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letter 7/7/03 8:37 PM Page 1

Welcome to Winning Wages: A Media Kit for

Successful Living Wage Strategies

Designed as a “best practices” resource, this kit provides extensive

information, tips, how-to’s, case studies, check lists, message language, media
spin strategies and much more. It’s just about everything you will need to
mount an effective media effort around living wage, except the actual headlines
and news coverage!
But it’s also more than that. Although focused on living wage strategies,
this kit provides a broader communications context. Living wage is but one
front in the progressive struggle for economic justice. Just about everything in
this kit is transferable to a variety of economic justice battles, from welfare to
temp workers to immigrant laborers.
Thanks to Tides Foundation, this kit is being made available to a variety
of groups fighting for living wages and other economic justice campaigns. In
some areas the kit will be backed up with media training by the SPIN Project.
It’s about growing the capacity and developing the leadership of grassroots and
national organizations so they can be more effective media advocates.

For more information on this kit and SPIN Project media trainings, call the SPIN Project
Coordinator at (415)284-1420, ext. 309,

For more information on Tides Foundation’s Bridging Economic Divide Initiative,

contact, or call Sujin Lee, Tides Community Fellow, at (415)561-7800.

PART 1: INTRODUCTION 52 Know Your Enemy

53 Case Study: A Matter of Basic Fairness:
1 Note From the Funder
Values and Living Wage Media
3 Note From the Author
55 Case Study: Focus on the Workplace: Living Wage
4 What Is the SPIN Project?
Takes Off at the Airport While Security Guards
5 Navigating This Media Kit: Best Practices
Near City Hall Become Empowered
7 Acknowledgements
56 Press Clippings Example
58 Case Study: “Do Not Defraud the Laborer of Their
PART 2: THE LIVING WAGE BIG PICTURE Just Wage:” Religious Leadership in the Battle
9 Toward a Vision of Economic Justice: State of the for a Living Wage
Living Wage Struggle 59 Moral Values Behind a Living Wage
11 Living Wage Wins 59 Thou Shalt: Do’s and Don’ts of Your Campaign
12 In Living Color: Living Wage, Race and the and Clergy
Continuing Struggle for Justice 60 Who Are the Best Messengers? Targeting Your
Audience and Messaging a Living Wage
61 Profile On Workers
PART 3: MEDIA BASICS 62 Spotlight On Spokespersons: Making Them Media
15 Media Do’s and Don’ts Mainstays
18 Five Steps to Success 63 Tearsheet: Living Wage Testimony
19 Targeting your Audience 65 Case Study: Atlanta Living Wage Coalition
21 Media Jargon Spokesperson Testimonials


25 Framing the News 67 Developing a Relationship With Reporters

27 Case Study: Rats Bite Baby: A Framing Example 70 Expanding and Prioritizing Your Media Database
28 How and Why to Frame Living Wage News 71 Tearsheet: Reporter Intake Form: When a
30 News Hooks for Your Frame Reporter Calls
32 Analysis: New Lenses for Your Frames: 72 The Press Kit
An Analysis of the Framing of Living Wage 74 Fact Sheets
44 A Model for Your Living Wage Message: 75 News Releases: The Who, What, Where, When and
Problem, Solution, and Action Why of It All
46 The Living Wage Message: The Short Version 77 Sample: Press Release
79 Sample: Media Advisory
47 What Their Side Says: Countering Opposition
80 Pitching Your Story to the Press
Messages Against a Living Wage
82 Organizing Successful Media Briefings and
48 Quick Primer for Heading Off the Opposition
Editorial Board Reviews
49 EITC vs. Living Wage?
84 Staging Media Events That Grab Attention
50 Case Study: Opposition Dirty Tricks:
87 Telephone News Conferences Ring True
Countering Their Side’s Messages
88 More Tips for Media Events
89 Photo Opportunities

90 Case Study: From Media Advisory to Press Release 135 Getting Coverage Between the Big Actions
to Headlines 136 Sample: Press Clippings
96 Making News With Your Living Wage Report 138 The Law and the Headlines: Dealing With Legal
97 Structuring Your Report So It is Easy for Reporters Issues in the Press
to Read 139 Tip Sheet for PR and Legal Cases
98 The Full-On Media Campaign 140 Case Study: Struggle In the Mountains: Santa Fe’s
98 Why Embargo a Report? Citywide Minimum Wage Victory
99 Case Study: Releasing Research Media Advisory 142 Case Study: Living Wage con Salsa: Farm Workers
100 Opinion Editorials and Letters to the Editor In Florida Take On Taco Bell
102 Sample: Op-Ed Submission
104 Sample: Letters to the Editor
108 You’re On the Air: Tips for Doing Radio and
TV Talk Shows 145 Trends In the Living Wage Movement: Where To
109 Smile, You’re On Camera: Tips for Being Telegenic Now, and How Does the Message Evolve?
111 News Radio: Getting the Word Out Using Radio 148 Young People & Decent Wages
Actualities 149 Some Facts About Young Workers
113 Living Wage Media Strategy Online 151 Hearing From Youth on the Front Lines
118 Tracking and Responding to News Coverage 152 Case Study: Now That the Law Has Been Passed:
120 Checklist for Monitoring the Media Activists Turn Attention to Enforcing Living
154 Case Study: Living Wage Reloaded: In a Time of
PART 6: CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES Economic Downturn, “Community Benefits” a
121 The Living Wage Media Plan Next Frontier
121 Planning Your Media: A Checklist 158 Case Study: Rising In the Deep South: The Good
123 Top Ten List for a Media Campaign News About Losing a Living Wage Fight, or Two
124 Case Study: Planning Your Living Wage Press 160 Conclusion
127 Case Study: A Sense That We are Never Going
Away: In Sacramento, a Living Wage Campaign
Overcomes Obstacles, Including Hostile Media
131 Case Study: Anatomy of a Winning Campaign:
Moving the Message In Virginia
132 Top Five Tips for our Media Campaign

Robert Bray, Editor, Author, SPIN Project Founding Director
Max Toth, Managing Editor and Project Coordinator

Idelisse Malavé, Executive Director
Graphic Designer: Stephanie Syjuco
Sujin Lee, Community Fellow
Photographs: Rick Reinhard, Stephanie Syjuco
THE SPIN PROJECT Printing: Accurate Printing, San Francisco, CA ACCURATE PRINTING

Holly Minch, Director

Copyright © 2003 Tides Foundation and SPIN Project, Independent
INDEPENDENT MEDIA INSTITUTE Media Institute. Permission granted to pro-living wage activists to
Don Hazen, Executive Director make copies of content for use in their campaigns. 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 1


Note From the Funder

“Living wage laws are bad for the economy and result in lost jobs.”

hat statement is not true—but it is effective. And when it is repeated over and
over again by conservative politicians, by well-compensated spokespeople, and in
print, radio and television ads, it is even more effective.
We all know that mass communication is one of the most powerful tools in the
modern world. Every major election and policy initiative drives that point home. And
with new technologies developing almost daily, communication becomes faster, broader
and even more important.
That’s why Tides Foundation is extremely pleased to announce the Bridging the
Economic Divide Media Project. The project will address issues of media capacity,
communications, and message framing among Bridging the Economic Divide grantee
groups working on economic justice campaigns.

Bridging the Economic Divide

Tides Foundation’s Bridging the Economic Divide (BED) Initiative started in 2000
as a donor collaborative to address the growing chasm between the poor and the
wealthy in this country. Individual donors contributed to the fund, and began meeting
twice a year to make collective decisions about funding priorities and grantmaking.
Since its inception, BED has granted almost $1.5 million to 45 organizations across
the country, funding organizations working on economic justice issues.
Since the first living wage ordinance passed in 1994, the living wage movement
has been successful in garnering media attention and public support. Broad coalitions
of community, labor and faith-based organizations have been effective in convincing
their communities and public officials that improving wages and benefits for thousands
of low-wage workers makes good sense.
And other economic justice efforts, such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’
boycott of Taco Bell, has received national media attention and garnered support from
many students and activists all over the country. Their “penny per pound” campaign is
using a moral argument to encourage fast food companies to pay a slight increase in
the price of tomatoes to ensure that tomato pickers earn a living wage.
But, as the movement has grown, so has its opposition.
This was never more evident than last November in Santa Monica, California. Los
Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) spearheaded a challenge to an anti-living
wage referendum sponsored by the local hotel industry. Victory looked assured until a
last minute, multi-million dollar media blitz swayed the election. LAANE ultimately
lost the election by a mere 700 votes. (That development is currently under public
scrutiny due to the use of misleading slate mailers that falsely implied that prominent
progressives were against the living wage law).
The Santa Monica election is a stark example of two massive challenges facing the
economic justice movement: A well-funded, business-backed opposition, and effectively
framing living wage issues in the context of the current economic downturn.


Winning Wages Media Kit 1 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 2

Note From the Funder, cont.

BED Media Project

Thanks to generous contributions from five BED donors, Tides has launched the
Bridging the Economic Divide Media Project to address the specific media needs of the
economic justice movement. The idea for a media project was conceived at the BED
Donor Collaborative meeting in May 2002. Collaborative members were interested in
the lessons that the living wage movement presented for using the media to frame a
progressive economic message. In today’s climate of economic insecurity, the economic
justice movement needs to protect its gains and respond to the claims that living
wage laws threaten small businesses and hurt local communities.
It is not enough to launch campaigns with the message that economic justice is
fair and necessary. We must craft broad messages that speak to a diverse public. We
must help local activists build knowledge and skills to deal with today’s media outlets.
We must train effective spokespeople and anticipate the well-connected and well-
funded opposition.
This Winning Wages Media Kit is just one element designed to address these needs
in the growing economic justice community. Plans are underway for follow-up trainings
where activists will work with project consultant Robert Bray of the SPIN Project to
hone their media engagement techniques.

A Broader Discussion, A Bigger Movement

These trainings will provide a rare opportunity for activists from a variety of
economic justice organizations to meet and discuss movement building and media
strategy. Tides Foundation hopes that this Media Project will mark the beginning of
a larger conversation—bringing together community organizations and funders around
a broader economic justice agenda. We look forward to the relationships that will
be built across strategies and constituencies, and hope that these relationships
will become the foundation for a stronger movement that has the power to fundamen-
tally increase our victories and improve collaborative efforts around economic
justice organizing.
In these times of global economic and political crisis, we firmly believe that the
economic justice movement has the potential to make concrete advances for low-wage
workers, develop the leadership of some of the most disenfranchised people in our
society, and offer a grand vision for a peaceful, democratic, and just world.

Yours in hopes of peace and justice,

Idelisse Malavé
Executive Director
Tides Foundation

2 Winning Wages Media Kit 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 3


Note From the Author

iving wage is perhaps the winnable economic justice battle in America today. In
fact, some would say it is one of the few big battles we are winning in a time of
conservative control of federal and state governments, the unprecedented rise of
corporate power and corporate dominance of the global economic landscape, and the
increasing gap between the rich and poor.
That’s not to say other economic justice battles on behalf of workers, unions
and the poor aren’t equality important. Still, with more than a 100 living wage
victories around the country, and campaigns in the pipeline, it’s clear the time for
living wage has come.

Consider this statement from the Brennan Center for Justice, a contributor to this kit:
“In the first phase over the past decade, the living wage movement has
made dramatic progress. Ordinances requiring businesses that perform sub-
contracted public services to pay decent wages and provide health benefits
are now an established ‘best practice.’ For many advocates, the idea of a ‘liv-
ing wage’ serves progressives much as ‘family values’ serves conservatives—as
an emphasis on the core needs and values that bind our communities and
that are threatened by our nation’s eroding job and safety net standards.”

One of the hallmarks of the living wage movement has been the deep connection
to grassroots communities. In the 10 years of living wage organizing, disparate com-
munities have forged new coalitions informed by the grassroots perspective. Local
advocacy groups, partnered with labor and other allies, supported by national resources
and inspired by the stories of workers themselves, have championed the main message
of living wage. This message is simple but bold and maybe even radical: Those who
work should not live in poverty.
“Winning Wages: A Media Kit for Successful Living Wage Strategies” is to
our knowledge the first “best practices” comprehensive resource for media and PR on
living wage ever produced. It is designed for the grassroots activist in mind. Inside
these pages you will find a bounty of information, experience and insight provided
by activists in the field and by seasoned PR professionals serving the economic
justice movement.
On a personal note, I remember growing up in a pro-labor family. My father was an
active member of his union when he worked in open-pit copper mines in the deserts of
southern Arizona. Often I would witness him and his co-workers talk about wages,
working conditions, benefits and the power collective bargaining gave them to earn a
respectable living and provide for their families. Like my dad, most of these workers
were Latino.
The power of the voice of the worker still resonates in my ears and to this day
informs my commitment to social justice. I’ve always sided with the underdog, particu-
larly when it comes to economic justice issues. And living wage battles are all about
lifting some of the most vulnerable—the working poor and people of color.
As a long-time communications professional I understand the power of the media
to influence debate and affect policy. When we go forward to the media and seize the
spotlight we not only grab the headlines but put a human face on the issue. We must
spin our side of the story through compelling human interest drama, well-presented
facts and research, effective media messages, and attention-getting media events,


Winning Wages Media Kit 3 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 4

Note From the Author, cont.

among other PR tactics.

I started the SPIN Project in 1997 to grow the capacity of grassroots activists to do
more strategic and effective media advocacy. At the core of our work is the belief that
communications should be central to our social justice campaigns, not viewed as an
“add on” that we get to once everything else has been done. This kit offers models for
doing better media work. It’s about growing capacity and media leadership.
This kit also contextualizes living wage into the broader perspective of economic
justice. Although most of the material here is specific to living wage campaigns, we
include additional thoughts and tactics that help us understand the deeper context.
Raising wages to a decent, livable level is the goal. But ultimately it’s about much
more than that. It’s about living in a society in which all share in prosperity. It’s about
ending the pain and indignity of poverty. It’s about all of us reaping our investment in
democracy. It’s about economic and social justice for all.
We hope this kit is a resource for you as you embark on a living wage battle, or any
economic justice struggle. The insight offered here is transferable to many different kinds
of fights. The time has come to spin for our lives, and for a living wage.

Robert Bray

WHAT IS THE SPIN PROJECT? ing to strengthen both democracy and public participation.
The SPIN Project provides technical media assistance to They typically focus on issues concerning civil rights, human
nonprofit public-interest organizations across the nation that rights, social justice and the environment. SPIN honors the
want to influence debate, shape public opinion and garner multiracial, multicultural, diverse constituencies of the groups
positive media attention. SPIN offers public relations consulting, we train. We consistently work with people of a wide range of
including comprehensive media training and intensive media ages, sexual orientations, ethnicities and incomes.
strategizing and planning. We travel constantly, training and strategizing with organiza-
SPIN stands for Strategic Press Information Network. We are tions in the field. Annually, SPIN covers tens of thousands
growing the capacity of organizations to get their voices heard of miles, training hundreds of people as we travel from state
and do more effective media work on issues important to the to state. Our work has taken us from barrios to boardrooms,
future of our society. The project was created in January 1997. from Native American reservations to national activist
It is housed at the Independent Media Institute, a nonprofit conferences in major U.S. cities.
organization located in San Francisco.
For more information contact us at:
We believe the time is now for organizations to boldly engage
the press and communicate their values and frame their SPIN Project
issues. We want to help people make their voices heard. We Independent Media Institute
seek a stronger democracy in which people can enhance the 77 Federal Street, 2nd Floor
public discourse and actively participate and live to their full San Francisco, CA 94107
potential. This is what drives our work at the SPIN Project. (415) 294-1420 ext. 309
E-mail: info
The SPIN Project works with a broad range of social policy, Visit our web site at:
advocacy and grassroots organizations, all of which are work-

4 Winning Wages Media Kit 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 5


In your hand is a kit containing “best practices”

SECTIONS that will help you work better with the media.
The kit is divided into seven sections, plus
resources and contacts, so activists may pick and
choose the information they need and build from Special Notebook Format
the lessons of each section.

y packaging this information in a notebook we have
ensured this media kit can be updated with new and addi-
PART ONE: “Introduction” (this section), sets the tional pieces. Expect updates throughout the ongoing
stage with words from the funder of this kit, the campaign for living wage. Also, you can customize this kit and
author, and a little bit about the kit itself. make it a real “workbook” for your own campaign simply by
adding items to the notebook.
PART TWO: “The Living Wage Big Picture,” presents Plus, the notebook format means you can take items out,
an overview of living wage in the broader context such as the reporter intake form, the spokesperson tracking form
of progressive economic justice; plus an updated and the many other models, and photocopy them for wider dis-
list of living wage laws; and a piece that links living tribution and marking up.
wage to our struggle to end racism and empower Case studies, tip sheets, check lists, models and other pages
people of color. help activists make the information real and practical for their
PART THREE: “Media Basics,” provides elementary own situations. Contributors share their experiences in the spirit
information media activists should grasp before of learning from others (and not reinventing the wheel!).
launching major PR campaigns.

PART FOUR: “Framing and Messaging,” perhaps

What This Kit Is Not
the core of the kit; focuses on honing messages, This publication is not the living wage media “bible.”
framing the issue (tactical spot framing and more While fairly comprehensive, it’s not exhaustive—there’s always
in-depth framing analysis), delivering the message room for one more case study, one more model and example.
through effective messengers, living wage values, This kit is also not the “Organizing 101” primer for living wage.
and the opposition. Other groups have produced that kit, such as ACORN’s essential
Living Wage Campaigns—An Activist’s Guide to Building the
PART FIVE: “Nuts and Bolts of Getting the Message Movement for Economic Justice (see the Resources section).
Out” is a comprehensive survey of numerous PR This kit focuses on media. It is an activist-friendly, best
tactics, ranging from press kits to pitching practices kit that helps build a good foundation for growing your
reporters to using the Internet to tracking coverage. capacity for effective media.
PART SIX: “Campaign Strategies” provides a media
plan template for your campaign plus several case Who Is This Kit For,
studies on typical and not-so-typical living wage
fights. Media and legal strategies also covered. What Will It Teach You?
Engaging in progressive, proactive media work requires a sig-
PART SEVEN: “The Future of Living Wage” charts
nificant commitment of an organization’s resources and a step
trends, spotlights youth, offers a case study on
up in its public profile. This is especially true for groups and
what to do after a campaign loss, and touches on
activists in “campaign mode”: high-pressure, time-constrained
“beyond living wage” strategies in a time of eco-
media “war room” situations. This kit is designed to help national
nomic downturn.
and grassroots organizations maximize their media potential.
RESOURCES points activists toward where to go for This kit was prepared primarily with groups considering
help and more information. a living wage campaign in mind. However, its information
and lessons are totally transferable to just about any social
CONTACTS is a handy list of all contributors and
change effort.
numerous living wage and other “players.” (cont.)

ADDENDA & NOTES is for future updates and

activist notes. Note: Got information or a case study
we should consider for this kit? Contact us at the
SPIN Project (previous page).

Winning Wages Media Kit 5 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 6

Navigating This Media Kit: Best Practices

Winning Wages: A Media Kit Get a “buzz” from spinning. If you understand how
reporters do their jobs, how they think, what their editors
for Successful Living Wage demand, and how news is made, you can do a better job
Strategies is for activists and spinning your side’s message. Spin is fun!

organizations who: Have news to make. Do not waste reporters’ time with
non-news. Have a story to tell and be newsworthy.
Want to integrate media work into other campaign
activities, including organizing, research, policy/ Don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive
advocacy/lobbying, fundraising and public education. advertising campaigns, PR consultants, focus group/polling
We do not see media as standing outside those activities, research and other costly activities. This does not mean
but as integral to the overall campaign. those activities are not important. Indeed, they should
strongly be considered and budgeted for if possible.
Are considering a living wage campaign, or expanding But you won’t need a lot of money to do many of the
or evolving their current living wage situation. tactics suggested in this kit. You will need some money
and in several cases even significant financial resources,
Are not involved in a “classic” living wage ordinance
so plan accordingly.
campaign, but view media as an important component of
their broader economic justice efforts. Believe media work requires planning. We suggest
reality-based tactics here. We also present the rich range
Can absorb intensified media scrutiny and responsibili-
of possibilities. Ultimately, however, it is up to the
ties. We presume if you are embarking on significant
activists to decide what is realistic and do-able for
living wage or other economic justice battles you have
their campaign.
the organizational infrastructure and financial and staff
resources to sustain such an effort. If not, you might want Understand there is no “magic silver bullet” solution,
to focus on organizational development before engaging in frame, message or tactic. It is never possible to predict
proactive media work. precisely what will work or not when it comes to PR. Even
the best plans can flop. Don’t take it personally. Find what
Want to work with the media, not against it.
works for you and do it.
Although opposition to living wage laws often comes in
the form of editorial opinions by daily newspapers who
want to protect their pro-business standing and advertising
base—and despite the frustration this causes us—this
kit is designed to give you resources and skills to engage
the media in a fair and respectful manner. This kit is
for those who believe in treating journalists with profes-
sional respect, and being a resource for, not an obstacle
to, reporters.

6 Winning Wages Media Kit 7/7/03 8:44 PM Page 7



inning Wages: A Media Kit for Successful Living Wage Strategies is the result of
years of experience and know-how from numerous leaders in the living wage
movement. We are thankful to all the contributors to this kit for sharing their
experiences so that others may learn. We are grateful to community activists for their
perseverance and dedication.
Special thanks to Tides Foundation and its staff for making this effort possible.
In particular, our deep appreciation goes to Sujin Lee, Tides Community Fellow;
Ronald White, Philanthropic Services Director; Jane Lin, Philanthropic Services
Assistant; Christopher Herrera, Communications Director; and Idelisse Malavé,
Executive Director. Also, we offer warm gratitude to Sandra Davis, former Tides
Foundation Community Fellow, who spearheaded the early stages of this project.
Of course, this would not be possible without the generosity and leadership of the
donors to Tides Foundation’s Bridging Economic Divide Initiative. Thank you.
I would like to give special recognition to Max Toth, managing editor and project
coordinator of this kit. Max, the ultimate multi-tasker, helped transform the project
from a concept to something actually concrete. He kept it moving and organized and
made certain the progressive mission stayed true to heart. Stephanie Syjuco expertly
designed it to keep all the pieces together and accessible to activists.
This kit would not have happened without the involvement of various notable
figures in the living wage movement. Jen Kern of ACORN is a pathfinder and true
leader who shaped the direction of this effort immensely. Madeline Janis Aparicio
of LAANE helped inspire the idea for this kit and gave it an important early boost.
Contributors of case studies and essays all must be acknowledged. The talented staff
of the Brennan Center played a significant role. And thanks to George Lakoff for
offering his esteemed insight.
My colleagues at the SPIN Project, in particular Holly Minch, director, were always
supportive and encouraging. Staff at the Independent Media Institute, in particular
Don Hazen and Octavia Morgan, all pitched in.
But perhaps our greatest appreciation is offered to the low-income workers
—the maids, the farm workers, the security agents, the clean-up crews, the day
laborers—many of them people of color and all of whom want and deserve human
dignity, a decent living wage and a way out of poverty. This kit is dedicated to them.

—Robert Bray

For more information contact us at:

SPIN Project
Independent Media Institute
77 Federal Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 294-1420 ext. 309
E-mail: info
Visit our web site at:

Winning Wages Media Kit 7 7/7/03 8:45 PM Page 1



By Jen Kern, Living Wage Resource Center,

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now! (ACORN)

No one could have predicted, on a cold Baltimore day in December 1994,

that the seeds of a national grassroots movement were being sown.
To this day, that movement is flourishing.

ack on that day in Baltimore a powerful labor-community coalition brought to
fruition its campaign for a local living wage law after a protracted battle. The
victory set in motion what columnist Robert Kuttner, writing in 1997, called
“the most exciting (and underreported) grassroots enterprise to emerge since the civil
rights movement.”
More than 100 ordinances—and thousands of “The phrase [living wage] is
media hits later—the living wage movement not seeping into the political
only arguably merits this flattering comparison, vernacular and changing the
but has also shed its “underreported” past. dynamics of political discussion.”
As of this writing, there are at least 75 ongoing
Sometimes the most succinct
campaigns in cities such as Sacramento,
articulation of an effort’s success
Indianapolis, Knoxville and Atlanta. The fight for
comes from its detractors. As
fair wages has spilled over into local school boards
campaigns spring up everywhere
and state legislatures and exploded onto college
and advocates take the living
campuses, with dozens of current campaigns at
wage message into the media,
colleges and universities in every region of the country.
consider the above quote by John
Doyle of the anti-living wage
On the Media’s Radar Screen Employment Policies Institute.
The impressive efforts of community groups,
labor unions, religious leaders, civil rights advocates and others to force the issue
of the working poor onto the agendas of city councils, county commissions and into
ballot boxes across the country have not gone unnoticed. Articles in Business Week,
Time, USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and TV spots on CNN, Fox
News, ABC and Oprah (to name a few) testify both to the mainstream appeal of the
living wage issue and the hard work of living wage organizers everywhere.
So why—after almost a decade—is the living wage movement still newsworthy?
And how do we see to it that it stays that way?
Simply put, living wage campaigns seek to pass enforceable laws requiring private
businesses that benefit from public money to pay their workers a living wage. A living
wage is typically defined as at least enough to
bring a family of four to the federal poverty line,
So why—after almost a currently $8.85 an hour (though campaigns have
decade—is the living wage won wages as high as $13 an hour). Commonly,
movement still newsworthy? the ordinances cover public employees and
employees of firms who hold large city or county
And how do we see to it service contracts or benefit from public tax dollars
that it stays that way? in the form of tax abatements or other economic
development subsidies.
Our message has been straightforward:
People who work should not live in poverty, and limited public dollars should not
subsidize poverty-wage work. Public dollars should be leveraged for the public good
—reserved for those private sector employers who demonstrate a commitment to
providing decent, family-supporting jobs in our local communities.

Winning Wages Media Kit 9 7/7/03 8:45 PM Page 2


Toward a Vision of Economic Justice, cont.

The Message Evolves, should be allowed to fall. The campaigns heighten

public awareness of the difference between corporate
the Movement Expands welfare and real economic development. They promote
Over the years, however, the living wage phrase public scrutiny of practices like privatization and the
and message have been adapted to a range of campaigns “temping out” of public work. They promote the idea
around improving labor standards, workers’ right-to- that any economic decision affecting an entire community
organize and corporate accountability. As such, the living should advance the well-being of the community, and
wage concept now usefully frames efforts to raise city or that, in a true democracy, such decisions must be subject
state minimum wages above the shameful federal level to public review.
of $5.15 just as well as campaigns to demand that public
money not be used for union-busting or that subsidized
companies return public money if they fail to meet
A Tremendous Organizing
established standards. Opportunity for a
The living wage message is universal and compelling Progressive Agenda
precisely because it is rooted in the increasingly grim
Most significantly, these campaigns provide oppor-
economic reality faced by low income workers and their
tunities for organized labor, low-income community
families: the failure of the
groups, faith-based and advocacy organizations to
minimum wage to keep pace
Living wage campaigns with inflation; massive cuts
forge and institutionalize alliances that allow future
collaborative action as part of a sustainable long-term
force elected officials in welfare and unsupported
fight for economic justice.
and candidates for work requirements pressuring
Like other base-building organizations, the Association
wages downward; and the
public office to move slow economy resulting in
of Community Organizations For Reform Now! (ACORN)
continues to view living wage campaigns as useful tools
beyond rhetoric and devastating federal and
around which to organize our low- and moderate-income
declare their position state cuts to crucial social
membership. Toward that end, we will fight alongside our
service. Add to that the
on a concrete growth of low-wage service
allies to consolidate
and expand the
progressive program. sector jobs; the weakening
of labor unions through
victories we have won As we move ahead into our
while broadening the second decade of living wage
active union busting;
scope of demands that
rampant no-strings-attached corporate welfare that organizing we must not lose
are marshaled and
depletes tax dollars while keeping workers poor; the
widening gap between rich and the poor; and a depressing
delivered under the sight of our ambitious goal
living wage banner of economic justice.
new focus on the Business of War, which threatens to
—such as real health
further constrain already shamefully limited resources and
benefits, paid vacation,
snuff out any political will to put people first.
worker retention, local hiring, corporate disclosure and
Because living wage campaigns have arisen in this
language that fosters union organizing.
larger context—and to the extent they are directed by
As we move ahead into our second decade of living
organizers who understand this big picture—the operating
wage organizing we must not lose sight of our ambitious
framework and media message for the movement actually
goal of economic justice. If we as organizers keep our eyes
addresses a broad range of fundamental issues around
on the prize—and integrate that vision into our media
work, fairness and democratic accountability. The move-
message—this movement should remain newsworthy for
ment’s proven ability to deliver real economic benefits to
many years to come.
workers who need it most is only a part of its potential
power and importance.
Living wage campaigns force elected officials and
candidates for public office to move beyond rhetoric and
declare their position on a concrete progressive program.
They challenge the reverence for the (supposedly) free
market and the privileging of an abstract corporate bottom
line over the real life baseline below which no family

10 Winning Wages Media Kit 7/7/03 8:45 PM Page 3


Living Wage Wins (and a Few Repeals)

Prepared by Jen Kern, Living Wage Resource Center,
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now! (ACORN)

Listed below, from most recent to earliest passed, are places that have enacted living wage laws.

Total = 101 • Cumberland County, NJ • San Fernando, CA (April) 1995

(cities and counties only) (December) • Denver, CO (February) • Milwaukee, WI (November)
June, 2003 • Camden, NJ (December) • Warren, MI (January) • Santa Clara County, CA
• Burlington, VT (November)
2003 • Charlottesville, VA (November) 1999 1994
• Ingham County, MI • Richmond, CA (October) • Corvallis, OR (November) • Baltimore, MD (December)
• Arlington, VA • Washtenaw County, MI (October) • Hartford, CT (September)
• Prince George’s County, MD • Hempstead, Long Island, NY • Tucson, AZ (September) 1991
(June) (Oct); repealed before • Buffalo, NY (August) • Gary, IN*
• Santa Fe, NM (February) implementation 12/01 • Los Angeles County, CA (June)
—minimum wage • Monroe County, MI (October) • Ypsilanti, MI (June) 1988
• West Palm Beach County, FL repealed 3/03 • Ypsilanti Township, MI (June) • Des Moines, IA* (amended 1996)
(February) • Ashland, OR (September) • Somerville, MA (May)
• Oyster Bay, NY (August) • Miami-Dade County, FL
2002 • Gloucester County, NJ (August) • Cambridge, MA (May) SCHOOL BOARDS
• Bellingham, WA • Suffolk County, NY (July) • Hayward, CA • Milwaukee Public Schools
• Louisville, KY • Pittsburgh, PA (May) • Madison, WI (March) (January, 1996)
• Cincinnati, OH (November) Implementation on hold • Dane County, WI (March) • Richmond, VA School Board
• Westchester County, NY as of 3/02 • Hudson County, NJ (January) (March, 2001)
(November) • Santa Monica, CA (July);
• Taylor, MI (November) repealed before implementation 1998 UNIVERSITIES
• New York City, NY (November) 11/02 • San Jose, CA (November) • Wesleyan University (April, 2000)
• Broward County, FL (October) • Ventura County, CA (May) • Detroit, MI (November) • Stanford University (2002)
• Watsonville, CA (September) • Miami Beach, FL (April) • Multnomah County, OR (October) • Harvard University (February,
• Fairfax, CA (August) • Pittsfield Township, MI (April) • Boston, MA (September); 2002)
• Southfield, MI (July) • Eastpointe, MI (March) expanded Oct. 2001
• Oxnard, CA (July) • Missoula, MT (March) • Pasadena, CA (September) Campaigns are currently
• Montgomery County, MD (June) • Ann Arbor, MI (March) • Cook County, IL (September) underway in more than 75
• Port of Oakland, CA (March) • Ferndale, MI (February) • Chicago, IL (July) additional cities, counties, and
• Santa Fe, NM (February) • San Antonio, TX (July) universities such as New York
• New Orleans, LA (Feb) 2001 • Portland, OR (amended 1998) City, Little Rock, Jacksonville,
—minimum wage; overturned by • Rochester, NY (January) • Oakland, CA (March) Atlanta, Sacramento, Richmond,
Louisiana Supreme Court, 9/02 • Meriden, CT (November) • Durham, NC (January) VA, Manhattan, KS, Knoxville, TN,
• Hazel Park, MI (February); • Santa Cruz, CA (October) University of Pittsburgh,
repealed 6/02 in reaction to • Berkeley, CA & Marina (October) 1997 Swarthmore College, Valdosta
state threat to cut revenue • Eau Claire County, WI (Sept) • West Hollywood, CA (October) State University.
sharing to LW cities • San Francisco, CA (August) • Duluth, MN (July)
• Marin County, CA (January) • St. Louis, MO (August); • Milwaukee County, WI (May)
* Although there are examples of
• Pima County, AZ (January) overturned by lawsuit; 7/01; • New Haven, CT (April)
cities requiring labor standards in
amended and reinstated by • Los Angeles, CA (March)
exchange for public investment
2001 Board of Aldermen 7/02 • Minneapolis, MN (March)
going back decades, Baltimore
• Salem, OR • Cleveland, OH (June) • St. Paul, MN (January)
is widely regarded to be the first
• Santa Cruz County, CA • Alexandria, VA (June) 1996 living wage victory in what we
(December) • Toledo, OH (June) • New York City, NY (September) have come to refer to as "the living
• Bozeman, MT (December) • Omaha, NE (April); • Jersey City, NJ (June) wage movement.”
• New Britain, CT (December) repealed: 9/01

Winning Wages Media Kit 11 7/7/03 8:45 PM Page 4


By Steve Williams, Executive Director, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER)

In most communities, the majority of low-wage workers who see raises after the
passage of a living wage bill are people of color. This stands to reason given the
strong interrelation between race and low-wage employment in the United States.

s we know, the living wage movement is sweeping Our experience promoting a living wage bill in San
the nation. In an effort to try to reduce poverty, Francisco gives good example to how much more we can
strong coalitions of workers and community do. For more than two years, a broad-based coalition of
members have come together to pass living wage bills that trade union locals, community organizations, religious
require all employers who receive any form of subsidy from groups and service agencies was out in the community
the local government to pay their workers a living wage. working to build support for the living wage ordinance.
More than one hundred communities have passed their The members of our coalition came from all over the
own living wage bills since the passage of the first one in city, including
Baltimore in 1994. African-American Living wage ordinances have
Just as it has since the nation’s founding—from the workfare workers,
murder of Native Americans to the enslavement and disen- Latino restaurant been tremendously beneficial
franchisement of African-Americans to the internment employees and for low-income communities of
of Japanese-Americans to the hyper-exploitation of Latinos Filipino airport color. In most communities,
to the incarceration of Arab and Middle Eastern people baggage screeners.
today—racism plays a defining role in shaping the The membership of the majority of low-wage
economic reality of people in the United States. our coalition was workers who see raises after
predominantly the passage of a living wage
people of color,
Lessons for the Conscious which was in stark bill are people of color.
Organizer contrast to our
Many of the organizers and workers who have built the opposition.
living wage movement are deeply committed to building a In July of 2000, after months of lobbying and back-
movement that sees the end of racial, gender and economic room negotiations, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors
injustice. We see that our principle tasks are to: (1) build finally passed the living wage bill. With this bill, we
the capacity of low-wage workers, particularly low-wage succeeded in passing a living wage law that raised the
workers of color, to lead campaigns designed to meet wages of 21,500 workers to more than $9.00 plus health
their needs; and (2) raise the consciousness of low-wage benefits. This clearly represented an important victory for
workers to better understand the root causes of poverty low-wage workers in San Francisco.
and inequality. Living wage campaigns offer us opportunities, But, our coalition could have done better in meeting
if seized upon, to accomplish so much more than just the two principle tasks of the conscious organizer.
passing a law that raises the wages of some workers.
Many conscious organizers hope our work building Empowering Workers of Color
local coalitions to pass a living wage bill would also help
move us closer to building a broad-based movement for Looking back, we can see missed opportunities that
racial and economic justice. But despite all of our successes others beginning living wage campaigns should consider.
and our best intentions, conscious organizers can still do We could have promoted more aggressively the strategic
more to take full advantage of the potential of living wage and tactical leadership of low-wage workers of color.
campaigns to expose and undermine racism and poverty. Even though we had done an exceptional job in building
a multi-racial base of support for the living wage, there

12 Winning Wages Media Kit 7/7/03 8:45 PM Page 5


In Living Color, cont.

were very few people of color in leadership of the coalition. Building Power for the Future
The leaders of the coalition were the leaders of the various
As a movement, the growing number of living wage
organizations that made up the living wage coalition
campaigns is important because it offers a tool to begin
—who happened, in most cases, to be of European
reducing poverty by moving money into the pockets of
descent. Creating more opportunities
some of the lowest-paid workers.
for low-wage leadership puts low-
Living wage campaigns also offer
wage workers of color in a better When our living wage an opportunity for greater self-
position to lead campaigns in the
coalition finally brought determination as working people
our proposal to the local play an even greater role exercising
Developing low-wage workers’
control over the expenditure of the
leadership during the campaign Board of Supervisors, the community’s resources. Living wage
strengthens the campaign and would
opponents of the living wage campaigns offer an incredible
be easy to do. For example, at least
bill, who were overwhelmingly amount of potential in the effort to
one low-wage worker from each
rectify the imbalance of power in
organization could shadow their of European descent, insisted our communities.
organization’s representative on the
that nothing short of But that will not happen
coalition’s steering committee.
economic Armageddon automatically or just because we
Conscious organizers could also sponsor
pass our legislation. We can only
regular leadership development and would befall San Francisco shift power relations if we build
political education trainings for low-
if the bill was adopted. strong organizations of low-wage
wage workers.
workers with strategic and tactical
leadership from people of color.
Framing the Opportunity We can only build a movement for social and economic
Conscious organizers within any living wage coalition justice if we raise low-wage workers’ consciousness of the
should seize the opportunity to highlight the reality of root causes of problems in our communities.
how racism shapes economic disparity. Throughout the There is plenty to be proud of and much more to
two-year campaign, the living wage coalition responded gain from our living wage campaigns. These campaigns
to the opposition’s attacks by saying low-wage workers have helped to light a fire in the spirits of low-income
deserved a higher wage. The racial dynamics of a mob communities across the United States. As conscious
of white businessmen arguing against pay increases for organizers, we must stoke that fire and help low-wage
thousands of low-wage workers, most of whom are people workers identify and confront the problems of structural
of color, cannot be ignored. In some spot-media situations poverty and racism in our communities and around the
we may not have the time to fully explain the real depth globe. Meanwhile, we have to be mindful of our central
and breadth of the issue. Still, we can always be more tasks. We have to ground our work in a vigilant anti-racist
vocal—in our background briefings and in our slogans perspective and practice. Only then can we move closer
—that living wage laws are just as much about racial to winning social and economic justice around the globe
justice as they are about economic justice. —once and for all.
For example, in addition to declaring that low-wage
workers deserved a living wage, we could have opened up
the frame. A message demanding that we “stop subsidizing
economic racism” would have opened up more organizing
opportunities and helped us make additional useful
connections with ethnic and community media outlets.
As conscious organizers, we should always seize opportuni-
ties to frame our campaign with an understanding of racism
and help deepen low-wage workers’ comprehension of the
interrelation between racism and poverty.

Winning Wages Media Kit 13

The following tips comprise a primer for making your voice heard, talking
about your issue, speaking with reporters, spinning your message and
other basics tactics. What you should and should not do are valuable
lessons not only for living wage media work but whenever you go to the
press with news on any issue.

Tips on how to move your message with the media

Be for something, not just against something.
Often we focus only on what’s bad—how impoverished workers are who don’t make a
living wage, how bad employers are who don’t pay their employees a living wage.
Highlighting the problem and its consequences on our communities is
important, but we should also communicate what we stand for. In other
Don’t just talk words, don’t just talk about what’s wrong, emphasize how it could be
about what’s wrong, better.
emphasize how it One way to do this is to articulate your values in your message.
What do you stand for? How do you want workers to be treated?
could be better. What kind of community do you want to live in? Offer an affirmative,
justice-seeking, empowering vision.

Check your statistics, jargon, rhetoric.

Living wage campaigns and broader economic justice struggles inherently contain
complex economic and political analysis and dynamics. Often there is a tendency to
overwhelm with numbers and factoids as if that would automatically convince anyone
of the need to pass a living wage bill.
Translate numbers into something easier to grasp. For example, instead of saying
“seventy-five percent of voters approve a living wage ordinance,” say, “three out of
every four...”. Further, check your rhetoric. You are trying to pass a living wage law, or
secure more rights and benefits for workers, not “dismantle two hundred years of
oppression and capitalistic exploitation.” (See “Pass the Brother-in-Law Test” below.)

Always tell the truth and be factually accurate.

Trust and integrity are critical in your relationships with reporters while giving voice
to those who deserve to make a living wage. Strong relationships can mean fair and
balanced coverage of your issues. Mislead a reporter and your integrity is destroyed.
Besides, isn't this about telling the truth about how workers should be treated and
paid? Be accurate with your statistics. That includes the number of people affected
by a living wage ordinance; any analysis of the economic impact of living wage law;
and so forth.
Sometimes in the “frenzy” of a living wage political campaign there might be a
tendency to play fast and loose with numbers—resist this.

Respect reporters' professionalism.

Journalists are extremely proud and protective of their professionalism. It pays for you
to respect that. After all, don't you like to be treated professionally? Do not expect
reporters to be “cheerleaders” for the underpaid. Don’t presume they are as excited
about your living wage story as you are. That’s not their job. Their job is to report on

Winning Wages Media Kit 15

Media Do’s and Don’ts, cont.

stories in a fair and balanced manner. When they do this, or organization, and see if they understand the issue.
thank them. Can they grasp the concept and understand how it affects
them readily? Do they “get” the issue? These folks may
Never “wing it.”
be your target audience at some point in your campaign.
If you do not know the answer to a reporter's question
It pays to translate for them.
do not make something up. You will most likely say some-
thing that is either off message or regrettable—or both. Speak in soundbites.
If a reporter asks you a question and you do not know Condense your message down to ten seconds or less when
the answer, say so and either introduce someone who doing interviews with reporters, in particular broadcast
does know, or find out the reporter's deadline and promise media. Do not try to explain everything there is to know
to get back with the answer by deadline. And make sure about decent wages, workers rights, economic justice and
you do it. so forth in your soundbite.
Obviously, take the time to educate reporters about
Do not presume a reporter knows what you are
the nuances and details of an issue. But when the tape
talking about.
is rolling, speak in a soundbite.
Many of us work for organizations that use all kinds of
acronyms, jargon, leftist rhetoric, mission-statement talk, Always return reporters' phone calls.
and insider lingo. “Community Benefits Initiative” might Make sure you take reporters' phone calls. If you regularly
be an example of such language; what does it mean? miss their calls they will stop calling. Be a resource even
At least take the time to explain it. if you do not know the answer to a question. Tell a
Translate all terms into language reporters and reporter: “You know, that's not my turf; but here are three
audiences will understand. Take, for example, the phrase people who do work on that. You should call them. Here
“economic justice.” Translate it so it means something to are their numbers.” Reporters will appreciate the help.
people: the right to earn a decent paycheck so you can
Meet reporters' deadlines.
afford a quality education for your children, put food on
Find out about reporters' deadlines: They live by them.
the table and improve your life.
The newspaper has to go to the printer; the TV and radio
Pass the “Brother-In-Law” Test show have to air. These are not flexible times. If you have
To see if your message passes muster with regular folks, not called back by 3 or 4pm. at print newspapers, the
conduct the useful “brother-in-law test” (or sister-in-law, reporter will get very nervous. By 4:30pm you are out of
or family friend, or neighbor). Pick a relative, friend or the story. The same holds for TV news a couple of hours
acquaintance who is not associated with your cause before air time.
If something big is happening in the
news that connects to your issue, make
DO NOT SIMPLY ANSWER REPORTERS' yourself available at deadline time and
you may get into the story. For example,
is an article appears about, say, earnings
trends of workers in your state, that
mEvery time you speak to a reporter For example, when one activist was
might be an opportunity to get a follow-up
—on the phone, at a rally with a camera asked her age she responded: "I'm 42
piece on the impact of a living wage
in your face or to a reporter at a press years old, and like many people in their
conference—consider the interaction as 40s I am concerned about the economic measure on those trends. Be there. You
an opportunity to move your message. strength of our community. That means may only get one shot. When something
Do not answer with what you think the paying workers a living wage, because hot is going on make sure you are in
reporter wants you to say, or what your nobody who works should live in poverty. touch and know what is happening. Check
opponents are saying, or with a simple That’s why I’m urging the city council to your voice mail regularly.
"yes" or "no" answer. Respond with vote ‘yes’ on the living wage ordinance." Furthermore, if a reporter sympathetic
your message. to your issue calls on deadline for a quote
This activist not only answered the and you do not know what is going on,
Obviously, you have to answer some reporter's question, but also used the ask them. Reporters may describe the
questions a reporter asks you: your occasion to respond and advance a
news for you (“sources have told us that
name, age and affiliation, for example. strategic message. Spin your message,
several city council members are wavering
But even this can be an opportunity to not just the answer to the question.
on the living wage vote”), knowing that
communicate your broader message.

16 Winning Wages Media Kit

Media Do’s and Don’ts, cont.

it will help you make a comment. They are not necessari- now paying a living wage, three other communities
ly putting words in your mouth, although sometimes it is in your region grappling with living wage ordinances,
easy to tell what kind of quote they want. Usually, the three workers affected—you will position the story for
article is more or less done and your quote will serve to better coverage.
round it off. This is an excellent opportunity to make
Drama sells.
sure your point of view is included. Listen carefully. Think
This is especially true about TV. Though it may reflect
quickly. And stay on your message.
the sad “Fox News” state of American media, that is the
Finally, consider staging media events and living
reality. The point is: drama sells.
wage photo ops at a time when local TV can cover then live.
Stage and package your news for maximum media
If the event
impact. Do not spill blood, but include dramatic human-
is big enough
If something big is happening and visually
interest stories and poignant anecdotes, as well as
compelling individuals and their testimonials. You must
in the news that connects to provocative, a
present your news so it contains some human drama.
camera truck
your issue, make yourself Pick a setting that visually demonstrates the content of
might be sent to
available at deadline time and cover it. Provide
your message. Make your event as appealing, personal
and dramatic as possible, without going overboard.
you may get into the story. your cell phone
to reporters so Visualize your story for TV.
they can reach Television is a visual medium. For every eight or twelve
you at the event. A slow news day may result in producers seconds of “soundbites” you may get into a TV news
trying to fill time, and if your event is on their radar story, there will be another thirty to forty-five seconds of
screen, it might be covered. visual material shown in the background. Think how your
message can be conveyed visually as well as verbally
Always appear more reasonable than your opponents.
when planning your event. If you have a short piece of
Whoever appears more reasonable is ahead of the game.
video that illustrates your message—such as workers
This does not mean you can never be angry or sometimes
marching or an interview with a living wage employee
even outraged. But be extremely conscious of using
and his/her family) by all means give it to the reporter
words that are sensationalistic or that portray your
for use as “b-roll” (“background images and footage”).
opponents as something they are not. It is important
to be poised and confident in the press. Personalize your story.
Stake out your ground in positive terms and check Personalize your story to the media as much as possible.
the extreme language. Say what you stand for and how it One easy way spokespersons can do this is by adding a
will improve our communities, all the while putting your personal attribute, such as: “As a low-income worker
opponents on the defense. Be careful about labeling trying hard to make ends meet,” or, “As a parent…”.
them. It may feel cathartic to call an employer who Other examples include: “As a teacher...”, “As a clergy
opposes a living wage a “slave-driving worker exploiter” member…”, “As a small business owner…”.
but that language will probably alienate people and
certainly does not communicate a strategic message. We Think strategically.
can express anger in the press, but we have to learn how Think in terms of how media coverage affects your
to channel and convert that rage into a message that goals. As a community leader or someone responsible
moves people to awareness and action on our issues. for an issue or organization, you are not seeking media
But what if your opponent is reasonable? What if coverage just to get your name in the newspaper. You
they are, say, the Chamber of Commerce or poised and are doing it because you have been entrusted by people
composed business leaders who oppose living wage? in your community to have a leadership role and to
What if they even appear to be considerate of worker achieve certain goals.
issues? In other words, what if you can’t “out-reasonable” Speaking to the press has implications not just for
them? Then be more real. Be more “of the people,” you and your organization, but for people around you.
community-oriented, in touch with regular folks. You have to think strategically about what you are saying
and the impact it will have: How does it advance your
Remember: “Three” is a trend. issue? Your program? Your organization? How will it help
Three is a trend in the media—or so goes the old axiom. you reach your goals? Think carefully about what you are
And trends are news. That means if you can find three saying—and why.
examples of something—three companies in your area

Winning Wages Media Kit 17

The following is a five-step process for making news. Every organization seeking
media attention should follow this process in the order presented to maximize their
media potential. What is the secret to scoring good press that will create change for
your community and help you get economic justice for workers? Read on.

1. Establish Your Goals

Clearly articulate your desired goals before embarking on a media campaign.
The goals drive press efforts—not the other way around. Everything you do in the
media is designed to help you attain your goals. The goals should also be realistic.
Typical goals might be:
• Pass a living wage ordinance
• Give a voice to workers affected by living wage
• Secure endorsements by select opinion and political leaders
• Educate the public about the issue; challenge misconceptions
• Enhance the profile and visibility of your organization
• Build movement

2. Identify Your News

Do not waste reporters' time with something that is not news. What reports, surveys
or briefing papers can you produce and release that will provide a new perspective?
What media events that communicate real news can you stage? What information can
you provide that will present a different twist to the story? How will the community
be affected in new ways?

3. Frame the Issue for Maximum Media Impact

Do you always find yourself on the defense with your opposition framing the news
instead of you framing it? The news is not just about your group or your report.
It is about something much bigger, with more drama, that will impact more people
at a timely moment (see How and Why to Frame Living Wage News, elsewhere in
this kit).

4. Craft Your Strategic Media Messages

Condense your complicated issue down to two or three main messages. Discipline the
message (see A Model For Your Living Wage Message, elsewhere in this kit).

5. Create a Media Plan

Your plan will have several components, including everything from identifying and
pitching reporters, to placing op eds, to staging media events. A coordinated media
plan will increase your success in moving your messages and having them "echoed"
through the media (see The Living Wage Media Plan, elsewhere in this kit).
Connect your media plan to your: (1) overall campaign goals; (2) ‘get out the
vote’ electoral strategy; or (3) organizing/outreach strategy, as opposed to your
media plan being something run on its own.

18 Winning Wages Media Kit

An important part of any public relations effort is targeting your audience.
Who precisely are you trying to reach with your message? You may have several
target audiences who need to receive your message, or you may have one
specific audience. The targeted audience will help determine the scope of your
media plan. Give your audience some thought before embarking on a media
campaign. This will influence how you spend your valuable resources and time.
This is good strategic planning.

1. Define Your Audience(s) 2. Tailor Your Messages to Your

The target group for your living wage message may include: Desired Audience
• Elected officials The value messages will be consistent across the board,
• Community residents but the action message in particular can change depending
• Voters on the audience (see A Model for Your Living Wage Message
• General media in this kit).
• Community media
• Opinion-makers and other information “gatekeepers”
EXAMPLE: Continuing with the target audiences above, let’s
• Community leaders
say that the Mayor’s office and the city council are the top
• Alliances/organizers
message priorities at this stage, with the general media
• Unions coming in right behind them.
• People of color
• People of faith Your media message might be something like this:
• Women Message #1: The Problem
• Youth “Many workers in Our Town, USA, are working two, three
• Business leaders and more jobs just to make ends meet. Companies and
• Academia (local economists, university figures, et al) developers who get tax breaks and other incentives are not
• Others sharing the benefits with the community by not paying
employees a decent, living wage. This threatens the economic
well-being of workers, their families and our community.”
EXAMPLE AND QUESTION: Imagine you are releasing a new
report on the impact of paying a living wage in your community. Message #2: A Solution
“Our report shows the positive economic impact of paying
The report contains economic analysis, survey of other cities
employees a living wage. It shows how other communities
with living wage laws, tracking data of wages in your area
that have adopted a similar measure have benefited. People
and state, commentary by local economists, opinions by
who work in our community should not live in poverty.
political figures, case studies of workers, and more. You
Companies who do business here and receive benefits from
may want to release the report not long after announcing,
our city should pay a living wage.”
say, a campaign targeted at companies and contractors who
do business with your city. You want them to pay employees Message #3: A Call to Action
and contractors a decent, living wage. “City supervisors and the Mayor must take action and support
the Community Benefits Living Wage Initiative. It’s about helping
Of the above list of possible target audiences, prioritize those
workers and their families reap the benefits of working hard,
you think are the most important. Who would be the most
and about our community building economic strength.”
important targets of a message communicated in this report
at this stage in the campaign?

