One of the important activities you can undertake as part of advocacy is performing an issue audit. The purpose of this audit is to assess media coverage and public opinion. This refers not only to current media coverage, but also to anticipated media coverage. Such an audit should be conducted on a national level as well as in key states and congressional districts.
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The first question to ask when conducting an audit is: what has been said in the media, on websites and in social media and by whom? Areas to consider include legislators, other interests, administration officials, prominent bloggers, commentators in the media and experts or academics, including think tanks.
You can begin to build your message as well as refute opposing arguments when you identify fallacies that exist or that you anticipate will be perpetuated. Look for questionable statistics, biased studies and biased groups. Also, analyze the way in which problems and solutions have been characterized or identified.
It is also a good idea to check public opinion polls and surveys that have been conducted and then consider conducting your own. Your media audit should always include a review of the different types of media sources, who is saying it and why, what is being said, when it was said and whether it is possible that conditions have changed since it was said, the effectiveness of results and the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument.
There are several sources where you can keep a close eye on what is being said in the media, including the Federal News Service and Google Alerts. The Federal News Service provides verbatim, same-day transcripts of major congressional hearings, speeches, statements and press conferences by administration leaders, presidential speeches, statements and press conferences, White House briefings, State Departments briefings, Defense Department briefings, Justice Department briefings, Homeland Security briefings, U.S. Trade Representative briefings, Foreign Press Center briefings, speeches and press conferences by visiting international leaders, political interviews on morning and weekend TV news shows, key speeches at presidential political nominating conventions and presidential debates. You can also check various polls at PollingReport.com. Information on interest group positions on issues can be found at OnTheIssues.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of what is being said about your issue is the best way to stay informed and prepared to respond effectively.
Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 10.6 Media Relations Principle 3, and Section 10.7 Conducting a Press Audit
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