Building a team to make the most of your NCLI Day celebration, as discussed earlier, is vital. Think of local news media representatives as part of your team. Not only can these reporters and editors help shine a glowing spotlight on your efforts, but they also can help spread the content of your educational activities to the wider community, where parents and other citizens also can learn about Earth science.
Remember, Earth science is big news. Topics like energy, the environment, natural hazards, and climate change routinely dominate the headlines. You can take advantage of journalists’ inherent interest in geoscience to promote awareness of NCLI Day activities. Here are five effective strategies:
- Plan your NCLI Day as a truly extraordinary event. In addition to conducting investigations and experiments, invite a prominent geoscientist to talk with students, give awards to volunteers, recognize geoscience enthusiasts who have made a difference, or host a ceremony or a feast.
- Prepare a press release to alert the media about your NCLI Day event. Answer important questions, such as who, what, where, when, and why. Include important information and quotes from key players. Provide contact information for follow-up. Print the release on your school letterhead and fax it to editors and reporters at least three days before the event. (See the Oct. 7, 2008 press release that AGI issued in advance of the first NCLI Day.)
- Be persistent in pitching your story to local news organizations. Besides noting the “hook” of NCLI Day, show how your activities address issues that are urgent, timely, and relevant to the community. Write a brief, compelling query letter to the appropriate editor at each media outlet. Follow up with a phone call or an e-mail.
- Write letters to the editor for print in local newspapers and magazines. You might respond to a recent geoscience-related article with a letter to the editor. If possible, schedule a meeting with the editorial board. Or instead of a letter, perhaps write an opinion editorial, or “op-ed,” to cite concerns and recommend solutions.
- Use available Earth Science Week materials in promoting awareness of NCLI Day as a key component of Earth Science Week. In the Earth Science Week Toolkit and on the event website are print and electronic materials — poster, calendar, logo, and more — that you can use to “brand” your activity. Link your local activity to the larger national celebration to emphasize its significance.
Media coverage can be good for your school, your students, and your career. It lets the community see the high-quality learning experiences that your school is providing to students. It also gives your students a taste of high-profile recognition for the work they’re doing. And, not least of all, it shines a spotlight on the innovative efforts you personally are undertaking as an educator.