Winning Wages Media Kit 19


Targeting Your Audience, cont.

3. Plan Your Media for Your

Desired Audience
Why waste resources on a media plan that will not reach
your targeted audience?

EXAMPLE: If business leaders are a desired target,

pitch the business press or business shows and pages of
the local media. If local residents are important, aim for
the “Metro” section of the paper and community press,
including people-of-color media that may serve affected
neighborhoods. Aiming for politicians? Then stage a media
event on the steps of City Hall or your state capitol and aim
for political/financial columnists.

4. Make Sure Your Media Plan,

With its Targeted Community
Audience(s), Dovetails With Your
Local Organizing Efforts
Door-to-door flyering, a local community “speak out,” or
other education efforts can be timed to coincide with the
placing of an opinion editorial in the local paper, or the
staging of a local media event.
By targeting your audience and appropriate media you
will maximize your resources and create a more effective
media plan.

20 Winning Wages Media Kit

It’s important to know the lexicon of the media and PR. Among other
things, it allows you to speak with reporters from a more informed
perspective. These jargon phrases are often heard by activists. Better to
know what they mean so you can use them correctly.

Soundbite Pitch
A soundbite is a short, pithy, attention-getting To pitch a story means to give an idea for a news
quote that communicates the gist of your message. story to reporters, producers or editors—and getting
Most TV and radio broadcast “bites” last eight to ten them excited about covering it. Activists pitch stories
seconds. In print, you will probably get one quote by calling up reporters, meeting with them in person or
that fills up one short paragraph, maybe two if you are sending a story idea tip sheet. You must be enthusiastic
lucky. The best bites contain action words, puns or verbal about the idea and offer real news with additional sources.
twists—sometimes even a touch of humor. Do not attempt Possible living wage pitches:
to explain everything in your bite; that is a sound banquet
• Ordinance announced at rally
that will be edited down to just one quick quote.
• Profile on workers affected
• New report shows positive trend and economic
EXAMPLES impact of living wage
• More elected officials support living wage
1. “They used to say Wall Street is whizzing, that stocks
• Business leaders (or clergy) support living wage
are up and the economy is good. It was whizzing all right,
on you and me and other Americans that were working
harder than ever for less and less.” —Jim Hightower, Frame
popular commentator. The frame of the story is its boundaries, its
2. “You don't have to be straight to be in the military, you just borders, its defining limits, its impact and its significance.
have to shoot straight.” —late Governor Barry Goldwater, It is your point of view. How you frame your news will
speaking in support of ending the ban on gays and lesbians determine not only whether a reporter covers it but
serving in the armed forces. also whether your position is communicated effectively.
Framing determines who is in the story and who is not;
3. “The women of Idaho are not getting the health coverage
who are the good guys and who are the bad guys;
they need to take care of themselves and their families
who gets to define the issue and who gets to respond.
because of unfair insurance practices. We need a prescrip-
Framing is key. Whoever helps the reporter frame the
tion for fairness that covers all Idahoans and keeps our
story in a bigger, more significant way gets the most press
medicine cabinets stocked.” —Idaho Women's Network
coverage—and the best. In much of mainstream media
today the story's frame is set by government, corporate
and other “official” spokespeople. Getting into the
Spin frame—or changing the frame of the story altogether
Spin is the art of influencing the outcome of a —is one of the greatest challenges to progressives today
story. It is how you nudge, cajole, massage and direct the (see Framing the News, elsewhere in this kit).
news to your benefit. It is your angle on the story. Every
side of a debate has its own spin. Media activists spin
stories by working with reporters and “framing” the story
to emphasize particular angles while downplaying others. A hook is a way to make the story more interesting
Reporters like to consider themselves impervious to spin. to a reporter. Hooks are the components of a news
Opponents of living wage will spin their side. Some- story that make it irresistible to journalists: timeliness,
times, therefore, we must “counterspin” our opposition. anniversaries, controversy, localizing a national story, and
For example, opponents of living wage ordinances often dramatic human interest. Think of your news as bait that
claim “disastrous” economic impact or questionable is luring the fish to bite. Put the hook out there!
legal implications of such ordinances. Be prepared with Hooks become part of your “frame.” They give the
your counterspin, even before the other side makes story more impact and prominence (see How and Why to
its arguments. Frame, elsewhere in this kit). You can hook your news to
something else happening in the media, say a visit by a

Winning Wages Media Kit 21


Media Jargon, cont.

major politician or a business summit. Your hook could be a media outlets then “pull” the
The Associated Press (AP) is
milestone: the anniversary of some local economic justice stories off the wire to print or
probably the most popular wire
battle, for example. Your hook could also be the release of a air them locally. Every media
service, with bureaus in most media
new report. Hooks can be “first ever” stories. Is what you are activist—that's you—should
markets. Other mainstream wire
doing “unprecedented” or “groundbreaking”? If so, that is have the number of the
services include: Copley, Dow
your hook. nearest AP bureau and other
Jones, Knight-Ridder, Gannett, New
wire service offices in their
York Times News Service, Reuters,
HOOK EXAMPLE: Here is an example of a “calendar” hook: rolodex. If you get a local
Scripps-Howard, United Press
Mother's Day comes around every year. Instead of the typical story onto the AP wire it
International, and States.
news story on Mother's Day—the new shopping mall is popular can be picked up in papers
with moms—pitch the press an original story that hooks to the nationwide.
holiday. A piece on mothers who have to work three jobs just to Related news sources are syndicated columnists.
make ends meet because they don’t earn a living wage, and how These journalists write features that are syndicated—dissemi-
that’s affecting their families and communities. nated—to subscriber media outlets across the country. If
your news has regional or national importance, syndicated
columnists or news wires might be interested.

In modern American news style, the lead is the first
line or paragraph of a story; it represents the initial and The daybook is the daily listing of events for
central point. It is an important part of your press release journalists, including press conferences, rallies and other
in that it must capture attention and summarize the news. media events. It is often what reporters check first thing
Try to write concise leads that will grab reporters' attention. in the morning to see what news is being made that day.
If you do not grab them by the end of the paragraph—or The Associated Press (AP) produces one of the most popular
sometimes by the headline—they probably won’t continue. daybooks. To get on the AP daybook, call, fax or email your
local AP bureau with a media advisory.

Op-ed (Opinion Editorial)

Often written from a personal angle, op-eds appear
on the editorial page of newspapers or during the “point/ These are the images shown on the screen as a
counterpoint” portion of radio and TV shows. Writers pitch television news anchor provides a voice-over of a story.
their op-eds to the editorial editors. Op-eds are very useful B-roll is filmed throughout the day by crews, or can be taken
to communicate points on an issue in your own words. They from the station's file footage to illustrate frequently covered
should be short, personal and clearly state the key messages. issues such as workers protesting poverty wages.
For living wage battles, or for broader economic justice
efforts, consider op-eds by workers or supportive politicians Actuality
and business leaders and clergy.
An actuality is a news piece created for radio.
Activists can produce their own radio actualities and send
Photo-op (Photo Opportunity) them to radio stations across the state. An actuality sounds
Use photo-ops to stage high-impact images that just like it was produced by a radio reporter, containing
communicate your messages. Photographs and strong television quotes, sound effects and background noise. Relatively
pictures can move an audience much more directly than inexpensive to make, actualities are an important media
words. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform tool that is often underused.
Now! (ACORN) is a master of staging photo-ops on living wage
issues: pictures of workers and their supporters and families No comment
communicate what it would take thousands of words to say.
No comment is a dangerous thing to say to a reporter.
Rarely—if ever—use this phrase with a journalist. Saying “no
Wire Service comment” suggests one of two things: (1) You are hiding
Wire services are news sources that file articles to something; (2) You are so uninformed and caught by surprise
newspapers and radio and TV stations across the country; that you are incompetent.

22 Winning Wages Media Kit

Media Jargon, cont.

If you absolutely cannot speak on an issue respond with

something such as: “Our lawyers have informed us that we
cannot speak on that issue. However, what I can say is that
we are here to serve the community in the most effective and
committed way possible and make sure every worker here is paid
a living wage.” Turn the question around so you can respond
with a key message.

On/off the record

Many people use these terms without knowing their technical
implications. Contributing to the confusion is the fact that on
and off the record mean different things to different reporters.
Generally, you must presume that everything you say to a
reporter at all times—including social and casual settings
—is on the record. That means it is information that can be
used with specific attribution—your name and organizational
For some journalists, off the record means the information
can still be used, but without attribution. Sometimes sources
will go off the record to impart sensitive information with which
they do not want to be associated. This means the person went
off the record and the attribution is general—not specific by
name. Going off the record first requires permission from the
journalist. The journalist must agree to the terms. You must
remember to go back on the record when it is appropriate.
Once you say something it cannot be reversed and made off
the record.
A related distinction is Deep Background. Deep Background
usually means that the information and your name cannot be
used: Think “Deep Throat” and the Watergate scandal. On the
whole, it is not advised to go either off the record or on deep
background. If you do not want reporters to know something,
do not say it.

You can embargo your news for a specific date and time.
This means reporters cannot publish or air the news until the
stated embargo time. Embargoes are a way for you to get
information into the hands of key journalists prior to an event.
That way they can do a good job covering your news without
ruining the “big surprise.”
For example, a report on the economic impact of a living
wage law given to journalists in advance may be embargoed
until the time and date of a press conference. The embargoed
copies allow reporters to study your work and begin to prepare
the story.
across all documents given to reporters in advance. Most
responsible reporters do not break embargoes. Nevertheless,
they are a risk.

Winning Wages Media Kit 23

“Far from being an objective list of facts, a news story results from multiple
subjective decisions about whether and how to present happenings to media
audiences. Newsmakers engage in a selection process, actively making sense out
of an immense quantity of experience, selecting some points as critical, discarding
or downplaying others.“
—Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time Activism

nderstanding framing is one of the most important steps to understanding how the
media can work for you—or against you. The frame of the story is its boundaries,
its borders, its defining limits, its impact. The frame is your point of view. How you
frame a story is critical. Whoever helps the reporter frame the story in a more significant
manner gets the most press coverage—and sometimes the best.
Who is in the story and who is not? What is the impact of the story? Who is affected?
Who are the “players“ in your story? The “heroes“ and villains?“ Who gets to define
proactively the issue and who gets to respond? All are framing questions that must be
answered in your frame.

How Framing Works

Government officials, corporate heads, interest groups and think tanks all employ
public-relations experts whose sole job is to get their point of view in the media. In other
words, to help set the frame. Editors and reporters must make choices every day about
what stories make the news and whose point of view
is going to be in the story. How you frame the story
will help determine whether or not you are included bTHE POWER OF
in the news.
Take the example of welfare. The official frame on • How you frame your news will
welfare is something like this: This country was founded determine its prominence in the media.
on individualism. Every individual—not our society • How you frame your news will
—needs to pick himself up determine the competitiveness of your
and take care of himself. The story as compared to all the other news
Whoever frames your issue in reproduction of images of happening that day.
people who do drugs, refuse
the broadest way—so it affects • How you frame your news will define
to work or are “welfare
the debate.
the most people—will, in the cheats“, all work to reaffirm
the frame’s legitimacy. At • How you frame your news will define
competitive media market, get the the players: who are the good guys and
the same time, the frame
coverage and win the campaign. who are the bad guys.
absolves government of the
responsibility to take care • How you frame your news will persuade
of its citizens. people to respond in a particular way,
Or, look at living wage. We frame the issue as one including public officials, voters and
of worker salaries and benefits, fighting poverty, regular community members.
strengthening working families and their communities, • How you frame your news will inform
ensuring corporate responsibility and accountability, the public about your position and will
and guaranteeing broader economic justice. The opposi- communicate your messages.
tion frames it as raising taxes, losing jobs, displacing • How you frame your news will
workers, creating hostile business climates, or actually determine what images and metaphors
harming those it intends to aid, among other arguments. communicate the story.
It’s a battle of the frames, playing out in your local news.

Winning Wages Media Kit 25


Framing the News, cont.

Strategizing Your Frame

To get yourself in the frame—or change the frame
altogether—you have to think strategically. What is the
issue? What is your objective? What is your goal? What are
you trying to accomplish both politically and socially?
Returning to the living wage example: Are you trying to get
a living wage law passed for in a specific amount of time or
using a specific tactic (city council vote, referendum)? Are you
trying to empower low-wage workers? Are you trying to expand
coverage of an existing law? Do you seek to build your base
and expand your social justice movement? Define your goal and
attach it to the frame.
Next, think about what symbols carry the frame. In the
welfare framing example, the “official“ hostile frame tried to
represent the issue with an African-American mother with
numerous kids. In a living wage context, the opposition will
counter frame your arguments through expensive advertising
and PR campaigns designed to instill fear and uncertainty in
the minds of voters and elected officials by symbolizing the
issue with images that strike terror (advertisements showing
empty business offices forced to relocated because they couldn’t
afford to pay a living wage; public services, such as library
programs cut because of the economic “downturn“ caused by
a living wage).
You have to counter
How you frame the story will
that with whoever
represents your point help determine whether or not
of view: the working
you are included in the news.
parents struggling to
make it against a system
of vast injustice and indifference; the children caught in the
middle; the communities affected. You have to change the
frame of the story by changing as many of its components
as possible: the characters, the goals, the terms of debate.
Often, when asked to describe how our opponents frame
the issues we usually respond quickly because it is easy to see
their arguments. But when asked how we frame the subject, we
often go off in many different directions. We need to step back
from our work and contemplate how we are framing our issues
and what messages we are communicating.
Recognizing the importance of framing and coordinating
a strategic message across a broad range of publics is
important. How does your frame touch people who may not be
directly affected?

26 Winning Wages Media Kit




C harlotte Ryan, noted national media critic and advocate, cites an example of framing in her book,
Prime Time Activism, excerpted and paraphrased here. It involves a newspaper headline and
story concerning an event, or series of events, in an inner-city area in the U.S. This example should
help you understand the whole subject of framing. The lesson of this example—that stories can
be framed depending on political positions—is transferable to living wage battles.

Picture this headline in the metro Now, let’s look at another variation: Consider this:
section of a major urban daily:
“Rats Bite Infant: Landlord, “Rat Bites Rising in City’s
“Rats Bite Baby.“ Tenants Dispute Blame“ ‘Zone of Death’“
The story is set in a housing project in Suddenly, the frame has changed The frame has changed again. Now City
the Black inner-city community of a large considerably. Now it is a story emphasizing Hall is implicated and the frame opens up
metropolis. It involves a single mother of controversy and conflict: the slumlord to include: elected officials, urban policy,
five who left her baby in the bassinet while hounded by cameras in his wealthy economic empowerment zones and afford-
she went down to the corner to cash her neighborhood and shielded by his lawyers able housing. The whole inner-city context
welfare check, most likely next to the versus low-income neighborhood residents is under fire.
“Pay Day Check Cashing“ store. The door coming together to protest terrible housing According to this version of the story,
was left open so her neighbors could hear conditions. the woman’s baby is only the latest victim
the children playing. While she was gone, This version of the story includes of a “rat epidemic“ plaguing inner-city
the baby was bitten repeatedly by rats. information from other tenants who claim neighborhoods in the “Zone of Death.“
A neighbor responded to the cries of the their repeated requests for rodent extermi- The good guys and the bad guys have
infant and brought the child to Central nation had been ignored by the landlord. changed places. The mother, vilified in
Hospital where he was treated and released An image that communicates this frame the first “Rats Bite Baby“ story, has now
in his mother’s custody. is one of angry and concerned residents become a spokesperson for families
How is this story being framed? For of the project coming together to protest. victimized in the urban “Zone of Death.“
those who oppose welfare, it’s is clear. Though the landlord tries to blame the She becomes the emblem of the story.
Who are the bad guys? Not the rats. Not tenants for improperly disposing of their The frame of the story—its focus, its
the city. Not the owner of this project. It is garbage, the frame has been expanded. boundaries, its underlying values—has
the mother who left her baby alone to go The facts will now be selected and changed. And not only that, this local story
and cash her welfare check. The bad guys ordered differently, guided by a different suddenly has national consequences as
here are all welfare recipients and unwed set of values and responsibilities. Still, cities across the U.S. struggle with similar
mothers—especially people of color. something is missing. inner-city challenges.
The good guys are upstanding citizens
who work or get off welfare, as well as
politicians who advocate welfare reform.
The images that communicate this This is what you must do for your news. You can set the frame. You can create the
frame are the photos of people hanging messages, the images and the significance of the story in a way that puts you on the offense.
around the local check cashing business, You can shape public opinion by strategically framing the story and communicating messages.
abandoned children playing in the project, This is the most empowering thing you can do as you communicate with the media.
and politicians calling for welfare reform. When you go to the press with your message, you help to change the terms of
debate. Understand that you have a window of opportunity to seize; to do so, you first
need a frame. With issues like poverty, economic opportunity, living wage and community
benefits we are framing for our lives. The better we are at doing it, the more we are going
to be heard.

Winning Wages Media Kit 27

This article focuses on framing your living wage news to capture reporters’ attention
and put the opposition on defense. It is not an in-depth political framing analysis
(see the following Analysis by George Lakoff). Framing of living wage can incorporate
numerous issues, including poverty, workers’ rights, economic justice, corporate
responsibility, globalization and more. This framing model helps activists break down
the issue into its most important and persuasive components.

We Frame Stories for Two Reasons:

1. Maximum media impact. The story framed most effectively will appeal to the
media, help reporters and editors understand the significance and scope of the issue,
cut through competition for news coverage, and score headlines. By framing the
issue to include drama, controversy, reach, impact, human interest, civic and economic
consequences you make the story more compelling and irresistible to the media.
Aim your frame high. Frame so your news has the potential of appearing on Page 1A
of your local newspaper, not buried in the back pages.

2. Put opposition on the defense and you on the offense. Set the terms of the
debate by framing the issue proactively. Whoever controls the frame controls the
debate. Force your opposition to play framing “catch up“ because you have articulated
the issue in a way that serves your agenda.


Living wage laws have been successful because, among
other reasons, we have framed them effectively to capture
AND FRAME THE STORY interest and establish broad impact by communicating galvanizing
IN A WAY THAT IS MOST arguments such as “people who work should not live in poverty“,
PERTINENT TO THEM. and “paying a living wage is ultimately good for our local economy
and our families“. Meanwhile, opponents resort to a litany of
How you frame for your local business
reporter will be different than how you
myths and counter-frames, including the easily refutable lie that
frame an issue for the lifestyle or political living wages ultimately “harm” workers.
desks. How you would frame for Oprah is
different than how you would frame for The How to Frame: A Model
Wall Street Journal. Customize your frame
to fit the picture! Answer these specific questions to help determine your frame.

A well-framed living wage argument most What is the issue “about?“

likely will appeal to the business or The issue can be “about“ almost anything you want it to be as
metro/local reporters. However, it can also long as it serves your political agenda. Avoid framing the issue
have cross-over potential with state so narrowly that it is about something very small. For example,
reporters (if other towns in your state have living wages can be framed simplistically as paying workers,
successfully passed a law), the religious say, $10.25 an hour. Or, it can be about something so much
beat (as faith-based groups get involved); more, something that affects the entire city or county, that has
labor/worker reporters; human-interest dramatic and positive economic consequences, that appeals to
reporters, City Hall beat, and so forth. the core values of your community, that makes this issue one of
the most important ones now being debated.
Think like a reporter as you frame your
issue. What will make this story of interest Who is affected by the issue?
to her or him, and why? Why should they Try to frame the story so more people are impacted by the issue,
cover this story when there are dozens of not simply the literal number of workers covered by the law,
others for them to cover? How can your although that is of course key. Greater impact equals greater
frame and its hooks help reporters convince consequences and significance, which means more public interest
their editors to give the story bigger play? and press attention. How many people will be affected, including
workers covered by a living wage law, their families, employers,

28 Winning Wages Media Kit


How and Why to Frame Living Wage News, cont.

and so forth? How wide is the reach of the issue? How Create “hooks“ on which to hang your frame.
deep does the issue penetrate into your community’s core Reporters are always looking for news hooks, those aspects
concerns? Will your news only impact 29 people in your of the story that make it more timely and compelling. The
community, or does the issue have a much broader scope more hooks contained in your story the better the chances
and ultimately affect every person in your area? of it scoring headlines (See News Hooks For Your Frame for
One living wage activist said, “The law itself will only full descriptions). Some useful living wage hooks include:
affect a few controversy (point, counter-point, debate), human interest
thousand employ- (stories of workers), “strange bedfellows“ (employers and
Frame so the opposition is on ees at this phase, workers unite).
the defense and forced to coun- but ultimately if
it impacts every- Finally, to support and “transmit“ your frame,
terframe, and you are on the one who cares consider what images, metaphors and symbols communicate
offense—having claimed the about paying the frame.
decent living What pictures embody your values and you frame? What
political and moral high ground. media photo-ops can you construct to symbolize the frame?
wages for those
who work, who In the welfare example cited above, one of the most power-
care about ful and disturbing images that communicated the side of the
economic strength and community growth, who care about welfare “reformers“ were the shots of check-cashing/alcohol
responsibility and accountability, who have empathy for all stores with African-American “welfare moms“ waiting in line
those who live in our city, including the most poor, who pay to cash their welfare checks.
taxes and want to live in a community with real benefits and In living wage campaigns stage images that signify your
values, and who care in general about the social, civic and frame, including events that showcase the actual workers and
economic well-being of our area—ultimately, that just about their families, that expose the injustice of a poverty wage
includes everyone!“ paid by employers who do not support the living wage law,
and that indicate broad community support (clergy, business,
Define the issue and players in your frame. working families, etc.).
Whoever defines the debate, controls it. Move your frame,
not the frame of your opponents. The frame will determine
who are the “good guys“ and who are the “bad guys.“
Every drama needs a hero and villain. Frame so the opposi-
tion is on the defense and forced to counterframe, and you
are on the offense—having claimed the political and moral
high ground. Values-based framing is integral to advancing a progressive
In a living wage, there are many players, including: social agenda. All to often we construct the issue with facts
“Good guys:“ workers, their families, clergy, supportive and figures and statistics at the forefront. Our arguments are
elected officials, supportive business leaders, unions, reduced to pie-charts and graphs. But we can appeal to the
employers who pay a living wage, communities outside your minds and hearts of constituents by framing with values in
area that have passed living wage laws, voters on your side, mind. Values that uphold democratic principles and decency.
and so forth. Values that indicate what we believe in, what we stand for and
“Bad guys:“ Employers tying to deny a decent living what kind of society we want to live in. Values such as:
wage, Chamber of Commerce officials not considering the
well-being of the entire community, elected officials who Empathy Opportunity
oppose a living wage, corporations and associations (e.g., Personal Responsibility Making a better life
hotel owners’ associations) only concerned about their profit Justice Dignity
interests, and so forth. Fairness Civic Participation
It might appear simplistic to reduce the battle down Decency Strong Communities
to good and bad guys. However, by profiling the story and Share the fruits and benefits Public Health
framing the players you make moral and political choices of our community Personal Happiness
—and their consequences—more clear for the media and for Good business sense Equal opportunity
the different sides of the debate, and most important for Work (Hard Working) Public accountability
those who haven’t taken a side yet but are still impressionable. Strong Faith Equanimity
Strong Families Character and contribution

Winning Wages Media Kit 29

Every frame needs a hook. Hooks help you catch reporters’ attention.
Hooks make stories more newsworthy. They can be included in the framing
of a story in a way that expands the significance of the news and makes it
more compelling. When you pitch a story and frame the news for the
reporter, consider including as many of these hooks as possible.

New announcement
Is your news “unprecedented,” “groundbreaking,” “first-ever?” If so, say it. The
rule of the game is: Reporters are only interested in new news, not old news.
Make your news fresh. The launch of a the first living wage campaign in your area,
or the first-ever public hearing on workers’ wages in your town would be examples
of this hook.

Reporters naturally are interested in trends. Stories that suggest new opinions,
behavior patterns and attitudes might get covered. Trends can be revealed in
reports that detail new information. And remember: In the news business,
“three is a trend.” Find at least three examples to corroborate your assertion
that a new trend is emerging. If living wage laws are sweeping your state, that
would be a trend.

Localize a national story.

A convenient news hook is to take a nationally breaking story and emphasize its
local impact. The national press has covered living wage and probably will continue
to do so. That offers you opportunities to spotlight your local measure. National
news stories such as the affect of the economy on American
If you see a national workers may be localized to show how workers in your area
are specifically impacted. If you see a national story is break-
story is breaking, ing, consider calling your local media and “localize” it.
consider calling your The other side of this framing hook is: nationalize a local
local media and story. If your local news has state, regional or national impli-
cations, by all means include that in your frame. Make your
“localize” it. town a “model” that has universal implications for other
towns in your state, region or even nationally.

Dramatic human interest.

Compelling personal stories almost have to be part of the frame. Flesh out the
frame to include the stories of real people, their triumphs and tragedies, ordeals,
adventures and anecdotes. Besides, the stories are true and represent the voices of
people who are often not included. Living wage campaigns offer rich example of
dramatic human interest in the stories of low-income workers affected by the law.

This sells stories, for good or for bad. Your opposition is obviously framing the
story to emphasize their agenda. So you should frame the controversy to put
your enemy on the defense. Living wage has inherent controversy: between the
campaign vs. the opposition, between workers vs. insensitive employers.


30 Winning Wages Media Kit


News Hooks For Your Frame, cont.

Fresh angle on an old story Respond and react

Similar as news being “new” (see previous example: Most of what we describe in this section is about
“New Announcement”). If you can take an old story and proactively framing your news for maximum media impact.
put a fresh twist on it, make that part of your frame. However, consider reacting to news made by others as
The age old example is: “Dog Bites Man”—a non-story. an opportunity to counterframe the issue and move your
“Man Bites Dog”: now that is a messages. If your opposition
story. A living wage “second time announces some new anti-living
around” campaign story that is If your opposition announces wage tactic, respond with your
made fresh with new details and some new anti-living wage message and get into the news.
updates would be an example of
this hook.
tactic, respond with your Celebrity
message and get into the news. Sometimes fame and fortune can
Anniversaries serve as a hook. If you have a
One year later, one decade later, nationally or locally known luminary
20 years later. These “anniversary” —cultural, religious, political or
stories are attention-grabbers. For example, one year after entertainment—make sure he or she is included in the
the passage of a living wage in a nearby location resulted story. Celebrities attract the news. The downside to
in various things happening to workers. Does that story celebrity is, of course, it tends to outshine the stories of
have implications for your campaign? If so, use the real people actually affected by the issue. Plus, celebrities
anniversary as a hook for your news. are often famous simply for being famous, not necessarily
for their political acumen or experience.
Calendar hook
Frame your story to capture something coming up on Strange Bedfellows
the calendar. Mother’s Day can be a hook for poor working Unusual allies often attract media attention. Republicans
moms who would be covered by a living wage. Labor Day and Democrats supporting living wage. Labor and business
can be a living wage rally and worker story opportunity. come together for living wage. Highlight “strange bed-
Religious holidays offer your side’s clergy opportunities for fellows” to show the diversity and breadth of your
media coverage. campaign support.

Profiles and personnel

Your news may feature individuals, community leaders or
galvanizing spokespersons who may become news them-
selves because of their fascinating stories and civic standing.

Special event
If you are staging a sizeable conference, rally or
gathering, frame the event to capture the issue and
signify its importance.

Winning Wages Media Kit 31


ANALYSIS Framing can be a complex discipline requiring years of study, focus group polling, analysis,
research and target audience testing. Professional communications analysts and practitioners
have devoted much resources and time to this study. This section of the “Winning Wages“ guidebook presents both
quick spot-framing tips (see previous article) and more in-depth framing analysis. In this piece by noted academic
researcher, progressive political thinker, author and cognitive science expert George Lakoff, we discover a more
detailed analysis of framing for living wage. The first part focuses on the basic frames of living wage for those who
want that specific focus. The second part goes beyond living wage into a “moral economy.“ George Lakoff is the author
of Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, University of Chicago Press. Article used by permission.

PART 1: New Lenses For Your Frames:


by George Lakoff, Rockridge Institute and UC Berkeley

Framing in Everyday Life A frame is a mental structure that we by some reliever-of-pain.

normally use in thinking, usually without The “Relief Frame” is an instance of a
uppose you have a friend who doesn’t

S spend his money very freely. You can

understand his behavior in at least two
very different ways. You might think of him as
being aware of it. All words are defined in
terms of frames.
Framing can be extremely important to
your life. Framing matters. Frames character-
more general “rescue“ scenario, in which
there is a hero (the reliever-of-pain), a victim
(the afflicted), a crime (the affliction),
a villain (the cause-of-affliction), and a rescue
“stingy.“ This contrasts with “generous.“ ize the way you understand a situation and (the pain relief). The hero is inherently
Either of these words raises the issue of how they affect how you live. good, the villain is evil, and the victim after
willing he is to part with his money to benefit the rescue owes gratitude to the hero.
someone else. Stingy says “not very“ and Political Frames The term “tax relief“ evokes all of this and
imposes a negative judgment. But the same more. Taxes, in this phrase, are the affliction
behavior might also be described by someone On the day that George W. Bush took (the crime). Proponents of taxes are the
else as “thrifty.“ Here, the opposite is “waste-
office, the words “tax relief“ started appearing causes-of affliction (the villains), the taxpay-
ful,“ and the issue is how efficiently he man-
in White House communiqués to the press er is the afflicted victim, and the proponents
ages his money. The judgment is positive. and in official speeches and reports by of “tax relief“ are the heroes who deserve the
What we have here is a case of framing.
conservatives. Let us look in detail at the taxpayers’ gratitude.
The same behavior can be framed positively framing evoked by this term before we get Every time the phrase “tax relief“ is used
as “managing money efficiently,“ or negatively
into living wage because it offers an excellent and heard or read by millions of people, the
as “being unwilling to help someone in need.“
perspective on how issues in the public more this view of taxation as an affliction and
Opposites like “stingy“ and “generous“ are debate can be framed with political and media conservatives as heroes gets reinforced.
defined as opposing values in the same con-consequences. Recently, President Bush started using the
ceptual frame. The word relief evokes a frame in which slogan, “Tax relief creates jobs.“ Looking at
there is a blameless afflicted the “Relief Frame,” we see that afflictions and
person who we identify with pain can be quantified, and there can be
“The job of the living cage campaign is to and who has some affliction, more or less relief. By the logic of framing
bring the living wage frames into American some pain or harm that is (not the logic of economics!), if tax relief
imposed by some external creates jobs, then more tax relief creates
life, and with them, the progressive moral
cause-of-pain. Relief is the more jobs.
worldview.“ —George Lakoff taking away of the pain or Conservatives have worked for decades
harm, and it is brought about to establish the metaphors of taxation as a

32 Winning Wages Media Kit


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

burden, an affliction, and an unfair the reality you are talking about, or be called the “Conservative Business
punishment—all of which require create one. Finding an existing one is by Frame.“ Frame elements include:
“relief.“ They have also, over decades, far the better choice. If it exists, people • Business owners (whose viewpoint is
built up the frame in which the wealthy already have it in their brains and you taken by the opposition as paramount)
create jobs and giving them more wealth just have find the language to evoke it. If • Employees
creates more jobs. you have to create a new frame, you have • Products
to get people to learn that frame, which • Customers
The Power of Framing takes time and effort and may not work. • Revenue
and Reframing • Expenses
Framing in Living Wage • Profit
Indeed, conservative think tanks Campaigns
frame the full range of issues from their Inherent in the opposition’s frame are
perspective. Today conservative framings Our side’s frame: their “truths:“
dominate our political discourse. Even When advocates talk about a “living
• Owners own the business (not
democrats have taken to talking about wage“ they assume what I call a
“tax relief,“ although the frame contradicts “Working-for-a-Living Frame.“ The frame
• The purpose of the business is
everything they are trying to do economi- has certain elements—the basic parts
to make maximum profit for the
cally. That is the power of framing. of the frame:
owners, who deserve the profits.
• An employee (whose viewpoint • Jobs must be done to produce the
we take) products sold by the business.
Frames are in your brain, • An employer (either a person or • Employees are paid to do the jobs.
physically in the synapses. a business) • The less paid the employees, the
Just telling people facts that • A job (e.g., waiting on tables, higher the profits
trimming trees) • To maximize profits, owners must
contradict the frames will • A salary (for performing the job) maximize revenues and minimize
usually not have any effect. • Basic needs of the employee costs
(that the salary is to pay for) • That’s the American way of doing
business, and we should not
Frames are in your brain, physically This frame also has certain internal interfere with it (with living wage
in the synapses. Just telling people facts “truths“—that is, what is taken to be laws and other measures)
that contradict the frames will usually true of a situation when this frame is
not have any effect. The frames stay, the used. These include: A note about their “Conservative
facts just bounce off. Statistics and num-
• The employee does the job. Business Frame”: I use the term
bers won’t matter. Even negating a frame
• The employer pays the salary to the “conservative“ to contrast it with a
just reinforces the frame. If you say, “I’m
employee for doing the job. socially-responsible business frame,
against tax relief,“ you are still evoking
• The employee deserves the salary. or what might be called the “Family-
the tax relief frame, with taxation as
• The salary is sufficient for the Business Frame.” A word of caution
an affliction. You might give facts and
employee’s basic needs. should be used at this point. Real
figures indicating that costs from federal
conceptual frames that people use are
tax cuts will just be passed down to the
Their side’s frame: far more complex than those we are
local level and to private costs, providing
Meanwhile, business interests that discussing here. I discuss the simple
no relief, but the word “relief“ still
oppose a living wage frame the issue business frame for two reasons:
evokes the same frame.
conceptually very differently, with (1) most people have it and understand
What you have to do is reframe.
contrasting elements. Their frame could it, and (2) it is commonly used in
Either find another frame that better fits

Winning Wages Media Kit 33


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

arguments against living wage legislation. • Customers seek to minimize prices human being is hidden by the metaphor.
Unfortunately, in many areas of our for commodities bought Human values and human relationships
society influenced by a conservative- • The Market is part of nature; its are hidden. Individual qualities are
controlled Congress, Right Wing dominated operation is inescapable. hidden—one worker is as good as another
state legislators, and big business—not to • If left alone, it works best and who fulfills the same function.
mention many of those who are just maximizes profit for everyone in And of course, the very question of a
wealthy—the “Conservative Business the Market. living wage is outside the metaphor, as if it
Frame” is the dominant frame that rings • Prices are determined by a law of didn’t exist. Resources don’t have families,
true. Such “truths“ may not actually Nature—the Law of Supply and needs, health problems, and so on. A “fair
be true at all, or maybe rarely. What is Demand. wage“ becomes a “fair price“ determined
important is that when the frame is used • Supply increases tend to make by the “labor market.“
to structure a situation and then commu- prices drop. The concept of skill is important in this
nicated to the public through the media, it • Demand increases tend to make metaphor. Skill is seen as a measure of
is assumed to be true—unless explicitly them rise. value, with highly skilled labor worth
contradicted. And even then they may • The operation of the Market is fair, more and unskilled labor worth the least.
reappear as assumed truths. since nature is unbiased. This idea, as it works in the frame, is also
• Prices determined by the Market are insidious. In the metaphor, “high skill“
Living Wage Campaigns fair prices. is assumed to be in short supply and
and The Market • For optimal results, the Market should needed. But this defines skill in terms of
be left alone. the Law of Supply and Demand. A teacher
The “Conservative Business Frame” • Externally imposed constraints on may be highly skilled, but those skills will
does not stand alone. It is supported by prices are not optimal and mess have low value if teachers are in great
the idea of the market, as economists things up for everybody. supply, or if there no way to profit from
often understand it and teach about it. those skills.
This frame is, course a myth, but
The idea of the market is the basis of the There is one more important issue
living wage advocates encounter it every-
entire American economy. It is framed in here: Who sells labor to the employer?
where. You need to recognize it, know its
a way that distorts radically how it really There are two answers. The worker either
problems, and know how to reframe.
operates, and that frame stands in the way sells his own labor, or a union sells it for
One of the most insidious aspects of
of living wage campaigns. Here’s what that him, as an agent. If the worker sells his
the “Natural Market Frame” is its use as
frame looks like: own labor, he is usually put at big disad-
metaphor for the basis of
The “Natural Market Frame” labor and wages. Note that
Entities: neither labor nor wages are What is important is that when the frame
in the “Market Frame” is used to structure a situation and then
• Businesses itself. Labor and wages are
• Commodities brought into the frame via communicated to the public through the
• Customers metaphor that labor is a media, it is assumed to be true—unless
• Prices Resource (a kind of com- explicitly contradicted.
Internal ‘truths’: modity), where wages are
• Commodities are relatively scarce; prices for labor, and
they are not freely available. employers are customers.
vantage by the Law of Supply and Demand.
• Businesses sell commodities to cus- This is an extremely insidious
Since he controls only a supply of one,
tomers at prices metaphor—and it is everywhere. The
he can’t drive up the price. The individual
• Businesses seek to maximize prices name “Human Resources“ assumes the
is at another disadvantage as well—
for commodities sold metaphor. When labor is made a
coercion, that is, sexual harassment, bad
“resource,“ the fact that the resource is a

34 Winning Wages Media Kit


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

working conditions, demeaning treat- imposing discipline. If people did not Yet the frames have ossified in the brains
ment, predatory lending, and so on. have to compete—if they were just of much of the population and are being
Unions control a greater labor supply, given what they need, there would be no taught to a new generation.
and so can “drive up” the price and reason to be disciplined, and so no one These frames do not accurately
defend workers against coercion. would follow moral rules. People would portray our reality. That does not make
We can see why conservatives hate just do what “feels right.“ them less real, as frames.
unions. They see them as interfering in Getting payments not earned (cont.)
the “natural” labor market. And worse, (“according to need, not worth“) pro-
they see them as immoral—giving motes immorality and is itself immoral.
workers things they haven’t earned and Moreover, it upsets the market and leads
undermining discipline. away from the maximization of the inter-
ests of all, thus hurting people in general.
An important consequence of the
We can see why conservatives hate “Moral Discipline Frame” is that there
unions. They see them as interfering will always be winners and losers. The
in the “natural” labor market. more disciplined people will win and
they will deserve it. The losers will serve
the winners. Those who accept the frame
This puts unions in a difficult posi- assume this is as it should be. Otherwise,
tion. With their workers they use the there would be no need for discipline
Working-For-A-Living metaphor, which is and all morality would break down.
their whole reason for being. But with A saying like, “The poor will always be
employers, they use the employers’ with us,“ expresses this clearly. Notice
metaphor—the Labor Market metaphor. that the “us“ in this saying does not
These are conflicting frames, and that include the poor.
makes for a hard balancing act. The economic application of this
moral frame derives from the specter of
The “Conservative Moral“ scarcity: If resources are scarce, then
Frame people who don’t work to produce them
don’t deserve a share. They just take
Conservatives have a very different from those who are productive, creating
view of morality than progressives do. the threat that there may not be enough
At the center of conservative morality is for those who are productive. In a
the idea of discipline. society like the US, where there is such
abundance, there is no real specter of
The “Moral Discipline Frame“ scarcity; there is only the lack of money
People naturally tend to follow their to buy on the part of many people.
desires rather than to do always what it
is right. If people are to do right, they
have to learn “discipline.“ People who Yet the frames have ossified
are not disciplined will not act morally.
Scarcity and difficulty in the world
in the brains of much of the
imposes a form of discipline. Market- population and are being
based competition and unfettered free taught to a new generation
enterprise thus contribute to morality by

Winning Wages Media Kit 35


Let’s start with the other side’s own words, “What is the Living Wage,“ excerpted below.
The website of the conservative think tank, The Employment Policies Institute (EPI),, provides the following characterization of the living wage. By the way,
Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont. note how this website also demonizes ACORN and others working for a living wage (“The real
ACORN: Anti-employee, anti-union, big business.“)

What is the Living Wage? • Boston $19.27

Real Arguments: Since the mid-1990’s, the American Left • Santa Cruz $16.93
has been assembling a “new Economic and • New York $16.81
The Opposition’s Frames
Social Justice movement“ that works to • Washington $15.46
and Words implement so-called “living wage“ ordinances • Newark $14.58
These dominant conservative frames in cities throughout the United States. • Chicago $14.37
illustrate what the living wage activist is What is the living wage campaign? It is an • Boulder $13.62
up against. Let us look at how these organized effort to force employers to inject
As the living wage movement grew
frames create a “logic“—a mode of a welfare mentality into the workplace. The
throughout the 1990’s, proponents sought
reasoning that living wage advocates goal: to set pay wage rates “to each according
coverage of living wage laws to include
constantly encounter. to their need“ rather than their skills. This
companies that had received tax abatements,
means doubling, tripling, and even quadru-
or incentive grants or that lease property
pling the current minimum wage—at a huge
from a city or county. Many businesses,
cost to consumers and taxpayers.
whose “customer“ was the general public
In this debate, “need“ is defined not by
—and not the city or county government—
independent experts but by the living wage
were now required to pay living wage rates to
movement itself. Far from subsistence wages,
their employees, yet they were unable to pass
various living wage proponents have
along the cost of the mandated increase to
endorsed mandatory wages as high as
the government body that mandated them
$48,000 per year, mandatory vacation of
As the scope of the living wage coverage
“four to five weeks per year,“ health care
widened, the proposed living wage rates
coverage for all employees, and more.
skyrocketed to $11, $12, even $15 an hour,
The living wage movement did not start
plus full benefits packages for what were
out with such large demands. The first
heretofore entry-level jobs. One group
successful campaign for a living wage, in
recommended a $48,000 living wage for a
Baltimore in 1994, sought a living wage of
single parent with two children living in
$6.10 an hour, rising to $7.90 within five
Washington, D.C. That works out to $24 an
years and thereafter adjusted to inflation.
hour—if the parent works full-time.
This ordinance applied only to companies
That’s more than four times the current
that provided contracted services for a city or
minimum wage, and that money has to come
county (such as landscaping public grounds,
from somewhere. It will come from employers
providing “meals on wheels“ to senior citi-
and their customers, or from government
zens or busing children to public schools).
and taxpayers. In both cases, that means it
Contrast that with a living wage ordinance
will come from you. Or, the costs will be
pushed through in Santa Monica, California,
shouldered by employees who lose their jobs,
in 1999. That ordinance required a $10.69
or applicants who cannot get hired.
an hour minimum wage for all businesses
The living wage movement is now expanding
with fifty or more employees in the city’s
its reach with, in the words of advocate
“coastal zone“ business district, plus twenty-
Robert Pollin, “a more ambitious aim: to
four paid vacation days each year.
create a living wage policy with…a national
Even that is not the limit. Help The
Homeless, a pro-living wage organization,
has suggested the following hourly minimum
wages for select U.S. cities:


36 Winning Wages Media Kit


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

After reading the opposition’s argu- using that phrase, the authors
ment, it should be clear they see the world are suggesting indirectly that the After reading the opposition’s argu-
through different frames than we do. Since living wage campaign is a form ment, it should be clear they see the
we need to understand them in order to of communism. They refer else-
counter them, let’s take a closer look at where to living wage advocates world through different frames than
how their frames structure their argu- as “Marxoids.“ we do. Since we need to understand
ments. The idea here is that the very them in order to counter them, let’s
Let us begin with the term “welfare concept of a living wage violates
mentality.“ For conservatives, a “welfare the idea of the labor market, take a closer look at how their frames
mentality“ violates the “Moral Discipline which is taken to be literal, not structure their arguments.
Frame.” It assumes the idea behind the metaphorically constructed. The
welfare state: Every human being inherent- labor market is assumed to be a
ly deserves to have basic needs met special case of the market in general, What is interesting here is “at a
(regardless of whether they are earned which is taken as defining capitalism— huge cost to consumers and taxpayers.“
through “the discipline of the market“). assumed to be in contrast with socialism. This reasoning follows from using the
The term “mentality“ is condescending. It is seen therefore as a threat to very idea “Conservative Business Frame” and not
of the American economy and conservative using the frames employed by the living
morality. It is not just anti-business, it is wage campaign.
The idea here is that the very communist, un-American and immoral. Note what is not mentioned in these
concept of a living wage violates The conservative “Pay-According-To-
Skill Frame“ assumes that the pay-skill • Community payments to corporations
the idea of the labor market,
hierarchy is a “natural“ constraint govern- (in the form of tax breaks, development
which is taken to be literal, not ing the labor market. The implication is subsidies, zoning changes, local educa-
metaphorically constructed. that, without it, the market would not tion, local infrastructure, and so on).
function correctly to maximize the profits These payments are made invisible by
of all—and that therefore everyone would accounting methods.
It uses a frame in which some people have be hurt financially. • Lowered community service expens-
intellects superior to others, and in which es (emergency health care, food pro-
“This means doubling, tripling, and
those with inferior intellects have modes grams, housing programs, and so on).
even quadrupling the current minimum
of thought that are wrong—false or These too are invisible, since they are
wage—at a huge cost to consumers
immoral, or both. The word “mentality“ saved, not paid.
and taxpayers.“
refers to such modes of thought.
Of course, “doubling, tripling, and • Increased profits due to improved
even quadrupling“ is an exaggeration, corporate efficiency and lowered expenses
Other Uses of Conservative for recruitment and training. These too
a rhetorical trick.
Frames do not appear overtly in budgets as living
“…that money has to come from wage effects.
The entire argument is an elaboration
somewhere. It will come from employers • The moral structuring of the economy.
of the conservative frames adopted above.
and their customers, or from govern- Economies are claimed to be “amoral,“
Let’s take apart their words.
ment and taxpayers. In both cases, that despite all sorts of moral structuring
“The goal: to set pay wage rates ‘to means it will come from you. Or, the (e.g., no child labor, no assassinations of
each according to their need’ rather costs will be shouldered by employees competitors). Entrepreneurs are expected
than their skills.“ who lose their jobs, or applicants who to work within moral limits.
cannot get hired.“
The phrase “to each according to his
needs“ is part of a Marxist slogan. By

Winning Wages Media Kit 37


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

• Lowered but still reasonable profits the general public— and NOT the city one to earn a living wage.
(return to stockholders, stock price, or county government—were now Living wage campaigns not only have
bonuses to management, etc.). Profit required to pay living wage rates to to counter-frame the opposition, but have
relative to previous wages is taken as their employees, yet they were unable to confront this fallacy: that the ideal has
fixed, as if by a law of nature. Profits to pass along the cost of the mandated not been achieved—it’s not even close,
with a living wage are always considered increase to the government body that but most people don’t know that.
relative to profits without a living wage mandated them.
taken as a norm. Non-living-wage profits The assumption again is that living The Progressive Moral Worldview
are held fixed and other alternatives not wages are externally imposed additional Living wage campaigns exist within a
considered: raising prices, firing employ- “costs“ that should be passed on. Profits moral perspective that is fundamentally at
ees, asking for more tax breaks, and so on. without a living wage are considered not odds with the conservative moral world-
only as a financial base line, but as a view. They assume a progressive moral
moral base line. worldview that centers on:
In other words, many • Empathy (caring about, identifying
Americans commonly with, and connecting with others)
The Living Wage Frames
assume that, in this land of • Responsibility (actually carrying out
The Ideal versus the Norm what empathy requires—that includes
opportunity, a job will pay The “Working-for-a-Living Frame,” taking care of yourself so you can
enough to live on. mentioned earlier as our side’s frame, carry out your responsibility to others)
has an interesting mental status. For most
Americans, it characterizes an ideal: From this moral center, a great deal
working a job should pay enough to meet more follows: fairness, protection of those
We will discuss these in detail below.
basic needs. It also has the mental status who need it, cooperation, honesty and
I mention them here because they cannot
of a norm. In other words, many trust, open two-way communication,
be considered—or even perceived—
Americans commonly assume that, in this competence, education, fulfillment in life,
because they stand outside of the conser-
land of opportunity, a job will pay enough and the development of communities that
vative frames. The conservative frames
to live on. That is, the frame is both taken live by these values.
hide everything the living wage advocates
as ideal and normal. The ideal status of It is from this moral perspective that
are talking about.
Consider the response, “Times are this frame is an advantage
tough. There isn’t enough money to pay to the living wage move-
for a living wage!“ The lack of money ment. The norm status of Unless our moral worldview and those
depends on how you keep the books, this frame contradicts the frames become dominant in the
and the conservative frames dictate only living wage campaign as
many people assume that
American cognitive landscape, there will
one way of keeping the books.
Finally, a last argument is worth jobs already pay a living be little hope for economic justice in
considering: wage. general and living wages in particular.
That is why books like
“As the living wage movement grew Barbara Ehrenreich’s
throughout the 1990’s, proponents Nickled and Dimed,
sought coverage of living wage laws to which exposes the reality of working the “Working-for-a-Living Frame” makes
include companies that had received tax Americans trying to get through, have been sense as an ideal. The fact that most
abatements, or incentive grants or that so shocking to so many people. It is why Americans accept it as an ideal is
lease property from a city or county. most Americans believed that simply going testimony to the fact that most
Many businesses, whose “customer“ was from welfare to work would allow some- (cont.)

38 Winning Wages Media Kit


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

corporate interests. Slavery namely, that businesses do better as their

One reason that living wage campaigns is excluded from the labor communities do better and that communi-
are difficult is that these frames are market as is child labor. ties do better when businesses do better,
These are all externally- and both do better with a living wage
mostly novel and have to be introduced imposed constraints, and ordinance in place.
and repeated over and over, while there they exist in all markets.
The “Business Benefit Frame“
is no ready-made language for them. This realistic view of
If a business pays living wages, then:
markets is entirely at
odds with the view that the • Morale will rise
Americans accept the moral world- market is a force of nature, • Turnover will fall
view that underlies it. entirely free, amoral, and optimal. • Recruitment and training costs
But people are not necessarily logical. Once one sees that markets are will fall
Many Americans accept both the constructed in this way, the question arises: • Efficiency will rise
“Working-for-a-Living Frame” and the How can the market best serve the public
This frame focuses on things that are
conservative frames, even though they interest and progressive moral values?
left out of the conservative frames: Morale,
may contradict each other. The living wage movement is providing
turnover, recruiting, and efficiency. It is
The job of the living cage campaign some answers to this question.
based on studies by distinguished econo-
is to bring the living wage frames into Living wage advocates are not just
mists Janet Yellen and George Akerlof.
American life, and with them, the progres- pointing out the benefits of the living
sive moral worldview. Unless that moral wage to communities; they are creating The “Payment to Corporations
worldview and those frames become a new frame. Frame“
dominant in the American cognitive Tax breaks and subsidies from cities to
The “Community Benefit Frame“
landscape, there will be little hope for corporations are wealth redistributions;
The more businesses pay living wages,
economic justice in general and living taxpayers’ taxes are going from cities to
then the more:
wages in particular. corporations.
• The cost of community services will Zoning changes for corporations are
go down wealth redistributions from taxpayers to
More Living Wage Frames
• The economy will improve (more corporations; the reason is that zoning
The genius of the living wage campaign money spent) changes lower property values for tax-
has been to provide specific framings that • The self-respect of low-income payers and raise property values for
highlight oft-hidden economic realities residents will rise corporations.
and fit progressive morality. Some of these • The general quality of life in the If corporations are receiving payments
are implicit, some explicit. We have community will rise (less crime, for communities, it seems reasonable
already seen the “Working-for-a-Living drugs, homelessness) for the communities to get something in
Frame.” Here are the others. • The moral level and reputation of the return. What, exactly, makes this seem
community will rise “reasonable?“
The “Constructed Market Frame“ • Property care and property values There are actually two different
Markets are constructed to fit practical will rise versions, one involving fairness, and
considerations, moral principles, and • Businesses will do better. one involves a social contract.
specific interests.
For example, the Securities and This frame takes the focus away from The “Fiscal Fairness Frame“
Exchange Commission structures the stock business alone and puts it on the commu- It is only fair to balance part of the flow
market. The World Trade Organization nity as a whole and the people who live of wealth from taxpayers to corporations
(WTO) has almost 1,000 pages of there. From this perspective, certain with a flow of wealth and well-being
regulations, mostly favoring international otherwise hidden things can be seen, (health, safety, etc.) to the community.

