a statement you can’t back up with hard figures. Avoid name-calling and insults.
- Write about current issues, not old topics. Stick to debates going on right now. Respond quickly to anti-tax reform stories and editorials. Write in support of FairTax legislation.
Don’t be discouraged if your letter is not published. Typically publications receive more letters than they can print, and will often print one letter as a representative of others. Most importantly, keep trying. Unpublished letters are still read by the editors and can help them determine which topics should receive more attention. For more tips, click here.
Here are four sample letters to the editor:
Sample #1 - Current Tax Code WORD DOC Sample #2 - American Competitiveness WORD DOC Sample #3 - The Middle Class WORD DOC Sample #4 - Small Business WORD DOC
Calling local talk radio shows is an excellent way to discuss the FairTax and reach a large number of people at the same time.
If you are a regular listener of a particular show, you will be familiar with the host and what position he or she takes on different issues. If you are planning to call a host you have not heard before, please take a few days to listen and determine how best to approach him or her.
Be prepared. Have your notes and points you wish to convey in front of you. Read through them before calling to be sure you are clear on the points you wish to make. Our pocket cards have concise statements about what the FairTax will and will not do, so it is the best item to have at hand.
The first contact you will have with the talk show is the screener/producer. His job is to select the calls that will be forwarded to the host. Tell the screener you wish to talk about tax reform. If questioned, tell him you support the consumption tax and want to discuss this with the host.
Following are some helpful guidelines for you when you call a talk radio show:
- Your first time out, pick a host you know likes the FairTax. This makes your first on-the-air appearance easier on you.
- Be cordial and offer the host a means by which to engage you in conversation. For example, inform the host you support a tax reform measure that assures that workers will see federal withholding eliminated from their paychecks and eliminates the IRS as we know it, thereby making April 15th just another day.
- Use your pocket card as a reference to the other key elements of the FairTax.
- Suggest that if there is an interest in learning more about the FairTax, he or she should visit www.FairTax.org. It is important to get the contact information stated as frequently as possible. Most hosts are aware that callers use their shows to promote issues, so you may only get one opportunity to state the contact information. You should ask the host if it is all right to repeat the Web site address.
- Do not engage the host in an argument. If the host becomes hostile, you can end the call by kindly offering to send him information so he can read about the FairTax. It is not unusual for those initially learning of the FairTax to be wary. Tell the host you simply wanted to share an alternative idea that would overhaul the present tax system to an easier-to-understand system.
If a talk show host asks you to participate in a show that will take calls from the public, please contact your State or Regional Director. FairTax Central can provide you with the needed assistance to make your participation a great success.
News Tips Hotline
Most local TV stations and radio stations have a special phone line for the public to use to notify the media of breaking news stories.
Each media outlet keeps a staff ready to go into the field to cover events that may occur without previous notice.
A good example of how effective these hotlines can be was demonstrated at the FairTax headquarters Open House. One of the attending volunteers called a local TV station and alerted them about an important event concerning tax reform that was under way. The news department sent a reporter and camera to our Open House, and that evening the 6:00 news covered our event, including interviews.
These hotlines can be used if you are conducting a petition drive or any events where you are in the public eye and passing out literature supporting the FairTax. The idea is not to call in advance, but to call them from the location and give the person taking the call a brief description of what is presently happening. If you are standing outside the post office or in front of a local store, and you are passing out material or asking for signatures on petitions, these are human-interest stories that the local media love to cover.
When the news team shows up to cover your event, be prepared to discuss why you feel so strongly about the FairTax. These brief interviews are not the place to ridicule the IRS, but to describe briefly why the FairTax is the best tax reform measure before Congress. Know your facts, because you will only have a few seconds to get the message stated. Of course, be prepared to state at least the phone number of FairTax Central (1-800-FAIRTAX), and if possible give our Web site address (www.FairTax.org).