Winning Wages Media Kit 39


Part 1: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

It’s a bargain for the corporations; they community pride, and better-kept
spend only one to four percent of revenues Increasing profits by driving wages communities. When communities
on living wages, while they get much more below the poverty line should be are better places to live, more
than that in wealth redistribution from the people want to live there and more
tax payers and future profits. outlawed on moral grounds— businesses want to locate there.
impoverishing people should not Living wages are infectious in their
The “Social Contract Frame“
be permitted. benefits to communities
We allow corporations certain privileges,
(“Community Benefit Frame“).
protections, and even payments and we
Living wages also benefit busi-
expect certain ethical behavior in return:
huge payments from taxpayers to such nesses. As economists Janet Yellen
paying taxes, honest accounting, environ-
companies. The effect is to keep oil and (a former presidential advisor) and George
mental responsibility, and paying employ-
coal low in price, thus allowing more to Akerlof (a Nobel Prize winner) have found,
ees a living wage.
be sold with the result that the country businesses benefit from living wages in the
One reason that living wage campaigns
has become more dependent on oil and following ways: they increase morale, they
are challenging is that these frames are
coal. This serves the interests of those increase productivity (workers who are
mostly novel and have to be introduced
companies, since it structures the market better off and are not quitting and moving
and repeated over and over, while there is
in their favor. around as much work better), and because
no ready-made language for them. On the
We believe that markets should be such workers tend to stay on the job,
other hand, opponents can use common-
structured to serve the public interest businesses save on recruitment and training
place, everyday, familiar frames with familiar
(“Constructed Markets Frame“). costs (“Business Benefit Frame“).
language and patterns of reasoning.
Local communities make payments out In some cases, businesses may face
We can now see the basic argument for
of taxpayers’ money to businesses in many the possibility of lower profits. Well-run
living wage ordinances, given these frames.
forms: tax breaks, development subsidies, businesses can cope with the moral limits
zoning changes that raise the value of set on markets. Effective entrepreneurs
The Basic Argument businesses, local education and infra- have coped without slavery, child labor, and
for Living Wages structure development that contribute to the beating of workers. If they are competent,
business profitability, and most obviously, they can cope without below-poverty-level
Everybody who works for a living wages. (“Constructed Market Frame”)
contracts (“Payment-to-Corporations
deserves a living wage. No one who works But they shouldn’t have to. The cost to
Frame“). It is only fair that businesses
full-time job should be mired below the business of paying living wages has been
return some of these payments in the form
poverty line and be unable to support a found to be extremely low. Between pay-
of living wages to employees (“Fiscal
family. It is simply immoral (“Working-for- ments by the community and the benefits
Fairness Frame“). They have that responsi-
a-Living Frame”). of increased productivity and lowered
bility (“Social Contract Frame“).
Markets are structured morally. costs, living wage costs should be easily
Living wages benefit communities in
Child labor is not permitted, because it absorbed when accounting practices make
many ways. First, they lower the cost of
is immoral exploitation. Slavery is not per- the trade-offs clear. Businesses can both
community services to the indigent by
mitted. Nor are whippings and beatings of do good and do well.
allowing those working to move out of
employees. So increasing profits by driving That is how the living wage frames are
poverty. Those costly services include
wages below the poverty line should be put into practice.
emergency medical care, food programs,
outlawed on moral grounds—impoverish-
housing programs, drug and alcohol
ing people should not be permitted.
programs, and so on. Living wages make
Moreover, markets are structured to
communities better places to live—less
serve special interests. Oil and coal subsi-
poverty, less crime, less homelessness,
dies are examples of how special interests
less addiction and more self-respect, more
structure markets. Such “subsidies“ are

40 Winning Wages Media Kit


ANALYSIS The previous section of this essay focused

on the basic framing arguments of living
wage, both from the opposition and from our side. This part
suggests framing living wage beyond its basic premise into a
more progressive worldview of a moral economy.

PART 2: Beyond Living Wage Campaigns


by George Lakoff, Rockridge Institute and UC Berkeley

onservatives are right to be afraid of living wage campaigns. They are just one step to a cal from a traditional economics perspective.

C moral economy. Living wage advocates sometimes get a bit dejected with the thought that
they’re doing all that work for such a small portion of the population. But the results of
their efforts go far beyond the often modest wage increases they win for others.
That sentence can only make sense if one
rejects the Exchange Metaphor for Value and
adopts another metaphor.
Our two-tier economy calls for a very
Living wage campaigns are changing the care for children and the elderly, clean different metaphor for the value of labor, a
framing of the economic system. houses, cook, waitress, garden, bag groceries, “Contribution Metaphor for Value”: the value
Each of the frames introduced by our side work at check out stands, mop floors and of labor is what it contributes to the economy
make the conservative frames weaker and clean up in office buildings, work as security as a whole. Given the “Contribution Metaphor
move us in the right direction. I want to guards and hospital orderlies, and so on. for Value,” what you contribute is what you
mention two new frames beyond the living Without them, this society and this economy
wage that I think we will need to create a cannot function. These Atlases support the
moral economy. life styles of the top three-quarters of the Living wage campaigns are
population and yet are financially enslaved.
They are paid far less than their labor is
changing the framing of the
The Two-Tier Economy
worth to the economy. They deserve to be economic system.
In Greek mythology, Altas was the Titan
paid on the basis of their contribution to
whose job was to hold up the heavens to keep
the economy.”
them from falling. He wound up stuck in this
That last sentence—“They are paid less earn through your work. But you may be paid
job, unable to move lest the heavens fall.
than their labor is worth to the economy“ much less than you earn, that is, less than your
The Modern Atlas Frame —makes no sense from a commonplace labor contributes to the economy. This is unfair.
economic perspective. It violates a fundamen- The living wage campaign and the Earned
“The U.S. has a two-tier economy, with
tal property of markets, namely, the “Exchange Income Tax Credit (EITC) are two ways to
about a quarter of the population in the
Metaphor for Value,” that the value of some- begin addressing this unfairness—at least
lower tier. Those in the lower tier mostly
thing is what buyers in a free market pay minimally—by bringing what is paid a bit
work—often multiple jobs—but tend not to
for it—and that includes labor. From this closer to what is earned, at least close enough
have health insurance or adequate housing,
perspective your labor is worth exactly what to get working people out of abject poverty.
nutrition, education, child care, transporta-
you are paid for it, no more, no less. Since These two approaches share important
tion, and so on. The jobs they do are
the economy as a whole is not an employer common elements. Both have a moral compo-
absolutely necessary to our economy. For
(a buyer of labor), that sentence is nonsensi- nent in that they make use of the “Working-for-
low wages they pick fruits and vegetables,

Winning Wages Media Kit 41


Part 2: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

a-Living Frame,” and the fact that it is seen Note that I have framed both living • All Employees are paid a living wage
as a moral ideal. Both focus on hidden wage and EITC not as social programs, but plus a share of the profits.
aspects of the economy. Living wage points as the use of taxpayers’ money for taxpay- • Revenues minus costs equals profits,
to community payments to corporations ers’ benefit. At no time have I argued for where employees’ salaries are seen as
and asks for equity in the form of wages the “right“ to a living wage. I have used an part of profits, not costs.
above the poverty level, which provide equity argument. • Costs include costs previously
community benefits. The money ultimately unloaded onto the community, e.g.,
comes from taxpayers, though it is the Toward Ethical Business pollution cleanup costs.
form of salaries and is seen as earned, • Community infrastructure contribu-
since, according to the “Exchange The business of America is business tions, tax breaks, subsidies, etc. are
Metaphor for Value,” what is earned is —ethical business. Business is central recorded as community loans to the
what is paid by one’s employer. to American life and American values corporation.
Under EITC, the money also comes demand that business be ethical. There • The higher the profits, the greater the
ultimately from taxpayers, but it is not is no shortage of ideas in this area. I am employees’ salaries
seen as earned from the company since including one version—“The Ethical • Employees share in the risks, as well
it comes from the government in a lump Business Frame.” At the center is the as the profits
sum, not from one’s immediate employer. distinction between a shareholder and a
stakeholder. Stakeholders are more than The devil, of course, is in the details,
The living wage campaign makes sense
shareholders: they include people who which are to be worked out. There is
for many, but by no means all of such
represent the interests of the employees, more than one way to do it. But it’s time
workers. The American economy is struc-
the community, and the environment. to start.
tured so that, in all too many cases, the
people or businesses paying employees Corporations receive their charters from
cannot afford to pay them what they are the state. The idea is to change those Conclusion
really worth to our society and our charters to turn corporations into better
Living wage campaigns are about much
economy. They are, in short, not able in businesses.
more than living wages. Ultimately, they
this economy to be paid what they earn.
The “Ethical Business Frame” are about what Fred Block has called a
Nannies and child care workers, for
• The shareholders own the business moral economy. Living wage is but a signif-
example, contribute much more than they
• The stakeholders are the shareholders icant first step.
can be paid by their employers—as do
plus representatives of the employees, The actual gains made—say, moving
many others throughout our society.
the community, and the environment the minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50
They are working to support the econo-
• The purpose of the business is to max- —are small compared to the gains that
my as a whole, cannot be paid what they
imize the interests of the stakeholders need to be made. What is important in the
are worth by their employer, and so, one
• The board of directors represents the long run is changing the frames used in
might argue, they should be paid by the
stakeholders comprehending the economy. Replacing
economy. A far more serious EITC (earned
the “Natural Market Frame”
income tax credit)—a nega-
with the “Constructed Market
tive income tax—might be a
The actual gains made—say, moving the Frame” is crucial, as is
fair way for these modern
replacing the “Exchange
Atlases to be paid what they minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50—are small Metaphor for Value” by the
earn for “holding up the sky.“
compared to the gains that need to be made. “Contribution Metaphor for
Living wage and EITC are
What is important in the long run is changing Value.”
both needed. They have two
Part of the process of
different constituencies, which the frames used in comprehending the economy. making such cognitive
in some cases may overlap.
changes must be to focus on

42 Winning Wages Media Kit


Part 2: New Lenses For Your Frames, cont.

the payments made by taxpayers to

businesses—both in the form of money
(subsidies, tax breaks) and in the form
of common infrastructure provided by
taxpayers. Businesses make use of such
common assets as roads, airports, the
airwaves, the Internet, the air traffic
control system, and the technology
developed largely with taxpayers’ money,
e.g., computer technology, biotechnology,
and so on.
An important aim of such reframing
should be to destroy a major economic
and moral fallacy, “The Myth of the
Self-Made Entrepreneur.” Nobody makes
it alone. The American taxpayer has
supplied a huge infrastructure and makes
enormous payments that allow entrepre-
neurs to succeed. Entrepreneurs are
given enormous resources by the taxpaying
public. They are not operating in a free
market. They owe a lot—morally if not
legally. The market is skewed toward
them—and away from ordinary working
Frames are not just ideas. They are
very often ideas that get institutionalized
and made real. Conservatives are in the
process of institutionalizing their frames.
We must stop them, undo the damage,
and institutionalize ours instead.

Winning Wages Media Kit 43


Living wage is a complex issue, involving economic issues, worker rights,

benefits, city policy, poverty, justice, race, employer subsidies, and much more.
Creating political campaign messages can be an elaborate process involving
consultants, focus group polling and research. If you have the budget and the
time, by all means consider those activities. This article helps activists distill
the issue down into a strategic message without overwhelming the public
and confusing reporters. It by no means offers the "silver bullet" sound bite
message. That should come from your own research and what works best in
your campaign. However, consider the following message model for breaking
down living wage into a message that your messengers can deliver succinctly.

f course, the message sometimes changes depending on a
variety of factors, including your target audience, your politi- MESSAGE
cal goals, and the evolution of your campaign. But the fact is, REMINDERS:
the basic living wage message has proven successful time and again
• Do not simply answer
across the country. And, most living wage laws to date have been
reporters’ questions; respond
passed through some form of city council vote or similar move. This
to them with your message.
suggests the message and communication tactics from one campaign
Seize the moment to move
is appropriate to consider for others—with some modifications
your message.
detailed in various case studies throughout this kit. It may require
some tweaking every now and then, in particular to response to • Speak in soundbites.
opponents, but the basic living wage message has carried the day in Practice condensing your
the media for numerous campaigns. message and delivering it
The basic message premise—people who work should not in ten seconds or less.
live in poverty—still rings true. Remember: Don’t try to explain
Media messaging can be a highly refined task, involving expensive everything in your media mes-
focus groups and polling studies. By all means, sage. That’s what reporter
if your campaign has the budget, consider background briefings, press
releases and fact sheets are for.
The basic message testing the message out on voters or city
council members. • Repeat your message.
premise—people But the fact that most living wage laws to Echo it throughout your
who work should date have been passed through some form of campaign, including in speeches,
not live in poverty city council vote or similar move suggests the press releases, letters to the
message from one campaign is appropriate for editor, opinion editorials, your
—still rings true. another—with some modifications detailed in website and so forth.
the various case studies throughout this kit. • Stay “on message.“
Discipline the message. Don’t
Goals and Messaging get pulled off by the media or
by your opposition.
First, it is important to be clear on your goals. Is your goal to
pass a living wage ordinance? Is it to organize your communities • Personalize the message
around a campaign? Is it to educate various publics about broader whenever possible.
economic justice issues? All of the above? Make certain your • Make “key messages“
message supports your goal, not distract from it. The below message your mantra.
model focuses primarily on winning a living wage measure, but also


44 Winning Wages Media Kit

A Model for your Living Wage Message, cont.

can be used to mobilize constituents, empower low-income Hartsfield Airport. Johnson earns just $7 an hour with no
workers and pressure elected officials to take action. health benefits. She and her children lived in a homeless
shelter at the time of the campaign.
“The job I do stands between you and disaster,“ says
The Message Model Camille, “yet it doesn’t even pay enough to keep a roof over
This model suggests that you condense your issue into my family’s head or provide a safe place for my children to
three parts of a message: stay while I’m working.
1. The Problem
2. The Solution
Message #2: The Solution
3. The Call to Action
Remember, always be for something, not just against
Often you can mix up the order of the message. You something. Hence, the solution message. “Message Part #2,“
can offer the solution first, then the problem, and then the the solution, is the “values“ message. Use it to communicate
action. This keeps the message fresh and allows you to a sense of your values: In what kind of society do you want
respond to reporters’ questions without seeming routine. to live? How do you want people to be treated? Make sure to
The following example is culled from several living provide hope in your solution message.
wage media battles fought around the country, including What are the values
Alexandria, Virginia; San Francisco and Santa Monica, associated with living
wage? Fairness, economic “Our jobs are valuable
California; and Atlanta, Georgia.
justice, decent pay for to the community,
hard work, empathy and and so is our need for
Message #1: The Problem responsibility, dignity, to
What is the problem you are working to address? Forget name just a few. (See time with family and
the mountains of minutiae you have gathered on your issue. Frame With Your Values In volunteer activities.”
Step back and look at the big picture. Take a moment to Mind in this section.)
create a message that defines the problem clearly, broadly,
The solution message: People who work full time
and in as compelling a way as possible. How does the
should earn enough to support themselves and their fami-
problem affect people? Whoever defines the problem controls
lies. People who work full time should not live in poverty.
the terms of the debate. “Message Part #1,“ the problem
That’s basic fairness. Workers paid a living wage can provide
message, is also the framing message. It will communicate
for their families and help the local economy, and lift them-
the scope of the issue or problem, and dramatize its impact.
selves above poverty.
The problem message: Many workers are working two Personalize the solution: Again, from the Atlanta Living
or more full time jobs yet can’t rise above poverty. They Wage campaign, Camille Johnson is the messenger who said,
can’t provide for their families because their wages are so “We need a living wage ordinance in Atlanta so workers like
low that basic housing, me can provide safety and security for our families and the
food and health care public. Our jobs are valuable to the community, and so is our
What are the values are beyond their reach. need for time with family and volunteer activities. Working
associated with living This has disastrous one job with a living wage would make all this possible.“
consequences for working (Note values; “safety“ and “security,“ and implied “civic
wage? Fairness, economic families and our commu- participation“ and “responsibility.“)
justice, decent pay for nities. Meanwhile,
hard work, empathy and taxpayers are paying
for poverty jobs through Message #3: A Call To Action
responsibility, dignity, subsidies given employers You have already defined the problem and offered a
are just a few. who don’t pay living solution. Now, what do we need to get to the solution?
wages (for campaigns The call to action. The action call may be different depending
emphasizing subsidies). on your targeted audience. What you ask elected officials to
Personalizing the problem: The Atlanta Living Wage do might be different from what you ask regular voters or
Campaign augmented the above message with the following community members to do (see Targeting Your Audience, Part 3).
quote, delivered by Camille Johnson, security guard at (cont.)

Winning Wages Media Kit 45


A Model for your Living Wage Message, cont.

The action message customized for select target

For City Council: “Approve the living wage measure.
Everyone in our town working a full time job deserves to
live free of poverty.“ “People who work in [our town] should earn enough to stay above
the poverty line and support their families. Yet many full-time
For regular voters: “Call your City Council representa-
workers in [our town] are working two or more jobs and can’t
tive (or vote “yes“ on a ballot measure) and urge them
make ends meet. That’s because businesses that have received
to support a living wage for all full-time workers.“
millions of dollars in taxpayer investment and subsidies don’t
For your base (or for targeted constituencies, such as even pay their employees living wages. People who work should
communities of color directly impacted by the measure): not live in poverty. This is not fair, and it threatens the well-being
“Join our Day of Action (or campaign) to make sure all of our working families and our communities. Vote ‘yes’ on the
workers of our state have decent living wages. We want living wage ordinance.”
to send a clear message to our elected officials: Lift
working families out of poverty by paying them a decent KEY ARGUMENTS
living wage.“
• People who work full time should earn enough to support
themselves and their families.
Additional Tips • Workers who provide security, clean hotels, wash dishes, and
For workers: Focus relentlessly on the conditions of haul supplies among other jobs deserve to earn enough so they
workers and how the living wage will help them; aren’t forced to rely on charity or government assistance.
For supporters: Associate support for the living wage • Living wages reduce poverty.
with trusted community members; • Businesses that have benefited from tens of millions of dollars
For opposition: Associate opposition to the living in taxpayer investment should pay their workers a living wage.
wage with large, profitable corporations that receive tax Everyone should benefit from the investment taxpayers make
breaks and other subsidies but don’t want to pay workers through subsidies of business and contractors.
a living wage; • The largest hotels, businesses, city contractors and other
In a time of economic hardship: “Those who are employers can afford to pay a living wage.
working hard and are the most vulnerable deserve a living • If appropriate to your measure: the law includes a hardship
wage. This lifts them out of poverty and keeps them from exemption for businesses that can’t afford to pay the living wage.
being forced to use government assistance and charity.
It makes economic sense, and it benefits our communities
as working families earning a living wage increase their
buying power.“

46 Winning Wages Media Kit


By Nathan Newman, Amanda Cooper, and Paul Sonn, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University

The good news about messaging for a living wage campaign is that the movement
has already successfully established a powerful frame for this issue. Our opponents
are devising new strategies for fighting the living wage with each campaign. But the
frame for their strategies is a winning one for us. The question both sides ultimately
are asking is, “What can we do to help the working poor?“

onservative business groups have lost the battle repeatedly when they have
tried to argue that the needs of business dictate that local governments should
just ignore the needs of working families. This has led to a somewhat peculiar
evolution of the opposition’s arguments. Opposition to living wage laws has increas-
ingly been couched in terms of “helping“ the poor by avoiding supposed drawbacks
of living wage laws.
It’s a cynical game on the part of conservative business interests. But you need
to be ready to respond and armed
with the language to convince local You need to be ready to respond and
law-makers, opinion makers and even
some wavering allies. armed with the language to convince
So here are a few of the typical local lawmakers, opinion makers and
opposition arguments raised and even some wavering allies.
pointers on how to respond.

“Living wage laws will cost the city too much and divert funds from other
social services“
Facts: Evidence from local governments across the country shows that living wage
laws result in very modest cost increases, largely because most city contractors don’t
employ large concentrations of low-wage workers. For those that do, better wages
often mean less turnover, better training and more efficient delivery of services. In
addition, in some cities living wage laws have created increased and more transparent
competition for local contracts as local governments have put out for bid service
contracts that had not been competitively renewed for many years.
Bottom line message point: A living wage job is the best social program local
government can provide. It helps struggling families and can even improve the quality
and efficiency of city-contracted services.

“Raising wages will lead to job cutbacks“

Facts: As more and more cities have enacted living wage laws that resulted in
minimal or no job loss, opponents have quietly abandoned this argument. However,
it still pops up here and there. City service contracts and subsidy grants generally
specify a certain level of services or job creation that must be provided by the recipient,
so cutting back on jobs is usually not an option for the recipient businesses. And
extensive research on broader minimum wage increases have also found little, if any,
job loss—even in price sensitive, low-wage sectors like fast food.
Bottom line message point: Research and experience have shown that the cost
impacts of living wage laws are modest, and there is no reason to fear job losses.

Winning Wages Media Kit 47


What Their Side Says, cont.

“Even if there are no overall job cutbacks, disadvantaged

workers such as youth of color may lose out as businesses
attract more skilled workers when they raise wages“
Facts: No city that has passed a living wage law has
THE OPPOSITION reported this sort of widespread displacement. Both before and
By David Swanson, Communications Coordinator, after passage of a living wage, the types of contracted low-
Association of Community Organizations for Reform wage jobs covered by most living wage ordinances—janitors,
Now! (ACORN) security guards, landscapers, home healthcare aides and child
care providers—continue to be held by workers with few other
Expect to be told that your proposal will cause unemploy- job options. In most parts of the country, these are dispropor-
ment, that it will cause job loss by replacing low-skilled tionately immigrants and workers of color. In fact, in most of
workers with high-skilled, that it will cause businesses these sectors city contractors couldn’t retain staff because of
to flee the area, that it will be costly to taxpayers, that it the low pay. Living wages have helped reduce staff turnover.
is socialist, and (in contradiction to this last label), that
Bottom line message point: Far from displacing current
programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are
workers, decent pay stabilizes these jobs, which is good for the
preferable to wage standards.
workers and the recipients of the services they provide.
Do not raise any of these false claims. Head off most
of them with your own messages if you know that the “Living wage laws are ‘inefficient’ ways to help needy
opposition will raise them. Counter the claims about cost workers because most workers helped are not poor“
and socialism before they arise with the messages from Facts: These claims are based on the assumption that any
business leaders, wealthy residents, and elected officials.
family whose income is already above the official federal
Part of the central message that workers have a right to a “Poverty Guidelines” is not needy. But the federal Poverty
living wage is that in the United States they used to have Guidelines—which are, as of 2003, $12,120 for a family of two
one, or at least much closer to it. Constantly remind the and $15,260 for a family of three—are widely recognized as
media that in 1968 the federal minimum wage was much woefully out of date
higher, and that its decline is the reason that action is now and far too low. See “U.S. Department of Health & Human
Services, Poverty Guidelines,“ available at
needed. You are not demanding something that has not Nationwide, the
already been successfully tried.
majority of workers
The false claims about unemployment and business flight
earning less than $10.00 per hour are members of low and
should be countered by workers, business owners, and
moderate income households struggling to meet basic needs
economists. Workers should make clear they resent the
paternalism of low-wage employers trying to tell them what
—not middle class teenagers earning extra spending money.
is in their own interest. This is especially true in cities with high immigrant populations
and in the low-wage jobs that living wage laws tends to cover,
Prep workers not to say they are willing to risk job loss for a such as publicly contracted janitors, security guards, land-
higher wage standard. Despite being a well-intentioned scapers, home healthcare aides and child care providers. Few if
response, that approach simply repeats the language of the any workers in these jobs are members of affluent households
opposition. They should say they don’t take predictions of job that don’t need the money.
loss seriously, and they should question the source of these
Bottom line message point: Both research and common
claims but quickly move back to the central message.
experience tell us that most low-wage janitors, landscapers
Because there is no evidence of job loss, recent opposition and home healthcare workers—those helped the most by living
has tended to focus on the somewhat bizarre claim that wage laws—are from working families that are facing real
low-skilled workers will be replaced by high-skilled, as well economic hardship and deserve a living wage.
as advocacy for the EITC. Respond to the first by asking
where the high-skilled would-be janitors are hiding now
“Living wage laws are ‘inefficient’ ways to help needy
and pointing out that the most valued skills in low-wage
workers because they lose more in government benefits than
jobs are dependability and experience on the particular job.
they gain from living wage increases”
Respond to the EITC argument by pointing out that a public Facts: It is true that many federal programs for the poor,
subsidy is not an alternative to employers paying their such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), do “phase out”
employees. The EITC is important, but both are needed and as people earn more money. So a dollar of extra pay does not

48 Winning Wages Media Kit

What Their Side Says, cont.

translate into a full dollar of extra income after lost benefits “Living wage laws lead local government to
are calculated. But with a living wage, workers still end up substitute local funds for federal social program dollars,
with most of the higher pay, despite the poor design of thereby undermining local economic development.”
federal aid programs. Moreover, critics vastly overstate this Facts: The first thing to emphasize is that the living
impact by assuming that low-income workers are participat- wage usually costs local government far less than the
ing in all available benefits programs from public housing wage gains of the workers affected, so it’s very cost-
to subsidized child care. But many of these programs efficient. While it is true that federal money from the
have limited eligibility rules and long waiting lists. Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps and other
Bottom line message point: Despite the poor design programs phase-out as wages rise, the logic of living
of some federal aid programs, the lion’s share of living wage opponents is that cities and counties should focus
wage increases still result in higher take-home pay for on generating only poverty level jobs so the city can haul
workers covered. in federal aid for city residents. This is absurd! You don’t
build a long-lasting economy or build vibrant communities
without raising wages to a reasonable level.
EITC vs. Living Wage? What’s more, most of the business interests opposing
living wage laws also oppose solving these “phase-out”
“It would be more efficient for the community to problems at the federal level. A number of organizations
promote an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) rather than have promoted bills to deal with this problem, so living
pass a living wage.” wage opponents using this argument should be publicly
Facts: Opponents sometimes argue that promoting asked to endorse those federal bills or risk being branded
federal, state or local EITCs are a better approach for as “hypocrites.”
helping working families since the benefits of such policies Bottom line message point: The best way to build
are directed more precisely towards the poorest of the poor. a strong economy is with good jobs that build healthy
But while EITCs are an important policy tool for helping families.
working families, they are not substitutes for living wages.
Some opponents propose outreach campaigns to
increase local participation in federal and state EITCs for
families that qualify but are not currently claiming the
benefit. But such outreach is a not a substitute for raising
wages. Indeed, living wage laws are important elements of
such outreach campaigns since they typically require covered
employers to help their workers apply for the EITC.
Other opponents propose that a city or county create
its own local EITC rather than passing a living wage law.
While worth considering, such proposals are possible
additions to—not substitutes for—living wage laws.
An EITC is an worthwhile program, but an expensive one. No matter what, keep your arguments within the winning
Unlike a living wage, in which much of the cost is borne frame. The living wage ordinance you are supporting is the
by employers and consumers, government finances 100 right answer to the question, “What can we do to help the
percent of the cost of the EITC. Mustering the political working poor?“
will to expand it is therefore difficult at any time, and
Remind your community that people can work full time or
especially so in the current budget climate. (No doubt it is
more, and still struggle to make ends meet for themselves
not coincidental that low-wage employers favor strategies
and their families. Though there are many ways to help
like the EITC that they do not pay for.) And there are
low-income people, Americans overwhelmingly support fair
many administrative costs and questions associated with
pay for hard work. Make sure your community knows that
setting up a local EITC, since most cities do not impose is what living wage ordinances are for: to help workers
income taxes and therefore don’t have a local administra- earn more so they can lift themselves out of poverty and
tive system in place. build healthy families and stable communities.
Bottom line message point: The EITC is an important
program but it is a supplement to, not a replacement for,
living wages.

Winning Wages Media Kit 49



The Opposition’s Dirty Tricks:


By Danny Feingold, Communications Director, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

f you weren’t there to witness it with

already on the books around the country, Dolphin Group, a conservative PR firm
your own eyes, you might think this is Santa Monica’s ordinance was designed to best known for creating the infamous race-
a make-believe nightmare dreamed up cover private businesses that had no direct baiting Willie Horton ads that helped sink
to instill fear in lackadaisical progressives. financial ties to the city. Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential hopes.
But the story of Santa Monica’s living wage The idea rested on a compelling Voters were deluged with glossy mailers
campaign, though stranger than fiction, is premise: the booming
an all-too-real cautionary tale about the tourism industry had The living wage, they warned, would
power of money and lies and the negative benefited from tens of
impact of spin to defeat a popular crusade millions of dollars in tax- cripple schools, kill jobs for youth, close
for social and economic justice. payer subsidies, but was libraries, devastate senior centers and
Rest assured there is a silver lining. The paying its workers so little generally lead to the end of civilization
defeat of Santa Monica’s living wage law is that many had to rely on
also the story of a resilient grassroots taxpayer-funded govern- as we know it.
movement that has won significant gains ment programs for food,
for the working poor and emerged even health care and housing.
stronger than before. Translation: big business profits while touting the benefits of the fake living wage
workers and taxpayers get screwed. initiative. However, thanks to an aggressive
Background to Our Story media strategy designed to expose the
The Dirty Tricks Begin lies and move our own message, plus a
It all started in 1999, when a coalition massive volunteer-driven electoral effort,
of residents, unions, clergy and elected When the City Council commissioned Measure KK was trounced at the polls in
officials brought a living wage proposal a study of the living wage proposal in November 2000 despite a $1 million war
to the Santa Monica City Council. The January 2000, the hotel industry and other chest courtesy of the hotel industry.
proposal reflected growing concern about business interests sprung into action with a
conditions for thousands of service workers strategy, pulled straight from Machiavelli’s Act Two: The Lies Continue
in the city’s thriving tourism industry. playbook. A phony living wage ballot
While Santa Monica’s beachside businesses initiative was drafted, supported by an Eight months later in July 2001, the
—particularly its high-end hotels—were equally phony group called Santa City Council passed a real living wage law
profiting wildly from the city’s status as a Monicans for a Living Wage. The initiative covering 2,000 low-wage workers, thus
world-class tourism mecca, the people established a living wage for a small setting the stage for round two. The hotels
cleaning the rooms and washing the dishes number of service workers. Buried in spent nearly half a million dollars to qualify
were being paid poverty wages. Most the fine print was a poison pill clause a referendum on the living wage law, once
had no health benefits, grueling working permanently preventing the City Council again misleading voters to get their signa-
conditions and no voice on the job. from passing any other wage legislation tures on the petition. Nearly 1,000 people
To rectify this disparity, the diverse without voter approval. asked to have their named removed, but
coalition called Santa Monicans Allied The hotels assembled a who’s who of the referendum qualified, suspending the
for Responsible Tourism, or SMART, “ethically challenged“ consultants to qualify law pending the outcome of the November
advanced its groundbreaking proposal. the initiative for the ballot and sneak it 2002 election.
Unlike the dozens of living wage laws pass voters. Foremost among these was the (cont.)

50 Winning Wages Media Kit


The Opposition’s Dirty Tricks, cont.

In the fall of 2002, Santa Monica voters again spent nearly $1 million, only this biggest contributors to the anti-living wage
were once again pummeled by mailers. time they got their money’s worth. campaign—settled a bitter two-and-a-half
This time, rather than inventing a front year dispute with the hotel workers’ union,
group, the hotels and their right-wing Down, But Not Out: signing an agreement that will likely lead
henchmen recruited a small but credible- From Defeat, a Movement Rises to a contract for its employees.
sounding roster of community leaders to And the movement continues to gain
appear on a series of alarmist mailers. The It would have been easy for living wage momentum as the community applies
living wage, they warned, would cripple forces to take refuge in recrimination and pressure to those hotels still refusing to
schools, kill jobs for youth, close libraries,despair. Instead, a committee was quickly treat their workers with dignity and
devastate senior centers and generally lead formed to create a commission of inquiry respect. SMART is considering new living
to the end of civilization as we know it. charged with investigating the conduct of wage proposals, while lending its support
On top of that, they claimed the law was living wage opponents. to ongoing organizing drives.
discriminatory—an inflammatory charge In February 2003, the commission, The message to those corporations
in socially conscious Santa Monica. whose members included some of determined to protect their profits at any
California’s top election reform experts, expense should be clear: you may have
It Gets Ugly held a public hearing attended by nearly won one battle, but you will lose the war.
200 people. Commissioners listened to
Despite their sensationalist appeals, the three hours of testimony on the money, lies
anti-living wage camp found themselves and consultants behind the anti-living wage
behind in the polls as Election Day drew campaign. In June 2003, they released a
near. It was at this point that they resorted report that documents the abuse of the
to flat-out deception. On the weekend electoral system by living wage opponents
before the election, three anti-living wage and recommends a far-reaching series
slate mailers hit Santa Monica residents. of reforms.
Created by notorious conservative consult- The commission report offers hope that
ants and paid for by the hotel industry, the Santa Monica living wage campaign
the mailers gave the impression that top will lead to much-needed structural
Democrats, pro-choice leaders and educa- changes in the electoral arena. But living
tors were against the living wage, even wage supporters need not wait for these
though all three groups had endorsed it. reforms in order to show the fruits of their
Not taking any chances, the hotels then efforts. Despite the heartbreaking defeat of
hired more than one hundred day laborers the living wage law, the movement in sup-
port of low-wage workers
has already paid off.
Despite the heartbreaking defeat of the As a result of
living wage law, the movement in support unrelenting media cover-
age, political pressure,
of low-wage workers has already paid off.
clergy delegations, street
demonstrations and many
to stand on street corners on Election Day other tactics, wages in the hotel industry
with anti-living wage signs. Voters would have increased nearly $3 an hour since
think poor Latinos opposed the law (most the start of the living wage campaign. Two
of the day laborers knew nothing about the worker protections laws were passed by
campaign and were intentionally denied the City Council, one hotel abandoned its
information about it). When the votes were union-busting campaign while another
counted, the living wage had lost by less agreed to a strong union contract. And in
than 1,000 votes. The hotels had once December 2002, Loews Hotel—one of the

Winning Wages Media Kit 51



By Max Toth, SPIN Project
They confuse, distort, attempt to subvert. It must be frustrating for them that the
will of the workers keeps prevailing! Despite the usual big-business suspects
such as hotels, developers and local chambers of commerce, these are a few
opponents about whom you should be aware. Know your enemy.

NATIONAL PLAYERS • American Chamber of Commerce • James Lacy

Executives (ACCE) Dana Point, CA, planning commissioner,
• Employment Policies Institute political consultant and constitutional law
ACCE offers some handy-dandy resources attorney who created the phony slate mail-
for your local Chamber of Commerce on ers against the living wage proposition,
Home of the “Employment Policies living wage…the first reference of which is while challenging any legislation to prevent
Institute“ (EPI). EPI has it out for living the anti-Living Wage Employment Policies these kinds of disingenuous mailers in the
wage, and for ACORN in particular. Institute. How helpful! future. He and his associate, William ‘Lord’
They’re fond of the “EITC not living wage“ Butcher, also were involved in Prop 13, a
(and implicitly not both) arguments against heinous piece of property tax legislation
living wage. They own such websites as that prohibited any new property taxes on, (which can existing homeowners. “It had the effect of
also be reached at ENEMIES AT THE STATE LEVEL starving California of cash for welfare,
through the Employment Policy education and other social programs“ as
Foundation. Not to be confused with • Mackinac Institute
the Orange County Weekly mildly put it.
the “Economic Policies Institute,“, who are supportive of A shining example of a state-based policy
living wage campaigns. institute that’s been fighting living wage • William “Lord“ Butcher
campaigns in Michigan. The following Mr. Butcher joined with James Lacy,
article is a glowing review of legislation see above.
• Manhattan Institute
pre-empting living wage laws, one of their Both Lacy and Butcher are part of The
main strategies: Dolphin Group, a famously unethical
This charming organization likes to campaign management outfit that has
Red-bait living wage organizers and long strategized in the tradition of the
economists, referring to supportive living • California Anti-Living Wage
disingenuous. While their site is unavail-
wage economists as “Marxoids“ in this Political Players
able for comment, this handy list of their
particular diatribe: This group emerged as contenders during campaigns at the UFW website gives you LAANE’s struggle in Santa Monica. Here’s a sense of their tactics from this quote by
pc.php?p=1940 a useful article from the Orange County Dolphin Group Founder Bill Roberts, in
Register that highlights the players against Los Angeles Times, Oct. 13, 1982: “I think
living wage: I ought to have the right to lie to you if I
• National Restaurant Association think it will help me win.“ For background
printme.php?&eid=40553 on this organization, visit UFW at:
Not only have their state affiliates been
a leading party in most of the anti-living
wage lawsuits, but they run the “Coalition • Harding, Larmore, Kutcher & Kozal
to Keep America Working“ and the “Save • Rick Sander
American Free Enterprise Fund“ which, The website bills this firm as providing an A UCLA Law Professor committed to
according to their site, “has aided local “even-handed perspective on this evolving writing “objective“ (read: despairing) pieces
and national restaurateurs in their fight issue,“ while Tom Larmore (the second about living wage, underwritten by none
against frivolous ADA lawsuits and partner) signed the anti-living wage other than the Employment Policies
detrimental living wage battles.“ Whose argument as a Santa Monica Chamber Institute. His definitions of objectivity leave
detriment, exactly? of Commerce member. something to be desired, we think. See:
sm021019smdailypress.html for the scoop.

52 Winning Wages Media Kit



A Matter of Basic Fairness:


By Ken Jacobs, Labor Policy Specialist, UC Berkeley Labor Center

n early 1999, the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition looked to kick off our

I campaign with a big media splash. The Coalition had recently hired staff and formal-
ized a steering committee of unions and community organizations, including the IAF
affiliated Bay Area Organizing Committee. The coalition made the decision early on to
The Abstract Made Real: Pitching
the Reality and the Values
We followed up on the hearings by
fight for breadth of coverage in the living wage ordinance. The ordinance would include pitching individual reporters—first print,
for-profit and non-profit service contractors, workers on city property—primarily the then television—on feature stories about
San Francisco International Airport—homecare workers, and workfare recipients. individual workers.
All together, the ordinance covered more than 22,000 workers. This diversity was The campaign was no longer about an
reflected in the makeup of the coalition. abstract right to earn a living wage versus
increased costs to the city. It was about
Along with directly funding the Living ordinance and would make good public
Hilda Wade, who works seven days a week
Wage Coalition, the McKay Foundation spokespeople. The idea was to embody the
in city-contracted jobs to make ends meet
provided a grant to We Interrupt this values of our campaign in the people who
and has no time left to spend with her
Message, a communications consultancy represented them.
daughter. It was about Willie and Myrna
that at the time was available to provide us
Williams, who both work full-time as
with media training and technical assis- Finding the Values Messengers: security guards
tance. We agreed at the beginning that our An Organizing Opportunity on city con-
best frame was around the value of fairness. We agreed at the
tracts but live
The coalition’s two staff organizers
• “Anyone who works full-time should earn in a homeless beginning that
went to unorganized worksites that would
enough to survive and support their family.“ shelter with
be covered by the ordinance and talked our best frame
• “Taxpayers make up the difference when their two
to workers about their own stories. was around the
employers don’t pay living wages.“ children. And
This served direct organizing purposes
it was about value of fairness.
• “Working families can’t make ends meet —it helped us identify worksite leaders—
single mother
on $6 an hour.“ and it helped us identify people with strong
media stories. We worked with a sympathetic
• “We deserve a living wage.“ Emperador who earned $600 to $800 a
member of the Board of Supervisors to
week at Candlestick Park, the local sports
We decided we would have the strongest organize two large public hearings at
arena, sometimes working twelve hour
impact if workers were up front telling times when working people could attend.
days, and making just enough to pay
their own stories. The organizations in the Before the hearings, we ran workshops
her bills.
coalition identified members among their for workers on how to tell their stories at
public hearings and to the press. (cont.)
own ranks who would be covered by the

Winning Wages Media Kit 53


A Matter of Basic Fairness, cont.

Additional Values and Themes • On Thanksgiving Day we set up an inter- Through each of these steps, we demon-
view with a worker in a family homeless strated the daily crisis for working families
Along with the message of basic fair- shelter. It was a poignant story containing and illustrated our message of basic fairness.
ness, we developed a second theme directed the message—“anyone who works in
at consumers and taxpayers on quality of San Francisco should be able to afford When the Spin Becomes About
service. Sympathetic city contractors to live in San Francisco“—on the day Numbers: A Lesson Learned
talked about the difficulty competing for when everyone is thinking about home,
city contracts if they pay a living wage, abundance and warmth. If the human stories and a values-
and the problems they face hiring and • For the Asian press we released a study based message was our greatest strength,
retaining workers on the low wages showing the high preponderance of Asian we were on weaker ground was when the
covered by the city. workers who would benefit. We set up story shifted to the fiscal cost. We came
The San Francisco ordinance was interviews with Filipino and Chinese out publicly with proposed legislation
written to cover more than 7,200 home- workers in particular. The headlines told months before there was any completed
care workers. These workers provide the story: “Asian-Pacific Islanders Benefit study of what the legislation would cost
direct care to seniors and the disabled, Most from Living Wage“. the city. The other side came in quickly
which allows the consumers to remain with astronomical numbers that grabbed
• We submitted an op-ed to a gay commu-
independent and stay out of more costly the headlines. We challenged the numbers
institutions. While home- but had no estimates of our own for
care workers articulately The campaign was no longer about an several months. The opposition used this
described the work to push for a delay to study the issue.
they do, homecare abstract right to earn a living wage ver- We asked Michael Reich at the UC
consumers told their sus increased costs to the city. It was Berkeley Institute for Industrial Relations
touching stories about about Hilda Wade, who works seven days to carry out a financial study, which was
what the workers meant very useful. The City produced a separate
for their lives. a week in city-contracted jobs to make study with much higher numbers, of
Meanwhile, we drove ends meet and has no time left to spend course. While we needed to keep our
home the reality of how with her daughter. focus on values, we could have done more
difficult it is to hold onto work early on to inoculate against the
good homecare workers arguments from the other side.
at such low wages.
nity newspaper centered on the story of
Homecare workers in San Francisco are The Benefits of Progressive
a gay homecare worker, and statistics on
organized by SEIU Local 250 and were a PR Help
poverty and relative wages in the gay and
regular core of the campaign.
lesbian community. Working with a progressive media
• Similar stories ran in the African organization was vital for us. We Interrupt
Communicating the Values to
American and Latino press, and on the This Message not only helped us develop
Target Audiences the message—they kept us on it. They
ethnic television and radio stations.
Working with these basic themes, we • Archbishop William Leveda authored a helped us draft the first press releases
supplied reporters with a steady stream powerful op-ed talking about the widening and commented on later ones. They
of feature stories, interviews and op-eds gap between the rich and the poor. helped us think through pitches to
directed to particular audiences. Our task particular reporters—which we role-
• When Willie and Myrna Williams moved played repeatedly.
was to keep driving home the values. out of the family homeless shelter with a
Here are specific hooks we used to com- Often the strategy was on the fly.
raise we won prior to the law being A reporter would call with a story that
municate our message and our values to passed, we had reporters covering the
targeted audiences. came from the other side. We would
family’s arrival in their new home.

54 Winning Wages Media Kit



A Matter of Basic Fairness, continued Living Wage Takes Off at the Airport While
Security Guards Near City Hall Become Empowered
By Ken Jacobs, Labor Policy Specialist, UC Berkeley Labor Center
probe the reporter for as much information
wo organizing opportunities became
as we could get, and call We Interrupt This
Message for advice before responding to
the reporter. Rather than letting the
T important campaign touchstones for
us in San Francisco as we developed
and eat breakfast. I start my second secu-
rity job at 7am and work until 3pm. I
arrive home at four then I sleep for two to
reporters define the issue, we would work strategy for moving our measure forward. two and half hours then I wake up and
on our spin and find the best person to Security screeners at the San Francisco prepare my food again and go back to the
deliver our message. International Airport and security guards airport.“
near City Hall became indispensable A second screener who chose not to
Down to the Wire: spokespersons who embodied the values give his name and had his face blacked
Taking The Values to Heart of our message. Both are case studies out on camera talked about how hard it
in how all the pieces—labor, organizing, was to stay awake on the job.
In the end, the San Francisco living media, values, campaign strategy—came We were helped significantly by our
wage ordinance came down to negotiations together. support from the airport administration in
with the Mayor’s Office and the business The San Francisco International Airport making our public case. After wages were
community. As the negotiations were quickly became a central focus of our raised for the screeners in April 2000,
dragging we prepared to go to the ballot. campaign’s organizing—because it had turnover fell by 80 percent.
We carried out a poll demonstrating strong one of the largest groups of workers, and Meanwhile, closer to City Hall, another
support for living wage throughout the city. because a multi-union organizing drive front opened up for us. San Francisco
When we reached our final agreement that was getting underway. contracts out security guards for health
avoided going to the ballot, a representative Airport security became a major focus and human services, the vast majority of
of the businesses community told us that of our media message, even two years which are located within blocks of City
they had done their own polling with the before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Hall. These workers were unorganized at
same results. San Francisco now has living Prior to 2002, airlines had responsibility the time the campaign began. We were
wage protections and the people of this city for security. They outsourced screening introduced to one of the guards through a
took our values to heart. There is little operations to private contractors. social worker—a union member—working
doubt that our casting the story about basic Screeners in San Francisco earned less in the same building.
human values, with real human faces, had than $7 an hour. The airport administra- Together, we began visiting the work-
a lot to do with those results. tion had become concerned about the sites and talking to the guards and asking
high turnover rate among screeners—the them about their stories. We inquired if
average person stayed on the job for three any were willing to speak to the press.
months—and about finding screeners, One appeared in an early feature story in
many of whom worked multiple jobs, the San Francisco Chronicle and a week
asleep in the stairways between shifts. later in a TV news feature. She played a
We had begun to organize a team of central role in organizing a committee of
airport screeners and skycaps into the the security guards that became heavily
campaign (who went on to play major involved in the campaign. Whenever living
roles in the union organizing drive). wage stories broke we had a group of
Before all of the heightened security it was media-trained workers close to City Hall
easy to go up to the checkpoints and talk who could quickly be prepped to do
to the screeners between flights. Several interviews on their next break or after
agreed to come forward and talk to the they finished work.
press. We pitched a TV reporter on an Through our media and organizing
exclusive and set up two interviews. efforts, we were able to keep the media
Rafael Pendon told his story on focused on our message and communicate
camera: “I start my shift as a screener at our values as told in the stories of those
10pm. I get off at 6am, change my clothes most affected.

Winning Wages Media Kit 55


SAMPLE PRESS CLIPPING The following article, from the Sing Tao Daily in San Francisco,
highlights how one campaign made sure ethnic media was in the
mix for their media plan.

56 Winning Wages Media Kit


SAMPLE PRESS CLIPPING The following article, from the Sing Tao Daily in San Francisco,
highlights how one campaign made sure ethnic media was in the
mix for their media plan.

Winning Wages Media Kit 57



“Do Not Defraud the Laborer of their Just Wage“


By Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)

hy are faith-based messages and

• Their own message—the characteriza- throughout Los Angeles County participated
messengers important in a living tion of low-wage workers’ struggle for a in precinct walking or phone banking.
wage campaign? The recent living wage as an issue of justice that Clergy and lay leaders used the
living wage campaign in Santa Monica, CA, impacts the whole community—inspired media to bring their message to the larger
which counted on the broad and intensive community involvement. community. CLUE’s “religious leaders’
involvement of religious leaders and • The risk that many of them took, as street theatre“ events used colorful symbols,
congregations, can provide important sin- representatives of congregations who religious garb and the shock value of
formation about the potential impact of the are financially dependent on employers’ agit-prop religious participation to attract
faith community in these battles. contributions, provided a moral example media attention and to communicate a
that encouraged commitment. simple but memorable message.
Role of Religious Leaders For example, “Prophets/Profits in the
• Their direct moral, spiritual and material
Marketplace“ involved ten Catholic,
When CLUE began its involvement with support enabled worker leaders to sustain
Protestant, Jewish and Buddhist religious
the Santa Monica Living Wage their participation in the struggle in the
leaders who stood in full vestments next to
Campaign in September of 2000, oppo- face of threats, intimidation and harassment.
a life-size cardboard prophet at a popular
nents had just launched their first major outside mall and read selections from the
salvo—Proposition KK, a fake living wage Rallying Their Flock scriptures about business leaders who
initiative that purported to help low-wage defraud their workers and lie to the public,
Clergy of all denominations are in a
workers but actually would have protected interspersed with workers’ presentations
unique position to influence large numbers
the luxury beach hotels from being covered about Measure KK’s actual impact.
of congregants with messages supportive of
by any potential living wage ordinance. The “Great Pie Giveaway“ had 18 clergy
a living wage.
Proposition KK was ultimately defeated standing at the local Farmers’ Market under
Clergy directly influenced their congre-
—80 percent to 20 percent—in spite of a pie chart showing the percentage of
gations through presentations from the
expenditures of almost $1,000,000 on the corporate resources that would be spent
pulpit and written materials. For example,
part of the hotels. Religious leaders played on a living wage and giving out pieces of
a letter signed by the Cardinal and twelve
a critical role in this victory, using their pie. “Bring Workers’ Back to the Table,“
top religious authorities from different
moral authority and neutral image to add involved congregation members sitting at
traditions directly supporting the final living
credibility to the workers and community a table in the public square set with a
wage ordinance was distributed in 18 local
coalition’s message. thanksgiving meal while workers stood
congregations the weekend before the final
Throughout the two-plus years of around the table with no chairs available
living wage election.
the Santa Monica living wage campaign, for them to sit and eat, and clergy read
Lay leaders formed the Worker
religious leaders continued to play a spiritual writings about justice. These
Sanctuary Emergency Response
central role: events were covered by local media,
Network to provide moral and material
• Their position as objective “third-parties“ Hispanic/ethnic media, religious media
support to worker leaders who were suffering
without a financial interest in the outcome and some major outlets. The coverage
retaliation from their employers for their
added credibility to the workers’ message. by Hispanic media helped to encourage
involvement in the campaign. Lay leaders
and support workers’ involvement in the
• Their reputation as representatives participating in the Sanctuary were also
of a politically diverse institution added called upon to volunteer for voter contact; (cont.)
credibility to the overtly progressive members of 25 congregations
community coalition.

58 Winning Wages Media Kit


Do Not Defraud..., cont.

Challenges: Speaking the

Language of Clergy
Early on in the campaign, lay leaders in
several higher-income congregations raised
issues with the common campaign message.
They personally represented important target CAMPAIGN AND CLERGY
groups for the campaign—swing voters,
political moderates, business leaders. They By Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director,
were eager to volunteer to reach out to their Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
neighbors and colleagues but felt that the
materials developed by the campaign did not • Do respect the time and commitments of clergy:
adequately speak to their concerns. They also Urban clergy are besieged by requests for participation in community
wanted to separate the electoral campaign led causes. They respond best to requests that make the maximum use
by representatives of the community coalition of their time and talents. They also often have creative and strategic
from the living wage campaign. suggestions to offer, if allowed the opportunity. Don’t ask clergy to
In retrospect, CLUE leaders agreed that attend events unless they have a role, or knock on doors or attend training
the religious community could have had sessions unless they will use the training in their specific support role.
significantly greater impact on these target Don’t hide information about campaign goals or strategies.
groups had we developed additional, alterna- • Do respect the requirements for religious participation.
tive materials and additional vehicles for Congregations can have complicated decision-making processes that
outreach and education—materials more require multiple meetings. Clergy can face significant opposition that
suited to congregants of diverse socio- requires specific cases and creative strategies to overcome. Don’t
economic backgrounds. In comparison to ask for last-minute support unless you have no other alternative, or
labor and progressive organizations, the be inflexible about categories of participation. Sometimes it helps to
religious community has unique access to identify and offer non-threatening forms of participation that can
political moderates and business leaders that develop a congregation’s commitment gradually. For example,
can be an important asset if used well. scheduling presentations that focus on the plight of the working poor
can be easier initially than presentations directly on the
proposed legislation. Also, do be sensitive to religious
Moral Values Behind a Living Wage holidays if you are asking religious people to participate.

By Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) • Do organize religious leaders; Don’t make the assumption
that religious leaders should be automatically on board.
• We are all connected; what happens to you affects me, what
Like anyone else, they need to be educated, encouraged and
happens to me affects you.
undergo a process for the development of their capacity and
• We are all of equal worth as children of God; my time is not commitment. Getting religious leaders together in a task
worth more than your time, my children are not more precious force or committee that plans and implements strategies
than your children. helps them to organize each other.
• We all have a right to a just share of God’s good gifts. The family
• Do make full use of the religious community’s capacity to
of God should not be a family in which one brother or sister lives
attract media attention, including faith-based iconography.
in gluttony while another brother or sister starves.
Symbols like ashes, bitter herbs, milk and honey, candles,
• The love of money is the root of all evil; Greed gives birth to lies, prayer vigils for workers and their families, and so forth, can
fraud and exploitation. To have a healthy community, we all need to create colorful events that effectively dramatize the cause.
fight the pull of greed with a vision of the common good.
• Do reach out to faith-based media. Religious media can
• We are all called to the healing or repair of the world. We cannot
reach workers, owners and community members who are
find the deepest satisfaction and meaning in life without doing our
not necessarily reached by other media.
part in making our community a better place for all of us to live.

Winning Wages Media Kit 59


By David Swanson, Communications Coordinator

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now! (ACORN)

Support for a living wage is very popular in the United States. Support for restoring
value to the minimum wage consistently polls over eighty percent. When a minimum
wage or a living wage is put to a public vote, it usually passes. Yet not every popular
vote for a higher wage standard has passed, much less every piece of legislation to
create wage standards. How do spokespersons in your campaign help give you the
edge for a winning effort? Read on.

n a campaign to pass a ballot initiative, the message This message is most
needs to motivate people to register, vote and effectively conveyed by The most effective
get others to do the same. The central message of low-wage workers them- message is that no one
economic justice and the disgrace of paying workers selves. Having workers
poverty wages needs to be hammered home. deliver this message who works in this country
When ACORN and SEIU Local 100 raised the minimum does two things. should be poor. This
wage in New Orleans, the economic justice message was First, it heads off the message is most effectively
all that was needed because so many people expected opposition’s criticism of
to benefit directly, and because the opposition saved its activists as misguided conveyed by low-wage
money to file suit after the vote. When the opposition do-gooders who are workers themselves.
(the restaurants and hotels) pours money into swaying allegedly hurting those
votes, then an important part of the message becomes they intend to help.
heading off their arguments and swaying middle- Second, it puts a human face on the issue, allowing
income voters. workers to convey personal stories about how hard they
In a campaign to pass a living wage ordinance through work, how many jobs they work, and what changes a living
a city council or a state legislature, the targets are the wage would allow (getting the car repaired, quitting a
elected officials, as well as the public in so far as the third job and spending time with kids, buying kids school
public can influence those officials. The opposition can supplies, buying health insurance, and so forth).
be counted on to drag out its usual arguments. So, more While many economists and most people believe that a
emphasis needs to be placed on economic arguments and decent wage standard is good for employers, communities,
heading off the claims of the opposition. Business allies and economies, the argument that will powerfully motivate
become more important. people is that it is good for workers.
Basically, the same message is used throughout a
Messages from community, labor and religious
campaign, with some modifications for different target audiences.
Community, labor and religious leaders should argue on
Different Spokespeople are Best behalf of workers, while making clear that workers them-
Suited to Different Messages selves are leading the campaign. These allies should also
stress that a higher minimum wage will lift the wages of
Messages from workers those making a little more than the minimum, and that it
The most effective message is that no one who works in will benefit the community through increased spending by
this country should be poor. Workers must demand a living workers. They should make this an issue of community
wage as a basic human right that simply cannot be ques- pride or shame.
tioned. Opponents of a living wage must be denounced as Clergy and faith-based activists are important messengers
violators of a basic human right and against the basic of social justice values. They bestow moral and civil rights
principle that people who work should not live in poverty legitimacy, help frame the issue in a context of deeper
—not as well-intentioned opponents in an obscure dispute social consequences, and galvanize constituents. (See “Do
over economics. Follow-up messages can focus on the Not Defraud the Laborer of Their Just Wages” in this kit,
economics of the issue, but the main argument is one of which details religious participation in living wage campaigns.)
values, and of claiming and holding the moral high ground.

60 Winning Wages Media Kit


Who Are the Best Messengers? cont.

Advocates for health care, for children, for crime opposition website claims).
prevention and most other allies in the struggle for good More than one living wage activist has been called
communities can contribute their messages in a relevant way. a “socialist“ on various radio and TV call in shows for
promoting wage standards. This is another way of saying
Messages from retail businesses
living wage advocates favor taxing hardworking people to
Retailers should express their support for a measure that
support “slackers,“ not to mention interfering with the
will likely increase purchases in their stores. Supportive
market. Of course, wage standards do not involve supporting
retail business leaders help inoculate against Chamber of
anyone with tax dollars and do not involve supporting
Commerce opposition by backing up the economic argu-
non-workers. They reward work by requiring that employers
ment that when living wages are paid, everybody benefits
pay their workers rather than relying on the government
from the greater consumer power of workers. If covered by
to do so. Of course, the argument of interfering with the
the proposed law, they should also convey the message of
market is never made when it
employers (below).
comes to the legal and subsidy
Messages from economists system that protects businesses. Community, labor
Economists should study the proposal at length and give The important trick for our and religious leaders
their opinions on likely results in terms of alleviation of spokesperson is not to get
should argue on
poverty, reduction in food stamps and other “handouts,” caught up in the opposition’s
increases in consumer spending, and effects (or lack rhetoric. It’s better to stick to behalf of workers,
thereof) on unemployment and inflation. our messages. Having business while making clear
leaders and economic experts
that workers them-
Messages from employers on your side helps inoculate
Employers should convey the message that a living wage your campaign against selves are leading the
is good for business, increases morale and productivity, spurious arguments from campaign.
reduces turnover, hiring and training costs, and prevents the opposition.
cut-throat companies from underbidding good ones.
Messages from elected
Messages from business leaders and officials (including ones from other cities and states)
wealthy residents Elected officials supporting a living wage law should
Business leaders and wealthy residents should make clear argue that at least public dollars should not promote
that a living wage is good for taxpayers, who are currently poverty-wage jobs, that the goveiiiinment has a respon-
supplying “handouts“ to full-time employees of profitable sibility to set the best example. They should also point
companies. This is important for heading off accusations to the success of similar laws elsewhere and the low cost
from opposition such as living wages are a “socialist“ to local governments.
strategy, or another attempt to introduce “a welfare
mentality“ into the workplace (as one living wage

b PROFILE ON • Profiles of workers and

families are the most important
• Protests of poverty-wage
employers or recalcitrant
• The release of reports from
economists can also generate
WORKERS stories to produce. Find and legislators can add color, important press coverage, but
clear (make sure they are especially when led by workers. just don’t focus on the numbers
Human interest—putting a real
legitimate and acceptable) This clearly defines the “hero’s and statistics. Make sure there
face on the issue—is critical
possible worker spokespersons and villains“ in the conflict. is a section of the report that is
to conveying your message
early in the campaign. Train about the human consequences
persuasively. • The message of popular
and coach the worker to be on of the research. Also, testimo-
pressure can also be enhanced
Here are tips for doing that: message and speak eloquently nials from workers help flesh
with letters to the editor, calls
and honestly. out the research and ensure the
to radio shows, and op-eds—the
voices of those affected are
• Coverage of rallies of large more the better. Help workers
heard. (See Releasing Research
numbers of people is also prepare these, or “ghost-write“
Media Advisory.)
important and can help produce them for worker signatures.
the profiles.

Winning Wages Media Kit 61


Excerpted from Fenton Fundamentals: Communications News and Tips, 6/12/03,

by Fenton Communications

How many times has your organization been left out of the news?
For living wage campaigns, and those working on economic justice and
workplace issues, keeping your spokespersons in the media spotlight is a
key strategy for keeping your organization and issue in the public mind.
Reporters know whom to call fast whenever news breaks. And you “brand“
your organization to the issue with repeated spokesperson visibility.

ommunications activists are often pressured to get their executive director or
spokesperson quoted regularly in the news, because being a prominent source on
your issue affects your success with funders, members, policy makers and other
It can be a slow process, but here are some ways to dramatically improve how the
media knows about and uses your spokesperson.

l Make sure your spokesperson is media trained, knowledgeable and gives

insightful quotes. Media return to those who meet their needs in the most
compelling and professional way.

l Create and fax to reporters a one-page “expert source“ letter detailing your
spokesperson’s expertise, credentials and media experience. Encourage recipients to
keep it on file for future stories, and make the case for why your spokesperson should
be their go-to source on the issue. You’d be surprised how many keep these and call
months later for comment.

l Build relationships with reporters covering your issue by thanking them for good
stories and providing your own perspective when stories break.

l The best way to get in stories is to drive them yourself through media outreach
on a campaign. Aside from the coverage itself, you will develop media relationships
and learn who covers what. Focus on print and online first, since many journalists
search past articles to find their sources.

l Numerous websites catalogue various types of expert sources, including:

l Increase your visibility and credibility by speaking at conferences, press confer-

ences, seminars and political hearings. You can also proactively organize a media
breakfast/lunch briefing with other experts (supportive business leaders, clergy, union
representatives, allied politicians, etc.) for a roundtable discussion on your issue.

62 Winning Wages Media Kit


Use the next two pages as a template for gathering testimonials to bolster your living wage campaign. This useful form
was provided by the Atlanta Living Wage Coalition. Photocopy these onto a single double-sided sheet of paper, covering or
blocking out this top section to remove it. View sample testimonials collected by the Atlanta Living Wage Campaign later in
this section.


Name of Employer(s):
Job Title:
Years Experience:
Hourly Pay:

What is the structure of your family? How many wage earners are there in your family?

How does the job you do make a difference to the city?

Why did you take this position?

What is the impact of your job on your family?


How does your current wage limit you (lack of time to spend with family, lack of money, etc.)?

How do you think earning $10.50 an hour would impact you and your family?

What are your future goals as far as work and family?

Do you think you can achieve them based on your current wages?

Would they be more likely with a wage of $10.50 an hour?

Finish this sentence: This city needs a living wage because:

Winning Wages Media Kit



Atlanta Living Wage Coalition

Spokesperson Testimonials
Capturing and “vetting” the personal stories of your spokespersons, especially workers
and their families, is a media savvy tactic. The testimonials can be provided to
reporters. Plus they help train spokespersons to communicate succinctly.

PROFILE: Santina Story PROFILE: Dontavious Story

EMPLOYER: Crowne Plaza Hotel
POSITION: Housekeeping ello, my name is Dontavious Story and I am in fifth

y name is Santina Story. I am a 33-year-old mother of

H grade. I’m going to tell you about my life. My life is
about school and family. I start my day off when I wake
up at 3:30 in the morning. I help my mom get my baby brother

M three and the only wage earner in my house. I have two

years of experience in housekeeping and until recently,
was making $6.75 an hour for my work at the Crowne Plaza
ready for day care. He leaves around 5:30am. I get him dressed
while my mom fixes his bag and gets ready for work. I go back
to sleep until I go to school with my sister and friends. When
Hotel in Atlanta. I worked 40 hours a week, but due to the fact school is over, my sister and I go to the after school program.
that I had to take MARTA, my days ended up being longer and Then we come home and wait for my mom to come home from
more tiring. Because of the hours I was never able to see my work. When mom comes home she needs help with dinner and
children. My baby would spend all day at Peachcare and by the the baby, so I help. My mom needs a lot of help with my baby
time I would get home from work, I was too busy preparing din- brother and other things because she is tired and stressed.
ner and getting the kids ready for bed so they can be ready for Sometimes I wake up at 2am to feed the baby or take care of
school the next day. I couldn’t help them with homework or him and stay with him. I feel bad because I get a bed and my
catch up with them on their day. My children walk to school and mom sleeps on the floor.
I hate that I am not able to make sure they get there OK or that I don’t get to spend any time with my mom. She is always
they stay at school. In a way, the street is raising my children. tired and stressed from work and us. I feel bad because I miss
I choose to do this type of work because I like to clean and I out on things because my mom says we can’t afford them. I
like the people I get to interact with. I no longer have to depend can’t play football at school because we can’t afford a uniform
on welfare just to survive. But due to the low wage, I still have to and my sister almost missed a fieldtrip because it cost too
depend on food stamps, Peachcare child care, and sometimes I much. I also don’t get to play as much as I want because I have
have to use MARTA passes which I get at the Atlanta Day Shelter. to help my mom. It makes me feel really sad because my mom
I had to quit because I didn’t qualify for medical leave or sick spends all her money on us. She hasn’t bought anything for her-
days and I needed time off to take my youngest child to the doc- self in two years. I want to be able to do things like go to the
tor for health problems. I am currently looking for a job. movies or play video games.
Earning $6.75 an hour I was basically living paycheck to pay- (cont.)
check. I still have to live with things like no heat in my one bed-
room apartment. My kids never have anything new.
If I were to earn a higher wage of $10.50 I would be able to
stop worrying about running out of necessities for my family and
not being able to afford to buy new ones. My kids would have
more of a mother and a better life. They would be able to be
more involved in activities and school.
I want to be a good role model for my kids and be able to
provide for my family so they don’t have to struggle. Atlanta defi-
nitely needs a living wage because the cost of living is so high.
Families are too often struggling to make ends meet.

Winning Wages Media Kit 65


(Spokesperson Testimonials, cont.)

PROFILE: Jeanine Lavendeo NAME: Monequi Dobbs

EMPLOYER: Initial–Airport EMPLOYER: Barton Security, City Hall
POSITION: Custodian POSITION: Security Guard
y name is Monequi Dobbs. I am a security officer, but

y name is Jeanie Lavendeo.I currently work at
Hartsfield International Airport where I am a custodi-
an. I have 31 years of experience in this field and I
M I am also a mother. At times my job has caused stress
that prevents me from being the type of mother I
would like to be.
currently make $8.94 an hour, which is better than my starting I have worked in security for City Hall for five months. Prior
wage of $6.03. to working at City Hall I was employed by the airport where
My job at the airport consists of making sure the surround- I also did security. I left the airport in the hopes of finding a
ing area is clean and sanitary for all the people arriving and better paying job. I work at least 40 hours a week, sometimes
departing. I work a 40 hour week, Tuesday through Saturday working an 11-hour shift, at a wage of $7 an hour. My employer
from 7am until 3pm. My days are extremely busy and tiresome. offers some benefits at a co-pay which I end up paying the
Sometimes I work on my days off to make any extra money I majority of, so I choose not to use. I have often had to work
can. I get paid weekly, out of which comes money toward the overtime just to make ends meet.
health benefits I receive. I am the sole supporter of my family I choose to work in security because it is an important job
consisting of two kids. I currently live with my aunt who also to society. My job is to secure City Hall. We keep the building
works for Initial housekeeping at the airport. safe so that events such as September 11th don’t happen here.
I have worked in this type of work all my life. It’s what I’m My shifts are varied sometimes equaling 11 hours a day. For my
good at. Now at age 45, I am stuck in it, there is absolutely no 11-hour shift I am allowed a 30-minute break and all other
room for advancement. I used to have to work two jobs just to shifts I get a 20-minute break. Sometimes we are not even
survive. Now I often have to work overtime. All of my paycheck allowed to leave the post. These breaks are hardly enough time
goes towards my bills and rent with hardly anything left over for to eat lunch and sometimes we are not even allowed to eat at
my family or myself. I can not afford a car or the payments and our post.
am behind on my bills. By the time the end of the month rolls I currently live with my grandmother who is disabled and my
around, I am always out of money. two year old daughter. I am the only wage earner in my house.
There are many people who work with me who could bene- I have to live with my grandmother because it is the only eco-
fit from a higher wage. Some of them are earning as low as nomically feasible option. Otherwise I would have to live in the
$6.03 an hour. People should not have to struggle this much “projects,” which is no place to raise a child. I can’t afford a
just to survive. car and as a result I take MARTA to work. This can take as long
as an hour and a half. The hours I work are especially hard
when it comes to spending time with my daughter. I am not able
to put her in day care because I have to leave some mornings
too early and come home too late some evenings. I also find
myself missing all the important times in her life. I had to miss
her second birthday because I was stuck working all day. I have
trouble making ends meet on $7 an hour. I am currently in
debt because I can’t afford to buy necessary items and as a
result end up using my credit cards.
I hope to start school soon. It has to be night school
because I can’t afford to not work. I was also hoping to be able
to afford a car but that is not possible right now. I would need a
car to drive home from night school, it is just not safe for me to
be walking around at might and taking MARTA that late. I can
not stand to work in this low paying job all my life. I would like
to be able to not struggle. Earning a higher wage, such as
$10.50 an hour, would help low-income families, such as mine,
better themselves and feel good.

66 Winning Wages Media Kit

Cultivate personal relationships with reporters. This is one of the most
important tasks an activist can do when it comes to making news. In his book,
Making the News: A Guide for Nonprofits and Activists, Jason Salzman quotes a
reporter from a major daily whose sentiments are probably echoed by journalists
everywhere: “A lot of what gets covered depends on personal relationships at
the paper.” Can't get more explicit than that.

ere are some tips for strengthening relationships with individual

H reporters, and expanding and prioritizing your media database:

Be a resource for reporters. Develop a reputation as someone who has

accurate information, meets deadlines, can provide additional contacts and
sources, and is always good for a clever quote or a much-needed fact.
Engage in trust-building with reporters. Help them feel the information they
need that you provide about living wage laws is accurate and up-to-date,
that you are playing fairly and squarely with them. Respect their profession-
alism. Even if their media outlet has a different opinion about living wage
laws than you, all parties can
engage in the process respect- Develop a reputation as someone who
fully. Provide other contacts
for the reporter, even from the
has accurate information, meets dead-
other side if requested. Once lines, can provide additional contacts
or twice a year offer to “do and sources, and is always good for a
lunch” and then brief the
reporter on upcoming news.
clever quote or a much-needed fact.

Be accessible to reporters. They will usually try to get you on one

phone call. If they cannot find you they will often move on to other sources.
Give reporters your direct line—plus your home number if appropriate.
Definitely make sure they have your cell number. Carry a pager or cellular
phone, especially at media events where a reporter might be calling you to
get the news as it is being made. One group scored extra television coverage
simply because an editor, scrounging for news on a slow day, phoned an
activist at a rally to get a quote. Before the activist hung up she had
persuaded the editor to send a news crew to cover the event.

Always be prepared to say something about an issue when a reporter

calls. A reporter never likes to hear, “I'll get back to you later today.” They
may not have ten minutes to spare or you might not get back to them on
time. Clever, fast-thinking activists can spin off a soundbite at will. It takes
practice, but you get good at it.

Clever, fast-thinking If you absolutely do not know the answer

activists can spin off a to a reporter's questions—especially technical
or factual inquiries—say the following: “I
soundbite at will.
don't know that information. I will find out and
get back to you immediately. What is your dead-
line?” Then get back to the reporter on time. You may also offer one or two
other expert sources for the reporter's rolodex.

Winning Wages Media Kit 67


Developing Relationships With Reporters, cont.

Know your facts. Your reputation rises gloriously or crashes ignominiously

depending on the accuracy of the information you give reporters. Never give
reporters inaccurate or even questionably accurate information. And if you
are spreading rumors or gossip, let the reporter know and be prepared to
back it up. Living wage battles in particular require accurate data, statistics
and analysis. The opposition will most likely attempt to distort and down-
right lie about the facts. At least be factual on your side.

Do not expect reporters to be your cheerleaders. Experience indicates

that many local daily newspapers might be opposed to living wage because
of their pro-business (and pro-advertising revenue) disposition. Even those
reporters working for supportive media can’t be viewed as a megaphone for
your issue. The job of the news reporter is to be unbiased, or at a minimum
fair and balanced. So, among other things, that means they should not be
expected to reprint your press release verbatim, although some small-size
media might.

Reporters are primarily looking Do not call reporters just to be

quoted. Sometimes you may be a
for the facts, additional contacts,
major source for a reporter and still
or your quotes to convey a sense not be quoted. It is frustrating, but
of importance or controversy. those are the breaks. If you feel
the omission of you or your group
substantially affects the story, call
that to the reporter's attention. But remember, reporters are wary of sources
who whine about not being quoted all the time. Be a resource even if it
means you might not be in the story. Maybe next time you will.

Do not waste reporters' time. In other words, don't be a schmooze hog.

This is tacky and will tarnish your reputation. Only contact reporters when
you have newsworthy information, a good pitch or are responding to an
inquiry or a story. Some reporters keep a mental list of news pests, media
“sluts” and other obnoxious non-sources who aggravate them on a routine
basis. Do not make that list.

Many reporters loathe the caller who Only contact reporters

says, “Hi, did you get my press release?”
Reporters do not have time to call everyone
when you have newsworthy
back to say whether or not they received the information, a good pitch
release. If you call a reporter, go ahead and or are responding to an
pitch your story. In the course of the pitch,
you can remind him or her about the media
inquiry or a story.
release and offer to send another.

Do not exaggerate. You can spin your news, but check the hyperbole. Be
reasonable. Not every story pitch will be jaw-droppingly important. Reporters
are primarily looking for the facts, additional contacts, or your quotes to
convey a sense of importance or controversy. They do not want Oscar accept-
ance speeches, used car salesman “act now!” pitches, or screaming drama
queens on the other end of the phone.

68 Winning Wages Media Kit

Developing Relationships With Reporters, cont.

Don’t take it personally if you get

TIP: Try to avoid making
“bumped.” If you have the unfortunate luck
news with complex issues
of staging a living wage rally or photo-op
during TV “sweeps week,”
right when some huge national story breaks,
when most of the coverage
and your event is missed because all the
will be about sensationalism.
media is covering the big story, those are
the breaks.

A word about “exclusives”: Giving exclusives—the first and only shot

at important news—can have both positive and negative repercussions.
On the positive side, a well-placed exclusive to a key media outlet can result
in a major, in-depth story that will spark other news coverage. Plus, you
develop a stronger relationship with the reporter. On the negative side, be
prepared to take the wrath of reporters who did not get the exclusive. Kiss
their butts—in a professional manner, of course—and toss them something
else in the future.
Never give an exclusive to a reporter and then feed the story to another
reporter. Both will be furious. If you get into a “bidding war” for a story,
take the audience size of the media and your relationships with the reporters
into consideration.

Winning Wages Media Kit 69

Keeping a current database of reporter contacts is almost a full-time
job in itself. Beats and reporters often change frequently. Media lists
can go out-of-date by the time your mailing labels finish printing.

tantly, capture fax numbers and emails into the database

till, every organization doing media work must have
an organized list of reporters. Here are some sugges- and into your fax machine or email listserv. A tip for
tions for creating your database and prioritizing the broadcast faxing: if there is no urgent time restraint on
reporter contacts: your news, fax overnight when newsroom machines are
clear. But if the news is urgent and you want to get your
Pay attention to “bylines”: a line designating who
statement out immediately, fax away!
wrote or produced the piece. Start noticing the names of
journalists attached to stories—who is covering what, When faxing or emailing reporters, do not fax every
who favors what type of story, who is on what beat? When reporter in the newsroom with the same release in
watching TV or listening to the radio, write down the the hopes of landing one reporter who will do the story.
name of the producer or correspondent. Clip print articles Reporters talk to each other and will be onto your game.
and enter the Send releases only to your key contacts. If there are
byline into your different departments or a few reporters who might be
Once you have developed database. Focus on interested in your news, it is fine to send more than one
your database, prioritize it those stories that release to the same news outlet. Don’t forget assignment
have crossover editors, however.
so you can contact media in interest to your
the most effective manner. Once you have developed your database, prioritize
issue. You can
it so you can contact media in the most effective manner.
later pitch a
You may not have the resources to personally contact all
reporter by saying:
of the reporters all of the time.
“Last week you did that piece on so-and-so. I thought you
might be interested in this story.” Pay special attention to
“beats,” those areas of focus such as business, city hall, Prioritize Your Media Database
labor, and so forth. Match the subject interest of living
Assuming you now have a database of, say, fifty
wage to the beat or interest of the reporter.
reporters in your area or throughout the state/region,
Pick up the phone, contact the media outlet, and you will want to:
ask what reporters or producers cover your issue. Enter
Create a sub-list of your top five or so reporters.
the names into your database.
These should be those directly covering the issue.
Capture the names of all reporters who contact you. Develop strong personal relationships with this cluster.
(See the following Reporter Intake Form.) They get the priority treatment. Keep their names and
numbers handy at all times. These are the first to get
See the resources section in this guidebook for breaking news calls, pitches, press kits and briefings. Stay
contacts at media associations. Many of them sell their in regular contact with them. Have lunch or coffee with
media lists. Also, check out the media list references such them sometime during your campaign.
as “Bacon’s Media Directories.”
The next twenty-five or so reporters on your list
Don’t forget ethnic media, youth media, campus comprise the second tier. They get press releases faxed
media, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender press and other or emailed, at least one pitch call during the year, and a
constituency media. heads-up on upcoming media events.
Trade your growing list with those of other organiza- The third tier—the remaining reporters—get at least
tions or unions in your area or region. the press releases and other news material routinely sent
Add all the contact information into a database to them.
that will print in label format for mailing. More impor-

70 Winning Wages Media Kit



When a reporter calls
It is important to get information from reporters when they call that you can use later when developing
relationships with the press and tracking coverage. Use this “reporter intake form” to capture basic
information and keep a record of exchanges and contact. Thus information should be kept in a central
location. Contact information-especially for new reporters—should be put into your media database.

TIME (Include time zone)
(* if you can get it)


INQUIRY ABOUT: (Summarize questions)

YOUR RESPONSE: (Summarize answers. Don’t forget to move the messages!)


Winning Wages Media Kit 71

A good press kit can be an invaluable resource to reporters and help shape
your news. A bad press kit, one that is filled with obviously self-promotional
junk or volumes of useless information stuffed into weighty notebooks, gets
tossed into the “circular file.” Living wage battles in particular benefit from
well-prepared and well-organized press kits due to the complexity of the
issue and the multitude of facts, backgrounders, angles and players involved.

There are two kinds of press kits for

nonprofit groups:
A generic press kit for your group. This can be given out at any time and is not
1 connected to one issue. It is about your identity and profile. It may contain historical
information about the group, members of the board, and a newsletter or annual report.

An issue-focused press kit. This will contain some background information about
2 your group, but mostly it will feature information about a specific issue. Living wage
campaigns will most likely use this type of press kit, with background fact sheets about
the organizations involved.

The beauty of a good press kit is that it can be customized and modified: some things
can be removed and new material inserted. Give your press kits to reporters at briefings,
press conferences or other media events. Send press kits for media events to no-show


Here is a suggested model for issue-focused press kits. This kit is contained in a
nice, but not overly fancy, folder that opens up to reveal two pockets.


Fact sheets on your organization, campaign affiliates, and any Your main press release on the issue. This moves your
other major organization(s) working in conjunction with you. messages right at the beginning. Note: If you are handing out the kit
Statements of support from allied groups on their letterhead. at a media event, insert the line-up of event speakers—with correct
Also include a “sign-on” page, listing supportive groups. name spelling, contact numbers for follow-up questions, and short
biographies—before the press release. This is the piece that sums
A sampling of previous press clips—your “greatest hits”
up the news, announced the launch of the living wage campaign,
—on your group or issue.
summarizes new research or legal strategy associated with your
Copy of any op-ed you may have placed. campaign, and so forth.
Charts or graphs showing worker wages and other technical A copy of your statement(s) delivered at the event. If there is
backgrounder information. no event, make sure the press release contains quotes from the
Black and white, 5x7 or 8x10 photograph of key spokesperson(s), statement. This is a source of quotes for reporters and will move
photo-op of your event in the past, or something that visualizes the your messages.
issue—along with a caption. Smaller papers in particular might use A fact sheet on the issue: one page, bullet form, just the facts.
the photograph. This is optional. If your issue involves the release of a new report, the fact sheet will
Finally, do not forget your business card or custom-made focus on your findings and summarize the report.
rolodex card. Clip it to the inside pocket. The report. If you are releasing new research, add the full report
here. An executive summary should be at the front of the report.
Other fact sheets on related issues.
Questions and Answers for background.

72 Winning Wages Media Kit



• Q & A on “Myths of the Opposition”

• Black and White Photo with Caption

• Copies of Best Press Clips • “Report”

• Biographies of Key Speakers • Fact Sheet on Economic Impact

(or other factors) of Living Wage Law
• List of Supporters
• Fact Sheet(s) on Issue
• More Fact Sheet(s) on Organization
• Longer Statement (or Speech Text)

• Press Release

• Business Card

Two-pocket folder

Winning Wages Media Kit 73

Fact sheets are simply what the name implies: just the facts. They are
one-page “finger tip” fact reviews that list pertinent information, data,
gee-whiz numbers, percentage numbers, and so forth. Fact sheets are
useful for reporters who do not have time to read entire press releases
or are looking for just one tidbit of information.

Fact Sheet Tips
Title each fact sheet specific to the issue and subject.
FACT SHEET For example, “Fact Sheet On Number and Type of Local Workers
Affected By Proposed Living Wage Law.”
Living wage fact sheets could contain
the following information. These Print fact sheets on your organization’s letterhead
may be included all on one sheet, (or coalition letterhead), including a contact name and number in
or separated onto different fact sheets the top right corner.
by subject matter.
“Bulletize” your fact sheets. Use a dash or “ding bat” dot
• Number of living wage laws, in your —similar to the one at the beginning of this item—to list the facts.
state, in the region, in the country. Include no more than one or two sentences/facts per bullet.
• Specifics about the law, what it will
and will not cover. You can always break down an issue. Having more than one fact
• Businesses (and non-profits) affected. sheet is perfectly fine. For example, an additional fact sheet that
• Worker wage, jobs or other relevant could accompany the previously cited example is, “Fact Sheet On
trends. Change In Wages and Benefits For Local Workers In the Past Ten
• Counter arguments to the opposition. Years.” Or, another fact sheet might be, “Facts About the Living Wage
Law: Countering Erroneous Statements.”

Fact sheets rarely include lengthy quotes or anecdotes

—just the facts. This means percentage numbers, statistical break-
downs, numerical “ups-and-downs” charting trends or changes,
historical narratives, biographical facts, monetary figures and
conclusions of research can all be included in your fact sheets.

Fact sheets are never longer than one page. Keep them
short and simple.

Include your fact sheets in your press kit, or hand them out
individually to reporters who need the information. Make certain
the facts are updated and accurate.

74 Winning Wages Media Kit


Reporters’ desks are overflowing with news releases announcing some “big news”
that really is not. Most of these are trying to sell some commercial product or event
in the guise of news. Fortunately, your release, which will promote your cause, can
and will distinguish itself from the others if you follow these basic tips.

he Fact: Other than the telephone, press releases and media advisories
—often lumped together under the term “news releases”—are the basic
methods of communicating your news about living wage matters to reporters.

The Reality: Reporters throw away or ignore many if not most press releases
because they:
• Do not contain any news
• Do not have contact information or other key data to make the reporter’s
job easier
• Are filled with typos and other embarrassments, causing the reporter to
doubt the integrity of the organization that sent the release
• Are confusing, poorly written, or worse—boring

Two Types of News Releases

“Media Advisory”: This is a short, one-page, concise piece advising the media
of news to be made. Typically, a media advisory invites reporters to cover some
event or press conference, or notifies them of your news. It usually contains the
who, what, where, when and why of the news, including contact names, numbers
and other pertinent facts. The media advisory is sent out before an event or news
is made.
“Press Release”, a.k.a. “Media Release”: This document is longer than a
media advisory, but rarely more than two pages. A press release is typically
written like a news story—containing quotes, “color” and background—and
summarizes your news. It is written as if it were to appear in the morning
newspaper—though, of course, that will not happen since most media will not
run your release verbatim. The press release is often handed out at a news event
or included in a press kit.
The key to successful news releases is brevity and factual accuracy. Get to
the most important part of the news as soon as possible and make sure everything
is accurate: facts, name spellings, dates and times. Some reporters have said that
if their attention is not piqued by the headline or the end of the lead paragraph,
they rarely read any further.

Tips for Media Advisories and Press Releases

Starting at the top of the page, all news releases should contain:

• Your organization's logo. This should be at the very top of the paper.
• Either “For Immediate Release”—meaning the information can be used as
soon as a reporter gets it; or “Embargoed”—meaning the reporter cannot
use the news until the date specified.
• The date the release is distributed.
• Contact name(s) and number(s), including cellular phones.

Winning Wages Media Kit 75


News Releases, cont.

The headline is key. Most reporters have about thirty

WHEN: The time—include am or pm—and date.
seconds to scan a news release. They want the news to
Make certain the day and date correspond.
jump out at them. If you do not catch their attention in
the headline, into the “circular file” the release goes. WHY: This is your key message. It is “why” you are
making news.
Summarize your news into a headline. The headline
can be up to four lines long, centered, in bold face and
If your event will feature strong visuals, as all
written all in capital letters, usually in a larger type
media events should, tip reporters off to the photo-
size. You may do a stacked headline: a main, attention-
opportunities at the end of the media advisory. This is
grabbing head followed by a slightly smaller, more detailed
particularly useful for TV.
head. The headline should capture the larger frame of the
news, communicate a sense of drama, and pull reporters End both advisories and press releases with the
into the story. marks ###, or -30-. This lets journalists know the release
is over. If your release jumps to the next page, write
After the headline, the first paragraph—“the lead”
“more” at the bottom and center it. At the top left corner
—is paramount. This is the summary paragraph that
of the next page, write “Page 2” and provide a subject
communicates the most important components and frames
the issue for maximum media impact. It must also capture
attention. Caution: Do not try to explain everything in
this paragraph. When to Send the Release
Write the remainder of the press release in In general, you should mail (including email, for
descending order of importance. In journalism, this is those reporters who prefer emails) the release ten
called the “inverted-pyramid” style of writing. The most days before the event, fax it five days before the
important, base-laying news goes at the top, the lesser event, and follow up with a phone call within three
details below. days of the event. Of these three methods, faxing (or
emailing) and calling are paramount.
Frame your news—establish its importance and Remember: Do not call reporters to ask if they got
impact, and your position—by the end of the lead your release. They do not have time to respond to every
paragraph. At the latest, your news should be framed by release they receive. Instead, call them to pitch the news
the end of the second paragraph. By the third paragraph and remind them about the release. Be prepared to send
you should move your key messages. another if the first was misplaced.

Include one or two pithy soundbite quotes in the

press release. News Release Taboos
Do not include jargon or political rhetoric in your
releases. There should be no mission statements in releases.
In media advisories, list the “Five W's” Do not write in long sentences and ponderous paragraphs.
—who, what, when, where and why—after the headline One- or two-sentence paragraphs are fine. Typos, factual
and lead framing paragraph. inaccuracies and other mistakes kill the integrity of your
organization and news.
WHO: Who is announcing the news? This will probably
be your organization or coalition. But remember, the
news is not the fact that your group is announcing
something, but what is being announced. Therefore,
the lead paragraph will first communicate the news,

then indicate who made it. A brief list of key speakers IN SUMMARY:
may be included here, with their names and affiliations.
Keep it short.
WHAT: What is being announced: a media event, rally,
Write a strong headline or stacked headline.
protest, press conference or release of a new report?
Write a tight and hard-hitting lead paragraph.
WHERE: The location of the event. Include the actual
Move your messages!
address or directions, unless it is an obvious place like
the main steps of City Hall.

76 Winning Wages Media Kit



Press releases are typically written like news stories. They summarize the news and event, contain quotes, “color” and background. A
press release is written as it if were to appear in the morning newspaper, although most media will not run the release verbatim (some
neighborhood or smaller press will, however). The press release is distributed at the news event, included in the living wage press kit,
and faxed or emailed to no-show reporters the day the news is made. Press releases should be no more than one or two pages long.

Write all releases on organization letter-

head with the address and phone number.

Write “Press Release” or “Media Release”

PRESS RELEASE in large letters to draw attention.

Embargoed for: Contact: Cindia Cameron (404) 876-1604 Indicate whom to contact for information.
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2001 Sandra Robertson (404) 622-7778
Indicate the date the information can be
released, or the date the news happens. If
ATLANTA LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED; embargoed (restricted for release), indicate
when reporters can go with the information
Community Pushes For City To Join More Than 60 Other Locales With
Living Wages For Employees Of Companies Receiving Tax Dollars;
Use larger font for the headline than for
Survey Shows Strong Political Support For Measure the text. Make sure the headline includes
the essential information about the
ATLANTA…As low-income workers told their stories of toiling at two or more full-time jobs and still release.
living in the hardship of poverty, community leaders from around Atlanta gathered to announce the
kick-off of the Atlanta Living Wage campaign today. More than 60 community, labor and religious
leaders plus scores of supporters participated in the event. “Stack” headlines to draw more attention
and spotlight the main news and hooks.
In addition, survey results from mayoral and city council candidates, released at the kick-off,
showed two-thirds have committed to supporting a living wage ordinance.
Lead paragraph should catch attention,
“A person working full time should earn enough to lift a family above poverty,” said Sandra
Robertson, Director of Georgia Citizens on Hunger. “Companies that benefit from taxpayer dollars can frame and summarize. Include your
and should pay a living wage.” “hooks” at the beginning.

The living wage movement is a response to the rapid growth of low-wage service jobs, the
declining value of the minimum wage and the spiraling costs of housing, healthcare and childcare. The Communicate your key message—“people
living wage ordinance will require that the city and other employers receiving tax dollars pay workers a who work should not be poor”—near top of
wage that lifts a family above the federal poverty level and provides health benefits. the release. Can be a quote or paraphrase.
Camille Johnson, a security guard at Hartsfield Airport, is one of the workers whose family
would benefit from a living wage ordinance.
Use short paragraphs in body. Write in
Camille has more than four years of experience in her job, yet she earns just $7 an hour and “inverted pyramid” style with most impor-
receives no health benefits. Camille and her children currently live in a homeless shelter. Wages for tant information at the top narrowing down
security guards at the nation’s busiest airport are startlingly low. Meanwhile, Americans are demanding to the least important information at the end.
a shift in priorities in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and continued threats.

“The job I do stands between you and disaster,” said Johnson, “yet it doesn’t even pay enough Include sound bite quotes from key
to keep a roof over my family’s head or provide a safe place for my children to stay while I’m work-
spokespersons, especially workers.

More than one-in-four hourly wage jobs in Georgia pay $7 an hour or less, and metro Atlanta
accounts for 65 percent of all jobs in the state, indicated Charlie Flemming, President of the Atlanta
Central Labor Council. “Wages that low put even a modest standard of living beyond the reach of large
numbers of working families.”

(more) Type “more” it if jumps to a second page.

Winning Wages Media Kit 77




List facts in concise and easy-to-grasp

format. You don’t need to list every fact, According to preliminary figures from the Georgia Family Economic Self-Sufficiency
just the key ones that reinforce your frame Project, a family of three would need at least $13 an hour to cover a minimum-needs budget. A
and message. Consider one or two well- single working adult would need at least $9.50 an hour.
placed facts to head off opposition’s argu-
In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development considers a housing
ments before they even happen.
budget to be 30 percent of a worker’s total income. By that measure a worker earning $7 an hour
could afford to spend no more than $336 a month on rent. In Atlanta, fair market rent for a one-
bedroom apartment is $590 per month.

“We need a living wage ordinance in Atlanta so that workers like me can provide safety
and security to our families and the public,” said Hartsfield Airport worker Camille Johnson. “Our
jobs are valuable to the community, and so is our need for time with family and volunteer activi-
ties. Working one job with a living wage instead of several poverty wage jobs would make all this

Supporters of the living wage pointed to ordinances in other cities similar to

the Atlanta measure. Research of those ordinances indicated:

• Costs to employers were modest. For the majority, the living wage increases
were less than one percent of operating budgets.

• Costs to taxpayers were negligible. In Baltimore, cost has been about 17

cents per person annually. The real costs of the city contracts actually
decreased the year after the law went into effect.

• Job creation did not suffer. Baltimore contractors, for example, who held
contracts both before and after the living wage ordinance was passed reported
no lay-offs.

The Living Wage Campaign was founded by 9 to 5, Atlanta Working Women, Atlanta
Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger and Project South in
April 2001. More than 60 community, religious and labor organizations have so far endorsed the
Type ### to indicate the end of the release, ###

78 Winning Wages Media Kit



A media advisory is written in simple form without many details. Primarily, it contains the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and
“why” of an event. The “why,” by the way, is your key message. The advisory alerts journalists to an upcoming event without giving
away all the substance. Media advisories should be no longer than a page in length. Fax or email 3-5 days in advance, or at least
the day before. Follow it up with a phone call to the targeted reporter the day before the event to ensure they are coming.

Write all advisories on organizational

letterhead with the address and phone
OUR TOWN P.O. Box 1234 number.
Our Town, USA 01234
fax (333) NOW-WAGE

Write “Media Advisory” in large letters to

draw attention.

Important: Indicate who to contact for

MEDIA ADVISORY more information. Include cell phone if
possible in case reporters have to reach
For Immediate Release: June 12, 2000 Contact: Your Name someone at the event.
(your office number);
(your cell-phone number)
Don’t forget the date. If the advisory
contains news that is embargoed (such
LIVING WAGE RALLY AT CITY HALL TO FEATURE WORKERS as findings of report to be released
TRYING TO MAKE ENDS MEET AND RISE ABOVE POVERTY later), indicate that. Otherwise, write
“For Immediate Release.”
Our Town City Council Will Vote on Living Wage Ordinance That Day

Supporters of an Our Town living wage ordinance will rally at City Hall as the Mayor and City Headlines get larger type fonts than text.
Council vote on the measure – the first of its kind in the state. Living wage laws raise the earn- Make them stand out and grab attention.
ings of certain workers above the poverty line. Without a living wage, some workers must toil at Sometimes reporters don’t get past the
two or three full-time jobs just to make ends meet.
headline and first paragraph!
WHAT: A rally on the steps of City Hall to coincide with the scheduled vote on the Our Town
living wage law. This vote culminates months of intense political debate between workers and
Subhead (or “stacked” head) further
those opposing the ordinance. The public hearing at City Hall that day, and the rally, will high-
light testimony from low-wage workers, social service advocates, clergy and an economist. frames the news and provides hooks.

WHEN: 10:30 am—12 noon, Saturday, June 17th, 2000.

Lead paragraph should catch attention,
WHERE: Our Town City Hall, 301 First Street frame and summarize event. Include as
WHO: Workers to be affected by the vote, leaders and members of local religious congregations, many hooks as possible (controversy,
unions, community groups, representatives of the living wage campaign. timeliness, first-ever, human interest, etc.).

WHY: “Our Town is ready to make history by passing a living wage ordinance,” said the Rev.
Robert Smith, pastor of Our Town Episcopal Church. “With a living wage, the workers serving Include only the “Five W’s:” who, what,
Our Town will earn enough to raise a family out of poverty. Everybody who works should not where, when and why. Don’t try to
live in poverty.”
explain everything in your release, let
VISUALS: Banners, signs, giant “Living Wage Paycheck” made payable to “Working Families them come to the event to get it. Include
of Our Town” enough information to interest reporters.
Include a list of speakers, if confirmed.
Make sure the day and date match, and
### the time is am or pm.

Include a photo-op to lure cameras.

Type “###” to indicate end of the advisory.

Winning Wages Media Kit 79

A colleague once summed up the importance of pitching with a small sign
he posted in the midst of a particularly demanding media campaign: “It’s the
follow-up call, stupid.” In other words, no matter how brilliant your message
or clever your frame, it is all irrelevant if you do not follow through with the
pitch call.

your fingers do the walking and your mouth does the

avvy living wage activists know a good story when
they see (or spin) it, and thus know what will inter- pitching.
est reporters. You most likely will find yourself pitch-
ing reporters to come and cover all the possible events
associated with your campaign, including the roll-out,
Tips for “The Pitch”
record-breaking number of supporters endorse the cam-
Offer reporters something they need
paign, new research and report released, and so forth.
Come rain or shine, the news goes on day after day. The
Pitching means “selling” your news story to a reporter
press is always in need of a good story—and you are in a
or editor. It typically is done over the phone, although
position to give it to them. Half the success of the pitch
reporters can be pitched in person at briefings or while
call depends on your confidence level; the rest will follow
they are covering other events.
with your messages and how you frame the issue.
Making the pitch call is something like telemarketing.
Remember, you need media coverage and the reporter
You are calling someone who is probably busy and dis-
needs news. However, don’t waste anyone’s time; pitch the
tracted—in this case a reporter or editor—in an attempt
press only when you have news.
to sell them
something they Keep it brief
The press is always in need of probably do not Reporters do not have time for long-winded calls. You
sound very will only have a few minutes to get their attention and
a good story—and you are in
interested in: capture their interest. Make certain your pitch contains
a position to give it to them. your story. It the who, what, where, when and why. Do not call simply
can be nerve- to ask if they received your media advisory. Pitch the
wracking. story, reference the media advisory or release, and offer
We have all been interrupted during dinner by a tele- to send it again if they have not seen it.
marketer from yet another credit card or long-distance
phone company. And we have probably all attempted to Begin with reporters you know
hang up as quickly as possible. On occasion, we might Target specific reporters with whom you have relation-
have spoken with the person for a few minutes—even if ships. If they have done a piece on your issue or a similar
we did not buy the product. subject, reference their prior work: “Hi, that terrific piece
Think about why you may have gruffly hung up on one you wrote last month made me think you might be inter-
caller yet listened courteously to another. Most likely, the ested in what’s happening next week.” At the very least,
caller who got your attention sounded target reporters in the relevant
human: relaxed, articulate and genuine section of the paper. Pick a
about the reason for the call. The callers Frame the story so it has section based on how you are
most easy to hang up on, on the other framing the news and call the
greater significance, drama, appropriate reporter. If you
hand, probably sounded like they were
reading from a script, droning on timeliness and impact for more must make a cold call, ask the
despite your protestations about being readers, viewers and listeners. general assignment editor or
in the middle of dinner. producer who you should con-
Believe it or not, your experience tact, then call that reporter.
answering the phone will help you when it is time to Offer a hook
begin calling reporters. Often, you will have no more than There are many tricks for making your story tantalizing:
a few minutes to convince the person that you have news. dramatic human interest, controversy, local angles, calendar
Here are some tried and true rules to bear in mind while tie-ins, anniversaries and other major events. Frame the

80 Winning Wages Media Kit

Pitching Your Story to the Press, cont.

story so it has greater significance, Close the deal

drama, timeliness and impact for more If it becomes clear that a Ask reporters if they are interested in
readers, viewers and listeners. The reporter is not interested, your event and whether they can
better you frame your news, the better come. Most will not immediately
the pitch, the greater your chances of consider a different angle. commit over the phone but they’ll
scoring a media hit. Remember, even if think about it.
you spark the reporters’ interest they
still have to sell the idea to the editors. So, help reporters Have one or two back-up pitch angles
out with better hooks and frames. If it becomes clear a reporter is not interested, consider a
different angle. Perhaps he or she cannot attend a media
Express enthusiasm event, but would be interested in interviewing one of the
You will compete with a long list of other callers when speakers at another time. A reporter might respond more
it comes to pitching local news. If you are not excited favorably to the human-interest angle of a story rather
about the story, neither will the reporter be. However, do than the political-controversy or business angle.
not go overboard with your enthusiasm. Give reporters the
necessary information, offer to provide more and get off
the phone.
More Tips for the Pitch:
Do not pitch more than one reporter at a news outlet
Be timely, not obnoxious
with the hope that at least someone will cover you. If you
Do not call reporters when you know they are on deadline.
do talk to more than one reporter, let them know.
If you get them at all, they will probably try to get you
off the phone immediately. Mid-morning and early after- Emphasize the visuals, especially for television.
noon are good times to make the pitch. Also, be sensitive
to reporters’ moods. If you sense they are rushed, offer If you get voice mail leave the basic information and
to call back later. At the very least, acknowledge their call back. Pitch the answering machine!
predicament: “Listen, I know you’re very busy; do you
If the reporter you call is not interested or on another
have a moment or should I call back later?”
beat, ask who you should speak to instead.


Pitching a story is sometimes as much about timing as it is about
framing and luck. Here are some tips for when to call a reporter:

Do not call reporters when you know Of course, if really big news is breaking, go It is not advised to call reporters on
they are on deadline. If you do get through ahead and call. Radio reporters might put it the weekend unless some big news is
to them, they will be irritated and will on immediately. That is one of the beauties breaking or you are checking whether the
quickly try to get you off the phone. A of radio news: It often is the first to run a media outlet is sending anyone to an event
reporter working on the next morning’s fast-breaking story. you have already pitched. Weekend shifts
paper will be crashing on deadline any A good time to call reporters is late might mean reporters with whom you do
time after 3:30pm. Television reporters will morning: about 10:30am. They have already not have regular contact and who may not
most likely be out of reach for the hour had their morning coffee, concluded their know you or the issue. On the other hand,
before they go on the air. So if your local daily planning meetings, and it is still too if your regular reporter contact is not
evening news starts at 5pm, avoid calling early for them to have gotten deeply around, pitch anyone who is interested.
reporters after 3:00 or 3:30. involved in other stories. The earlier in the
week the better.

Winning Wages Media Kit 81


edia briefings and editorial board reviews are important ways to educate
reporters, producers and editors about your news and give them a deeper
understanding of your issue. Living wage campaigns in particular could benefit
from briefings.
You can:
1. Help reporters and editors understand the complexity of the issue at a briefing.
2. Take the time to provide deeper background, history and trends, thus nuancing
their understanding of the complex issue.
3. Gauge their support or opposition.
4. Provide human interest and other hooks.
5. Frame the issue directly to the reporters. They are also a good way to turn
around bad coverage or negative editorials. You should consider editorial board
reviews as part of your media plan.

Most journalists welcome the opportunity to be

briefed, as long as you have news and are not wasting
Most journalists their time. Editorial review boards of major newspa-
welcome the opportunity pers—usually comprised of all section editors—welcome
the opportunity to engage in dialogue with reputable
to be briefed, as long as
community groups, even those with whom they often
you have news and are not disagree. At a minimum you should consider scheduling
wasting their time. a briefing at the start of your campaign and at signifi-
cant junctures along the way (after a vote, to inform
them of you follow-up strategy, for example) with your
major local daily newspaper or key TV/radio stations.

Media Briefings vs. Editorial Board Reviews

A media briefing is typically held with reporters, editors and producers. These are
the people who will cover your issue as news or as features. Media briefings are con-
ducted to pitch news stories, educate the news staff about the issue and upcoming
events, or challenge biased or inaccurate news coverage.
An editorial board review is held with both the governing body of editorial writ-
ers and editors who guide the editorial “voice” of the paper. Editorial board reviews
are conducted to persuade the media outlet to take an editorial position on your
issue, to run your “op-ed,” or to challenge regularly biased coverage.
Note: The editorial staff—those who manage the editorial pages, including editori-
als, op-eds and letters—is typically separate from the newsroom staff.

82 Winning Wages Media Kit

Organizing Successful Media Briefings and Editorial Board Reviews, cont.

Tips for Successful Media Briefings “Rehearse” the briefing with your side’s partici-

The following tips focus primarily on media briefings,

5 pants beforehand.

though the ideas offered here can easily be applied to an • Identify lead speaker to start briefing.
editorial board review. • Assign role to each participant.
• Limit yourself to no more than four minutes per person.
• Suggest story ideas as you speak. Reinforce key messages.

Schedule the briefing. Typically, briefings are held

1 before lunch, after the morning newsroom staff meet-
ings. They are often scheduled for mid-week. Call the man-

aging editor, key reporter contact, or section editor to

schedule the briefing.
1 At the briefing:

Schedule a briefing only when you have news of signifi- • Frame the issue for maximum impact and significance.
cant impact or about a major issue with the media outlet, • Communicate the key messages.
such as ongoing bias. Do not request a briefing simply to • Brief media on legislative or electoral measures,
inform them of the opening of your new office, for example. but do not give away strategic or confidential
Instead, you should use the briefing to inform, educate and information. You do not want your opponents to
pitch broader stories or provide background on emerging read about your strategy in the paper!
news. Briefing sessions usually last less than two hours. • Provide updates on news: “Since you last reported on
this issue...”.
Identify appropriate reporters, editors and producers
2 who should attend and invite them. These might
• Walk through a clear, brief overview of the main
issues and your position.
• Pitch your story ideas.
• “Beat” reporters covering your issue • Educate media about anticipated tactics and rhetoric
• Reporters with whom you have developed of opposition.
• Political or business reporters
• City Hall reporters (for City Council or mayoral matters) 2 Anticipate questions from reporters. This is where “Q
& A’s” come in handy.
• News editors
• “Page” editors: religion, editorial, state news,
Often stories will not come exclusively from the
lifestyle, etc.
• Managing and/or executive editors
3 briefing; then again, they might. Nevertheless, your
work to educate the reporters will pay off later as they
• Producers and executive news producers
cover the issue. Remember, though, that everything said
Identify who should attend from your side: the exec- during the briefing is typically considered to be “on the
3 utive director of your organization, director of living
wage campaign, representatives from knowledgeable groups
record” and can be used in a story.

Thank everyone for attending. If you made promises

(e.g., the national ACORN office), staff, board members,
community members, issue experts, author of news-making
4 during the meeting—“We can deliver the report to you
ahead of time;” or “If you want to talk to the community
report to be released, workers personally affected by issue.
person beforehand, we can make that happen.”—follow
Keep the number manageable—no more than five or six.
up and deliver on them. After the briefing, send out thank
Prepare the following “deliverables” to hand out at you notes.
4 the briefing:
• A press kit—even if they already received one in the
• Contact information of participants and organizations.
• Clips of previous coverage.
• Background fact sheets on issues.
• List of additional contacts.
• List of story ideas.

Winning Wages Media Kit 83

The most successful living wage campaigns create media events
that transmit the message of workers and capture the public’s
attention. This section offers tips, case studies and checklists for
capturing media attention at successful media events.

Press conferences vs. media events

here are “press conferences” and there are “media events.” In our experience,
reporters prefer “media events” to “press conferences.” It is more than a simple
semantic difference.
What to hold—a press conference or full-blown media event—depends on the
nature of your news and the appropriate venue for it.

Press conferences are typically Media events usually feature more

characterized by highly controlled, formal- spontaneity and contain an element
ized settings featuring official speakers of staging, drama, color, action and
delivering scripted comments, with a Q&A surprise. While press conferences can
session following, all usually held indoors present a visual image, media events
in an office-like space or briefing room. usually feature more photo opportunities
They often are called to respond to some and hence are more attractive to televi-
news development, such as releasing a sion. Media events are, well, events. They
statement, or they make news themselves, are staged. They feature groups of people
such as releasing a report or making a doing something visually interesting
newsworthy announcement. that symbolizes or evokes your message.
Typically decorations, speakers and
The pros of press conferences are: perhaps even street theater are featured.
1. Easier to manage and control infor- They are often held outdoors.
mation and message, and keep track of
reporters. Media events in general are more visual,
2. More professional and serious. spontaneous and dramatic, but harder to
3. Convenience of location. manage the many elements and more
difficult to control the message.
The cons of press conferences are:
1. Too managed, too serious, too
professional. Can be “dry.”
2. Reporters resist being kept track of, and
instead prefer the spontaneity of roaming
around to find new angles on a story.

The challenge is to find a way to dramatize and visualize your news to make it
more interesting and appealing to television in particular. Instead of simply releasing
statistics or a statement, organize a rally, vigil, protest or street theater action that
drives home your messages.

Keep the News Event Exciting

Media events come in many different forms—from huge marches and rallies to
modest but poignant vigils. From newsbreaking press conferences to fabulous photo-
ops. Whatever event or press conference you decide to do, the key is: do not bore the

84 Winning Wages Media Kit

Staging Media Events That Grab Attention, cont.

media. Make your event exciting, visually engaging and Good vs. bad news days. Schedule your event with
newsworthy. Your chances of attracting reporters will be the best timing in mind. Do not stage your events late in
much better. the afternoon or evening when many reporters are on
In his book, Making the News, A Guide for Nonprofits deadline. Mondays are not preferred because offices will
and Activists (Westview Press, 1998), media activist Jason be closed over the previous weekend and you may not be
Salzman writes: “Successful media events are, above all able to reach key reporters for a couple of days before the
else, entertaining. That event. Fridays are not so good either because the news
doesn’t mean amusing. may come out in Saturday’s media—the least read issue
Invest your news with In fact, some successful of the newspaper and the day everyone is at the beach or
creative flair and media events are some- working in the yard.
what disgusting. But
dynamic presentation whether amusing or
Good time for media events. Late morning for press
conferences is a good time; lunch hour if you are trying to
that attracts reporters disgusting—they are
attract participants to a rally; and midweek is good when
to your story. engaging, and that is the
other news may be slow. Of course, you can never really
key synonym for entertain-
predict slow news days. And the reality of your organizing
ment in the media.”
may dictate other times. Of course, the Internet has made
So, despite your best intentions, resist sponsoring a
breaking news dissemination so much faster, And radio
boring affair that disinterests reporters. Instead, invest
news can broadcast live almost any time of the day. Still,
your news with creative flair and dynamic presentation
it pays to be mindful of
that attracts reporters to your story.
news “windows” of times
to maximize coverage. If
Media events are
Staging Media Events and Press you must stage a rally labor intensive and
after work, for example, costly so conduct
at least do it during the
evening television news
them sparingly.
Hold them only when you have news. Reporters
dread news events in which no news is made. Do not so the stations can send Sponsor too many
waste reporters’ time with non-events, or events designed cameras for live coverage. events and reporters
simply to promote your name. Actually make news (new If held on the weekend,
make sure both key
will “cry wolf” and be
announcement, new report released, protest staged, etc.)
at your event. reporters who normally skeptical of your
work during the week and intentions.
Decide if you need a media event or not. Perhaps
the weekend crew know
you do not need a full-blown media event to make news.
about the event.
Depending on your story, a well-placed pitch phone call
Avoid being “bumped.” Check for competing events.
to a reporter, resulting in a feature article, may suffice.
Beware of scheduling your news event on days when other
Or place an opinion editorial. Media events are labor
major news will be made. For example, if the Pope or the
intensive and costly so conduct them sparingly. Sponsor
President is coming to your town, do not pick that day to
too many events and reporters will “cry wolf” and be
make news unrelated to their visits. Same goes for days
skeptical of your intentions.
when major local events will dominate coverage, such as
Determine whom the news is for. Before you make big civic parades or sporting spectacles. Your news event
news at your event you must target your audience. The most likely will be bumped off the pages and airwaves
audience for your news will determine what kind of event because of the competition for reporters’ time. Check
you stage and what media is invited. That means where community contacts, calendars or what else is happening
you stage the event, who speaks, what the banners look that day. Call around to other groups to see if they have
like and numerous other details will be influenced by your anything scheduled.
target audience. For example, say you want to involve
Keep the event short. About 30 to 45 minutes is the
young people in your living wage campaign. Events
length of a good media event. Press conferences that go
promoting youth-related messages will look and sound
past 30 or 40 minutes might lose reporters. Major rallies
very different from other kinds of events—say, staged at
of course may go on longer but reporters will get their
a location where young people congregate in a visual style
stories soon enough after the first few speakers and then
using youth-culture graphics—and will be designed to
head back to the news room for the write-up.
attract media that serves young people.

Winning Wages Media Kit 85


Staging Media Events That Grab Attention, cont.

Rallies and marches. If your event is a major, all-day If you must bring the story NOTE: Make the location
rally, march or similar gathering, stack the key messengers to reporters, symbolize the appropriate to the issue.
toward the beginning of the event and instruct them to location. For example, if you are The backdrop should
move the message from the stage. In fact, the very first calling attention to the plight symbolize and frame the
speaker—besides being the welcoming “host”—should of housekeepers and you can’t news, not distract from it.
communicate the key messages in his or her speech. After find a suitable hotel as a back-
the first few speakers, reporters may tend to drift away drop without driving for miles and miles, bring the house-
to interview other people. The rest of the speaker line-up keepers to City Hall in the form of workers, their mops and
may or may not be heard by reporters, but at least the dusters, sheets and laundry, and so forth.
messages were communicated at the beginning when Check reporters in and rope off media areas.
attention was highest. Have reporters sign in at a check-in table at both press
Location. Location. Location. Make your event conferences and media events. Hand them press kits and
convenient to reporters, yet dynamic and appropriate in schmooze them. Some press conferences may offer coffee
terms of backdrop. Do not make a pack of reporters travel or other refreshments to reporters. Do not offer anything
hundreds or even dozens of miles to get the story. Bring lavish. For big outdoor rally-type media events, inform
the story to them if you have to. The further away from reporters in advance in the media advisory the location of
their newsrooms, the more reluctant they will be to cover the press area—typically near the stage or the command
it unless the event is earth-shattering in importance. Keep center. Hang a big sign nearby that says “MEDIA.” At big
the event close to them and you will make their lives easier. events, section off a media chill-out area (affectionately

Virginia Living Wage Campaign media event

86 Winning Wages Media Kit

Staging Media Events That Grab Attention, cont.

called bull pens), where reporters can conduct interviews, ren-

dezvous with sources and generally hang out. The media chill TELEPHONE
area is a good place to have water and other refreshments NEWS CONFERENCES
and a cell phone. Control access to this area. Run your fea-
tured speakers through this area for media “availabilities” and
one-on-one interviews.
Excerpted from Fenton Fundamentals:
Set your speaker lineup. Limit your key speakers at press Communications News and Tips, 6/12/03,
conferences to three, four, or five maximum. The first speaker by Fenton Communications
welcomes, hosts, introduces other speakers and communicates
the key messages. Other speakers echo the message and add How can you get media all over your state or the
depth. At bigger outdoor media events, the first one or two region, or even the country, to cover your press
speakers are key and definitely should speak before others, conference? The answer may be sitting on your desk.
including performers or entertainers. If you have the lineup
set, publicize it to reporters in a media advisory. Hand out a Nonprofits and journalists are increasingly singing
list of speakers with short bios for each. the praises of telephone news conferences. Here’s
Typical speakers to include: how it works: organizations set up a toll free call for
reporters to dial-in. Typically reporters are provided
• An executive director or other key staff person, board
with background information on the speakers and the
member or designated spokesperson of your organiza-
issue in advance (either by email or via your website).
They simply dial in, hear the speakers, and ask
• A person or two representing the personal human inter-
questions. It’s that easy!
est (e.g., your “poster child”), specifically, a worker.
• A public official, celebrity, local politician or ally. The virtual press conference allows busy spokes-
• An “expert,” say, the author of the report you are people to avoid disrupting their schedules for a
releasing or the lawyer in charge of a case. physical press conference and reporters to listen and
type notes without leaving their desks. Plus, radio
If a politician is invited, they must be allowed to speak
reporters can get the sound bites they need right over
out of proper protocol (when do politicians ever pass an
the phone.
opportunity to speak?!), but usually they are not first in
the lineup. This strategy might be particularly useful for cam-
Your staff person who is handling media may open the paign kick-offs, release of major research and
press conference by making housekeeping announcements reports, and other news with widespread impact.
such as “pick up your press kits” or “we will start in five Telephone news conferences also provide a flexible,
minutes” or “hold questions to the end,” and then turn it rapid response to breaking news. You can still stage
over to the main speaker/host. the photo-op event for TV and photographers, but
Five minutes maximum for each speaker is fine. consider adding the phone press conference to the
Got too many “experts” who want to be visible at your mix. It’s all about making it easier for reporters to get
press conference, including every ally in your coalition, and your news.
afraid to hurt their feelings by saying no? Obviously they
cannot all speak, otherwise you will be there all day (and For calls with too many attendees or unfriendly listen-
reporters will leave). Feature your VIPs off to the side or ers, organizations can decide which participants can
arrayed behind the podium in a row of distinguished experts. ask questions, or you can control the invitation list.
These folks are introduced and offered for interviews and And following the call, you can purchase transcripts
statements after the press conference, but do not speak indi- or audio tapes of the call and receive a list of atten-
vidually. Their statements may be included in the press kit. dees for follow-up.

Practice your event. For press conferences, consider a For under $400 or so, telephone news conferences
“dress rehearsal” the day before with your speakers (at least can be a cost-effective strategy that makes things
those who can attend). Fire questions that reporters may ask easier for everybody.
at the speakers during the rehearsal, and test any audio visual
equipment you may be using.

Winning Wages Media Kit 87


Staging Media Events That Grab Attention, cont.


• Be mindful of diversity in terms of speak- speaking about it (“As this report shows for
ers at your press conference or media the first time...”) This gives photographers
event. Strive for a rich representation, an opportunity to take the picture. It may + News defined?
including people of color, age and gender feel awkward, like you are the product + Audience targeted?
diversity, as well as “types” of people showcase lady on the “Price is Right,” but + Messages honed (talking points scripted)?
(officials and regular folk). The idea of do it for the photo. + Location, time and date scheduled?
conducting a press conference that features + Room confirmed for press conference?
a line up of five white straight men is • Spin and schmooze reporters. Your media Space for media event?
almost impossible to imagine at this point. event is your time to shine, so personally + Calendar checked for conflicts?
Speaking at an official news event is an greet each reporter, make sure they have
+ Speakers identified and confirmed?
honor and carries with it community impor- statements and press kits, give them your
+ Media advisory drafted and sent to
tance and personal significance. Use your business card or contact number, ensure
position as a media activist to ensure those they are comfortable and taken care of, be
rarely represented in the media are, in fact, a resource for them in terms of securing + Deliverables produced (press kit, reports,
featured at your media events. interviews and other information, and keep videos, etc.)?
spinning the message to them. “Did you + Logistics team in place for media event
• The consensus among those working on hear so-and-so speak?” one media activist (security, crew, volunteers, etc.)
living wage campaigns is that workers are could be heard asking a reporter. “I thought + Decorations produced (banners, posters,
the best messengers for the campaign her message about so-and-so was so podium logo, charts, etc.)
message. Therefore, ensure a variety of strong and key.” This activist obviously is + Pitch calls to reporters made?
workers if you can, such as a mother spinning the message to the reporter + Dress rehearsal for speakers at press
struggling to make ends meet and take care following the event to make sure it was conference/media event?
of her family while working two full-time heard.
+ AV equipment secured for space?
jobs; and a father who isn’t at home enough
+ Refreshments confirmed (if ordered)?
because of his long hours at different low- • Hold questions to the end of the press
paying jobs. conference. Take questions one at a time
and either have the key host answer them At the press conference or media event:
• Decorate tastefully and appropriately. or pass the question to another speaker. + “Bull pen” media area roped off?
Create attention-getting visuals at your When you are finished end the press
+ Press kits stuffed and ready to be handed
media event that emphasize the story. For conference and thank reporters for coming.
outdoor media events, this could include Do not dally or speak off the cuff to fill time
+ Signage put up?
banners, signage and other large-scale —you may say something you wish you
decorative elements. For indoor press had not. + Media check-in sheet put out? Someone
conferences, consider charts, graphs or assigned to staff the check-in desk at all
blow-up photos and other graphics. Do not • Do your follow-up. After the event or times?
forget to put a copy of your group’s logo on press conference is not the time to relax + Speakers show up?
the front of the podium where cameras can even though you may be exhausted. Keep + Props and decorations in place?
see it. Put something on the wall behind the adrenaline running for a few more + Reporters greeted and checked in as they
you, a banner or a sign, for example, that hours. First, check the reporter sign-in list arrive?
contains your message in a couple of key to see who showed up and who did not. Call + First speaker starts on time (within 5
words or graphics. A word of caution: Don’t the no-shows and offer to courier over a minutes of scheduled time)?
go overboard in decorating your event to the press kit and pitch the story again. For key
+ Other speakers on time?
point that reporters can’t find the news reporters who did show, a follow-up call to
+ Q&A period starts?
through all the bric-à-brac. check in with them back at the office may
+ Follow-up spin after Q&A?
be appreciated. Do not abandon your office
• If you are releasing a report or other phone or cellular. Stay close to a phone + Follow-up work completed (no-shows
document at a press conference, hold the while reporters are writing the story on contacted)?
document up beside your head at the deadline because they may need an extra
podium for several seconds while you are quote or check a fact.

88 Winning Wages Media Kit

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. In the media, actually, a
picture speaks a million soundbites. For good or ill, one strong, well-
staged photograph can communicate volumes and move messages faster
than a dozen press conferences. Welcome to the world of photo-ops.

he much-maligned photo-op is often abused and charts, people, pets, politicians, props—that it is difficult to
misused. There are too many sparkling-teeth celebrities discern what the event is about. Do not go overboard and
“giving face,” and grip-and-grin politicians with big turn your news into an inappropriate three-ring spectacle.
hair. We need to reclaim the photo-op and make it ours! The messages should be enhanced by the photo-op, not
Staged media events and photo-ops are part and parcel obscured. And remember, if it is too gimmicky you may get
of successful, media-savvy economic justice and living wage a backlash from reporters.
battles. The urgent workers rallying for wages and benefits.
Make sure photographers and camera crews have the
The supportive clergy speaking out for living wages with
correct spelling of the names of people in the picture,
moral conviction. The neighbors and allies standing in
if possible. This is obviously not necessary for crowd shots.
solidarity. The impassioned elected official railing against
They should also get the press kit or press release explaining
economic injustice. The business owner receiving an award
the action.
for paying employees a living wage. All of these make
compelling images that spark emotion and awareness for Be mindful of camera angles, the direction of the sun
your issue. and the effect on lighting at outdoor events. Do not make
camera people shoot directly into the sun. Also, does the
backdrop “read” in your picture? In other words, can you
Tips for Better Photo-Ops: make sense of it?
One hapless group in Washington, D.C. staged their
First and foremost, always find ways to visualize your photo-op right at the base of the Washington Monument. All
news. Here is the blunt reality of how it works: No picture, you could see was some marble thing behind them. The
no image. No image, no television, no photographers. No inspiring structure they had desired was out of the picture
television, no thousands if not millions of audience members because they were too close!
seeing your message. Television in particular needs pictures. If you know a camera crew is on the way or you can
So, instead of just presenting talking heads in suits behind see a photographer running to catch your action, slow
podiums beneath bad fluorescent lights in boring office down. Give them time to set up and get the picture. Do
suites, create photo-ops for your news. not hesitate to stop the action or slow it down so cameras
Stage the photo-op with the message in mind. get the best image. Shameless manipulation of a dramatic
Visualize how everything will come together and look in picture? You bet! Some groups have been known to give
tonight’s TV news or tomorrow’s paper. How will the viewer TV crews and photographers maps with the best angles
get the one key message that drives home your point? Find and backdrops in advance to capture our rallies, caravans
the one visual metaphor that communicates the message. and marches.
Say what you will about President George Bush Jr., Let press know about “media visuals” by including
but his handlers’ ability to thoroughly (and sickeningly) them at the end of your media advisories.
stage photo-ops that focus on the message is striking.
The message (“Make the world safe against

weapons of mass destruction”) is in his
speech, on the banners behind the podium,
possible. Media
on the posters held up by the audience, and —What Is the Better Photo-Op?
events can be much
on the logo of the press kit handed to more exciting and
reporters. An important consideration is whether feature photo-ops, rallies, speak outs or
to stage a media event or a press confer- town halls. Unfortunately, public media
Do not overload the picture with too ence. Press conferences, usually events are more difficult to control and
much visual data, thus confusing the reserved for auspicious and official- can get sloppy if not carefully managed.
message. Some photo-ops have so much looking news making, are often dreaded But on the whole, highly visual and
going on—banners, flags, ribbons, posters, by reporters. They tend to be boring and galvanizing media events are superior
long. On the other hand, press confer- to press conferences in terms of both
ences allow you to control as much of the interest and impact.

Winning Wages Media Kit 89



From Media Advisory to Press Release to Headlines

he following case study

T illustrates the “arc” of spin

from media advisory to final
news coverage. It’s a good example
of how the news making process, as
facilitated by media “deliverables”
such as advisories and press releases
(printed here in their original
versions), can influence coverage.
The Northern Virginia Living
Wage Coalition staged a media
event featuring religious leaders and
other campaign supporters to mark
Labor Day.

• The media advisory sets the

stage and invites reporters to the rally
(it was followed up with phone calls).
The advisory moves the message:
“The workers who labor in service to
the residents of Alexandria deserve
dignity, respect and a living wage.”

• The press release was

distributed at the event and addresses
specific issues unique to the campaign.
It includes quotable campaign officials
and workers. Note how quotes by
Jon Newman, Living Wage Coalition
legal director, are lifted verbatim
and printed in the Gazette Packet
clip following.

• Three press clips on the

event are featured here, one from
the mainstream daily (Alexandria
Journal), another from the weekly
(Gazette Packet), and the third from
the local African-American media
(Washington Informer).


90 Winning Wages Media Kit


From Media Advisory to Press Release to Headlines, cont.



Winning Wages Media Kit 91


From Media Advisory to Press Release to Headlines, cont.


92 Winning Wages Media Kit


From Media Advisory to Press Release to Headlines, cont.


Winning Wages Media Kit 93


From Media Advisory to Press Release to Headlines, cont.


94 Winning Wages Media Kit


From Media Advisory to Press Release to Headlines, cont.

Winning Wages Media Kit 95

Releasing a report can be a good opportunity to attract the media to your
issue, providing there actually is news to be revealed. Reports and research
are important components of living wage campaigns and economic justice
struggles because they provide the factual data and “testimony” to make
the issue real and concrete. Reports provide information and facts, expose
controversy, contextualize issues into broader political and social arenas, assist
policy makers, chart trends and give voice to those affected.

any living wage and other workers’ rights and economic justice battles have
commissioned research into the subject or borrowed and customized already
existing data. One group released a report on the impact of living wage laws
throughout the state. Another released a “truth commission” report that exposed the
horrible lies of their campaign’s opposition. Whatever your report, they can be useful
to garner media attention, move the story forward in the public mind and educate
voters and elected officials about the issue. More importantly, they will communicate
your message and reinforce you frame.
There are specific ways to construct a report and release it to the media so your
message is communicated most effectively. The following are tips for making news
with reports.

Constructing the Report

First and foremost, the report should be easy to read and factually accurate.
All data should be corroborated and confirmed. The larger mainstream media outlets
will often have fact-checkers peruse the report for statistical accuracy. Make sure there
are absolutely no typos.

The report should conform to statistical and journalistic accuracy, but will
obviously reflect your spin. The goal of the report is to draw attention to the issue,
frame it for maximum media and political impact, move your messages and influence
policy. Balance the statistical portion of the report—which can be dry and numerical,
say, a tracking of wages for low-income workers over the
years—with aggressive, hard-hitting language that sum-
The goal of the report is to marizes your findings and communicates your messages.
draw attention to the issue,
Your report should advocate and educate. Not only
frame it for maximum media will community activists read it, but elected officials,
and political impact, move your policy-makers and reporters might, too. In fact, reporters
messages and influence policy. and officials are most likely your main target—prepare
the report with this audience in mind, not just with other
activists in mind. The tone of the report must communicate
academic integrity while maintaining a strong point of view. From the very beginning
of the report, in both its conceptualization and execution, design it to frame the issue
and advance your living wage campaign.

If the report is the first of its kind, say so. Call it “unprecedented,” “new,” or

Start with the title. Think about calling it something provocative and attention-
getting. Use a tag-line that frames the issue right from the beginning.

96 Winning Wages Media Kit

Making News With Your Living Wage Report, cont.

Keep it short. Long, thousand-page tomes will not be presents the findings of the report coupled with a photo-op
read by most reporters. A forty- to fifty-page document, rally and march would be a nice newsmaking package.
including the appendix, is a good read.
Determine the “scope” of the news. Is your news
national in scope with local tie-ins, or local in scope with
Releasing the Report national implications? Is it of interest to everyone in the
Do not let the beautiful report you produce collect dust. state or the region? The scope of news, along with your
You need an aggressive, proactive media plan to communi- budget and resources, will determine what kind of media
cate the report’s messages. Key points to consider when effort to unleash. In practice, living wage battles are more
planning for your media are: local in nature, with possible statewide or regional scope.
Other economic justice battles, in particular those that
Pick the appropri- address nationwide strategy or situations, might have nation-
Stage the news when you ate strategy for mak- al media appeal and scope.
ing news. Some
release the report and give
reports may require a
reporters a dramatic media more low-key Placing the Report with a Key
event to punctuate it. approach, such as Journalist
placing a story on the
report by briefing one Should you decide on the more subtle, strategic
or two cultivated reporters. Other reports deserve the full approach of placing the report to key journalists, you will
media spin treatment: press events, rallies, photo-ops, the most likely do so through a media briefing with the reporter
works. For most living wage battles, a press conference that or a collection of reporters and editors.

• Appendix: This closes the report. It usually
STRUCTURING YOUR REPORT includes charts, tables, graphs, press clips
SO IT IS EASY FOR REPORTERS TO READ and other information.

• Graphics: Consider having your report

• Cover: containing the title, tag line and • Overview Section: This is the main body
designed and professionally produced with-
name of the report’s sponsor. of the report. It typically contains: an elabo-
out going overboard. Why spend all that
ration on the findings; more in-depth facts
• Table of Contents: clearly annotated time and money only to produce a tacky-
and analysis; historical, legal and political
for ease of reading and finding separate looking document that poorly reflects the
contextualization; and a small, “greatest
sections. professionalism of your group, and will
hits” sampling of personal testimonials.
probably get tossed right into the trash?
• Executive Summary: This section should • Methodology Section: This provides all In addition to charts and other graphic
read like a press release. It is the first thing the logistical and statistical background on items, photographs and illustrations can
reporters will see and sometimes the only how you did the report. This will bolster the drive home the points made in your report.
thing they will read. The executive summa- factual integrity of your work. Include this
ry will frame the issue, summarize the As we said, just don’t go overboard. We
section in the Overview or right before it.
news, move your strategic key messages, have seen reports that looked like post-
present key findings and provide the most • “Profiles”: also known as personal testi- modern avant-garde design competition
important facts. It must be concise, rarely monials or a listing of case studies. This entries in which the news was way too
longer than two or three pages. The key often is the most dramatic section as it difficult to find buried amid all the type-
thing about the executive summary is that it highlights the impact of the issue on real faces, ding-bats and other graphic
will conclude something, like: “people who people. The stories of workers affected by goo-gaws. On the other hand, we have also
work should not live in poverty, and a living a living wage law would go here. seen sleep-inducing documents featuring
wage law in our town is critical”. It can con- page after gray page of type with no breaks.
• “Action” or “Recommendations”: This Did not a critic once say that the Left is its
clude anything you want it to conclude as
section concludes the main body of the worse enemy when it comes to packaging
long as you can back up the conclusion with
report. This is where you reiterate any calls its movement? Remember, “white space”
your data and evidence. The conclusion is
for action you have made in the executive is our friend.
your frame, your message, your advocacy.
summary and lay out the policy decisions
needed to fix the problem.

Winning Wages Media Kit 97


Making News With Your Living Wage Report, cont.

Sometimes you can do both: “leak” the news to one key reporter and
hold a media event to release it to everyone else. This is not entirely
deceptive and is commonly done. Some news-making reports are given to a A REPORT?
key media reporter who does an advance on it that comes out either the day
You will often provide an advance copy of
of or the day before your media event. This can fuel coverage of the news by
your report to key reporters. Many living
other reporters. This is called “pack journalism,” when reporters rush togeth- wage campaigns commission localized
er for a hot news story for fear of being left out. Of course, be aware that research that describes the impact of the
you cannot control exactly when, where or how the story will come out with issue on jobs, business, incomes and the
the original reporter, so there is some risk involved. economy. Quite often this may be the first
such survey in your area and naturally,
A word about “exclusives:” If you decide to go with the more low-key
media attention might be high.
release approach and give the report as an exclusive to one key reporter, be
prepared for the positive and negative fall-out. Positive: The exclusive results Giving your report to a reporter in advance
in the publication of a full article in advance that could trigger pack-journal- allows them to familiarize themselves with
ism coverage of your media event to release the report. Negative: The exclu- the data and do a better, more in-depth job
sive causes other journalists to be irritated, or worse. If they know they were of writing the story. The moment you give
intentionally scooped on a good story, you may have some feelings to attend reporters the news, they can technically run
to. Do not give an exclusive to more than one media outlet. If you are going with it—unless you embargo it.
to provide an exclusive, make sure it is to the right media outlet in terms of
size and reach of audience. To embargo your news is to place a
restriction on when the story can run—
10am.” Print it in big letters on the cover
and on all related materials.


If you decide on a full-fledged, multi-component media campaign
to release your report, consider these steps:
Reporters typically do not break embargoes.
If a reporter does break the embargo, be
prepared to: respond and voice your disap-
pointment; assuage other reporters that the
Produce a media kit that contains Why stop with just the media event?
1 the report, your press release,
supportive fact sheets and other
Go all the way with your media plan:
leak was not your fault; move on and ride
the story now that it is out of the gate—
• Conduct media briefings on living unless it can be contained.
materials. wage laws before the report is
If you live in a two-paper town—one with
Stage an attention-getting media released to make sure key reporters
2 event that visualizes the news.
This can be a press conference fea-
are prepped and have access to the
key facts and players, including the
morning and afternoon editions—be mindful
that a morning embargo may eliminate the
morning newspaper and allow the afternoon
turing key living wage campaign offi- author(s). paper to get the story first. On the other
cials, the author, leading politicians, • Write and place an opinion editorial hand, if you do not embargo a time and only
plus personal “testifiers,” to release in support of a living wage timed to a date, the morning paper can run the story
the report accompanied by a photo- come out on or close to the day you in its first edition, which probably comes
op: a rally, protest or some other release the report. out at about 5:30am—thus beating all the
event. Give the media—in particular competition.
• Pitch the story to radio and TV; book
television—something to tape or pho- yourself on local talk shows such as For those making news across time zones,
tograph. business shows or call-in programs. remember to take the different times into
account when setting the time for your
The point is, do not release your • Send in the letters to the editor to
embargo release. Also remember that radio,
report in some boring, fluorescent-lit keep the story alive for a few more
the fastest media after the Internet, can run
meeting room, with serious officials days.
with a story the moment the calendar turns
reading numbers and statistics as
to the date of the embargo—if there is no
reporters struggle to stay awake.
specified time-embargo. And speaking of
Stage the news when you release the the Internet, some online media will run a
report and give reporters a dramatic story almost instantaneously.
media event to punctuate it.

98 Winning Wages Media Kit


The following media advisory sample, created from materials of the Chicago Jobs and
Living Wage Campaign, highlights an important piece of research on local economic
RESEARCH MEDIA ADVISORY reality. The release event and findings of the report scored media attention, helped frame
the living wage battle and blunt arguments by the opposition.


Embargoed until: 10:30 am Contact: Nick Brunick (312)759-8248
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002 Doug Timmer (312)939-7488 • The Chicago study bases its
estimate on the officially recog-
nized costs of basic needs family
budgets in Chicago developed in
the 2001 report, “The Self
STUDY ON WHAT IT COSTS TO LIVE IN CHICAGO Sufficiency Standard for Illinois,”
Demands for $11.77 an Hour Living Wage Justified,
• These standards have been
says Advocates for Workers
adopted by various city agencies,
including the Mayor’s Office for
Workforce Development for con-
A new study that details the cost to live in Chicago will be released by the Chicago
tinuing eligibility for services at
Jobs and Living Wage Campaign. The Campaign says the study and its findings back
Illinois Employment Training
up their demands for a living wage for low-income workers in Chicago. The study
Center Unemployment Offices in
estimates the “self-sufficiency living wage” for Chicago in 2002 to be $11.82 an hour
Chicago, as well as the Workforce
with health benefits.
Development Office in its “City of
Chicago Income and Expense
WHAT: A press conference to release the report, “A Self Sufficiency Living Wage for
Calculator” on its website.
Chicago,” by Ron Baiman, Joseph Persky, and Patrician Nolan, all at the University of
Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development (UICCUED). • The UICCUED researchers
used 1990 and 2000 census data
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002, 10:30 am. to determine the average worker
in a working family household
WHERE: City Hall, 2nd Floor, outside City Council Chambers. in Chicago lives in a four-person
household with two earners,
WHO: The Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Campaign, including ACORN, SUIU one working full-time, the other
Local 880, Jobs With Justice, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and the working about two-thirds time.
Neighborhood Capital Budget Group.
• Based on this information, the
study conservatively determines
WHY: Based on estimates in the study, the Chicago Jobs and Living Wage
the wage that would be necessary
Campaign’s demand for an increase in the Chicago Living Wage to $11.77 an hour
for one and two-third’s earners to
with health benefits and $13.12 without is a fully justified first step that would still
cover the costs estimated in the
leave the living wage below the minimal wage necessary to support the most basic
“Self Sufficiency Standards for
needs of a family in Chicago.
Illinois” report for the lowest cost
four-person household type (two
For a copy of the full report, contact Doug Timmer at (312)939-7488.
adults, a preschooler, and a school
age child) and for the least expen-
sive area of Chicago (South and
West Sides, excluding Downtown
and selected North side areas).

Winning Wages Media Kit 99

You can use the media to communicate your message directly to
your audiences without relying on reporters to write stories.
This can be done with opinion editorials and letters to the editor.

p-eds, as opinion editorials are called, are often an under-used
device in your media toolkit—yet sometimes they are the most
popular part of the newspaper. Op-eds give you an opportunity to
move your messages in your own voice, in essay form, and in a way that
captivates and galvanizes audiences.
Op-eds provide excellent opportunities for living
Op eds give you an opportunity wage activists to communicate human interest,
facts, trends and advocacy for the issue. They
to move your messages in your are particularly useful to give voice to real workers
own voice, in essay form, and in affected by the issue. You can help a worker write
a way that captivates and one, or “ghost write” one for their signature.
Letters to the editor, while often “reactive”
galvanizes audiences. to news already reported, can keep the story alive
and the debate raging. Journalism is one of the rare
professions in which controversy is good. Reporters get
“extra points” when their stories spark debate. A furious “letters war”on
the letters-to-the-editor page warms the hearts of reporters and delights
editors. Among other things, it means people are reading the paper. But
for you, this gives your news “legs”: The story keeps running long after
the initial media event was covered.
Letters “echo” the message by appearing soon after a news story
about the issue. They can refute mistruths of the opposition. They can
help gauge the “temperature” of the populace.

NOTE: Op-eds and letters to the editor are different than editorials. Editorials
are positions the media takes on particular issues; they are generated by the
editorial department of the media outlet. You may influence the media outlet’s
position and urge it to editorialize on an issue but you never write the editorial.
You write the op-ed or letter to the editor. There are also advertorials—market-
ing pitches cleverly disguised as editorials by companies selling something—
and infomercials—sales pitches disguised as news articles. Advertisers will pay
for these pieces. Op-eds and letters are free.


100 Winning Wages Media Kit

Opinion Editorials and Letters to the Editor, cont.

Tips for Writing Opinion Editorials Tips for Writing

Make them personal, not academic. For op-eds with
Letters to the Editor
lots of numbers and statistics, boil the statistics down to
Make them short and very concise: 150 to 200 words,
the core, most important numbers, feature them first, then
or less than one typed, double-spaced page. The sentences
sprinkle in human interest language that makes the numbers
and paragraphs should be even shorter than in op-eds.
“real” in terms of how it affects people.
Write no more than three or four short paragraphs.
Determine who is the best “voice” for the op-ed.
Is it your executive director? Notable community leader? The first paragraph cites any previous coverage of a story:
Campaign leaders? Community spokesperson personally “In the January 2 issue of The Daily Courier you reported
affected by the issue? Worker who makes poverty wages? that our Chamber of Commerce was trying to derail a
Local union rep? Local or national celebrity? Clergy? local living wage ordinance...”.
Business rep? The second paragraph introduces something personal and
states your side of the argument: “As a person born and
Write concisely: 500 to 800 words will usually do the
raised here in Our Town and who currently works long
trick. Check op-ed length restrictions in your local paper.
hours a very little pay, I believe that...”.
Use short sentences and short paragraphs—usually no more
than three short sentences per paragraph. The third paragraph moves the key messages—the same
ones communicated in your press releases.
Compose a captivating lead paragraph to catch
The fourth and final paragraph gives a “kicker” to the letter.
readers’ attention.
Sign all letters and provide a phone number.
Frame the issue within the first three paragraphs.
Most media will not run unsigned letters and will call to
Communicate your messages soon after framing the verify their authenticity. If confidentiality is an issue you
issue. One entire paragraph should be just your messages. may request that your name is withheld from publication.
Repeat your messages at the end. However, first check your local paper’s policy on this.

Elaborate on your points and always keep the reader Personalize the letter! The best letters are those
engaged. Among other things, do not go down tangents that containing attention-getting information.
load the piece with technical jargon.
Submit the letter via postal mail, fax or e-mail,
Cite compelling examples or heart-tugging anecdotes depending on your local media’s preference. It is not
to reinforce your position. Stories of workers toiling in two necessary to contact the editor numerous times to check on
or more jobs just to make ends meet while they don’t have the status of your piece. This annoys editors. One friendly
time for their families will engage readers. “heads-up” call is sufficient.

Irony and sarcasm are often lost on readers, Remember that space is limited on the letters page;
and on editors. not every piece will run. Write your letter in a hard-hitting,
personalized and concise manner. The chances of it running
Make the op-ed timely. Do not write about something are much greater that way.
that is old news or off the media radar screen.
Consider writing “boiler plate” letters—standardized
Pitch the op-ed to the opinion editorial or editorial letters—that community folks in your “letters tree” can
page editor. Call first to gauge the interest; then fax or customize with their own personal information.
email it. Follow up to make sure the it went through and ask
if the paper is going to run it. Do not submit the op-ed to Encourage members of your community to write
competing media. Go with your best shot first; if that does letters. Some people are letter factories and will submit
not work, try another media outlet or rewrite it. one after another. Do not go overboard, but keep the
letters coming.
Make certain the editor has your contact name
and number. Finally, remember that letters to the editor are one
tool in your media kit. They are not the be-all and end-all
If you get the paper to run the op-ed on the day of of your media plan. Scoring a letter is valuable, but not as
your big press conference, a big gold star to you! valuable as the front page feature and the op-ed. Go for
the grand slam: a feature, an op-ed, an editorial and a slew
of letters!

Winning Wages Media Kit 101


SAMPLE OP-ED SUBMISSION This op-ed, submitted in response to hostile coverage, by pro-living wage
Brennan Center in the Sacramento campaign, is a good example of blunting erro-
neous arguments from the opposition.

Nathan Newman 212-992-8638

Associate Counsel

Submitted to the Sacramento Bee

March 19, 2003

Poverty Wages are Poor Economic Strategy

By Nathan Newman

Mark Paul (March 9 “Living wage would shrink Sacramento Economy”) is promoting a perverse
economic development strategy for Sacramento: generate poverty level jobs so the city can haul
in federal aid for city residents.

His argument is that the proposed city living wage ordinance would raise too many people out of
poverty. In Paul’s view, it would cost the city Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) money and food
stamp spending previously received by residents who will now be able to take care of their fami-
lies without federal help.

The germ of truth in Paul’s argument is that many federal programs do “phase out” as people earn
more money, so a dollar of extra pay does not translate into a full dollar of extra income after lost
benefits are calculated. But with a living wage, workers still end up with more pay, despite that
poor design in federal aid programs.

And Paul’s argument that a living wage just substitutes local public money for federal money
ignores two big issues.

First, as a soon-to-be-published report by the Brennan Center for justice shows, cities with living
was ordinances have found that city contractors, not city budgets, have absorbed a large portion of
the cost of pay voices. Hayward’s auditor concluded that service contractors changed their pay
scale to comply with the living wage requirements without demanding an increase in the contract
prices from the city. Similarly, San Francisco found that for-profit contractors typically paid the
living wage requirement without complaint or a request to modify the contract with the city.

Second, targeting city economic development subsidies to firms that pay a living wage does not
cont the city a dime. Ensuring that the city’s scarce economic development dollars are used to



102 Winning Wages Media Kit


Sample Op-Ed Submission, cont.

create better-than-minimum wage jobs is a pure gain for poor communities in Sacramento, since
residents will now have more money to spend at local stores or pump into the local housing
market. If the city is going to subsidize development (and company profits), the least the city
should expect s that the jobs generated pay a decent wage.

But Paul, a self-admitted “hopeless policy wonk” misses the bigger story of the living wage,
which is that across the country, businesses are being forced to justify why they are paying
poverty wages anywhere. As hundreds of cities are in the process of debating and passing such
ordinances, their impact is having a far greater impact on policy, both locally and nationally,
than the direct jobs targeted.

Paul in fact acknowledges this in discussing the proposed “Direct Connect” program. That
initiative would reach out to thousands of low-wage workers around the city who won’t benefit
from the living wage itself, but could be encouraged to sign up for federal and state aid programs
that would help raise their incomes and bring money into the city as a bonus. It sounds like a fine
program (and a good complement to the living wage ordinance), but as Paul admits, the Chamber
of Commerce only came up with the idea “spurred by the living wage.”

And this is the point. Living wage ordinances are “spurring” a range of additional policies across
the country to address the needs of the working poor.

There are problems with how national EITC and food stamp programs “phase out”, but by
passing a living wage ordinance, Sacramento will add to the chorus of voice across the country
demanding that those programs be reformed. As an example, the Economic Policy Institute has
proposed a relatively simple integration of the EITC and child credit deductions that would
largely eliminate the phase-out program.

So instead of promoting poverty wages in Sacramento, maybe Mark Paul and the Chamber of
Commerce should be urging national business leaders to support those national reforms.

Nathan Newman, Ph.D., is associate counsel and policy analyst for the Brennan Center for
Justice at NYU Law School.


Winning Wages Media Kit 103


SAMPLE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR These letters to the editor, and an op-ed, from the Flinthills, Kansas
Living Wage Coalition are good examples of how local residents frame the
issue, add personal human interest, and respond to the opposition.

104 Winning Wages Media Kit



Winning Wages Media Kit 105




106 Winning Wages Media Kit



Winning Wages Media Kit 107

Radio and TV talk shows can give you a powerful platform to
communicate your messages. On the other hand, doing the talk show
circuit—especially the “shock news” programs—can be unnerving to
say the least. By all means, if you have the tough skin, do the shows.
Here are some tips for enhancing your performance. Also, consider
placing your living wage spokespersons—particularly workers—on the
shows after practicing with them to ensure they are on message.

Tips for Speaking on Radio and TV Talk Shows

Remember, most point-counterpoint talk shows are all heat and no
light—and that’s the nice shows! The shock-jock shows are all flame. In
other words, expect confrontation that will most likely not be in the form
of a polite debate. In fact, producers want the heat. The more sedate shows
will allow debate and point-counterpoint statements. The talk shows want
the drama! So brace yourself.

Be prepared. What do you know about your NOTE: Don’t try to refute
opponent? Can you get any dirt (what businesses point for point your
“own” them, for example)? Anticipate your opposition’s arguments
opposition’s arguments and be ready with pithy, because then you let
quick responses. them control the debate
and take the proactive
Be poised, comfortable and confident.
strategy while you get
The audience will better relate to you.
off your own message.
Be brief. You will not have the opportunity
to educate everyone about all of the fine points
of your issue so do not even try. Get to the point fast and stay on message.
If you can communicate three points during a 30-minute show you will have
done a good job.

Humor goes a long way. If you can inject some in the form of a funny
soundbite or disarmingly glib quote, go for it. You will probably win over
audience members.

Be forceful. Do not wait for “your turn” to speak. Jump in and mix it
up. Score a few zingers and your opponent will become destabilized.

Try not to be a policy wonk on the air. Personalize your statements

with some warmth or friendly candor; it will win the studio and television
audience to your side.

Most importantly, focus on key messages. Since you will have only
a few times to actually speak—and then for only a few seconds—have your
messages in mind before going on the air and stick to them. Discipline
the message. Do not let your opponent “shock” you with some outrageous
statement designed to pull you off message. Do not try to answer every
point and counterpoint. Instead, stay on message.

108 Winning Wages Media Kit

Television is the most powerful medium, reaching the most people. It is
imperative to score TV coverage for your news. Your events should be
designed with photo-ops in mind. Your performance on television will carry
tremendous weight. It will give you an extremely powerful platform from
which to communicate your messages. Folks watching at home may not
know the intricacies of living wage law, but they can’t help but be moved by
the televised drama of workers making poverty wages and the determination
of those same workers to improve their lives and attain economic justice.

Tips for Being on TV

Fashion tips: For serious news—such as releasing FASHION ALERT: Always wear
a new report—avoid garish costumes, bright patterns, what is appropriate, will present
clashing colors and big jewelry. If you feel comfort- you professionally, and will not
able in a suit or suitable “business” attire, it pays to distract from the news. Skip the
wear it for the more formal events. For news made at buttons and political pins since
rallies, vigils and other spontaneous events, clothing nobody will be able to read them;
can be more attention-getting or at least regular viewers will just wonder what
street clothes. dropped on your lapel. Of course,
if “street theater” is involved to
Use makeup if necessary. If you get lucky and dramatize your news, costumes
book yourself on consecutive studio talk shows, apply are appropriate.
foundation or powder—to keep you from “shining”
—before making the rounds.

Use natural hand gestures that do not distract. Well-placed hand gestures will
visually punctuate a point. But be careful, do not go overboard. All anyone will notice
are your hands flapping around wildly.
Avoid the “fig leaf” position—hands overlapping each other
in front of your crotch. Do not put your hands in your pockets;
Well-placed hand it makes you slouch and is bad body language. Do not stand “at
attention” with your hands firmly locked behind you; this is too
gestures will visually
stiff and too formal. Keep your hands relaxed at your side or
punctuate a point. better yet, gesture softly with them.
But be careful, do People of faith are terrific at hand gestures. Watch the tele-
vangelists to pick up some pointers. Clergy members naturally
not go overboard.
bring their hands together, open their palms warmly, touch their
hearts and thrust their fists. Take note. It looks great on TV!

Nervous “twitches” are magnified. Every blink, “uh,” “um,” “duh,” “ya know,”
and “like...” will be highly distracting.

Relax. Ground yourself. Breathe. Try to remain composed and poised.

If you make a mistake, stop and start over—unless, of course, it is live TV.
If it is being taped, just do another take if you stumble. But do not take all day.
The reporter will probably get impatient. If it is live, just keep going and don’t point
out your mistake (unless it’s a factual error).

Winning Wages Media Kit 109


Smile, You’re On Camera, cont.

Add a personal inflection to your quotes. Let something

personal—a spark, a warm intimacy, a poignant sensitivity
—come through your eyes. That is where the audience will
be looking. One seasoned activist
and veteran of TV soundbites
One seasoned can make his eyes moist on
activist and veteran command. Hey, if it works on TV,
why not?
of TV soundbites
can make his eyes Do not look at the camera;
look at the reporter. Reporters
moist on command.
want an informal, conversational
Hey, if it works on tone. The exception to this rule
TV, why not? is if you are being “patched in”
from one studio to another. If
that is the case you will stare at
a camera, its red light glowing, with a microphone hidden in
your ear and a disembodied voice whispering cues to you
from some invisible command center. Try to look natural and
sparkle for the camera.

Do not be distracted by the reporter or the crew.

Even if all hell breaks loose behind you at some public
rally—or the reporter keeps looking at her watch or
writing in a notebook—stay focused on communicating
your messages.

Do not repeat the question in your answer or use the

words of your oppressor in your soundbite. For example,
do not emphasize in your valuable air time all the arguments
the opposition makes against living wage laws. Stick to your
own message, not their’s.
Also, do not take up valuable soundbite seconds to state
your name and organization in your quote. Your name and
affiliation will be included; either it will be superimposed
beneath you on the screen or the correspondent will inject it.

Most importantly, respond with your key messages.

Make sure you get the message out no matter what the
question is. Do not let the question throw you off.
Discipline the message.

Remember, the viewing audience is the target

—not the journalist, the camera crew or the studio staff.
Therefore, do not address the reporter personally. Leave the
“happy talk” to the anchor people. Even though you are
looking at the reporter and not the camera, use your voice
and presence to reach right into the living rooms, bars, city
council chambers and other places and proudly proclaim that
we need a living wage law now!

110 Winning Wages Media Kit

Excerpted from Making Radio Work for You, published by the Families USA Foundation.

Radio is an important tool in making the voices of workers heard throughout the land.
Radio actualities allow you to compose and pitch your own radio news “stories” that
sound just like a reporter did them instead of you. Consider this as part of your overall
campaign strategy. For example, you might want to launch your campaign with a short
radio piece dramatizing the plight of workers who must work two or three jobs just to
make ends meet. You can include their actual voices in your actuality, then send it to
radio stations around the area. Interested? Read on.

f you could stir them from their sleep and speak to thousands of your fellow
citizens as they get ready for work in the morning, or have their undivided
attention as they drive to their jobs, you would probably think it was a
great opportunity to inform them about an important issue of the day that
could affect their lives.
With radio news, often heard through
alarm clocks, in car radios and on people’s
Whether it’s heard through an alarm clock, desks at work, one can do just that.
over coffee and toast or through car Many Americans get their news from
radios, most Americans get their morning the radio. In fact, Americans listen to the
radio about three hours per day, on aver-
news from the radio. Half of Americans age, according to the Radio Advertising
listen to the radio at work, while three out Bureau. Whether it’s heard through an
of four adults listen in their cars. alarm clock, over coffee and toast or
through car radios, most Americans get
their morning news from the radio. Half
of Americans listen to the radio at work, while three out of four adults listen in
their cars.
While some stations have “all news” or “all talk” formats, many more incor-
porate news into their regular broadcasts, with newscasts at the top and bottom
of the hour (on the hour and half hour). These newscasts are often a combina-
tion of national news from a news service such as ABC or UPI, and local news
produced by the station. The local newscasts can be an important media target
for an advocacy organization with news to convey.
Radio news reaches many Americans in unique and powerful ways. This
important segment of the media should be incorporated into a comprehensive
media outreach campaign.

There are essentially three ways in which an

advocacy group can get its news on the radio
First, it can try to get radio stations to send someone from its news
department to cover the media event (news conference, rally, etc.).
Unfortunately, this approach is limited, as only the biggest news radio stations
have more than one person on their news staffs.

Winning Wages Media Kit 111


News Radio, cont.

Second, an organization can try to get members of Actualities are created at a recording studio and
the news staffs at local radio stations to conduct short professionally transferred onto audio cassette tapes that
interviews by phone with the group’s spokesperson about —with the use of inexpensive equipment—can be recorded
the event. This is also a better strategy with stations with by radio stations from your telephone. To deliver an
slightly larger news staffs, since they can afford the time actuality, someone must call the news department of a
it takes to conduct a short particular radio station, successfully pitch the story, and
“newser.” It is also limited by play the tape until it completes its run, usually about
Radio actualities how much time a spokesperson sixty seconds. After rewinding the tape, the process is
are essentially can spend on the phone on the repeated at other stations.
day of an event, when the news Radio actualities are a fairly inexpensive and very
mini-press releases effective way to get a message out to a broad cross sec-
is timely.
for the radio. tion of people in a state. The organization writes, records
For a news story with a and disseminates the actuality, thereby retaining control
statewide or larger focus, of the message.
there is a third approach: Radio actualities, also known Professional radio actuality makers can be retained
as radio newsfeeds, allow an organization to reach many by activists to record, write and disseminate the item.
radio stations in one morning with a pre-recorded news Those living wage groups who don’t have the necessary
story. This cost effective approach also has limitations. equipment or time should consider retaining a pro. For a
Usually, the biggest news stations will not use actualities, surprisingly low rate you can blanket your state with your
as they consider them spoon-fed news. Some of the message via radio actualities.
smallest stations do not have the equipment necessary
to record actualities over the phone. This leaves a large
number of mid-sized stations to target for actuality See the “Resources” section at the end of this kit for more
distribution. information on radio actuality consultants.
Radio actualities are essentially mini-press releases for
the radio. Just like a news story that airs on the radio, For an online copy of the guidebook, Making Radio Work For
they include an announcer summarizing the story and You: An Advocates Guide On How To Use Radio Actualities
introducing the spokesperson, who delivers a colorful and Talk Radio To Move Your Agenda Forward, go to:
“soundbite” about the story, including any appropriate
data being released. Publications_Radio_Guide

112 Winning Wages Media Kit

By Max Toth, adapted from a piece by Holly Minch of the SPIN Project

What is the ‘Net useful for, and what it is not? With the unceremonious
collapse of the “Internet economy” in our recent memories, gone are the
days when it was assumed that the Internet would be the answer to every
communications strategy. As the dust settles, it’s useful to sort out what
the ‘Net is useful for during living wage media campaigns.

ltimately, the Internet is not a replacement for on-the-ground, brick-and mortar
communications work: you must still develop a local, targeted press list, develop
relationships with reporters and key constituents, create different angles and
frame for different audiences. It is also still a limited audience—the digital divide still
exists, so your press releases
on the net will be for those For more information on the digital divide, see:
who can afford computers and
Internet connections.
The Internet is, however, a useful tool in a broad media strategy and your
organizing work. In this piece we explore its uses throughout your campaigns.
All the questions, considerations, and framing that apply to the on-the-ground
media campaign apply for the Internet. We would suggest that it’s most effective to
weave Internet use into your overarching media strategy where it is most applicable:
using the ‘Net’s flexibility and speed to strengthen your existing communications work,
and its archival capacity to help reporters research and get background information
on the issue.

Starting Out—How the Net Can Be Useful

The Net can be useful to consider in the initial strategy of your media campaign.
Several considerations about your campaign planning may be in order. There are five
main areas the Internet can be a valuable tool:

1. Your campaign’s website.

2. Web research and archive, including press tracking, general living wage
information, opposition research, etc.
3. Web news, including an on-line press room.
4. E-mail—press lists, listservs.
5. Practical considerations—fax software, publishing online to save money.

Your Campaign on the Web: The Basics

If you have computers and Internet access, it is key that your organization have
a relatively up-to-date website. Strategically, your organization’s website should
reinforce your living wage campaign. Either have a section of the site devoted to your
campaign or have a site that is only about the campaign.
But a website is only as useful as it is known and current. If it is fabulous,
extensive, glossy and full of resources, but you never mention it to reporters or
members, it’s being wasted. Conversely, if your website has the wrong phone number
or the “new!” section contains links only from your campaign kick-off two years ago,
it hurts your strategy more than it helps.

Winning Wages Media Kit 113


Living Wage Media Strategy Online, cont.

Therefore, at a bare minimum, it must have accurate These are all examples of web-based communications
contact information, such as your organization’s address, strategies. Depending on who you want to draw where, the
phone, fax, relevant email and updated staff lists. basic tenet is: make it obvious. If you want reporters visit-
Reporters doing research must ing the site to see your press hits, make them be either on
have some way to contact the home page or provide a clear link to them. If your
At a bare minimum, you. Consider this as impor- audience are fellow organizers just starting out on a cam-
tant as having your informa- paign, draw their attention to “Top Ten Things to Know
your website must tion on a press release. If about a Living Wage Campaign Strategy” page. But what-
have accurate contact people can remember your ever you do, make sure it pushes your message about liv-
information, such as organization’s name, they can ing wage. (For more living wage websites, see the Resources
look you up in a web browser. section of this kit.)
your organization’s Give them some way to con-
Push vs. pull
address, phone, fax, tact you.
One of the key strategic One of the key strategic
relevant email and Stick to the message decisions you must
decisions you must make
updated staff lists. Your website should always make in using the web
reinforce your message. If to communicate with in using the web to
your materials aren’t driven your audience is how to communicate with your
by your campaign or organizational message, you are prob- get your information in
ably wasting a great opportunity to advance your media front of the right peo-
audience is how to get
strategy and help your campaign. It also greatly depends ple. Should you push your information in front
on the audience for whom you are creating the site. Are your information at of the right people.
you an organization for whom a living wage campaign is them via listservs and
part of your broader, overall work? Or are you a coalition email? Or, is it better to
that has formed around a living wage struggle? The web pull your audience to your website, where they can get the
strategies will be different depending on your campaign’s information they want when they want it? It all depends
situation. in the initial contact. You could create a site that highly
encourages people to join a listserv, or your initial email
to someone could give them instructions for how to join
For example, the Santa Fe Living Wage Coalition uses
your list, with minimal reference to your website.
its website for conveying information to supporters an
constituents familiar with their campaign:
An example of a dual strategy is Progressive Maryland’s
home page: it has a running list of press hits and recent news
They also have a list of recent press hits related to the on the home page, with a link for supporters to join an email
campaign: listserv:

Whereas the Flinthills Living Wage Campaign begins by Working Partnerships, on the other hand, clearly draws read-
making the basic argument for a living wage on their home- ers to join their “email updates” list:
page, seeking to convince readers and potential supporters
right off the bat:

The Latin American Worker’s Project website is more targeted More On the Website:
toward constituents, and consequently is a monolingual
Keep It Realistic
Spanish site:
Do you have the staff capacity to maintain the site on a
ACORN, being a large organization, has a section devoted regular basis? If you’re struggling to update an already-
to their living wage campaigns that is easily reached from existing site, creating an online press room may not be
the front page, and that information is geared towards an the best strategy for you. If it is out-of-date, it could
audience looking for basic information about living wage. appear worse than simply providing a way for reporters to
They have another website entirely for the Living Wage contact actual people at your organization who can fax
Resource Center, which targets organizers of living wage the latest press release or media advisory. If your organi-
campaigns across the country: zation does have the capacity and is ready to incorporate
more elaborate designs, here are some options to consider:

114 Winning Wages Media Kit

Living Wage Media Strategy Online, cont.

Online Press Rooms Tracking your Coverage Online

An online press room can be simply a list of web-based Use a search engine to see what kind of press your organi-
articles where you’ve received (hopefully favorable) cover- zation is getting. Many of the sites referenced above have
age, but it can also be a resource for reporters visiting a list of press hits sorted by date and headline. It is rela-
your site. You can provide information reporters can use as tively easy to perform a search online—just go to your
valuable background to whatever story you’ve pitched favorite web browser (we prefer because of
them on. the lack of advertising) and type in key words that might
get you what you’re looking for. The more unique the
For example, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers website words, the more likely you are to find what you’re looking
includes an extensive list of press coverage, the latest news for. You can also combine search words. For example, while
on their protests, and photos of actions from across the conducting researching for this article, we needed to find
country, often with video coverage: organizations’ websites. The Google results for the phrase “POWER”, include (as you can imagine) many different
sites, from science and technology sites to electronics
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) has a
repair advice. But when the phrase is “People Organized to
directory of press releases, video coverage, reports, and
Win Employment Rights,” POWER’s website is the first link
news hits in easy-to-navigate sections:
on the list:
Similarly, if you know the outlet a reporter who cov-
Here’s a list of potential items you could include in
ered your campaign was from, you can go to that outlet’s
your online press room:
website and use their web-based search function to look
• Press releases for articles. If you know the title of a previous article you
• Speeches can type in your organization’s name and a couple of key
• Statements words from the title and
• Press kits see what it turns up. You
• Photos for downloading and printing purposes can search by the Use a search engine to
• List of and contact info for spokespeople reporter’s name and the see what kind of press
words “living wage,” and
• Bios of spokespeople, with quotes where applicable your organization is
• Fact sheets and/or Q&As see what they’ve covered
• Archives of past media materials thus far. Sometimes it’s getting. You can search
• Reports with executive summaries good to start vague and by the reporter’s name
see what information
• List of supporters/endorsers of your campaign and the words “living
• Links to other living wage resources for reporters about your organization
• Video and audio recordings of recent press events, is online. Odds are, you’re wage,” and see what
if your web-hosting has the capacity to provide it going through the same they’ve covered thus far.
process a reporter would
Offering to help reporters with the background infor- use to find background
mation they need for full-length articles is a great way to information. It’s good to see how easy/difficult it is to
ensure informed (if not favorable) coverage. find that information, and what else comes up in the
process. Plus, you can correct any fact errors with
Website and Media Events reporters and track your opposition and how they are
Your website can promote media events and offer back- framing the news.
ground information on all materials you’ve published. You
can also easily publicize your news releases, media events,
and photos from photo-ops by posting them to your web- Online Research
site. Consider posting transcripts from speeches given at What’s News?
the event. Artwork (pie charts, graphs, etc.) used at the What are the hot topics on local, national, international
press conference is good to post. For upcoming events, news? It’s good to monitor the “news cycle” and see
include you media advisory promoting the event with a what’s of interest, what’s making the headlines so you
link to get more information. Always make sure the who, know how to frame your news in terms of current events.
what, where, when and why of the event is posted. The As the web becomes a more popular and better-used
web is a great way to move your message after the event. communication medium, media outlets have created

Winning Wages Media Kit 115


Living Wage Media Strategy Online, cont.

corresponding we sites. These can be used to search for

your press coverage and to see where the news cycle is Pacific News Service ( is
prior to planning a media event (or when getting ideas an alternative news site, and the publisher of YO! Youth
for hooks). Outlook Magazine.
ZNet ( offers coverage of social change
Online news sources: tracking the news
movements around the world.
News on the web largely mirrors news in the print and
broadcast world. ColorLines ( magazine is a publi-
cation of the Applied Research Center centered on race and
Media outlets–such as these listed below— all provide organizing.
content to web news sites and search engines with “news” The Independent Media Center (
sections, and have sites of their own that provide content was created as a way for activists to communicate during the
to print media: 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, and has quickly grown in one of
Associated Press: the best news sources on globalization, with local chapters
Washington Post: around the world.
USA Today:
General Media Resources and examples
For the most part, looking up information is as easy as
Because of the Net’s speed and flexibility, web news typing it into a search engine, or going to the main page
sites often have a story before the item has even hit the of the media outlet and using their search functions to
newsstand. Stories have increasingly been broken online find it. Related links to help you track news and stay
before hard copy. In many cases, however, the websites current in a news cycle that moves at the speed of light:
are running content
provided by the tradi- Breaking stories from the Associated Press:
If you want to see your tional wire services
(such as AP and
story “featured” on the Reuters). If you want
The Washington Post has an excellent search engine for
several wire services:
front page of one of the to see your story “fea-
major information search tured” on the front
Reuters main page (with a search engine):
page of one of the
engine you need to find major information
out what news outlets search engine—such
provide their content. as Yahoo, AOL or even
IGC—you need to find
out what news outlets Living Wage Research Online
provide their content. Contact the online directors/editors
Opposition Research
of these places directly. Do not contact the Web search
What research about other ordinances or about key oppo-
engines or ISPs, because they will not know what you are
sition leaders may be available on the net? We came
talking about.
across several infamous opposition sites in our searches,
Progressive and alternative news sources including—an opposition site.
Many media savvy activists and critics are using the Which brings us to a key point: living wage organizers
Web to provide reliable information that challenges the need to pay attention to the Web, because those opposed
mainstream news. are already organized online.
Are there political opinion/politics tracking sites that ( and may be useful to get a sense of what else is happening on
( are two mainstays in this your political scene? During LAANE’s Santa Monica Living
category. Wage Campaign, attention was paid to the political opin-
ion website “Rough & Tumble” (; ( is an online
eventually, they purchased an advertisement about their
journal of opinion that regularly publishes “op-ads” in the
campaign on that site directed at relevant political players
New York Times (

116 Winning Wages Media Kit


Living Wage Media Strategy Online, cont.

who access the site. That’s a great example of targeting

media strategy using the Internet. Check around the Web Organizers across campaigns can use email lists to discuss
and see if there are useful sites like this to pay attention their work. There are many commercially-sponsored freely-
to while tracking media coverage. While it can never sub- available listserv managers, like YahooGroups:
stitute for building relationships with key power brokers,
it can give you a sense of what you’re in for, much like There are also smaller, more activist-oriented ones like:
tracking the news cycle.
Your website is also a great way to share resources and
with your fellow living wage campaigns. That report your
campaign released could provide a valuable source of
information to counter the opposition in another state.
Practical Uses of the Net
There are some nifty tools that exist through the Web
Using E-mail to Further Your that activists have found helpful while doing media work.
Message Internet-based fax providers, usually for a per-page fee,
Email has become a staple of daily communication for can allow you to create and store a fax list to send faxes
the 60 percent or so of people that have access to, and to multiple locations via the web. This can be useful for
use, the Internet in the US. Consequently, e-mail should several reasons: they manage and delete the non-working
be considered in fax numbers, and if anyone in the office has the login
any communica- See: information anybody can
tions strategy your reports/chart.asp?img=Daily_A8.htm use it. Online faxing can A particularly popular online
campaign is using. for more information free up your hard-copy fax faxing website is BlastFax:
from tedious re-faxing of
Reporters news releases to outlets.
It’s always useful to get information to reporters in the Are there publications you’d like to have in full color,
ways they prefer. They’re more likely to use your material but can’t afford the design, print costs, or time? The Web
that way. Sometimes reporters prefer email so they can is a wonderful way to present color documents, such as a
cut-and-paste quotes from your press materials, others monthly newsletter. It’s a fundamentally cost-effective
may not. Ask them which they prefer, or at least give ways to enhance communications, because color doesn’t
them an option to delete themselves from your email press cost more on the web. It’s another unique attribute of the
release list. Remember, though, it’s not good to “spam” Internet that can help your campaign.
reporters—unsolicited email is just as likely to get you There are online calendars, free email providers, and
ignored than noticed. other tools that can sometimes help with your media
Spam or “Viral Marketing?” campaign. But the two most valuable tools are you media
Some political campaigns have successfully used “viral plan and your trusty search engine.
marketing” to reach out to more people via the Internet.
Viral marketing—what some critics call a certain form of Net Worth
spam—is when you send an email to a base number of
Ultimately, the Internet may not be all that we
people and ask them to forward it to others. Typically, the
thought it might be in, say, 1998—or, who knows, it
email comes with an attention-grabbing headline or
might be more than we envision right now. But there
celebrity sender. Examples include an email from “Robert
are some aspects that make it particularly helpful for
Redford” regarding environmental conservation. This strat-
strengthening your media campaigns. Can you imagine,
egy might be useful to communicate support for a living
for example, having to subscribe to and read through all
wage ordinance to a broad online community.
the major newspapers in the US, trying to find information
Your members and supporters about living wage? On this living wage media kit alone,
Who are your key constituent groups? Are they likely to the web was indispensable for finding information on
have Internet access? If so, an email listserv might help key living wage articles and organizations. The web has
them to communicate and receive information about the definitely brought this information to our fingertips, and
campaign while it happens. Similarly for supporters, you it’s up to us to make the most of it.
can create an “announcements” list that enables you to
mobilize constituents for media and organizing events.

Winning Wages Media Kit 117

By Kim Deterline

This media kit primarily focuses on helping activists be better resources for
reporters and spinning the living wage story to the public. However, media
savvy activists should always review and critique the coverage they get to
ensure it is fair and balanced. Often opposition to living wage campaigns
comes from the media in the form of editorials that are pro-business and
anti-living wage. As we have seen elsewhere in this kit, living wage activists
have had to respond to editorial opposition on numerous occasions.

ews coverage should at least be fair and balanced. Media has tremendous power in
setting cultural guidelines and in shaping political discourse. It is essential that news
media, along with other institutions, are challenged to be fair and accurate. The first
step in challenging biased news coverage is documenting bias. The following piece, excerpted
and modified from SPIN Works! A Media Guidebook for Communicating Values and Shaping
Opinion, provides a model for tracking and countering bias. The author, Kim Deterline, is
formerly with the nonprofit progressive PR consulting group, We Interrupt This Message.

How to Detect and Fight Bias in News Media

This model for detecting and challenging media bias was originally produced for Fairness
and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) as part of its media activist kit. FAIR is a leading national
media watchdog group that offers well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship.
FAIR seeks to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the
press. FAIR scrutinizes media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting

Ask yourself these questions when analyzing media coverage.

Who are the sources?

Be aware of the political perspective of the sources used in a story. Media too often rely on
“official”—government, corporate and establishment think tank—sources. For instance, FAIR
found that in 40 months of “Nightline” programming the most frequent guests were Henry
Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Elliott Abrams and Jerry Falwell. Progressive and public-interest
voices were grossly underrepresented.
To portray issues fairly and accurately, media must
broaden their spectrum of sources. Otherwise, they serve Be aware of the political perspective
merely as megaphones for those already in power. of the sources used in a story.
Count the number of corporate and government Media too often rely on “official”
sources versus the number of progressive, public-interest,
female and minority voices. Demand mass media expand —government, corporate and
their rolodexes. Better yet, give them lists of progressive establishment think tank—sources.
and public-interest experts in the community.
In living wage coverage, are workers, supportive
clergy, campaign officials, allies, legal experts on your side and others from your camp quoted?
Or, is the focus always on their spokespersons, including chamber of commerce representatives,
big business executives, anti-living wage elected officials, and hotel and restaurant association officials?


118 Winning Wages Media Kit

Tracking & Responding to News Coverage, cont.

Is there a lack of diversity? should give you a fair chance to make your case and
What is the race and gender diversity at the news outlet deliver your message.
you watch compared to the communities it serves? How
Are there double standards?
many producers, editors or decision-makers at news outlets
Do media hold some people to one standard while using
are women, people of color or openly gay or lesbian?
a different standard for other groups? Youth of color who
In order to fairly represent different communities, news
commit crimes are referred to as “predators,” whereas
outlets should have members of those communities in
adult criminals who commit white-collar crimes are often
decision-making positions.
portrayed as having been tragically led astray. Think tanks
How many of the experts cited by these news out- partly funded by unions are often identified as “labor-
lets are women and people of color? backed” while think tanks heavily funded by business
FAIR’s 40-month survey of Nightline found that of the interests are usually not identified as “corporate-backed.”
show’s U.S. guests, 92 percent are white and 89 percent Expose the double standard by coming up with a parallel
are male. A example or citing similar stories covered differently.
similar survey
Do stereotypes skew coverage?
Call or write media outlets of PBS’s
Does coverage of the drug crisis focus almost exclusively
every time you see an all-male “NewsHour”
on African-Americans, despite the fact that the vast
found its guest
or all-white panel of experts list to be 90
majority of drug users are white? Does coverage of women
on welfare focus overwhelmingly on African-American
discussing issues that affect percent white,
women, despite the fact that the majority of welfare
women and people of color. 87 percent
recipients are not black? Are lesbians portrayed as “man-
male. Demand
hating” and gay men portrayed as “sexual predators.”
the media
Educate journalists about misconceptions involved
reflect the diversity of the public they serve. Call or write
in stereotypes, and about how stereotypes characterize
media outlets every time you see an all-male or all-white
individuals unfairly.
panel of experts discussing issues that affect women and
In living wage coverage this could play out as “greedy
people of color.
workers” and “obstructionist unions” wanting more and
This is especially important for workers in living wage
more during an economic downturn that has made it
coverage. Often the people most affected are women and
difficult for everyone. Of course, working two full-time
people of color. Press the media to include their voices
jobs and still living in poverty isn’t exactly “greedy.”
and ensure diversity of opinions as well as diversity of
messengers. What are the unchal-
lenged assumptions?
From whose point of view is the news reported? Educate journalists
Often the most important
Political coverage often focuses on how issues affect about misconceptions
message of a story is not
politicians or corporate executives rather than those
directly affected by the issue. For example, many stories
explicitly stated. For involved in stereotypes,
instance, in coverage of
on parental notification of abortion emphasized the and about how stereo-
women on welfare, the
“tough choice” confronting male politicians yet quoted no types characterize
age at which a woman
women under the age of eighteen—those clearly with the
most at stake in the debate. Similarly, economics coverage
had her first child will individuals unfairly.
often be reported—the
usually looks at how events impact stockholders rather
implication being that the
than workers or consumers. Demand that those affected
woman’s sexual “promiscuity,” rather than institutional
by the issue have a voice in coverage. Identify and train
economic factors, are responsible for her plight. Coverage
people directly affected by the issue to be spokespersons,
of rape trials will often focus on a woman’s sexual history
and provide their names and contact numbers to the media.
as though it calls her credibility into question.
If living wage coverage always focuses on the business
Challenge the assumption directly. Often bringing
frame and not on poverty wages or the worker, that’s not
assumptions to the surface will demonstrate their absurdity.
fair and balanced. Obviously some news outlets, such as
Most reporters, for example, will not say directly that
business beats and economics shows, will emphasize the
a woman deserved to be raped because of what she
business and market angles. But still, even those outlets
was wearing.

Winning Wages Media Kit 119


Living Wage Media Strategy Online, cont.

Many living wage campaigns face the assumption by Are stories on important issues featured prominently?
the general public that people already earn a “living Look at where stories appear. Newspaper articles on the
wage” through minimum wage laws and other job policies. most widely read pages—the front pages and the editorial
Another assumption is that your community stands to pages—and lead stories on television and radio will have
lose business if a living wage law is passed. Counter the the greatest influence on public opinion. When you see a
assumptions that often are leveraged as arguments by story on government officials engaged in activities that
the opposition. violate the Constitution buried on page A-29, call the
newspaper and object. Let the paper know how important
Is the language loaded?
you feel an issue is and demand that important stories get
When media adopt loaded terminology they help shape
prominent coverage. Also, are corrections and retractions
public opinion. For instance, media often use the right-
given equal play to the original mistake?
wing buzzword “racial preference” to refer to affirmative
For your living wage campaign, make sure articles that
action programs. Polls show this decision makes a huge
feature your news, such
difference in how the issue is perceived. A 1992 Louis
as your media event, are
Harris poll, for example, found that 70 percent said
they favored “affirmative action” while only 46 percent
favored “racial preference programs.” Demonstrate how
the language chosen gives people an inaccurate impression
presented with equal promi-
nence to news made by the
opposition. If you see your
news buried in the back MEDIA
of the issue, program or community.
pages but you see the hotel
Is there a lack of context? spokesperson opposing a If you decide to monitor a media
Coverage of so-called “reverse discrimination” usually fails living wage always up front, outlet to chart coverage and
to focus on any of the institutional factors that give that’s not fair and balanced. expose bias, consider this checklist
power to prejudice, such as larger issues of economic Fighting media bias can of tasks:
inequality and institutional racism. Coverage of hate be done as long as you remain
• Choose a reasonable period of
speech against gays and lesbians often fails to mention vigilant and committed.
time to monitor a media outlet (two
increases in gay-bashing and how the two might be related. to three months or more);
Provide the context. Communicate to the journalist,
• Survey one or more media outlets
or write a letter to the
for comparison purposes (if your
editor that includes the
community has more than one daily
Let the paper know relevant information.
newspaper, for example);
how important you In living wage campaigns
it is important to communi- • Count the number of times
feel an issue is and cate to the media the overall coverage appears and keep copies
demand that impor- context of poverty. This of all articles in a notebook;

tant stories get drives home the point that • Document biases or inaccuracies
people are working two, (use tips in previous article for
prominent coverage. three or more jobs and still guidance);
are poor.
• Keep track of news that is
Do the headlines and stories match? omitted. What events did you stage
Usually headlines are not written by the reporter, but by that were ignored, for example,
an editor or copy editor. Since many people just skim yet the media found time to cover
headlines, misleading headlines have a significant impact. your opposition?
A classic case: In a New York Times article on the June • Confirm data accuracy of your
1988 U.S.-Soviet summit in Moscow, Margaret Thatcher monitoring, then analyze and
was quoted as saying of Reagan, “Poor dear, there’s publish your conclusions in a report
nothing between his ears.” The Times headline: “Thatcher or notebook;
Salute to the Reagan Years.”
• Request a briefing with editors to
Call or write the newspaper and point out the
present your findings and demand
fair and balanced coverage.

120 Winning Wages Media Kit

The central theme of this living wage media “best practices” guidebook is
the importance of strategically planning your media. For too long our side of
the battle has ignored the media, conducted media actions halfheartedly and
at the last minute, or been in a constantly reactive mode—thus letting our
opponents frame the issue and move the message while we scramble to play
catch-up. Sometimes even when we do the best job we can, we still do not get
the coverage we deserve. No matter what, we must still plan our media.

our resources are limited and your task is huge. Create your media plan before
you launch your campaign. Conceive the plan at the same time you prepare your
organizing or electoral campaign plan. Above all, do not wait until the last
minute to decide to crank out a press release or call a reporter. You will most likely
find yourself very frustrated. Plan for your media! This will make you proactive instead
of simply reactive.
A word about reality-based media plans: Do not set yourself up for failure.
Create a media plan that you and your staff can actually complete. Think big and act
ambitiously, but do not overextend yourself. Doing media can be labor intensive.

It’s About Campaign Planning Synergy

Connect the plan to your organizing, lobbying, public education, outreach,
litigation or other campaign plans. In other words, the media plan should support
your organizing and other campaign efforts, not the other way around. At the same
time, do not view your media work as simply an add-on to get around to after
completing everything else. Gather your top organizers and campaign or economic
justice movement people and work collaboratively with them to craft and get buy-in
for your media plan.


The key components of a successful, basic media plan are:
Steps No. 1 to 6 of the media plan are what
you do before you even call a reporter or stage
a media event. Once you do these, it is time to
1. Frame the issue. In the process, identify your news. Remember, the best unleash the other components of your media
media plans will not be successful unless you have real news to make. plan.
2. Define messages. Write your “talking points.”
Steps No. 7 to 14 are the most labor-intensive
3. Target the audience.
pieces of the media plan; they should be
4. Train spokesperson(s) to be on message. delegated accordingly. However, there should
5. Produce your “deliverables”: press kits, media advisories, press releases, fact always be one person who oversees the
sheets, “sign on” letters of support, informational report and other handouts. execution of the plan and is the main contact
6. Target reporters and media outlets. Create or augment your media database. for the media. Pitching reporters (Step No. 8)
7. Disseminate your media advisory. is critical and involves intensive phone work
8. Pitch reporters to cover the story. and “schmoozing.” How many of these steps
9. Conduct media briefings for key reporters. can you realistically do? Aim for at least the
first 10, more if you have the resources. If you
10. Stage media events.
are particularly ambitious, consider adding a
11. Place opinion editorials.
few extra components such as producing radio
12. Book your spokespersons on radio and TV shows. actualities (actual radio news “clips” produced
13. Submit letters to the editor. by your side but that sound like news reports)
14. Track coverage and respond to reporters. and submitting public service announcements.

Winning Wages Media Kit 121


The Living Wage Media Plan, cont.

Your Media Plan Timeline WEEK 3

A top-notch media plan will contain a timeline and • Write and pitch op-eds.
benchmarks to help you implement the plan. For example, a
plan for rolling out a living wage law might look something WEEK 2
like the following: (counting back from Week 1, which is the
• Send out media advisories for roll-out event.
announcement of the campaign)
• Book on talk shows and call-in radio or TV shows.
• Report is finished and embargoed copies released.
Consider releasing the report at a separate event, or
WEEK 12 (or beyond)
making it available to select reporters a week ahead
• Draft and research report on living wage laws; plan on to set up your big kick-off event. This gives you more
releasing it one week before campaign launched. bang for the media buck.
• Begin collecting database of reporters, editors, and media
outlets in your area and statewide

• Make pitch calls: reminder calls to reporters to attend

the event.
• Finish reporter database and make sure all their contact • Create props and backdrops for the event.
information is complete. • Op-ed comes out.
• Start to select and train spokespersons • Prepare letters to the editors for drop the day after
• If advertising and billboard are involved, create and book the event.
it now, if not earlier.


• Make final pitch and friendly reminder calls.
• Begin to prepare media “deliverables” such as press kits • Dress rehearsal for media event with key speakers.
and fact sheets. • Last minute changes to media materials and press kits.
• Website, if you have one, opens for business.

• Prepare website and begin to load information, including
• Stage the event.
an online press room (not open for business yet, however).
• Schmooze reporters.
• Courier press kit and make follow-up calls to no-shows.
• Spin your newsmakers; get them to do follow-up radio,
TV, and print interviews as needed.
• Finish training of spokespersons, production of press kits • Provide special attention to key reporters (major daily
and other deliverables. newspaper for example).
• Get any permits needed for rallies.


• Make sure letters to the editor are sent in.
• Schedule media briefings and editorial board sessions. • Handle follow-up coverage tracking and response; correct
any factual accuracies now or challenge any bias. Thank
reporters for “fair and balanced coverage” (you hope).
• Rest, then plan your next event and next phase of your
media strategy!

122 Winning Wages Media Kit

By Danny Feingold, Communications Director,
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Create a comprehensive media plan well in

1 advance of the campaign kickoff, including press
events, feature story ideas, op-eds, radio and TV talk
shows, editorial meetings, and letters to the editor.

Develop media materials early, including a

2 campaign overview, worker profiles, industry profiles,
endorsers, etc., so you don't have to scramble once the
campaign begins.

Meet with key reporters early on to explain

3 your campaign and inoculate them against
opposition arguments.

Provide in-depth training for your community and

4 worker spokespeople, including instructions on how
to answer opposition charges.

Anticipate worst-case scenarios—particularly

5 last-minute dirty tricks by the opposition—and have
a plan ready to go.

Recruit spokespeople representing all facets of

6 the community—clergy, workers, elected officials,
educators and youth leaders, economists, businesspeople,
social service representatives, celebrities. They can lend
your campaign the broadest appeal possible.

If the budget allows, conduct polling to help shape

7 the campaign message and identify the most effective
categories of spokespeople.

Make every effort to have reporters spend

8 significant time with workers and their families,
including visits to their homes, in order to put a personal
face on media coverage.

Cultivate an influential, sympathetic columnist

9 and feed him or her stories as the campaign unfolds.

Develop a clear, well-designed Website with

10 campaign fact sheets, workers stories, press
articles, and other materials, and publicize it to the media.

Winning Wages Media Kit 123



Planning Your Living Wage Press

By Danny Feingold, Communications Director,
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

This media plan outline by LAANE offers an example of how to construct your personal-
ized plan using the model suggested in this kit. It is beneficial to strategize and brainstorm
early on in your campaign to capture all the possibilities even if all the events do not actually
happen. Although this campaign ultimately was not successful in turning back the lies and
distortions of the opposition, LAANE put living wage on the media map in a way never seen
before. Many hotels and other businesses ultimately extended living wages to workers
thanks in part to the PR pressure generated by media activities.

Overview, Goals and Components Timeline Solution: The workers who clean the
hotel rooms, sweep the floors and wash the
This living wage media plan is designed • Neighbor-to-Neighbor signature drive: dishes deserve to earn enough so they don’t
to convey a simple, compelling message February-June have to rely on charity or government assis-
to the public, business and lawmakers • Spokesperson Trainings: August tance. Santa Monica’s living wage law will
through media actions, feature stories, • September 22: Campaign kick-off help these workers while ensuring a vibrant
op-eds and editorials. • Late September: Launch of ground economy for our city.
• Our media message is crafted to be campaign Action: Protect low-wage workers and
reasonable in order to achieve maximum uphold our community’s values of fairness
appeal. and justice. Vote yes on the living wage.
• To sustain coverage, we should employ
We want media coverage to focus on the Identify Spokespeople
a variety of actions, escalate the intensity
issues of working poverty, business wealth,
of those actions, and call on high-profile • Community
taxpayer subsidies to big businesses, and
public figures for selected events. • Clergy
community control of local politics.
• Dynamic, articulate spokespeople, both • Workers
English- and Spanish-speaking, will be • Business
Discipline Message • Educators
crucial to our campaign. These should
include workers, clergy, community mem- • Short version: • Elected Officials
bers, elected officials, businesspeople and Protect low-wage workers and uphold • Celebrities
other respected public figures. our community’s values of fairness and • Advocacy groups
justice. Vote yes on the living wage. • Health Advocates
• Fact sheets supporting our case and • Social Service Agencies
endorsements from a range of public • Long version:
• Economists
figures will also help us strengthen our Problem: Santa Monica’s luxury hotels
• Lawyers
credibility. We should be prepared to are trying to repeal our new living wage
provide reporters with detailed information law. These are the same corporations that
spent a million dollars two years ago on the
Conduct Media Training
on wages and benefits, corporate revenues
and profits (where appropriate), and deceptive anti-living wage initiative, Measure Workers, union reps, clergy, community
written profiles of several workers. KK, which four out of five Santa Monica leaders and elected officials will participate
voters rejected. in a training by the SPIN project on message
and presentation.

124 Winning Wages Media Kit


Planning Your Living Wage Press, cont.

• How taxpayer investment built the • City TV*

Produce Materials/
Coastal Zone • Channel 34 (Spanish-language)
Media Deliverables • Personal stories of low-wage workers • Channel 52 (Spanish-language)
• Summary of living wage law • Ethnic/community media outreach • “Vista L.A.” (Channel 7)
• One-pager on SMART (our side’s • “Today in L.A.” (Channel 4)
campaign group) Identify and Prioritize Media
• Worker poverty fact sheet Outlets for Key Feature Stories Internet
• Corporate wealth fact sheet •*
• Campaign finance fact sheet (* indicates priority) •
• Opposition campaign team fact sheet •
Print (including community, ethnic •
• Public Investment fact sheet and religious media)
• Endorser list
• Background on living wage movement • L.A. Times* Write and Pitch Op-Eds to:
• Press clips • La Opinion*
• Business Journal* • NY Times (ideally nationalize, outline
• L.A. Weekly* (incl. women’s angle) forces against)
Spokesperson Preparation • La Opinion
• City News Service*
Materials (Internal): • Los Angeles Magazine* • Business Journal
• Mirror* • Santa Monica Mirror
• Q&A
• Argonaut* • surfsantamonica
• Message and talking points
• Daily Press* • Daily Press
• Opposition research
• Santa Monica Sun • Corsair
• Bay Week • Santa Monica Sun
Stage Media Events • Corsair • Tidings
(and Other Message Outreach) • Tidings • Episcopal News
• Episcopal News • Jewish Journal
• Labor in Pulpit Interfaith Event:
• Jewish Journal • AlterNet
August 29, 31, September 1
• Argonaut •
• September 12 vigil/housekeeper event
• National: BNA, AP, New York Times*,
• Campaign kickoff : September 22
Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Try to get Editorials from:
Peter, Paul and Mary
Boston Globe, SF Chronicle,
Other spokesperson (workers/ • NY Times
Sacramento Bee, USA Today,
politicos/clergy/celebrities, et al) • La Opinion
Guardian/Observer, Business Week,
• Economist letter release to media: Newsweek, Time • Santa Monica Mirror
October • Tidings
• Clergy vigils: Monthly vigils Radio • Episcopal News
June—October • KPCC*
• Letter from bishop to churches: • KCRW* Pitch Columns to:
October • KFWB
• Women’s leaders event: October • KNX • LA Times: Steve Lopez. Patt Morrison,
• Educators press conference: October • KFI Matt Miller, Bob Scheer, Arianna
• Metro Networks Huffington
Create and Pitch Other Story • KLAC • LA Weekly: Harold Meyerson
Ideas/Hooks • National: NPR, Pacifica • The Nation: Jim Hightower
• Life and Times: Pat Morrison
• Opposition campaign finance TV • Frank Gruber
• National significance of Santa Monica • Adelphia* (cont.)
ordinance • KCET*

Winning Wages Media Kit 125


Planning Your Livng Wage Press, cont.

Pitch Radio/TV Talk Shows:

• KPCC’s “Talk of the City”
• KCRW’s “Which Way L.A.”
• Michael Jackson—Lyle Gregory
• Adelphia’s “Week in Review”
• Channel 4’s “Today in L.A.”
• KPFK’s labor and legal shows

Book Paid Media

• Newspaper ads

Write and Submit Letters

to the Editor
A regular stream of letters should
be generated in response to articles on
the living wage campaign. This could
best be undertaken by SMART committee

Get into Newsletters

Identify allies and others and place
piece in their newsletters.

Consider E-Mail Campaign

A so-called virtual campaign can be
used to reach large numbers of voters
at no cost. Voters would be sent e-mails
urging them to support the living wage.
These e-mails would be short and might
include an endorser list. The key is to have
an extensive e-mail list, and to urge recipi-
ents to forward the e-mail to their lists.

Gather News Clips

Print, radio and TV coverage of
the campaign should be collected and
compiled immediately for availability
to the press, as well as the website and
the ground campaign.

126 Winning Wages Media Kit



A Sense That We Are Never Going Away:

By Brian Kettenring, Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now! (ACORN)

onsider this a saga of living wage perseverance, or how a campaign has survived

ties (or “shenanigans” as we called them)
stall tactics, end runs, self-admitted political stumbles, a budget crisis and recession, of the city staff that were stalling our measure
and an openly hostile local media outlet. —and the Chamber of Commerce’s “alterna-
tive proposal”—while underreporting the
By the time this guidebook comes out, and made the issue personal fast. This
actual events of our campaign.
the Sacramento Living Wage Campaign person, considered a liberal on most issues,
Back at City Hall, certain political and
stands poised to culminate a three-year bought every anti-living wage argument for
business leaders were fearful the living wage
coalition campaign with a victory at the sale. Plus, he seemed
Sacramento City Council. That means, if to have it out for our
everything goes well, businesses getting bill’s main sponsor. We needed a different kind of communications
major service contracts or financial assis- And, to top it all off, strategy. A strategy that played to our local
tance from the city will be covered by the he hated unions with
new living wage standard. That will deliver a passion.
strengths while taking into consideration our
to scores of workers and their families in The result? A unique challenges.
the California capital a living wage of $10 stinging anti-living
an hour plus benefits or $12.84 if benefits wage editorial and
measure would “put Sacramento at a com-
are not provided. two nasty columns attacking the proposal
petitive disadvantage.” There is tremendous
While it hasn’t always been pretty, we and its proponents, despite a strong and
concern in the area around sprawl, growth,
hope our experience offers lessons to others largely positive two-hour editorial board
regional inequities, tax distribution, the
about staying flexible, evolving the message meeting with us and the sponsor.
recession and other factors that make local
and frame, and staying on course. Arguing vehemently that our proposal
political and business leaders anxious.
would not help the working poor because
Although the assertion that living wage is
“most low wage workers don’t live in
The Local Paper Hates Us, a “handicap” for Sacramento was never
poverty,” he went on to claim that, “in
borne out with facts locally or, for that
and Other Challenges reality, living wage ordinances aren’t about
matter, nationally in other cities with similar
helping the poor. They are about helping
concerns, that frame continued to resonate
In the thick of the battle, it became clear unions…The City Council tonight has a
and cause problems.
the Sacramento Bee—the most important choice between helping unions and really
We needed a different kind of communi-
single media outlet in Sacramento, was only helping the working poor. Which side will
cations strategy. A strategy that played to
going to hurt our cause. A key editorial it be on?”
our local strengths while taking into consid-
board member and columnist for the Bee To make matters worse, even the Bee’s
eration our unique challenges.
came out obnoxiously against the proposal, daily coverage was dominated by the activi-

Winning Wages Media Kit 127


A Sense That We Are Never Going Away, cont.

Background & Strategy roadblocks kept the measure moving slowly its weaknesses. The following communica-
—but surely—through the local government. tions messaging evolved in the course of the
Our coalition then went into what could campaign:
The Sacramento Living Wage
be the final phase of the campaign: negotia-
Campaign was founded in the fall of 1999 • Everyday workers are suffering and
tion (overseen by the mayor and one swing
by a set of progressive activists, ACORN, deserve a living wage.
councilmember). Assuming the living
the Sacramento Central Labor Council, • The people of Sacramento want the living
wage ordinance negotiated between the
and a number of key organizing unions wage and the opposition is narrow and
campaign, the Chamber, and the mayor
in the Sacramento Valley. Though the not in synch.
is acceptable to
• The overwhelming body of evidence in
the coalition,
While the Chamber of Commerce was lobbying Sacramento should
California and nationally is that living
wage policies work.
against us behind the scenes, we were every- soon join the more
• Companies that take taxpayer dollars and
than 100 cities that
where, seeking to create a communications and have already passed
pay poverty wages are the problem.
policy onslaught to win the uphill final battle. • Given the highly integrated/competitive
a living wage.
nature of the economy in the Sacramento
Looking back over
region, the coalition has a regionalist
the past four or five
approach that fits local economic conditions.
years it is hard to believe we finally got to
campaign has come to comprise more
this point.
than 100 organizations, at its center has
But how did communications figure The Communications Showdown
been a steering committee of the six or
into the success of this protracted social
seven most active organizations. The steering
justice struggle? At the height of the battle in late-2002/
committee eventually drafted a proposed
Sacramento Living Wage Ordinance. early-2003, the coalition was moving
The coalition chose a comprehensive aggressively forward despite constant
The Communications Strategy counterpunching by the biased city staff
strategy of using direct action, public
education, communications, and traditional and a decidedly right-wing Chamber of
The coalition had several advantages
and grassroots lobbying to coalesce enough going into the campaign that it sought Commerce. For more than two years the
political muscle to compel the City Council coalition had organized meetings, actions,
to exploit:
to adopt the proposed living wage. lobby visits and so forth. The living wage
Moreover, the campaign was organized into • At the time, more than 80 living wage was finally scheduled for its first official
three major phases: from the fall of 1999 ordinances were already on the books hearing before Council. Time to turn up
through November 2000 was the “private,” and there was no sign that the skies over the heat.
coalition- and base-building phase. these various cities had fallen.
Then, in November 2000, the coalition • The coalition represented a Two days before the hearing, we held
organized a 350-person Forum on Poverty diverse set of constituencies
whereas the opposition was a press conference where more than
and Economic Justice that launched the
public mobilization phase of the campaign, narrowly situated in the business 20 local elected officials not on the
leading into the third phase, lobbying community. City Council endorsed our proposal.
for passage. That third phase began in • The City Council was majority
May 2001 with a 500-person Rally for a democratic, though the mayor
Living Wage. and city manager were hostile to labor In the weeks before the hearing we gen-
Communications strategy really came (the latter was also hostile toward erated hundreds of postcards and phone
into play in the second and third phases, ACORN). calls through door-to-door canvassing in
when outreach and PR helped get this issue • The gap between rich and poor continued targeted Council districts. Two days before
on the radar screen of the city. A pitched to be a prominent social and policy concern. the hearing, we held a press conference
battle ensued with the city manager and where more than 20 local elected officials
Given these natural advantages, the living
Chamber of Commerce once we started to not on the City Council endorsed our pro-
wage campaign sought to communicate
go public in a significant way. Various stall posal. This included four out of five mem-
based upon its strengths while minimizing
tactics, calls for “more studies,” and other bers of an adjacent City Council, plus the

128 Winning Wages Media Kit


A Sense That We Are Never Going Away, cont.

powerful state senator and assemblyman opinion leaders and elected officials who A Unique Progressive Organizing
representing Sacramento. The day of the held sway with the City Council. These activi- Opportunity
hearing, we turned out more than 200 union ties were on top of the aggressive policy and
members, ACORN members and other pro- mass communications strategies detailed We spun one policy objection into an
gressives to the Council meeting in a strong below. Our strategy was five-fold. advantage. There is tremendous concern in
show of support rich in photo-op potential. (1) First, we engaged Nick Brunick of Sacramento about sprawl, growth, regional
By the way, the Chamber of Commerce, our the Chicago-based Business and Professional inequities, tax distribution, and so forth.
opposition, had at most 10 persons present. People for the Public Interest, a respected The region is changing, and it is fractured.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, we public interest law and policy center that Many city leaders, even progressives,
paid for 2000 signs to be placed all over had worked successfully with ACORN and expressed concern about “putting
allies on living wage Sacramento at a competitive” disadvantage.
issues in Chicago. The fear was that a living wage would turn
By tweaking our frame and evolving our
With strategic guidance companies off from investing in the region.
messages to new target audiences we would from ACORN, Brunick Though this argument has never borne
build alliances with environmentalists who are prepared a 30-page out academically elsewhere, it continued to
report detailing the resonate and cause problems in Sacramento.
important to progressive politics in the suburbs. economic benefits of Ultimately, we embraced the problem as an
a living wage, which opportunity to build power and to organize
downtown and key neighborhoods, reading: the coalition released in a timely fashion as across progressive movement lines.
“Sacramento Needs a Living Wage.” While part of a press conference. This report was We linked the smart growth movement
the Chamber of Commerce was lobbying ammunition for our cause and corroborated with that for economic justice by taking our
against us behind the scenes, we were our frame, while putting the opposition on case to responsible growth advocates and
everywhere, seeking to create a communica- the defense. making the connections clear. When we
tions and policy onslaught to win the uphill (2) Next, we prepared an aggressive approached the local environmental network
final battle. critique of the report prepared by city staff and the Sierra Club, they understood imme-
and by a consultant they had hired to study diately that our living wage strategy could be
the issue, which, of course, was filled with taken as part of a larger vision. They shared
Overcoming Obstacles biased data, omissions and misleading the vision of creating a high-wage, high-road
“analysis.” We backed our critique up with regional economy where growth is created
When it became clear the city hall
strong testimony from two economists and by investing in workers, not by driving
staff was doing a hatchet job to our policy
the director of ACORN’s Living Wage down wages.
proposal, we turned up the heat on the
Resource Center at the City Council hearing. When economic development subsidies
policy front. All along we were not getting
(3) We then prepared and released a are not tied to any job quality standards,
support from the local paper, which instead
letter from more than 30 respected econo- they lead only to a race to the bottom
was editorializing against us. We realized we
mists from around the country endorsing between the cities and the suburbs, and may
needed to go around the paper. We needed
our policy proposal as economically sound. in fact contribute to sprawl and regional
to anticipate and refute our opposition while
(4) We commissioned a poll, and inequity as the higher-income suburbs
taking our message directly to Sacramento
released it at a press conference, that compete with cities for jobs. Such bankrupt
neighborhoods and communities affected
showed overwhelming local support for policies are also a drain on scarce public
by the law.
the living wage. resources that might otherwise be devoted to
The campaign went directly to opinion
(5) Finally, we placed a web advertise- improvements in education and job training,
leaders and to the public. We made extensive
ment on Rough & Tumble (, infrastructure and efficient public trans-
use of email, websites, phone calls, door
the state’s politico website of record. Again, portation. Smart-growth advocates also
knocking, and other direct tactics. We used
the messaging of our communications was understood that low-wage, non-union firms
smaller community outlets like newsletters
that the living wage is good policy and that are also more likely to be unaccountable
and alternative press to communicate. For
the people want it. to local concerns—or, worse, habitual
example, we solicited more favorable coverage
violators of safety, health and environmental
from the Sacramento News & Review, the
free weekly. We called and met with various
Suddenly, we could see the inevitable on


Winning Wages Media Kit 129


A Sense That We Are Never Going Away, cont.

the horizon: if we could win a living wage • Laying the groundwork for the
in Sacramento, and then leverage that nation’s first conscious “regional
momentum to win in neighboring working equity/smart growth” approach to the
class or liberal jurisdictions, we could living wage issue.
eventually win five to ten living wage
All told, we were able to level the play-
ordinances in the region—thus creating
ing field and continue to create the sense
possibly the first truly conscious regional
that we were never going away, that the
living wage strategy in the U.S.
movement would grow until Sacramento
Moreover, by tweaking our frame
and our fast-growing region have a living
and evolving our messages to new target
audiences we would build alliances with
environmentalists, who are important to

Regardless of when our campaign

wins a Sacramento Living Wage
Ordinance for working families, we
have already accomplished a number
of key objectives:

progressive politics in the suburbs.

We could even ally with the City of
Sacramento, which after passing a living
wage, has a self-interest in leveraging its
neighbors to follow suit. In our policy
communications we have acted the role
of regional leaders, and in expecting
Sacramento to blaze the path, expect
other area jurisdictions to follow suit.

The End Is In Sight!

Regardless of how our campaign wins
a Sacramento Living Wage Ordinance for
working families, we have already accom-
plished a number of key objectives:

• Building direct power for low-

and moderate-income Sacramentans,
especially through key community
organizations (like ACORN), labor
unions (like SEIU, HERE, and ILWU),
and progressive forces in general;
• Changing the terms of debate about
wages and wealth in the Sacramento
valley, and;

130 Winning Wages Media Kit



Anatomy of a Winning Campaign:


by Gyula Nagy, former director of the Alexandria Living Wage Campaign;

Alexandria Tenants’ and Workers’ Rights Committee

ld Town” Alexandria draws workers’ rights. Our short-term goal: The State Attorney General’s office declared

“O thousands of tourists to stroll

the colonial-era district.
Meanwhile, parking lot attendants like
pass a living wage ordinance requiring city
contractors to pay at least $8.65 an hour.
On a big wall chart we wrote up a campaign
it would be illegal for a city to pass a living
wage ordinance!
Despite the opposition’s best efforts,
Mussie Habetezion tend the visitors’ cars timeline, a rough outline of the next three three years of organizing paid off on June
in the city-owned lot. He, like many of his years that folded in all the various tactics 17, 2000. City Council voted 6-0 to pass
co-workers, left Eritrea and landed a $7 and strategies. Right from the beginning our living wage ordinance, the first in
an hour job in Alexandria. After working a our plan integrated communications Virginia. It covers an estimated $4 million
full shift at the parking lot, Habetezion with mobilization, coalition-building, worth of contracts, and adds about
scrambled to an eight-hour overnight shift and research. $400,000 to workers’ incomes each year.
at 7-Eleven and worked at a pharmacy on Next, we spent nine months quietly Janitors, landscapers, security guards
weekends. building and other city contract workers now earn
Thousands of other strength $10.89 an hour. Old Town parking lot
low-wage workers in Right from the beginning our plan “underground” attendant Mussie Habetezion was able to
the area shared before making quit his third job. He and other workers
integrated communications with
Mussie’s plight. headlines. We share stories of being able to spend more
In 1997, a mobilization, coalition-building, built a broad time with their families, of catching up on
feisty community and research. coalition of bills, and even of helping to pay for a
organization called unions, religious daughter’s college education.
the Tenants’ and congregations,
Workers’ Support Committee (TWSC) and community groups, deliberately under Doing Our Homework Before
launched a campaign for a living wage the radar screen of elected officials, the Launching Our Media
ordinance. The predominantly Latino and media, and the Chamber of Commerce.
African-American group provided a base, A Labor Day march kicked off our From the beginning of the campaign
and hired a campaign director and organizer. public campaign and scored us some of we studied our local media industry. We
our first significant press. A series of rallies wanted to understand how it worked from
A Strategic Plan To Get Us grew larger and more militant. We jammed the inside out. We observed it carefully and
Started council members’ offices with dozens of regularly, noticing what got covered and
“delegations,” flooded them with hundreds trying to figure out why. We got to know
First we developed a strategic campaign of postcards, delivered thousands of each outlet’s formats, such as the daily
plan that focused not only on passing the petition signatures, and rang their phones newspaper’s weekly religion page, or the
living wage law but on building a movement. off the hook. biweekly political talk-shows on local
Our long-term goal: build a permanent Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce cable-TV. We became familiar with
labor-religious-community coalition for campaigned against the living wage proposal. reporters’ beats and opinion page editors’

Winning Wages Media Kit 131


Anatomy of a Winning Campaign, cont.

politics. We tracked the key media in our kids lived in poverty.

market, especially print, since radio and So, we emphasized the following mes-
TV tend to follow newspapers’ leads. We sage: “The Alexandria City Council is giving
methodically read and clipped one daily our taxpayer dollars to companies that
metropolitan newspaper, one daily local bring poverty-level jobs to our community.
city paper, one weekly city paper, four We should require these companies to pay


regional Spanish-language papers, one
weekly African-American paper, and one
employees a living wage. It makes econom-
ic sense, it’s fair, and would increase the
weekly business journal. quality and workmanship of services to
by Gyula Nagy, former director of the We learned at
Alexandria Living Wage Campaign; media trainings, We learned at media trainings, including those
Alexandria Tenants’ and Workers’ including those
Rights Committee offered by the SPIN
offered by the SPIN Project, that stories that were
Project, that stories dramatic, controversial, had a calendar hook, or
1. Develop a strategic campaign plan, incor- that were dramatic, localized a national issue stood a greater chance
porating media right from the beginning, controversial, had a
and stick to it. calendar hook, or
of getting picked up.
2. Develop a message. Repeat it always and localized a national
everywhere. issue stood a greater chance of getting residents. Urge the Mayor and City Council
picked up. By following our local press members to pass a living wage ordinance
3. Draw on the experience of living wage
rigorously, we understood what was now.” That was our general public message.
organizers from around the country. Call
“newsworthy” to our local reporters
them up.
and editors. Targeting and Disciplining
4. Remember: reporters are workers. The
the Message
easier you make their job, the more likely Media, Organizing and
your message will be projected. Develop To mobilize specific constituencies,
the Message
relationships with them and be a resource we retained the underlying structure and
for them. In our campaign office, we laid out our intent of the message and changed only the
5. Role play, role-play, role-play: coaching four-month work-plan on a giant butcher- framing of the problem and the solution.
and training of spokespersons and script- paper chart. A timeline ran across the top, So, to a religious congregation we said:
ing out of events is key. and we plotted the mobilization, coalition- “Poverty-wage jobs violate the humanity of
building, research, and communications workers, our neighbors. A living wage
tasks on parallel tracks beneath. This ordinance would insure that city contrac-
insured that everything worked in synch. tors pay their workers enough to raise a
We used media as a power tactic: to raise family in dignity. Please sign the petition,
the political costs to councilmembers and join the rally on Saturday.”
opposing us, and reward those in favor. To union members we said:
Developing our message was the foun- “Companies undermining your wages and
dation of our communications plan. Our benefits are being subsidized by taxpayer
message had a three-part structure: problem, dollars. A living wage ordinance would
solution, call to action (see A Model for lift the wage floor, helping all workers.
Your Message, in Part Four). Within that Please sign the petition, and join the rally
framework we constructed the message on Saturday.”
that we needed for Alexandria’s particular We rigorously maintained this consistency
demographic and political context. of message in all of our presentations and
We took into consideration the economic materials: every speech at rallies, every
reality: among the 128,000 people living delegation to a City Council member,
here, 20 percent of households had every leaflet, every letter to the editor,
incomes over $100,000. Yet one out five every church bulletin article, every op-ed

132 Winning Wages Media Kit


Anatomy of a Winning Campaign, cont.

repeated the same message. This directed Reaching Out to Reporters Planning the media work for each
a steady, powerful stream of pressure action was guided by our strategic plan:
on each Council member. Imagine As we rolled out the campaign, we working from the date of the event, we
being an elected official and facing this developed relations with reporters. We figured out precisely what tasks needed
steadily growing clamor from all different built formal, professional relationships to be done, day by day, and then marked
segments of your constituency, month with as many as we could find. Reporters each task on our work calendar.
after month. came to trust us. We were dependable— We followed this general schedule:
when we promised a research report or About five to seven days before the action,
Nuts and Bolts of Moving the an interview with a worker, we made it we faxed out a media advisory to reporters
happen ASAP. We were honest, and very at newspapers and planning editors at TV
persistent. and radio stations. Next day, we followed
We created a communications com- We recognized that reporters are work- up with phone calls, calling persistently
mittee to do all of the behind-the-scenes ers. Often, the easier we made their job, until we spoke with them live. After making
media work. The committee included the more likely our issue would be cov- sure they weren’t on deadline, we very
several rank-and file volunteers and two ered. This meant having the details in briefly “pitched” the story: highlighting
organizers. order, like a sheet with short bios of all what’s newsworthy about our upcoming
A Latino activist pastor—bilingual, the speakers at a rally, a press release that action. For example we would say, “We’re
charismatic and very politically savvy— read like a news article, with quotes from having a prayer vigil on December 10,
acted as our official spokesperson. He our leaders, or getting our lawyer on a Human Rights Day. Clergy from different
projected our message at our actions and three-way call to the reporter for a last- religions are going to pray for the city to
most interviews. minute legal briefing before deadline. Our pass a living wage.” Or, “We’re celebrating
Spokesperson training was important job was to orchestrate and deliver every- Martin Luther King Day by marching on
to us. The other “voice” of the campaign thing they needed to create a good story: City Hall. We’re going to present a giant
was working-class community residents, background on the issue, action briefing, petition.“ We ask if they’re interested in
clergy and lay people, and union leaders. snappy quotes, catchy images, and a dra- covering the story. The day before the
Although we did not put them through matic action. Doing this made it a lot more action we called them again to remind them.
formal speakers’ training workshops, we likely our message would get projected
did do communications training with them clearly, correctly, and powerfully. The Action and the Photo Op
in ad-hoc sessions, an organizer one-on- One unforeseen factor was the high
one with a speaker. We set the political turn-over rate among reporters and even The organizer is directing a piece
context, made sure the speaker under- editors. It meant starting from scratch of living political theater, making sure
stood the audience, honed in on the each time, but we took it as an opportunity everything stays on course as much as
message (problem, solution, call to to educate them on the history of the cam- possible—from long before the crowd
action), and then did role-plays. paign, orient them to the issues and play- arrives until long after they’ve all left.
The nitty-gritty media work was all ers and establish ourselves as a credible So, first thing in the morning we called
launched from one solid base: a compre- source of news. TV and radio assignment editors and
hensive media list. We developed a low- pitched them (these are the people who
tech, but very effective, index-card system: Staging Events and Making the dispatch crews for the day).
we made up one card for each newspaper, Pitch Everyone who was speaking publicly
TV station, and radio station. We noted the was adequately prepped beforehand,
relevant reporters and editors, phone The actions of our campaign demon- even professional talkers like clergy and
numbers, fax numbers, street addresses, strated power and imposed pressure on union presidents. Their speeches were on
deadlines, and publication/broadcast our targets: the seven city council mem- message based on talking points we gave
schedules. Whenever we organized a bers. We used the media to amplify the them, and the organizer role-played with
media hit (a rally, prayer vigil, etc.), we power of our street actions by projecting them an interview with a reporter.
started from these cards, and kept track our message. To stage these as “media Press packets were made up: folders
on the cards whether our event got cov- events” we put ourselves in reporters’ with background articles, press releases,
ered or not. shoes (print, radio and TV): Why cover an event agenda, speakers’ bios, a basic
this event? What makes it newsworthy? leaflet, and an outline of our proposed


Winning Wages Media Kit 133


Anatomy of a Winning Campaign, cont.

ordinance. And although reporters for the with the statistics they needed before dead- cally chosen to show the breadth and
Spanish media spoke English, packets line. Then we called newspaper and radio prominence of our support.
were prepared with all the materials in reporters who didn’t show up. Not to • Editorials. We sought these out avidly,
Spanish—including the press release berate them, but to give them another but with a great deal of tact. An editorial
—so they could easily quote directly. opportunity to cover the story. demonstrates to elected officials that the
We designated two “media liaisons” Again, we lined up everything for them crisis we identified is real and must be
for each action, an English-speaker and to be able to generate a good story: we resolved. To win favorable editorials, we
a Spanish-speaker, usually one volunteer rushed over a press packet and photos met face-to-face with opinion page editors.
activist and one staff organizer, training taken by the photographer we hired, and We organized delegations of five or six
them with role-plays beforehand. These arranged speakers ready to be interviewed. strategically selected people: diverse,
were not spokespeople. Instead their role We generated lots of stories this way, both articulate and very conversant with the
was to rove around the action on the look- in print and on radio, from reporters who issues. Each person presented a specific
out for reporters, welcome them, sign didn’t show up to actions. element of the case for a living wage.
them in, give them a press-packet, orient For example, a low-wage worker and clergy-
them, and most importantly, connect these Additional Tactics: person presented the problem. A lawyer
reporters with the appropriate person for Beyond the News Features and president of the NAACP explained the
one-on-one interviews. details of how such ordinances work in
We quickly anticipated reporters’ We found that newspapers, radio and
practice. A community activist responded
needs. Newspaper reporter needed back-television all offered additional ways of
to the opposition’s arguments. Our team
projecting our message to our audiences
ground information on the legal issues? met together an hour before the meeting
besides just the regular coverage
to patiently role-play an entire meeting
in articles. Print has editorials,
Everyone who is speaking publicly has op-eds, and letters to the
(especially to temper the rhetoric and
been adequately prepped beforehand, approach of activists accustomed to
editor, each of which required
confrontation). We won a series of high-
even professional talkers like clergy a specific tack.
profile editorials from the weekly paper,
and union presidents. • Letter to the Editor. but got lambasted by our daily paper. Even
We used letters to the editor so, we maintained very cordial relations
sparingly. A small business with that editor, who granted us space for
Spanish-language TV needed a Latino owner, a taxpayer, a prominent African- an op-ed out of a sense of fairness.
worker to testify? Media liaisons wade American pastor, a homeless advocate
• Radio and television talk shows.
through the crowd, find the appropriate and others weighed in every few months,
For us, talk-shows offered an additional
spokesperson and connected them with in succinct three-paragraph letters, crafted
way to generate coverage beyond the
the reporter. in consultation with organizers. The
regular news departments. We found
The action rolled: the prayer vigil message, as always: problem, solution,
local cable-access TV and local Spanish-
proceeded, the march kicked off, the call to action.
language radio to be accessible venues.
rally began in City Hall. All the pieces • Opinion
came together. Editorials.
We solicited space Doing the media work built power, developed
Follow-Up is Critical from the opinion leaders, expanded organizational capacity and
page editor only at
But when the action was over, the
key junctures. We strengthened relationships.
media work was still not done.
used the opportuni-
Immediately after the event we made
ty to flesh out our We avoided the right-wing talk-shows. We
follow-up calls to all the reporters who
core message, laying out the problem in pitched the other hosts directly, and later
showed up: did they need anything else
greater detail, explaining the solution of a in the campaign were invited by them,
to complete the story?
living wage ordinance and calling urgently unsolicited. Again, key spokespeople were
This is where we connected them to
on city council members to the pass the sent and prepped with extensive one-on-
leaders for last-minute quotes, faxed over
ordinance, now. The signers were strategi- one role-plays with an organizer, as ususal.
background articles, or provided them

134 Winning Wages Media Kit


Anatomy of a Winning Campaign, cont.

Rolling On
We learned a lot during this campaign.
We learned from media trainings, from
manuals, from organizers around country
who we called up out of the blue, and who
generously shared their insights with us. We
took it all, tweaked it for own local context,
and put it into practice. And so we learned BIG ACTIONS
from doing the work.
Doing the media work built power, by Gyula Nagy, former director of the Alexandria
developed leaders, expanded organizational Living Wage Campaign; Alexandria Tenants’ and
capacity and strengthened relationships. This Workers’ Rights Committee
has benefited several campaigns in Northern
Virginia, including the TWSC’s organizing How to continue getting your message in between the headline-
among child-care workers, local unions’ seizing mass actions?
strikes and organizing drives, and the Living
Wage Coalition’s expansion into neighboring We found “media opportunities” to be an effective tool. Also
Arlington County. The message of justice for called “news availability,” we created these opportunities for
workers is being broadcast loud and clear. reporters to get deep background on the issue, on their own
schedule. They resulted in more feature-type coverage instead
of the hard-news coverage usually given scheduled actions.

For example, we pitched several reporters the idea of meeting

See press clippings from the Alexandria
one-on-one with an affected worker to reveal the profound
Living Wage Campaign, in this part of
human interest stories behind the abstract legal arguments,
the kit.
budget numbers, and statistics. We extended an open-ended
invitation to reporters (not the usual time-specific single event
like a rally), and eventually, one-by one the journalists accept-
ed at their convenience. An organizer prepped the worker with
role-plays, arranged the meeting, and accompanied the worker
through the process. Set up properly, a workers’ saga can
generate a profound story and transmit a powerful impact.

Right before Christmas, for example, Maria’s story hit the

Alexandria Journal’s front page. A full-time hotel worker, she
worked her second job in city hall. This contract janitor emptied
the mayor’s own trash can! And earned $6/hour with no benefits.

We generated coverage of her story and others through this

“soft news profile” pitching strategy.

A profile of a parking lot attendant waiting to receive the

living wage also scored us a hit. Creating “media opportunities”
for reporters to get the story proved to be an indispensable
complement to the coverage we garnered via actions.

Winning Wages Media Kit 135


SAMPLE PRESS CLIPPINGS These clips indicate how the Alexandria Living Wage
Campaign scored coverage in Spanish-language media, thus
helping frame the issue for Latino workers and residents.

136 Winning Wages Media Kit


These clips indicate how the Alexandria Living Wage Campaign scored coverage in
Spanish-language media, thus helping frame the issue for Latino workers and residents.

Winning Wages Media Kit 137


By Nathan Newman, Amanda Cooper, and Paul Sonn,

Brennan Center for Justice at New York University

In many campaigns, opponents will try to argue that the proposed

ordinance is “illegal” or the costs of litigation make passing it “unwise.”
They will threaten the city with a lawsuit to try and discourage people
from passing the law. If this issue arises, emphasize that more than 100
cities and counties have passed living wage laws and almost none
have faced litigation.

onetheless, in order to identify in advance any to talk with supportive lawyers to get advice on whether,
potential legal issues—and especially if you are in your state, cities have the power to enact a broad
exploring a campaign for a broader city-wide citywide minimum wage law; guidance on how best to
minimum wage ordinance covering all employers, an draft the legislation; and commitments for pro bono legal
exciting new trend in the living wage movement—it is support even before the campaign begins. Since the drafting,
worth consulting a lawyer at the start of your campaign. “intent” and legislative history of a law can matter in
court, this allows you to plan the campaign in a way that
creates the strongest case if you do end up in litigation.
Inoculation Strategy: The fact that legal
Consult a Lawyer at the Beginning counsel commits to
The Brennan Center for Justice at
Even though in most states there is no question that the campaign up
New York University Law School
cities and counties may pass living wage ordinances covering front will help give
has been a prime resource for
businesses receiving contracts or financial assistance, it is wavering allies or
assisting local living wage cam-
worth consulting a lawyer as your coalition sits down to legislators confidence paigns in drafting legislation and
draft your ordinance. that the law is in helping on litigation after passage.
Legal powers about how to provide for the enforce- fact legal. And it will They can often find law firms
ment of ordinances or how to cover certain entities like assuage worries that willing to help on legal issues on
airports or housing authorities can vary from state to the city or county a pro bono basis.
state. And if your state is one of the few that have enacted will be on its own in
state “preemption” laws that limit the power of localities dealing with litigation.
to adopt wage ordinances, it’s important to get an assess-
ment of whether (like South Dealing With Opposition Legal
Before launching a Carolina and Utah) they
ban all local living wage
campaign, the first step is laws or (like Oregon and In many campaigns, opponents will try to argue
to talk with supportive Florida) just local minimum that the proposed ordinance is illegal or the costs of
wage laws. litigation make passing it unwise. This argument often
lawyers to get advice on makes its way into opinion editorials, letters to the editor,
Finally, if your coalition
whether, in your state, is considering a broader or statements by opposition representatives on TV and
cities have the power to citywide minimum wage radio talk shows.
ordinance, a pre-campaign Again, emphasize that more than 100 cities and
enact a broad citywide counties have passed living wage laws. Almost none have
legal assessment of the
minimum wage law. scope of city powers under faced litigation. If you have lined up legal counsel it’s
your state’s legal system also worth promoting that publicly. The fact that national
is the first step. These more organizations and pro bono law firms have committed to
ambitious ordinances are succeeding in various jurisdic- the legal fight on behalf of the city indicates their belief
tions, but they will inevitably raise more legal issues and that the law has a sound legal basis.
invite litigation from opposing interests. If needed, bring in some legal experts to write opinion
So before launching such a campaign, the first step is editorials (op-eds) or testify in support of the legality of
the living wage law. (cont.)

138 Winning Wages Media Kit

The Law and the Headlines, cont.

Media and the Courts: Media around litigation can help as a publicity and
organizing tool in promoting the arguments around the
Dealing with Litigation After living wage to the broader public. The date a court case
Passage of the Ordinance opens should be the date you stage a photo-op rally,
place an op-ed, or release a statement on the steps of
As indicated above, it pays to be prepared. If your
the courthouse. Ongoing developments in the case provide
ordinance covers just city contractors and financial
additional opportunities for you to move your message. In
assistance recipients, the chances are low that you’ll be
fact, consider having at least a daily “media availability”
confronted with a lawsuit. But for the increasing numbers
session or small-scale press conference outside the court-
of cities exploring broader city minimum wage laws, it
house. Reporters will come to expect it and your messages
makes sense to be prepared. And it pays to anticipate
might get picked up more routinely.
how the story might break and how you spin it.
Defensively, you want to talk to allies to keep them
While in theory media does not influence courts, in
“on message” to support the themes that will be pushed
practice media matters quite a bit in conducting public
in the litigation. Certain public statements, especially by
policy litigation.
legislative allies, can be used against the campaign in
First, the local government has to feel pressure to fully
court, so it’s important to coordinate continuing media
defend the law and not cut a deal in court that might gut
work with the legal team.
the substance of the law. In addition, strong media helps
influence how various other political actors intervene in
the case. In many cases, you will want other city leaders Keep Spinning and Don’t Default
or state officials to support your legal position, so the
promise of favorable publicity (and neutralization of negative)
To the Lawyers
will help with that goal. Even judges are influenced by If your ordinance does face litigation, it is important
the media, for good and bad, since they may not want to to continue your media advocacy, and not just “let the
strike down legislation perceived as popular, especially if lawyers handle this part.” In consultation with your
they are somewhat undecided on the legal merits. lawyers, revisit your communications strategy and adapt
Moreover, most living wage laws are only the first step it to support your litigation now that the initial campaign
toward expanding such efforts to other cities or to the is over. Then implement it with the same energy you
state level. invested in the campaign.

• Make certain your press kit contains a
“Commonly Asked Legal Questions” fact
sheet for reporters. The list in this media kit,
news of the day from the courthouse.

• Make sure reporters can contact you and

your key lawyer if something breaks at the
LEGAL CASES What Their Side Says: Countering Opposition
courthouse unexpectedly. Keep those cell
Messages Against a Living Wage in Part
phones on!
Four is a good start.
• Go into “Courthouse Media Campaign
• On the day of the ruling, consider another
Mode.” That means look at the court case as • Stage some kind of media event,
photo-op to go with your “response” to the
an opportunity to counter spin the opposition, preferably with a photo-op rally or other
verdict. It doesn’t have to be big, perhaps a
move your messages and win the opinion of image for TV, for the date the case opens.
banner and a few workers and supports. If
at least the public, if not the judge. Move the message. The speakers should
you are victorious (and hopefully you will be,
include the chief lawyer, other legal
• Retool your press plan with your legal as experience with these challenges shows),
supporters, a campaign representative
counsel once the living wage measure has don’t be smarmy and vain about the tri-
and a worker to keep the issue “human”
gone to court. The old media plan might be umph. Nobody likes an over-gloating winner.
and not just “legal.”
insufficient to capture media opportunities Instead, use the victory to move the mes-
afforded by the case. • Consider placing an opinion editorial sage about the workers of your community
the day the case opens. Hook the opening of being protected so they can earn a decent
• Lock in on message and discipline it the case to the op-ed. living wage and provide for their families.
with the lawyers, politicians, “experts” and Pitch your spokespersons to radio/TV shows
everyone else on your side that might be • How about a daily media “mini-briefing”
covering the trial.
called upon to testify, offer commentary or or press “availability” at the Courthouse?
otherwise be publicly quoted. Beware of Round up a lawyer and an on-deck • Consider a verdict follow-up op-ed. If you
going off message and making statements campaign rep and make them available lose, turn it back to the message about the
that could be used against you in the case. to answer reporters’ questions. Spin the workers and the community.

Winning Wages Media Kit 139



Struggle in the Mountains:

By Carol Oppenheimer and Morty Simon, Santa Fe Living Wage Network

anta Fe is a city of 60,000 people tucked into the eastern slope of northern New

S Mexico’s beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains. With a rich Spanish colonial heritage
and a setting that has drawn artists since the early 1920’s, in recent decades this sleepy
capital has grown into a world-renowned resort destination, spiritual healing center and
Building Support for a Broad
Living Wage Campaign
Over the six months that the Roundtable
arts community. met, activists started putting together a com-
But today’s tourist environment has out the need for legal counsel because munity/labor alliance to build real support
been less kind to Santa Fe’s working people. of the far-reaching coverage of the law. for a living wage. Coordinated by longtime
While the cost of living is 22 percent above After a six-month campaign, the City labor and political activists in the city, a
the national average, wages are 18 percent Council in the spring of 2002 enacted a broad new coalition emerged—the Santa
below. Despite the fact that the average cost of “traditional” living wage ordinance covering Fe Living Wage Network. It drew key
a house is above $250,000, 28 percent of employees working for the city
workers in Santa Fe County earn less than and city contractors. Although the
$10.50 per hour—90 percent of them adults. Council did not include coverage The Santa Fe Living Wage Network drew
of the private sector, it voted to key membership from local churches,
Going Boldly Into Uncharted convene a “Living Wage
Roundtable.” With representatives gay and lesbian organizations, housing
of both labor and business, the groups, environmental groups and a
In the fall of 2001, Santa Fe City Roundtable’s mission was to local immigrant rights group.
Councilor Frank Montaño and City explore ways of extending the
Councilor Jimmie Martinez, himself a super- living wage to the private sector.
market employee, launched a living wage The Roundtable could have been a dead
campaign. They were concerned Santa Fe end, since it became clear from the start membership from local churches, gay and
was becoming two cities—one a haven of that it was irretrievably divided and would lesbian organizations, housing groups, envi-
the affluent, the other a place where service never reach a consensus proposal. Instead, ronmental groups, and a local immigrant
workers still earned poverty wages and activists turned it into an organizing and rights group. Launching a base-building
struggled to put food on the table. media opportunity, building a dynamic campaign, Network activists began
So, they introduced an ambitious living coalition that led to Santa Fe’s adoption in approaching Santa Fe residents to talk about
wage ordinance in the city council. Their February 2003 of the nation’s first city-wide the living wage and have them sign “interest
proposed bill mandated higher wages minimum wage of $8.50 an hour for all cards.” Activists also started a speakers’
for city employees, for employees of city large employers. bureau that went to church, community,
contractors, and, in a bold step attempted and school groups, speaking to almost 50
in only a very few cities, for workers in the different organizations over the course of
private sector generally. Their case points the campaign.

140 Winning Wages Media Kit


Struggle in the Mountains, cont.

The Living Wage Roundtable through a newspaper ad and

completed its work in late 2002, An overflow crowd of 600 showed up for fliers. To the cheers of supporters,
releasing separate business and the six-hour hearing, thanks to a turn-out in the early morning hours of a
labor proposals. In January brisk February day, the council
campaign coordinated by the Network,
2003, the Living Wage Network voted 7-to-1 to adopt the nation’s
and allied members of the City unions and the Catholic Church. first city-wide minimum wage
Council promptly introduced in ordinance.
the Council the labor proposal, As expected, a lawsuit by local
would have access to a low-cost effective
which called for an $8.50 minimum wage hotels and restaurants challenging the
defense, if the ordinance should be
to be extended to all large private sector ordinance was filed the next week. The
challenged in court.
employers in the City. Brennan Center and a major New York
law firm it recruited are helping the city
Calling In the Lawyers and Spin At City Hall defend the ordinance in court. The
Economists During a series of hearings over a National Restaurant Association is clearly
six-week period, the campaign gained worried by the Santa Fe precedent and
As the campaign built, the Network momentum. The Network launched a has been attempting to sound the alarm
reached out to national resource website,, and nationally to the business community.
providers to secure technical assistance developed a strategy for op-ed pieces and But already this new direction in the
with economic and legal issues. Economic appearances on radio talk shows. In a living wage movement is gaining the
analysis of the proposal was provided show of community support, the Network attention of lawmakers and activists in
by Professor Sam Bowles, Director of the organized a paid advertisement in the other cities as they search for ways to
Economics Program at the Santa Fe local newspaper, the New Mexican, signed extend their living wage laws to help
Institute, and Professor Robert Pollin by more than 1,500 residents, unions, greater numbers of working families. San
of the University of Massachusetts at and community organizations, including Francisco is currently studying a proposal
Amherst, a leading economic expert on 70 businesses, most union locals in the for an $8.50 an hour city minimum wage,
living wages. This analysis was a crucial state, three foundations, numerous and other cities are expected to follow
ingredient for persuading swing legislators churches, and the county Democratic Party. Santa Fe’s lead.
that a city minimum wage made sense. As the City Council vote approached,
Legal analysis was also important, the Chamber of Commerce-led opposition
since the power of cities to enact city-wide campaign also intensified. With out-of-
minimum wage laws is uncharted territory state funding from the National Restaurant
in many states, and critics charged that a Association, they blanketed the radio
minimum wage ordinance would embroil air-waves with anti-living wage ads. They
the city in costly also tried unsuccessfully to persuade the
See the Resources
litigation. The state legislature to pass a law stripping
section for contact
Brennan Center Santa Fe of the power to adopt city-wide
information on the
for Justice at Brennan Center and minimum wage.
NYU Law School other resources.
provided legal Victory and Blowback
analysis supporting the City’s power in
this area, and helped draft the ordinance An overflow crowd of 600 showed up
to make sure it avoided potential legal for the six-hour hearing, thanks to a turn-
pitfalls. They also lined up a pro bono out campaign coordinated by the Network,
legal defense team, enabling the Network unions and the Catholic Church. The
to reassure the City Council that the city Church urged parishioners to attend

Winning Wages Media Kit 141



Living Wage con Salsa:


t’s not a “classic” living wage campaign in the sense of getting city councils to pass the campaign and framed it as a civil

I an ordinance for low-paid workers. But the struggle of farm workers in Immokalee,
Florida, offers an inspiring tale of how living wage is a profound component of
economic justice and civil rights for all—and the powerful role framing the issue in
rights struggle against modern day slavery.
CIW has kept the pressure on Taco Bell by
taking their struggle to national and local
the media plays in getting the message out. media around the country. They’ve scored
dozens of headlines coast to coast and
have appeared on numerous radio and TV
Sweatshops in the Field fields.” Workers requested a meeting
shows. Taco Bell, needless to say, should
to discuss possible solutions. To date,
Since 1997, tomato pickers in this fear being branded, “Nike sweatshop
despite numerous pleas from workers,
poor southwest Florida area, the state’s style,” as supporters of exploited labor.
widespread media coverage, and growing
largest farm worker community, have “We’ve found it’s important to frame
public pressure, Taco Bell has refused to
organized and protested for a living wage. our campaign so it’s not just about meeting
come to any concrete solution to the
Their goal is to join in talks with the the needs and desires of farmworkers,
problem with CIW representatives.
state’s corporate tomato growers to find but also addresses the goals of global
ways to improve farm labor conditions justice activists who are seeking more
and raise the crop-picking rate. Justice with that Chalupa and A responsibility from the corporations that
Specifically, they aim to raise the price Living Wage with Those Nachos attempt to control us,” said Lucas Benitez,
of their crop by one cent per pound to farmworker, member and staff of CIW.
One of the most galvanizing aspects
be used for pay raises, and to press the “By looking at our struggle as a
of this campaign is how workers are
company to improve work conditions. corporate responsibility campaign we are
reframing the issue as one of civil rights.
The current rate of 40 to 50 cents per able to call on a wider group of allies to
The workers have very limited rights to
bucket has changed little in more than fight with us. By fighting together we can
form a union. They are viewed as living
two decades. A penny-per-pound increase change the standard
and working in a
would push their wages up to a decent of living for farm-
virtual state
living standard and help lift them out A penny-per-pound increase workers and elevate
of indentured
of poverty. the standards
However, despite signature drives,
servant slavery to would push their wages up to of products that
the big corpora-
community-wide work stoppages, marches, a decent living standard and are available to
tions. They see as
and a 30-day hunger strike by members of help lift them out of poverty. consumers.”
central tenets of
the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Benitez empha-
democracy their
(CIW), the agribusinesses refuse to meet sized the key
ability to earn a
with farm worker representatives and have message of their campaign: “We as farm-
decent living wage so they can provide for
only marginally raised wages. workers are tired of subsidizing Taco
their families, and their right to make
When workers discovered that Taco Bell’s profits with our poverty that is based
their voices heard at the decision-making
Bell, the popular fast food eatery, is a on exploitation, mistreatment, deplorable
tables. It’s not just about the penny per
major buyer of the tomatoes they pick, wages, and in the most extreme cases
pound of tomatoes, it’s about justice and
they informed company executives in early modern-day slavery. Taco Bell should
civil rights for workers.
2000 of the deplorable wages and working understand that more and more consumers
And the media is picking up on that
conditions in Florida’s farmlands. They are concerned about human rights and
frame. Recent national media has profiled
called for an end to “sweatshops in the are looking for products and corporations

142 Winning Wages Media Kit


Living Wage con Salsa, cont.

that uphold basic human dignity. Taco Bell • Focus on Target Audience: based advocacy groups. The National
has the opportunity to be a pioneer in Besides the boycott, CIW is targeting other Council of Churches, the Presbyterian
the fast food industry by offering a true audiences in their campaign. College stu- Church USA, United Church of Christ, the
alternative to ordinary fast food—fair food.”
dents are some of the biggest consumers Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and others
of fast food. That’s one of the reasons CIW have lent their support and communicated
Getting the Message Out joined forces with campus activist groups. the story to their members.
Students have made their voices heard as • Shareholder strategy: The CIW
CIW has launched innovative campaign
consumers around the world on other has also partnered with stock owners of
strategies that have garnered media
campaigns such as the Nike sweatshop publicly held YUM! Brands, Taco Bell’s
attention and helped keep the pressure
globalization/economic justice efforts. parent company and the world’s largest
on Taco Bell and the agribusiness growers.
“As Taco Bell’s target audience we restaurant chain, to call on the corpora-
These include:
as students are in a unique position to tion to be more responsible to the workers
• Direct Action: A bus tour caravan dedicate our resources and creativity along its supply chain. At the most recent
of students, migrant workers and activists toward helping Taco Bell realize the annual shareholder meeting CIW along
made its way around the country, culmi- importance of the farm workers’ role in with religious, student, worker and share-
nating with mass demonstrations in Los its success and, therefore, the company’s holder allies used YUM!’s own words
Angeles, and at Taco Bell corporate head- responsibility for improving the wages and against them. YUM! recently made a
quarters in Irvine, CA. The tour came at working conditions of our state’s tomato statement about their animal welfare policy,
the heels of five months of protests at pickers,” said Brian Payne of the saying that “as a major purchaser of food
Taco Bell restaurants across the U.S., Student/Farmworker Alliance at a products, we have the opportunity and
with nearly 100 actions in states including University of Florida rally. responsibility to influence the way animals
“Thousands of students are treated.” Outside the meeting a color-
from across the state are ful protest with activists dressed in animal
They see as central tenets of democracy prepared to stand in soli- costumes and farmworkers in their work
their ability to earn a decent living wage darity with farm workers clothes created considerable media interest
so they can provide for their families, in their struggle for... when they demanded, “What about farm-
a living wage.” workers, YUM?” Inside the shareholder
and their right to make their voices heard Student activists meeting a resolution in support of the
at the decision-making tables. involved in the campaign workers received an unprecedented 39
have focused the power percent of the shareholders’ votes.
they have on their campuses
Alabama, Tennessee, Wisconsin and to “Boot the Bell.” To date they have
Indiana. A “Boycott the Bell” effort,
From Tomatoes and a Taco
succeeded in removing Taco Bell restaurants
calling on customers to stay away from and products from their campuses or to a Living Wage
Taco Bell, continues. The logo for the creating “Taco Bell free zones” at 15 high Activists working on campaigns to pass
boycott features a picture of the Taco Bell schools and universities. living wage ordinances in cities can learn
Chihuahua dog with a red international
• Updated and Jam-Packed a lot from those toiling in tomato fields in
“NO” sign drawn through it.
Website: The CIW website, Florida. Among other things, the road to
• Hunger Strikes: Worker and their www.ciw-online, is a splashy, information- victory is very long and arduous. “At the
supporters engaged in a hunger strike loaded “Boycott the Bell” resource for center of our struggle, no matter whether
outside Taco Bell’s headquarters, which activists and reporters. The site contains it involves a city council vote or a farmer
not only captured media attention but history of the campaign, archived materials hunger strike—is that people who work
resulted in the Archbishop of Los Angeles such as press releases, an exhaustive should earn enough to live and provide
weighing in on the issue. The Associated supply of news clips, color photos from for their families—no matter if they work
Press picked up the story and fed it to previous actions, and much more. on a farm or in a hotel,” said CIW’s
media nationwide. The Los Angeles Times Benitez. “It’s about basic dignity and
• Strong alliances with religious
did a story, as did numerous online new civil rights.”
groups: To drive home the civil rights,
services such as, Yahoo Finance
human dignity and justice frame, CIW has
and more.
forged alliances with numerous faith-

Winning Wages Media Kit 143


By Jen Kern, Living Wage Resource Center, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now! (ACORN)

After 10 years of impressive organizing and winning, living wage activists are taking
this movement in new and exciting directions. Our challenge is not only to continue
to expand and redefine our goals and victories, but to learn how to reframe living
wage organizing for those who represent us to the larger public—the media. What is
said about us most truly reflects the flexible and ambitious nature of our movement.
Our organizing isn’t stale—nor should our message be.

ere are some exciting new trends in living wage policy and organizing
H that must be communicated effectively to the media.

1. Expansion of Existing Laws

One of the most exciting—and underreported—trends in the movement
is the growing number of cities expanding their living wage laws to cover
more workers at higher wages.
Over the last couple of years, at least five cities—including those with
some of the longest-standing living wage laws—have done so. For example,
the Boston City Council voted to increase its living wage level from $9.11
to $10.25 an hour and to lower thresholds so more contractors were covered,
including additional non-profits.
In Chicago, ACORN and SEIU
pushed successfully to increase that
There is a growing number of
city’s living wage from $7.60 to
cities that are expanding their $9.05 and to add an annual inflation
living wage laws to cover more adjuster.
This past year, New York City threw
workers at higher wages.
over its 1996 law—which reportedly
covered about 1,400 workers—in
favor of an ambitious new policy that is estimated to cover as many as
50,000 workers.
Representing another expansion trend, voters in Oakland last year
expanded their 1998 living wage law to the Port of Oakland where thousands
of workers at the airport and seaport stand to gain.
The story of these bold expansions should be a key piece of our message
to the media. These moves by veteran living wage cities are the best evidence
yet that living wage laws are working. Given that there are more than 100
living wage laws on the books, these examples should also signal to the
media the exciting potential of this national expansion trend. Our message
slightly shifts to highlight the need to include more workers because
passing living wage laws doesn’t spell doom for businesses and the
economy and everyone benefits.

Winning Wages Media Kit 145


Trends In the Living Wage Movement, cont.

2. Going Citywide requirements in Suffolk, New York City and other cities.
The message for these campaigns must be slightly
While the vast majority of living wage laws on the
different due to the reliance of most of these agencies
books have limited their coverage to public employees
on scarce public funds. Living wage organizers must see
and/or firms who do business with public funds, there are
these difficult fights as an opportunity to open up a larger
increasing attempts to move beyond this model to explore
discussion about fiscal priorities and the need to increase
laws that apply to the private sector more broadly.
public funding for crucial social services such as child care
Both Berkeley and Santa Monica, CA have enacted
and elder care. The message is not that it won’t cost any
laws that combine “traditional” living wage coverage with
money to insure these essential workers are paid a living
expanded coverage of all firms in those cities’ elite tourist
wage. The message is there is arguably no more important
zones (while Berkeley’s law
use of public money than to redress the shamefully low
has thus far survived legal
wages paid to those who care for our society’s most
There are increasing challenge, Santa Monica’s
vulnerable citizens. These types of campaigns also lend
was eventually brought down
attempts to explore with a fusillade of hotel
themselves to messages around the quality of care and
may feed nicely into current organizing campaigns that
living wage laws industry money).
target these workers for unionization.
that apply to the What’s more, New Orleans
voters and Santa Fe’s City
private sector. Council have enacted city-wide 4. Defending What We’ve Won
minimum wage laws that apply OK, so not all trends are good. In response to our
broadly to nearly the entire private sector (New Orleans countless local victories, the business opposition has
was struck down by a business lawsuit and Santa Fe’s is grown increasingly desperate, nasty, and (dare we say?)
being challenged). As this guide does to print, a community effective.
and labor coalition in San Francisco has begun to collect After years of unsuccessful attempts to thwart effective
signatures to put an $8.50 city-wide minimum wage grassroots organizing at the local level, business groups
increase on the November 2003 ballot. are enlisting their conservative cronies in state legislatures
Though there are still only a handful of city-wide all over the country in an attempt to enact state legisla-
minimum wage efforts, it is quite appropriate to mention tion that prohibits local
these more ambitious campaigns when talking to the wage laws. Such pre-
media about our own campaigns. After all, expanding emption laws have The message is that
living wage in this way is a natural extension of our work. already passed in
Emphasizing the potential of the movement to expand pri-
there is arguably no
nine states—Arizona,
vate sector coverage is even more strategically significant Colorado, South more important use of
given that it is precisely this trend that most concerns the Carolina, Louisiana, public money than to
big business opposition (read: they’re freaking out) and Missouri, Utah, Oregon,
that their most aggressive tactics are designed to prevent.
redress the shamefully
Florida and Texas—
Our media message should contain our most ambitious and have been (and low wages paid to
vision: a living wage for all workers. are being) pursued in those who care for our
several others—
society’s most vulnera-
3. Living Wage for Caregivers Michigan, Kansas,
ble citizens.
Tennessee, Virginia,
The first phase of the living wage movement largely
New Mexico, etc.
ignored non-profit employees and caregivers such as day
At the same time,
care, home health care, mental health service providers,
the tough economic times have meant these same groups
etc. There are several reasons for this—including that
are finding more sympathetic ears in local city councils
many ordinances specifically exempted non-profits.
for their efforts to repeal ordinances that are already on
Increasingly, campaigns are taking on the challenge of
the books. In at least four cases, opponents have filed
providing a living wage to these workers.
lawsuits aimed at repealing living wage laws passed by
In Boston and Suffolk County, NY, day care and Head
both elected bodies and voters themselves. At least eight
Start workers are included in new or expanded coverage.
cities have lost their living wage laws due to legislative
Home care workers stand to benefit from the living wage
or legal repeal.

146 Winning Wages Media Kit

Trends In the Living Wage Movement, cont.

We must see these new attacks for what they are and
call them that way to the media. Our message empha-
sizes the fact that states preventing municipalities
from making their own decisions about the economic
policies that are right for them is an attack on local
control. Strong-arm lobbying tactics and lawsuits that
result in living wage legislation being repealed before
it has even gone into effect are an affront to the will
of the people. Both of these strategies are a desperate,
backdoor attempt by the hotel and restaurant industries
to subvert any attempts to regulate their exploitation of
the working poor.

Winning Wages Media Kit 147

By Malkia Amala Cyril, Director, Youth Media Council

What does living wage law have to do with youth and youth policy?
Plenty, especially in the way of opportunities, threats and media

Opportunities: Youth are Vulnerable Workers

& Strong Advocates for Justice

ince the 1980’s, and even more so in the three years since 9/11, the U.S.
economy has produced the highest levels of economic inequality, insecurity,
and overall poverty among the world’s 16 most “advanced” capitalist economies.
Within that context, youth and young workers have been tremendously impacted and
marginalized into a vulnerable and easily exploitable labor sector. Young workers make
up more than 60 percent of the service sector.
As a population of vulnerable workers, youth
The youth sector of the are impacted by any legislation that attempts
to raise or protect the minimum wage.
movement for economic and The youth sector of the movement for economic
social justice is often one of and social justice is often one of the most
the most vibrant and creative vibrant and creative forces there is. Partnering
with youth organizations is often a highly
forces there is. successful strategy for winning any campaign.
All over the country, youth organizations, high
school classes, college students, and youth religious organizations have initiated or
joined fights to demand a living wage.
The self-interest is clear: our parents are workers and their salary puts food on the
table and clothes on our backs; youth service providers are the ones who care for us,
and when they are underpaid, we suffer; we too are underpaid workers with families
and without benefits.

Threats: Age/Race as a Wedge Issue

Age has also been used repeatedly as a wedge issue in campaigns for economic
and racial justice. For example, the building of youth jails in suburban white communities
relies on stereotypes of violent youth. This builds a base of support for increased
construction of youth jails while simultaneously dangling the carrot of new jobs over
the mouths of hungry rural and suburban whites. Stereotypes about youth of color as
dangerous are a powerful motive force and require strategic responses by communities
fighting for justice.
Youth workers are often not covered by living wage ordinances. Under the City of
Somerville, Massachusetts' Living Wage Ordinance (Ordinance No. 1999-1), any person
or entity who has entered into a contract with the City of Somerville is required to pay
its employees who are involved in providing services to the City of Somerville no less
than a “living wage.” The living wage currently is $8.35 per hour. The only employees
not covered by the Living Wage Ordinance are individuals in a Youth Program.
“Youth Program“ as defined in the ordinance, “means any city, state or federally-
funded program which employs youth, as defined by city, state or federal guidelines,
during the summer, or as part of a school-to-work program, or in any other related
seasonal or part-time program.” There are additionally training wages, which are


148 Winning Wages Media Kit


Young People & Decent Wages, cont.

wages paid below the minimum wage that enable employers

to fill seasonal and summer jobs with youth workers paid
less than the minimum wage, displacing many adult workers.
The result is that, like workfare workers, age is used as b SOME FACTS ABOUT
a method of filling city jobs with workers paid less than
minimum wage. Whether it’s a living wage campaign or a Provided by the Young Workers Project of San Francisco
broader economic
justice fight, young • The unemployment rate for youth ages 20-25 years old,
As vulnerable workers, people can contribute both nationally and in San Francisco, is almost twice the rate
for people over 25 years old.[i]
impacted family members, and are impacted.
Additionally, the
scapegoats, and wedge foundation of living
• In San Francisco County, unemployment for African-
American youth is almost 3 times as high as for white youth
weapons, youth are an wage ordinances is that (35.7% vs. 13.7%) and the rate is close to double for Latino
important feature of the public monies should youth as for white youth (17.9% vs. 13.7%).[ii]
be used for the public
political landscape of any good, and that all • Young workers are more likely to be laid off than older workers.
fight for living wage. private businesses that
• In September and October of 2001, workers ages 16-24
do not comply with
suffered 95% of all job losses. Young people in this age group
living wage standards
are six times as likely as older workers to be unemployed. [ii]
as defined by the local policy should not be subsidized by
city funds. This is often attacked with dirty tricks such as • Young workers are more likely to be hired as temp workers;
the idea that use of public funds in this way would “hurt” 53% of all temp workers are under the age of 35. Temporary
youth by eliminating jobs for youth service providers if their jobs on average pay lower wages, while youth temp workers
employers do not abide by living wage standards. are more likely to suffer periods of unemployment and be poor
As vulnerable workers, impacted family members, scape- than are permanent workers. [iii]
goats, and wedge weapons, youth are an important feature
of the political landscape of any fight for living wage. • Community Colleges are among the hardest hit, with a
Therefore, the media work conducted to support that fight proposed increase in student fees from $11 to $24 per unit.
must treat youth and young workers as the political actors This is a 120% fee increase, the largest percentage fee increase
and strong advocates for justice they are. ever in the history of California.

• Community college students are more likely to be employed

Media Strategies for Success and work for more hours per week than four-year college
students. In 1994, 90% of community college students reported
In the media advocacy component of any living wage
working while being enrolled in college over the last five years. [iv]
campaign, it is important to examine all of the political
factors as both potential threats and opportunities. Youth • 40% of working community college students reported that
are both of these to a living wage campaign. Below are worklimited their class choice at college, and 37% reported that
some media strategies to support the successful building work had a negative effect on their academic performance. [v]
of living wage campaigns that ultimately provide economic
justice for all, including youth and young workers.
[i] U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of Population and
Goal setting: You may be trying to win a new living
wage ordinance for your city, fighting to protect a pre-
existing living wage ordinance, or trying to extend the [ii] Bureau of Labor Statistics
benefits of a pre-existing ordinance to a broader community. [iii] Jorgensen, Helene. 1999. When Good Jobs go Bad: Young
The following strategies should be used based on your Adults and Temporary Work in the New Economy.
political goals at the moment. Washington D.C.: The 2030 Center.
[iv] National Center for Educational Statistics 1998
Reframing living wage: One of the economic concepts
that typifies opposition to living wage ordinances is that [v] National Center for Educational Statistics 1996
workers are paid low wages because they are unskilled. Many
workers that benefit from living wage ordinances, especially


Winning Wages Media Kit 149


Young People & Decent Wages, cont.

young workers, provide basic services to the city. The minors. Most jobs filled by youth do not require a 60-day
Youth Media Council suggests that rather than focusing training period. Youth deserve to be treated with the same
on the skills or lack thereof of workers, media coverage dignity and respect as all workers.
should focus on the service these workers provide to a
Institutional Accountability: When we use media
city they cannot afford to live in. Using this framework,
advocacy to reframe political issues, we are generally
living wage can be more easily connected to fights to
seeking to shift public opinion from blaming the victims
increase the minimum wage and other youth-led economic
to holding the institutions and decision-makers in power
justice fights.
responsible for the policies and conditions they create.
Hooking youth issues to living wage campaigns in Focusing attention on employers of young workers can
the news. Mother’s and Father’s Day are good times to talk serve to highlight gross
about the impact living wage policy can have on children wage inequalities.
and families. This is a good moment to reframe “family
Youth can inspire
Counter-messaging empathy as
values” and claim the moral high-ground on this issue.
wedge attacks: Engaging
The last day of school is a good opportunity to do spokespersons.
youth as players in the fight
press work about summer jobs, and the first day of school
for a living wage provides a
is a good time to inject goals that impact part-time
new way to “focus on the family,” and highlight racial
employment for youth. When new budgets are passed, par-
injustice as youth of color and their parents make up a
ticularly when they defund youth jobs, an opportunity is
large percentage of those employed in city-funded, part
created to talk about the impact this has on young people.
time or temporary jobs.

Media Messages and Messengers Spokespeople: Youth can inspire empathy as

spokespersons. They help foster a sense that the goals
Following are some suggestions for carrying forward of these campaigns are morally right, and the belief that
a youth-based message as part of your economic justice by investing in living wage policy, cities are investing in
campaign. their future.
Highlighting Injustice: Demonstrate inequality and
focus on exploitation. For example: Youth should not be
treated as second-class workers. The proposal to create a
“training wage” for youth workers discriminates against

150 Winning Wages Media Kit


Young People & Decent Wages, cont.


The following interview is with Nato Green, an advocate with the Young Worker’s Project (YWP).
YWP is a San Francisco Bay Area-based organization advocating for the rights of young workers.
The interview was conducted by Malkia Cyril of the Youth Media Project.

Malkia Cyril: Are living wage Too often organizers of those campaigns Increase youth participation in the political
campaigns important to youth and young agree to exemptions for students. process in an issue that directly affects
workers? If so, why? But the minimum wage is absolutely them more than most.
a young worker issue. Young workers are
Nato Green: Yes, but it depends. Any concentrated in low-wage industries—temp MC: What’s the bottom line for young
campaign to boost wages for low-wage jobs, fast food, food and drinking establish- people and decent paying jobs?
workers benefits youth. However, most ments, department stores, video stores,
living wage campaigns thus far haven't movie theaters, grocery, etc., where the NG: In terms of what’s at stake, it’s
been major youth issues for two reasons. minimum wage level has a very direct education for youth. Raising wages for youth
First, by targeting mostly businesses with effect on the workers. These industries expands their educational opportunities.
contracts with city governments, living wage are defined by their youth workforce. Fast- Tuition is rising much faster than wages,
ordinances don't affect jobs that young food for example pays minimum wage to so students are forced to go further into
workers tend to get. There are some youth a greater percentage of workers than any debt, take longer to get through school,
in every sector, but here in San Francisco, other sector. and work more while at school thereby
the main benefit to young workers I would compromising their education. For those
guess is not through city contractors but youth who are doing what they're supposed
MC: What percentage of the economy
San Francisco Airport retail jobs. There to be doing—getting a job and going to
are young workers and what conditions do
were probably a handful of young workers school—they still can't get ahead with the
they face?
who benefited from the S.F. living wage at jobs they can get. Things are getting worse
nonprofits, security guards, construction, NG: We’ve seen some data from Bureau economically for our generation. With the
etc. A second reason is that many living of Labor Statistics that workers under age decline in good union jobs, higher education
wage ordinances have exemptions for 25 make up half of those earning at or is the only way to get ahead but the most
minors, students, or trainees. So again in below minimum wage. Remember, some rapidly growing job categories are entry-
San Francisco, many of the City contractors of those folks are young recent immigrants. level service jobs. Our communities need
or City jobs will have substandard “youth” more access to higher paying jobs. Those
intern or trainee jobs that may much MC: If a group was doing media work for who think that if they work hard and get
lower wages. a living wage campaign, what information good grades they'll get ahead are wrong.
I think area living wage laws and about youth and young workers should
minimum wage laws will benefit youth a they have?
lot more. For example, youth working retail
at Jack London Square in Oakland, a big NG: Well, in terms of organizing goals,
tourist and entertainment area, benefited pass a living/minimum wage without
from the Port of Oakland living wage. exemptions for youth, students, or trainees.
Business groups apparently fought the Use interest in wages in general to spotlight
effort by using youth to argue that youth young people in this country. Increase
don't need higher wages. Similarly, campus enforcement of wage and hour laws (i.e.,
living wage laws can benefit youth in work- overtime and meal periods) among youth.
study, cafeteria, clerical, and other jobs. Get youth to expect more from their jobs.

Winning Wages Media Kit 151


CASE STUDY Advocates of living wage have turned their attention to different
strategies once their laws have been passed. Evolving the living wage
campaign is necessary for a variety of reasons, including a changing economic landscape or
political realities. In this section we examine two emerging strategies to consider once your
living wage law is passed: Enforcement, and Community Benefits initiatives. These by no
means are the only strategies to consider post-living wage law passage, but they are useful
as more organizations strategize how to leverage gains made to accomplish new goals.

Now That the Law Has Been Passed:

By Swaroopa Iyengar, Development and Communications Director, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Community (EBASE)

ur story is one many working on liv-

districts, organizations and unions. EBASE responsibility for implementing the law.
ing wage can share: how to enforce and our coalition partners lobbied City Firms are trying to escape the law by finding
a living wage law once it has been Council members and bombarded them “loopholes” and playing fast and furious
passed, in particular by employers reluctant with postcards, letters and phone calls up with the measure’s language, including
to live by the letter of the law? until the last day they could vote to put the misrepresenting their firm size and other
That is the challenge facing us here in initiative on the ballot.
Oakland, California, as our focus has shifted Our campaign successfully
from securing living wages to ensuring they made the need for living Our aim is to ensure our living wage law is
are paid. The media has played a critical wage jobs a defining issue comprehensively implemented by clearly
role in the next phase of our campaign. It of the election in the
has been a test of perseverance and tenacity. media and for voters.
defining some of the ambiguous language
Under tremendous in the law. We also want to maximize the
Background pressure from our law’s potential and include the highest
coalition and opposing
The Port of Oakland is often described as businesses and at the last
number of businesses possible.
the “economic engine” of the East Bay. The minute, City Council leaders
Port, covering 19 miles of waterfront along introduced a proposal
the entire city of Oakland, includes more and put it on the ballot. EBASE launched “tricks.” We have to constantly monitor the
than 1,000 acres of commercial real estate. a coordinated effort to pass “Measure I,” Port and pressure them to take action for
It creates 22,000 jobs in the region and this which resulted in a victory when it fear of legal challenges.
number is projected to grow to excess of triumphed by more than 78 percent support, Our aim is to ensure our living wage law
35,000 by 2010. the largest margin of any issue on the local is comprehensively implemented by clearly
Securing better jobs for low-wage Port ballot. By approving Measure I in March defining some of the ambiguous language in
workers has been a protracted struggle for of 2002, the people of Oakland took a major the law. We also want to maximize the law’s
us, and will continue to be. After negotiating step in making sure that Port businesses potential and include the highest number of
with and challenging the Port to enact a —beneficiaries of one our region’s key businesses possible.
living wage on Port-assisted businesses public resources—support working families. The goals of our implementation
throughout 2001, we shifted our strategy to
campaign are:
target the Mayor and City Council of Oakland Enforcement: Getting Employers
and demand they place the issue on the ballot. 1. Get the Port to adopt a set of
to Pay By the Rules rules and regulations: EBASE and its legal
Our campaign strategy was to exert
pressure on the Oakland City Council team have developed a comprehensive set of
Then the real trouble began.
members by leveraging their relationships rules and regulations around Measure I in
Measure I went into effect in April 2002.
with residents and key faith leaders in their this past year. This document will effectively
Since then, the Port has continually resisted

152 Winning Wages Media Kit


Now That the Law Has Been Passed, cont.

close all the loopholes in the law and ensure Brown’s campaign materials last March. In workers who have benefited by earning a
that every business at the Port is required to order to effectively pressure the Port, we will living wage with those who have not. Through
pay a living wage. leverage City leaders’ associations with this these profiles we will draw media attention
2. Pressure non-complying businesses law through extensive media coverage around to the benefits workers and their families have
to start paying a living wage: In order implementation issues. gained by receiving a living wage.
to resist paying a living wage, rental car • Generate voter response: Voter outreach • Specific media messaging: Measure I
companies, a major Port business concern in the Measure I campaign reached more drew support from thousands of Oakland
especially at our waterfront Oakland Airport, than 6,000 voters on the street with postcards voters, many of who worked on the campaign.
made questionable arguments around contracts, and 10,000 voters by phone. In addition, tens Voters were committed to the issue and felt
billing, and who was included. They said of thousands supported living wages at the they were exerting a direct positive influence
month-to-month contracts were not covered Port by voting yes last March. EBASE and our on workers at the Port. This year our consis-
by the measure until they expired. This sneaky coalition will tap into this mass resource to tent media message to voters is going to
“contract” gambit would effectively exclude generate pressure (including letters to the emphasize their participation in the campaign
half of the covered workers from the law. editor, letters to politicians, and phone calls) last year, and draw attention to the changes
EBASE responded by organizing rental car to the Port Commissioners and Oakland their vote has made in the lives of workers
workers, scheduling meetings with the Mayor politicians to enforce the law. who are now getting a living wage. Voters
and City Council members and mobilizing • Change the Port’s Culture Around overwhelmingly passed the law, don’t they
more than 300 Port workers and activists for Economic Justice Issues: The business- deserve to see it implemented? We also will
Port meetings. We will continue to monitor dominated Port seemed, at one time, impene- enhance the message to bring in the frame of
businesses and hold them accountable to trable to vital community issues. We have how the law is working—or not, if employers
the workers. now seen that with the right strategy and an don’t play by the rules and if is not enforced.
3. Highlight living wage success aggressive media campaign we can win with • Wide media outreach: We will reach
stories: We are bringing worker voices to a unanimous vote by the Board. We will use out to a wide range of media outlets. We are
the forefront and having them share their media to pressure the Board to enforce targeting television, radio and print outlets
experiences of how they and their families Measure I. in the area like The Oakland Tribune, The
have benefited from receiving a living wage. Montclarion, The Berkeley Daily Planet,
Insofar as it has been implemented, the living Media Strategy Channel 2, KPFA and KQED. Some of these
wage has had no discernible negative impact organizations covered the Measure I campaign
on airport revenues and passenger travel This campaign has high local, regional extensively last year. Now we are pitching the
—on the contrary, both Port workers and and national visibility and will set the tone for story with our one-year-later hook and what is
Port businesses have gained together from other policies covering institutions like the working and not working. We are also going
the living wage. Port. Measure I received substantial positive to approach ethnic media outlets in the area
and widespread media during the campaign with a large immigrant worker audience.
Our Campaign Goals and over the last months. In the second stage
of our campaign, we have developed a multi- By 2004, we anticipate effective systems for
Using the positive media support we layered media plan that will put further pressure enforcement will be in place, thanks in part to
already received for Measure I, we are now on the Port to fully implement the law. the work of EBASE, our coalition, the voices
moving into the second stage of our campaign Elements of our media strategy include: of workers and the mandate of the voters.
and are using media as a multi-faceted tool. • Release of a “one-year later” Measure By our continuous monitoring of the Port, and
Our goals are: I status report: EBASE is going to release to ongoing media engagement, we will ensure
• Leverage Oakland politicians: our the media a comprehensive report evaluating that the next chapter of this story is about how
living wage law won by more than any other the implementation of the law. This 15-page workers got the wages the people of Oakland
initiative on the ballot, clearly illustrating report contains recommendations for the Port want them to have.
Oakland voters’ priorities. As a result, around the current inadequate monitoring
Oakland politicians have publicly associated and enforcement issues.
themselves with the living wage. For example, • Raising worker voices: Our Port report
Measure I was highlighted in Mayor Jerry compares and contrasts testimonies from

Winning Wages Media Kit 153



Living Wage Reloaded:

By Sarah Zimmerman, Assistant Research Director, Working Partnerships USA

n November 1998 the San Jose City Council approved what was then the country’s sufficiency wage,” a tool that illustrated

I highest living wage ordinance—$9.50 an hour with benefits, and $10.75 an hour
without. It was a time of economic prosperity as Silicon Valley rode the wave of the
dot-com boom. But now times have changed. Our story is about how we framed our
how much families need to earn to survive
—anywhere from $12.42 an hour for a
single adult and child to $21.60 an hour
first battle to pass the living wage law, then transformed our campaign to accommodate for a four-person family.
changing economic times. Connecting the cost of living to an
actual dollar wage exposed the inadequacy
of minimum wages and provided a numeri-
The Campaign Back-Story against it led by the Chamber of Commerce
cal base for the discussion of a different
together with the Mercury News. The
The South Bay Labor Council standard. This strategy paid off. As Dean
Chamber painted it as a job killer, and
together with Working Partnerships said, “We knew we were winning when
many local politicians supported it cautiously,
and numerous community and faith the discussion shifted to how high the
sensing at the beginning of the campaign
organizations led the original campaign. wage should be, rather than whether there
that failure to approve a living wage would
The tone of the 1998 campaign focused should be a living wage at all.”
tarnish their political image only slightly
on the paradox of working families’ The second fact we established in the
more than passing it.
struggle to get by while surrounded by The communications strategy
the incredible wealth and productivity of for the campaign focused on
Silicon Valley. The message highlighted the convincing the public of the The communications strategy for
large numbers of working poor despite the need for a living wage. It aimed the campaign focused on convincing
phenomenal economic growth and wealth to fend off the opposition’s claims
amassed, depicted in the image of the
the public of the need for a living
the policy would damage the
“hourglass economy.” economic boom of Silicon Valley. wage. It aimed to fend off the opposi-
In a San Jose Mercury News story Our side addressed both of tion’s claims the policy would damage
three months before the vote, Amy Dean, those messages in the research
Working Partnerships executive director
the economic boom of Silicon Valley.
tool we employed. Working
and Labor Council executive officer, trans- Partnerships and the Labor
mitted this message, saying, “These are Council developed a report used to
times where we have to ask ourselves, report was how much a living wage might
establish two facts.
‘If the economy looks bright, why are so cost businesses. We needed this data to
First, the cost of living in Silicon
many people doing so poorly?’” demonstrate a minimal impact. To further
Valley is extraordinary, and many working
The idea was largely unpopular in the reduce the potential negative spin from
families are not getting by. The report
business community, with the charge those numbers, the report examined the
communicated this by publishing the “self-


154 Winning Wages Media Kit


Living Wage Reloaded, cont.

increase in terms of the percent increase

is framed in terms of the cost-savings that should be given the same opportunity.”
in payroll, rather than as a dollar figure.
increasing wages and health insurance for Ultimately our arguments and our frame
The report projected most increases to be
low-wage workers would bring by reducing took hold. The City Council passed the
less than 15 percent, with an eight percent
reliance on public programs such as food measure. It was time to end the chapter
average overall.
stamps and Medi-Cal related costs. of that part of our struggle.
The campaign also used a moral
argument resting on responsibility the City
had to pay its workers a decent wage. This The Opposition Strikes Back
rested on the fact the living wage applies to From Living Wage to Community
The media opposition was fierce. The
businesses with some financial tie to the city. Benefits
Chamber accused the Council of trying
This ethical position was emphasized in to impose a super minimum wage on all No sooner did one chapter end than
low-wage workers in San another began. As we strategized on how to
Jose, despite projections of carry forward our gains and build on our
No sooner did one chapter end than anoth-
impacting only 1,500 of the base, the economic bottom fell out of our
er began. As we strategized on how to carry 100,000 county workers. economy when the dot-com bubble burst.
forward our gains and build on our base, An August 1988 Mercury We realized this is not a time to consider
News article by Barry Witt expanding the ordinance because so many
the economic bottom fell out of our econo-
stated, “Business groups workers and businesses are tightening their
my when the dot-com bubble burst. believe the city should not belts. We knew that such a move could be
step deeper into the rela- criticized—any expansion would come at
tionship between employers the expense of other city workers. Instead,
both the report and editorials placed by the and workers.” That argument would we realized the time had come to reframe
Labor Council. become a key message of the opposition. the issue and evolve our strategy.
To neutralize the business community’s
Defining the Arguments and opposition, one editorial published in the Enter the Community Benefits
Making a Case Mercury News in favor of the ordinance
took on the idea of the unfettered free
The ordinance in San Jose applies mainly market. Our September 6 editorial by
Our aim is to advocate how best to invest
to city service contractors and companies Barry del Buono and Bill Murphy noted the limited resources the public sector has
that receive grants from the City. Underlying that the city government helps businesses to attract businesses, and to ensure those
the ordinance is the notion that the City in numerous ways and should do no less businesses benefit our community instead of
should pay its workers a living wage, and for low-wage workers. making matters worse for working families.
that workers on contracts for delivering city “Opponents of this measure claim that We want to ensure that businesses receiving
services or workers at businesses receiving local government should not make rules economic subsidies and tax breaks from
hefty sums of money from the City are like the living wage,” said Bruno and the city don’t create poverty-level jobs. We
virtually city employees. Murphy. “But San Jose helps businesses want to end market-level housing projects
The quality of work that a higher through Business Cluster Incubators, an that fail to contribute to the huge need
wage attracts was also used during the Enterprise Zone, Development Enhancement for affordable housing. We want to avoid
campaign to gather support. This argument Funds, Industrial Development Bonds, placing greater burdens on the public sector
has become quite common in living wage Neighborhood Business Districts, and a that businesses now generate when “bottom-
ordinances at airports and has been cited Redevelopment Agency. All of these programs feeding” retail tenants offer poverty-level
as one reason that a living wage results in make rules that enable firms to do better jobs that increase the public benefits families
greater airport security—since workers do than the free market would allow. San Jose need to survive.
not have to work two full time jobs their offers a helping hand to everyone from The Community Benefits Initiative (CBI)
performance improves. young entrepreneurs to established CEOs. introduced here will reform how economic
A final theme of the report revealed how Low-wage workers who provide city services
the ordinance helped taxpayers. This benefit (cont.)

Winning Wages Media Kit 155


Living Wage Reloaded, cont.

development works in San Jose and moral role in this process. As the actor The tool needed to examine the invest-
in California. granting the public subsidy, the City ment is the Community Impact Report
The CBI is broken up into two stages Council has the responsibility of assuring (CIR). The CIR brings people together to
in order to give more people the chance the money pays for neutral or positive make information public and gives the
to participate in tinkering with the tools benefits. community and the City Council the
being developed and applied to the To offset the opposition, however, the chance to evaluate their investment together.
economic development process. campaign emphasizes that the policy only Another frame involves seeing the work
The first stage involves a reporting applies to businesses receiving subsidies as “sharing prosperity.” Prosperity is
mechanism that uses information provided from local government of at least $2—$5 shared by including people in economic
million. This initial “spin” is needed development. Themes of inclusion and
to blunt concerns that the city will shared prosperity dominate our media
This framing also puts opponents start applying the CBI guidelines to materials and other written materials.
on the defensive. Who wants to be any little project before it, such as This framing also puts opponents on the
small-scale façade improvements. defensive. Who wants to be the enemy of
the enemy of shared prosperity?
The policy also provides labor shared prosperity? Who wants to stand
Who wants to stand for exclusion? with a way to deliver benefits to a for exclusion?
large group of people. Our campaign
made a conscious choice to develop The Opposition Fights Back in
by the developer and public agencies that a policy that would deliver returns for a the Media
examine the effects of projects before the wide range of community groups. The
city awards a subsidy. The second stage policy especially targets groups outside Media opposition to our strategy has
will bring community members into revi- of labor unions by moving beyond labor’s sidestepped the factual details of our CBI
sions of the project based on community traditional role of advocating for worker proposal. Rather, opponents continue to
needs and benefits. rights. Labor is clearly in support of bash labor and dredge up stereotypical
The decision to break the process into community issues in this policy, from negative images of the labor movement.
two stages was a “marketing” decision environmental quality to subsidized child- Labor is accused of operating business as
as well as a practical one. Because the care to affordable housing. usual, with back-door deals and devising
process seeks to improve community In addition to repackaging labor’s strategies that are not inclusive of the
input, we wanted to involve as many people image, this policy works as a terrific community. This message is dangerous
as possible over a significant amount of organizing tool. Labor can stand in because people are prone to believe it
time. With this timeline, community leaders solidarity with a broad range of community
can examine the information requested groups potentially affected by development
and then determine the way revisions projects, such as environmentalists, The message to garner support
should be made. They will have a year or affordable-housing advocates, small for such a policy is simple:
more to approve the reporting tool and businesses, minority-owned businesses,
more benefits for more groups
discuss what the process for changing child care advocates and anti-poverty
projects should look like. As a marketing advocates such as ACORN. in the community.
tool this helps offset labor’s “image” of One message of this campaign has
making back-room deals without the been repacked and now plays a much
support of the broader public. more central role, given the dive the despite evidence that labor has led a three-
economy has taken. The message itself year movement to open up the process!
Framing Community Benefits frames much of the objectives of the In December 2002, labor was accused
and a Focus on Labor policy: Increasing return on investment. in the Mercury News of “holding the
That is, are subsidies and tax breaks— developer hostage to social needs.”
The campaign being waged to pass the “investments” of taxpayer money by the Recently, the head of the Chamber of
first stage of our CBI effort again starts city—being used wisely? Commerce wrote an editorial published by
from the point of view that the City has a (cont.)

156 Winning Wages Media Kit


Living Wage Reloaded, cont.

the Mercury News accusing labor of back- The Labor Council has used the
room deals and keeping stakeholders out Mercury News quote itself to frame the
of the process. Of course, ignored was the current approach to widening the process
fact that the Chamber and the Downtown and including a broad base of participants
Association of Businesses are the two to craft a policy.
“stakeholders.” They, with the The message to garner support for
Redevelopment Agency, exclusively such a policy is simple: more benefits for
have seats at the table. more groups in the community. Everybody
The editorial failed to mention the benefits. It would provide greater pre-
process that the Labor Council and dictability around development projects
Working Partnerships have derived to because of the information required to
increase community participation. We get approval, with a number of beneficial
developed two distinct approaches: first, outcomes. It would improve the investment
our Community Impact Report aims to climate for developers by resolving difficul-
publicize information and enable a broad ties of identifying and interacting with a
range of stakeholders to understand broad range of interest groups in an
and analyze the potential effects of the organized and timely manner. It would
process. Additionally, our advisory board enable City staff and taxpayers to quantify
for the entire campaign has engaged and evaluate the return on public invest-
environmentalists, ACORN, small businesses, ment. Finally, a policy with an analytical
the Hispanic and Black Chambers of phase to examine effects of development
Commerce, affordable housing advocates, would enable interested parties to under-
labor representatives, child care advocates, stand and evaluate the potential impact
and academics. of a project before the final agreement is
drawn up. And it would result in better
More Benefits Make this a wages for workers.
Winner As you can see, it’s not living wage
business-as-usual here in San Jose. But
Following the development agreement we are taking the gains of our previous
that the Labor Council struck with City living wage campaign and are transforming
Council members, community activists them—with a new spin—into new
and the developers, the Mercury News strategies with promising outcomes for
editorialized again about labor’s political low-income workers.
agreements. It juxtaposed that seemingly
piecemeal approach with a policy devel-
oped with broad input to determine how
economic development should be conducted.
“The question of getting more
community benefits out of redevelopment,
which labor has raised, needs to be
answered—not with piecemeal confronta-
tions at city council meetings but with a
city-wide policy that’s clear to all potential
developers, and that has been established
after broad public discussions.” (Mercury
News editorial, December 13, 2002)

Winning Wages Media Kit 157



Rising In the Deep South:

By Bob Becker, Knoxville Organizer, Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network

he Knoxville Living Wage Campaign

money when most of the hourly workers at Knoxville. Labor and the organized African-
may hold the national record for most UT don’t even make a living wage,’” explains American community are both very small.
living wage defeats. It’s a dubious dis- Bob Becker, lead organizer for the living The environmental community likewise is
tinction, but one that has given us fortitude wage in Knoxville. “UT football is big here in tiny. And because it has been a Republican
in knowing our losses now will only help Knoxville. And sports radio during football stronghold for so long, the Democratic party
strengthen us for future fights. season is huge. To hear the living wage itself tends to be marginalized and potential
In 1999 and in 2002 the Knoxville City phrase tossed in like that really said we had progressive leaders get co-opted into the
Council voted down living wage proposals. accomplished our goal here.” conservative mainstream.
Yet, despite this, the living wage effort in
Knoxville has succeeded in significantly rais- Knoxville, Seat of the Old Guard How We Got Started: A Bigger
ing wages for city workers and for workers Vision of Economic Justice
Knoxville is a conservative town. It’s old
in several other businesses. Perhaps most
Republican conservative. Knoxville has been The Knoxville Living Wage Campaign itself
importantly, the effort has led to the living
a Republican stronghold for as long as there grew out of a “listening project” in Knoxville
wage not only being part of the political
has been a Republican party. So it lacks designed to find a way to build progressive
landscape, but the concept has entered the
some of the conservative radicalism of influence in the community. The living wage
the new right. Knoxville is a place was part of a larger, statewide economic jus-
“UT football is big here in Knoxville. where conservatism means doing very tice coalition, the Tennessee Industrial
And sports radio during football sea- little and maintaining the status quo, Renewal Network. So the campaign has
son is huge. To hear the living wage and what little is done is mostly done always been guided by a larger vision of eco-
for those who do quite well for them- nomic justice.
phrase tossed in like that really said selves already. Almost from the beginning the living
we had accomplished our goal here.” The city structure of Knoxville wage effort has focused on larger goals than
reinforces this tendency. The lack of winning a vote at city council. “Our first goal
term limits has led to a mayor who was to get people to say ‘living wage,’”
vernacular here.
has been in office for 16 years, and a major- explains Sylvia Woods of the Central Labor
“I still tell people that the highlight of
ity of City Council that has been in office Council, a strong supporter of the living
seven years work on the living wage was
even longer. (Term limits have started kick- wage. “We figured we could change things if
hearing a caller on sports radio complain
ing in recently). Plus, all City Council candi- we got people aware of the concept.”
about the raise the UT (University of
dates run city-wide, so the nature of the The effort also focused on setting a rela-
Tennessee) head football coach got by say-
election diminishes alternative voices. tively high standard for the living wage. “We
ing, ‘it’s a shame for him to get all that
The progressive side is pretty weak in

158 Winning Wages Media Kit


Rising In the Deep South, cont.

had quite a fight over where to set the level. churches doing something. We also do a
Measuring Success by Different
Some groups were pushing for $15 an hour. yearly Labor-Religion Forum to discuss ideas
We settled on $9.50, if benefits are included,
Standards like the living wage,” continues Becker.
as a way to aim high and to give ourselves a “We count it as a success every time we “And in 2002 we had a letter signed by 67
chance to win,” explains Becker. get living wage mentioned on TV or in a church leaders supporting the living wage
newspaper headline,” Woods explains. proposal. Best of all though has been how
If at First You Don’t Succeed… “We even have a collage many churches looked at their own work-
made up of all the news-
The Knoxville Campaign developed a
paper coverage we got in Despite the two defeats most people
traditional ordinance and got it voted on in
1999. With the church work involved look on the Knoxville Campaign
the spring of 1999. “We had the wage level.
and the media coverage
We covered corporate welfare, contracts
everyone has heard about as a successful effort. “We have really got
and city worker. We even had in some local
the living wage and lots people talking about the living wage.”
contracting language,” explains Becker. The
of people seem to under-
ordinance was defeated on a 7-to-2 vote.
stand it.”
After a couple more years of work and a force and started paying a living wage to
In addition, the campaign has been
City election that brought some new people their janitors, church secretaries or child
winning wage increases for workers. “At the
onto City Council, the campaign tried again care workers.
city level when we started the lowest-paid
in 2002. In Knoxville the living wage message has
city worker earned $14,500 a year, and got a
“This time we took out the contracts and not changed much over time. Perhaps we
cost-of-living increase once a year,” Becker
corporate welfare and the local contracts. need to revisit the message next time
explains. “Now the lowest starting wage is
We focused everything on city workers. around. But the campaign keeps its focus
$17,500. And the lowest-paid workers get
We kept the $9.50 wage level. That was still on making the living wage a concept that
two raises a year. It used to take 10 years for
the key,” says Becker. The proposal was everyone can understand and on keeping the
a city worker to earn a living wage. Now the
defeated 7-to-2. living wage idea as prevalent as possible.
mayor brags that every city worker gets up
Despite the two defeats most people
to $19,000 a year within two years.”
involved look on the Knoxville Campaign
Other businesses in the city have also
as a successful effort. “We have really got
picked up on the living wage. A couple of
people talking about the living wage,” states
unionized firms have put the living wage into
Labor’s Sylvia Woods. “People use the
their contract, including the city bus drivers.
phrase a lot. And it has become an election
Plus, a major hospital and several social
service agencies are moving to pay
Almost from the beginning the living a living wage.
Perhaps the best success has
wage effort has focused on larger goals been within the church community.
than winning a vote at city council. “In 1999 we started reaching out to
the faith community for support,”
explains Becker. “We started with
issue.” In the last City Council race the
a ‘Living Wage in the Pulpit’ effort to get
living wage was one of the three to five
churches to do something around the living
most talked about issues. For the 2003 City
wage on a Sunday near Labor Day. We provide
Council races it should again be a big issue
bulletin inserts, worship materials and dis-
as a leader of the living wage fight is making
cussion leaders. Each year we see 20 to 35
a serious run for City Council.

Winning Wages Media Kit 159


y working in tandem with organizers, researchers, lawyers, workers and
PR people you can take the story of living wage to the public and score
success for your campaign. When the history of this economic justice
movement is written know that you will be a part of it because you took your
case to the public record through the media and your voice was heard.
One central point of this kit is our belief that careful planning, goal setting
and coordination are critically important to your living wage media efforts. Your
media work can bring together all the components of your struggle to make your
community a better place to live and work. By proactively working with the media
you can give voice to those most affected.
If there is one thing this kit has emphasized it’s that media should not be
an afterthought. It should be a cornerstone of your campaign. What is at stake in
our work is not simply higher wages or better working conditions. It’s not just
speaking the perfect sound bite or scoring a fabulous headline. It’s about the very
values and principles we hold dear in a democratic society. A society in which the
basic worth and dignity of every human being are upheld and cherished. That is
why we are spinning for our lives.

—Robert Bray

160 Winning Wages Media Kit

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The following section is designed to help living wage activists hone their media skills and
strengthen their knowledge of and access to resources. This section can help activists sharpen
their awareness of available resources, increase their knowledge of the issue by offering lists
of suggested reading, and become more familiar with various organizations and companies
that might be useful.

KEY Tides Foundation

The section is arranged in the

following manner:

1. Key living wage groups,

websites and resources
These are organizations that offer further help
about your specific living wage campaign. A full
Bridging the Economic Divide Initiative
P.O. Box 29903
San Francisco, CA 94129-0903
(P) 415-561-6400
(F) 415-561-6401
2. Web-based articles and back- list of all organizations involved in this project Funds living wage and economic justice.

ground on living wage struggles are listed in Section 8 “Contacts.”

3. Directories of useful living ACORN Living Wage Resource Center


wage articles 1453 Dorchester Avenue
4. Related articles worth a look Boston, MA 02122 ARTICLES &
(P) 617-436-7100
5. PR/media consultants
(F) 617-436-4878 BACKGROUND
6. Media sources
7. News services Perhaps THE source of living wage information.
8. Public opinion research American Legislative Issue Campaign
Exchange (ALICE) This is a helpful list of web-based articles
9. Radio actualities
PO Box 1136 about living wage struggles. Many thanks to
10. Web developers/consultants Madison WI 53703 Susan Chinn of the Discount Foundation for
(P) 608.263.7565 her work compiling this list of resources.
11. Places to promote online
(F) 608.262.9046
12. Search engines Hewitt, Bill and Bates. Wage Warrior,
13. Clipping services Offers a web-based Service Center as a new People Magazine, March 20, 2000
one-stop shop to map out the road to high-wage,
14. Press release distribution low-waste, worker-friendly, publicly-accountable
services economic development. They'll collect and house
the latest information on best practices, worst laws,
15. Books, publications and Cleeland, Nancy. Living Wage Laws Reducing
sample legislation, talking points, background
Websites research, and then facilitate collaboration between Poverty Levels, Study Show; Labor: Battled
colleagues, issue experts, activists and innovators. between advocates and business opponents
16. Groups concerned with media over the issue has intensified in recent years,
literacy and media bias Brennan Center for Justice The Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2002.
161 Avenue of the Americas, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10013
(P) 212 998 6736 Hightower, Jim. Campaign for a Living Wage;
(F) 212 995 4550 Tough Fight in the Big Easy, The Nation, April 1, 2002.
Legal experts, and very useful for countering
opposition arguments. pc.php?p=625
SPIN Project Kern, Jen and Stephanie Luce. Living Wage
Independent Media Institute Movement Greets the Recession with New
77 Federal Street Victories, Labor Notes, March, 2002.
San Francisco, CA 94107
(P) 415-284-1420 a.html
(F) 415-284-1414
(E) Murray, Bobbi. Living Wage Comes of Age, The Nation, July 23/30, 2002.
Media training and strategizing.


Winning Wages Media Kit 161

resources 7/7/03 8:43 PM Page 2


Public Policy Institute of California. Do Living Chavez-Thompson, Linda, How New Alliances
Wage Laws Help Low-Wage Workers and Are Restoring Our Right to Organize, New
Low-Income Families? Research Brief, March Labor Forum, Fall/Winter, 1998. CONSULTANTS
Wood, Daniel B. Living Wage Laws Gain
Momentum Across U.S., The Christian Cleeland, Nancy, Lives Get a Little Better on a As discussed elsewhere in this kit, you
Science Monitor, March 15, 2002. Living Wage, The Los Angeles Times, may want to pursue the use of outside PR February 7, 1999. help when working on an intensive media
p01s02-usec.htm campaign. Here is a comprehensive list of
lalw990207.html groups that service nonprofit organizations
working on social change issues. It is important

DIRECTORIES OF Edelman, Peter, Welfare and the “Third Way,” to realize that some of these listings have a
Dissent, Winter, 1999. more national than local scope. Whenever
USEFUL LIVING considering working with PR consultants,
199908/msg00018.html conduct background research and make
WAGE ARTICLES sure that the group is suitable for your
Greenhouse, Steven, In Biggest Drive Since organization. Look at their client lists. Talk
Living Wage Resource Center Press Clips 1937, Union Gains Victory, The New York to people on staff (note: the names listed here Times, February 26, 1999. are the principle contacts, such as presidents
pressclips.php?y=2001 or executive directors). You shouldn’t have a
doc9945.htm problem finding someone who can meet
Political Economy Research Institute— your needs (and budget, too!).
Living Wage Research Resources and Links Ehrenreich, Barbara, Nickel-and-Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America, Harpers Please note that neither the SPIN Project
Magazine, January, 1999. nor Tides Foundation officially endorse
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy these companies.
Press Room 1784_298/53530961/print.jhtml Bedrock Strategies, Inc.
Johnson, Clifford, Publicly-Funded Jobs for 8033 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 960
Hard to Employ Welfare Recipients, Center on Los Angeles, CA 90046
Budget and Policy Priorities Paper, July 14, (P) 323-962-3938
RELATED 1998. (F) 323-962-3935


Author unspecified, Citing Drop in Welfare

Pollin, Robert, Living Wage, Live Action,
The Nation, November 23, 1998.

Rieff, David, The False Dawn of Civil Society,

Cause Communications
Jason Salzman
1836 Blake #100A
Denver, CO 80202
(P) 303-292-1524
(F) 303-292-9317
Rolls, Clinton to Seek Further Cuts, The New
York Times, January 25, 1999. The Nation, February 10, 1999. (E)
res=F10B16F83F5D0C768EDDA80894D1494D81 doc.mhtml?i=19990222&s=rieff
Communications Consortium Media Center
Bernstein, Jared and Lawrence Mishel, Bernstein, Jared. Making A Living: How the Kathy Bonk, Emily Tynes
Wages Gain Ground, Economic Policy Institute Living Wage Movement Has Prevailed, 1200 New York Avenue NW, Suite 300
paper, February 2, 1999. Shelterforce, May/June 2002. Washington, D.C. 20005 (P) 202-326-8700
Issuebriefs_Ib129 makingaliving.html (F) 202-682-2154
Bole, William, Religion and Labor: Song, Lisa B. More Workers are Waging the
Reawakening the Alliance, Working USA, Fight for a Living Wage, Chicago Tribune,
November/December, 1998. September 2, 2002. Esopus Creek Communications Jane Wholey, Charles Winfrey
bole-6.htm 1011 Orleans Street
Business Week: What’s So Bad About a Living New Orleans, LA 70116 (cont.)
Wage?, September 4, 2000. (P) 504-528-9871 (E)

162 Winning Wages Media Kit

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Fenton Communications Public Interest Media Group
David Fenton Andrea Miller, Susan Lamontaigne
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor 611 Broadway, Suite 730 SOURCES
Washington, D.C. 20036 New York, NY 10012
(P) 202-822-5200 (P) 212-260-1520
(F) 202-822-4787 (F) 212-260-1897 Several companies or journalist organizations
(E) (E) help compile media directories that can provide you with a wealth of contacts to
reporters and editors. The following groups
Jeff Gillenkirk Public Media Center offer directories that are quite diverse, both
(P) 415-537-9437 Herbert Chao Gunther in terms of cost and/or content. For example,
(F) 415-642-5473 466 Green Street many of the ethnic journalist organizations’
(E) San Francisco, CA 94133 media directories are low cost or free, (P) 415-434-1403 provide listings of both mainstream and
(F) 415-986-6779 community ethnic press and offer information
McKinney & Associates (E) on how to contact ethnic reporters and editors
Gwen McKinney at regular mainstream outlets. The more
1612 K St., NW, Suite 904 commercial services, such as News Media
Washington, D.C. 20006 Riptide Communications Yellow Book and Bacon’s, are the grand-daddies
(P) 202-833-9771 David Lerner of media directories, offering mostly
(F) 202-833-9770 666 Broadway, Suite 444 comprehensive (not too many small or
(E) New York, NY 10012 ethnic press are listed here) and extremely (P) 212-260-5000 expensive media lists, available in a variety of
(F) 212-260-5191 formats. Both Bacon’s and News Media Yellow
The Mainstream Media Project (E) Book may be found at your local library. Use
Mark Sommer these directories to augment your media
854 Ninth Street, Suite B databases whenever possible.
Arcata, CA 95521 Spitfire Strategies
(P) 707-826-9111 Kristen Grimm Wolf
Asian-American Journalists Association
(F) 707-826-9112 1742 18th Street
Member organizations directory
(E) Washington, D.C. 20009
1182 Market Street, Suite 320 (P) 202-822-5200
San Francisco, CA 94102
(F) 202-872-8845
(P) 415-346-2051
Miriam Zoll Communications
Miriam Zoll Valerie Denney Communications
101 Perry Street, Suite 20 Valerie Denney
New York, NY 10011 407 S. Dearborn, #1175 For $50.00 you can receive listings of more than 200
Asian American-owned print and broadcast media
(P) 212-627-0508 Chicago, IL 60605
in the U.S. on mailing labels for one-time use.
(F) 413-268-3054 (P) 312-408-2580
(E) (F) 312-408-0682
Bacon’s Media Directories
332 S. Michigan Avenue
ProMedia Public Relations
Chicago, IL 60604-4434
Robyn Stein
(P) 800-621-0561/312-922-2400
250 W. 57th Street, #820 We Interrupt This Message
(F) 312-987-9773
New York, NY 10019 Hunter Cutting
(P) 212-245-0510 2588 Mission Street, Suite 212
(F) 212-245-1889 San Francisco, CA 94110 A two-volume media directory for newspapers,
(E) (P) 415-621-4527 magazines, radio, and TV/cable; updated and
augmented quarterly. Available in hard copy ($285/vol.) or CD-ROM ($1,395/yr); generally large
ProMedia Public Relations (West Coast Office) public libraries and universities carry the hard copy
Rochelle Lefkowitz Youth Media Council for public reference.
1788 Carleton Court c/o Movement Strategy Center (cont.)
Redwood City, CA 94061 1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 510
(P) 650-599-9996 Oakland, CA 94612
(F) 650-599-9998 (P) 510-444-0640 ext. 312
(E) (F) 510-251-9810

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Hispanic Yearbook National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
c/o TIYM Publishing Co., Inc. Queer media list
6718 Whittier Avenue, Suite 130 1325 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Ste. 600 SERVICES
McLean, VA 22101 Washington, D.C. 20005
(P) 703-734-1632 (P) 202-393-5177
(F) 703-356-0787 (F) 202-393-2241
(E) (E) News services are a great way to cause an echo effect with the news story you’re trying
This annually updated and augmented resource The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force regularly to get out in the public. A news service is a
directory contains well over 2,000 Hispanic-owned maintains a list of most queer media throughout syndication service that supplies multiple
media listings in the U.S., categorized by media the United States. Contact them directly to find out
media outlets with the same story. In this
(print, radio and TV). The National Association of more information.
section, commercial, mainstream services,
Hispanic Journalists at 202-662-7145 distributes
surplus (but current) copies for free. Otherwise, such as Associated Press, United Press
National Newspapers Publishers Association
send a check or money order for $19.95, payable to International and Reuters, have been grouped
TIYM Publishing Co., Inc. There is no additional fee
Member organizations directory
with more specialized or non-mainstream
for shipping and handling. 3200 13th Street, NW
services., for example, syndi-
Washington, D.C. 20010
cates stories by independent and alternative
(P) 202-588-8764
National Association of Black Owned journalists on a wire that services more than
(F) 202-588-5302
Broadcasters 150 alternative and independent weeklies
Member stations directory across the nation. Pacific News Service
1155 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 600 also has an alternative bent but places its
Washington, D.C. 20036 A directory of more than 300 Black-owned commentary mostly in print dailies. American
news-papers in the U.S. is available by either check
(P) 202-463-8970 Forum has a very specific purpose of syndi-
or money order for $50, made payable to NNPA.
(F) 202-429-0657 There is no shipping and handling fee. cating opinion editorials or public service
(E) announcements to print and broadcast media mainly in the South. Use this list with a keen
News Media Yellow Book
eye, and make sure you investigate exactly
A nationwide directory booklet of more than 180 c/o Leadership Directory, Inc.
black-owned TV/radio stations; $25.00 fee includes what type of service is being offered. Contact
104 5th Avenue, 2nd Floor
shipping. Each entry includes station owner and your local AP, Reuters or UPI office, typically
New York, NY 10011
manager names, station code and contact informa- located in the nearest major city.
tion. Fax order on letterhead.
(P) 212-627-4140
(F) 212-645-0931
Native American Journalists Association 77 Federal Street, 2nd floor
A national news media directory, the Yellow Book San Francisco, CA 94107
Member organizations directory
includes listings of news services, newspapers,
University of South Dakota networks, TV/radio stations, programs, periodicals, (P) 415-284-1420
414 E. Clark Street international media and so on; updated and augmented (F) 415-284-1414
Vermillion, SD 57069 quarterly. The hard copy subscription costs $290, (E)
(P) 605-677-5282 and the CD-ROM or Internet subscription costs
$2,780/yr, since it provides the entire Leadership
(F) 866-694-4264 Directory, consisting of not only news media but Produces a public interest website offering
(E) also government affairs, corporate, judicial and news, features, online community and activism financial yellow pages, among others. There is no opportunities; and sells content to hundreds of
shipping charge for domestic orders. Most libraries newspapers, websites, and newsletters.
More than 200 print and broadcast media listings in
and universities should carry current editions in
the U.S. can be obtained in hard copy or disc format
hard copy. To order, fax request on letterhead.
for $125. There is no shipping and handling fee. American Forum
Order by mail by enclosing a check or money order, 940 National Press Building
or fax request on letterhead; specify format desired. Washington, D.C. 20045
(P) 202-638-1431
(F) 202-638-1434
Distributes opinion editorials and public service
announcements to mostly Southern media.


164 Winning Wages Media Kit

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Associated Press—National News Desk

50 Rockefeller Plaza
PUBLIC OPINION/ Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates
1726 M Street NW, Suite 500
New York, NY 10020 MEDIA RESEARCH Washington, D.C. 20036
(P) 212-621-1500 (P) 202-776-9066
(F) 212-621-7520 & SERVICE (F) 202-776-9074
(E) (E) Public opinion research is something your
organization or coalition might consider to Peter Hart Research Associates
help highlight your issues in the press. Below 1724 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Creative Communications
are a variety of companies that often work in Washington, D.C. 20009
2700 Hillway Drive
the nonprofit social change arena. (P) 202-234-5570
Boise, ID 83702
(P) 208-342-8213 (F) 202-232-8134
(F) 208-247-1830 Charlton Research Company (E)
1612 L Street, Suite 800
Provides news services for several western
Washington, D.C. 20006
states, including Oregon, Washignton, Minnesota,
and Iowa. (P) 202-530-0010 RIVA (Research in Values & Attitudes)
(E) 7316 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 450 Bethesda, MD 20814
Reuters—National News Desk
199 Water Street (P) 301-652-3632
New York, NY 10038 EDK Associates, Inc. (F) 301-907-0209
(P) 212-859-1400 245 E 21st Street, 6th Floor (E)
(F) 212-859-1717 New York, NY 10010
(E) (P) 646-602-8818 (E)

Global Strategy Group, Inc.

Pacific News Service
895 Broadway, 5th Floor
275 9th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 New York, NY 10003 ACTUALITIES
(P) 415-438-4755 (P) 212-260-8813
(F) 415-438-4935 (E)
(E) As Making Radio Work For You!, one of the Frameworks Institute
publications in this Resources List articulates
1776 I Street NW, 9th Floor
Syndicates articles on the wire to more than one (see “Books, Publications, and Websites”),
hundred subscribing publications every weekday
Washington, D.C. 20006
anyone can produce a radio actuality at a
and sends out news alerts to news editors. (P) 202-756-1378
reasonable price. However, if you’re looking
for help, the group listed below can help
The Progressive Media Project you with production and distribution at a
409 East Main Street Goodwin Simon Strategic Research
reasonable price.
Madison, WI 53703 10951 W. Pico Boulevard, Suite 329
(P) 608-257-4626 Los Angeles, CA 90064
The January Group
(F) 608-257-3373 (P) 310-446-7752
1515 Jefferson Davis Highway, #1220
(E) (F) 310-446-7728
Arlington, VA 22202 San Francisco Office: (P) 703-418-2060
Solicits, edits and distributes commentary pieces to 870 Market Street, #1074 (F) 703-418-0740
some big, but mostly small town newspapers. San Francisco, CA 94102 (cont.)
(P) 415-835-9889
United Press International (F) 310-835-9993
—National News Desk (E)
1510 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
(P) 202-898-8000
(F) 202-898-8057

Winning Wages Media Kit 165

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10 11
249 West 17th Street
(P) 212-204-4000
While the number of individuals and organi- Getting your story on the Web takes careful
Offers a network of comprehensive websites on over
zations helping to develop the Web presence planning and effort, especially since there
500 topics, run by expert guides from
of social change, nonprofit community are no consistent standards for news online. across the Net and around the world.
remains small, things are changing quickly. However, there are several key places you
Below is a short list of groups or persons who should approach with a story idea, to run an
WebActive/RealNetworks, Inc.
specialize in, consult on and/or design Web opinion editorial or, at the very least, get a
2604 Elliot Ave.
sites and can help your organization improve quick mention of your website. The listings
Seattle, WA 98121
its use of new technology. here include places that have a specific focus,
(P) 206-674-2700
such as Corporate Watch, and broader audi-
(F) 206-674-3582
CompuMentor ences, such as the Institute for Global
435 Brannan Street, Suite 100 Communications. As the Web becomes more
San Francisco, CA 94107 widely used, keep an eye out for new ones too!
Runs a weekly publication offering progressive
(P) 415-512-7784
activists an up-to-date resource on the web to find
(F) 415-512-9629 Corporate Watch other organizations and individuals with similar
(E) P.O. Box 29344 values and interests. San Francisco, CA 94129
Provides low-cost, volunteer-based computer (P) 415-561-6568
assistance to schools and nonprofits. (F) 415-561-6493

Coyote Communications
(P) 512-232-2295 Produces an online magazine and resource center
(F) 512-232-2299 documents corporate greed and provides the public
(E) with tools to investigate and analyze corporate activity. Having your website listed with search

Institute for Global Communications
engines is extremely important to developing
P.O. Box 29904
NetAction a Web presence. If your website is not regis-
San Francisco, CA 94129-0904
601 Van Ness Avenue, #631 tered with one, then chances are your site
(P) 415-561-6100
San Francisco, CA 94102 will be overlooked by those surfing the Web.
(F) 415-561-6101
(P) 415-775-8674 It is important to realize that different search
(F) 415-673-3813 engines employ different criteria for both
(E) registering your site with them and ranking
Runs an Internet service provider with alternative your site. The best advice is to do occasional sources of information for progressive individuals
research on which search engines are the
Provides general information about using the and organizations.
most popular and take into consideration their
Internet for organizing and outreach, such as
“designing effective e-mail alerts,” links to technology special criteria. What follows is a selective list
People Link
policy sites and a list of resources for activism. of search engines. For a more comprehensive
(P) 718-439-0343
listing of the search engines out there, log
ONE-Northwest: onto
Online Networking for the Environment
Nickerson Marina Building, 1080 Operates a website that helps progressive Alta Vista:
W. Ewuing Place, Suite 301 organizations and socially responsible companies
communicate. Excite:
Seattle, WA 98119
(P) 206-286-1235 Google:
(F) 561-658-0983 Protest.Net
(E) Northern Light:
(E) Automatically categorizes findings;
features an exclusive Special Library.
Lists progressive and leftist protests, meetings, and
Helps conservation groups in the Pacific Northwest
conferences worldwide, helping to resolve logistical Yahoo!:
use e-mail, the web and other technologies in their
problems that activists face in organizing events
work to protect the environment; provides equipment,
with limited resources and access to mass media.
consulting and training, among other services.

166 Winning Wages Media Kit

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CLIPPING Cyberscan Internet Clipping Services

(P) 310-943-2717
SERVICES (F) 310-659-0361 RELEASE
Searches and retrieves information from electronic SERVICES
Clipping services are designed to help newspapers, magazines and other publications
you keep track of your press coverage, by on the web; also does opinion monitoring on
These services will distribute your press
relieving you of the responsibility of following newsgroups and web forums.
release to journalists to augment your media
your story in the papers, on TV, over the exposure, as well as decrease your workload
radio and otherwise. Some clipping services Luce Press Clippings
in getting out your press release.
are extremely expensive and thus cost- 42 South Center
prohibitive. Recently, free services has Mesa, AZ 85210
Internet News Bureau
surfaced with the onset of Internet communi- (P) 800-528-8226
(P) 203-662-2804
cations, such as Shoppers beware! (F) 602-834-3821
Some services may cost more than others. (E)
Allen’s Press Clipping Bureau Emails your Internet-related press release to any
Reads and covers both print and broadcast media.
or all of their subscriber base of 3000 journalists.
657 Mission Street, Suite 602 TV/radio transcript services are designed to
San Francisco, CA 94105 complement print clipping service.
PR News Wire
(P) 415-392-2353
Video Monitoring Services of America (P) 888-776-0942
(F) 415-362-6208
330 W. 42nd Sreet, 29th Floor (E)
New York, NY 10036
Bacon’s Clipping Bureau,
Bacon’s Information Inc. (P) 212-736-2010 Broadcast faxes your press release to their media
332 S. Michigan Avenue (F) 212-594-2182 contact base, or one provide them.

Chicago, IL 60604 (E)

(P) 800-621-0561


(F) 312-922-3127 Tracks coverage ranging from segments to commercials on both radio and TV, and print

Reads general- and special-interest publications

media nationwide. PUBLICATIONS
nationwide, including wire services, with the
exception of the smallest rural papers. In addition, AND WEBSITES
broadcast transcripts and Internet monitoring 424 Broadway, Floor 3
are available.
New York, NY 10013 The following publications will help you
(P) 212-965-1900 better understand how the media system
Broadcast News eXchange (F) 212-965-8733 works both for and against you. Topics range
Delahaye Medialine NewsIQ (E) from proactive media strategizing to grappling
800 Connecticut Avenue with media bias, and messages are aimed for
Norwalk, CT 06854 both traditional activists and media activists
Searches over 30 of the largest engines on the
(P) 800-926-0028 as well. Where titles are self-published by
World Wide Web and all of the Usenet discussion
(E) groups as well as electronic publications. activist organizations, the contact information for them is listed.
Offers tracking reports, video clips, air checks
and news transcripts from TV stations around The Activist Cookbook: Creative Actions for a
the country and abroad. Fair Economy. Andrew Boyd. United for a Fair
Economy: Boston, MA, 1997.
Burrelle’s Press Clipping Service To obtain a copy contact:
75 East Northfield Road United for a Fair Economy
Livingston, NJ 07039 37 Temple Place, 5th Floor
(P) 800-631-1160 Boston, MA 02111
(F) 973-992-7675 (P) 617-423-2148
(E) (F) 617-423-0191 (E)
Provides print and web clipping, and broadcast
transcript services from media outlets nationwide.

Winning Wages Media Kit 167

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FAIR’s Media Activism Kit. PR Web

FAIR, New York, NY: 1998. P.O. Box 333
To obtain a copy contact: Ferndale, WA 98248 CONCERNED
(P) 425-793-9225
(F) 425-793-9230 WITH MEDIA
130 West 25th Street
New York, NY, 10001 (E) BIAS & MEDIA
(P) 212-633-6700
(F) 212-727-7668 In addition to providing a free database to post
(E) press releases, this site lists many PR resources
and links. The groups listed below seek to expose
how mainstream media often mis- or under-
Prime Time Activism. Charlotte Ryan. South represents various groups and/or issues due
We the Media; A Citizen’s Guide for Fighting End Press: Boston, Massachusetts, 1991. to ethnic, gender, class or sexual orientation
for Media Democracy. Don Hazen and Julie biases. In some cases, organizations such
Winokur. The New Press: New York, NY, 1997. How to Tell and Sell Your Story. Timothy as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
To obtain a copy contact: Saasta. Center for Community Change: approach their analysis of media bias by
Independent Media Institute Washington, D.C., 1997. looking at the whole media system and come
77 Federal Street To obtain a copy, contact: from a tradition of media criticism. Others
San Francisco, CA 94107 Center for Community Change examine media representation of very specific
(P) 415-284-1420 1000 Wisconsin Avenue, NW issues: gay rights, freedom of speech,
(F) 415-284-1414 Washington, D.C. 20007 Religious Right, or racial identity. The distinc-
(E) (P) 202-339-9338 tion can make a difference, depending on how (F) 202-333-5462 you want to build your media arsenal and
(E) approach editors or reporters with the history
Strategic Communication for Nonprofits. of media coverage of a particular issue or
Larry Kirkman and Karen Menichelli, eds. campaign in which you may be engaged.
The Benton Foundation: Washington, D.C., Making the News. Jason Salzman. Westview
1992. To obtain a copy, contact: Press: Boulder, CO, 1998. Applied Research Center
The Benton Foundation 3781 Broadway
1800 K Street NW, 2nd Floor Media Advocacy and Public Health. Lawrence Oakland, CA 94611
Washington, D.C. 20006 Wallack, et al. Sage Publications: Thousand (P) 510-653-3415
(P) 202-638-5770 Oaks, CA, 1993. (F) 510-653-3427
(F) 202-638-5771 (E)
The Publicity Handbook. David R. Yale. NTC
Publishes ColorLines Magazine, formerly
Business Books: Lincolnwook, IL, 1991.
Public Opinion Polling. A Handbook for Public RACEFILE, which examines coverage of ethnic
minorities in mainstream press and beyond.
Interest and Citizen Advocacy Groups. Celinda SPIN Project website
C. Lake. Island Press: Washington, D.C., 1987. Berkeley Media Studies Group
Provides media resources, tips and tools. 2140 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 804
Making Radio Work for You. Families USA
Berkeley, CA 94704
Foundation: Washington, D.C., 1996. To obtain
(P) 510-204-9700
a copy, contact:
(F) 510-204-9710
Families USA Foundation (E)
1334 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
Works with community groups and professionals to
(P) 202-628-3030 use media to advance public health policy. Monitors,
(F) 202-347-2417 studies and analyzes media to support advocacy
(E) and education.

168 Winning Wages Media Kit

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Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) Political Research Associates

112 West 27th Street 1310 Broadway
New York, NY 10001 Sommerville, MA 02144
(P) 212-633-6700 (P) 617-666-5300
(F) 212-727-7668 (F) 617-666-6622
(E) (E)
Publishes EXTRA!, a bi-monthly magazine of media Operates a leading clearinghouse for info on
criticism. political extremists.

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Rocky Mountain Media Watch
248 W. 35th Street, 8th Floor P.O. Box 18858
New York, NY 10001 Denver, CA 80218
(P) 212-629-3322 (P) 303-832-7558
(F) 212-629-3225 (F) 303-832-7558
(E) (E)
Produces GLAADLines and GLAADAlert. Studies and analyzes local TV news to help
citizens and the media understand and visualize
what constitutes better journalism.
Media Alliance
814 Mission Street, Suite 205
San Francisco, CA 94103
(P) 415-546-6334
(F) 415-546-6218
Publishes MediaFile, a bi-monthly journal that
covers the media work environment, media
ownership and strategies for activists who want
to improve news coverage.

Media Research and Action Project

Sociology Department. McGuinn Hall
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(P) 617-552-8708
(F) 617-552-4283
Researches and monitors media for nonprofit
organizations, as well as builds their media capacity
with strategic media planning.

People for the American Way

2000 M Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
(P) 800-326-7329
(F) 202-993-2672
Monitors and opposes efforts to suppress free

Winning Wages Media Kit 169

Listed in alphabetical order by organization

Neil Sealy Paul K. Sonn Benjamin Fenwick Danny Feingold

Arkansas ACORN Associate Counsel, Flinthills Living Wage Coalition Communications Director
2101 Main Street Poverty Program 1911 Bluestem Terrace Los Angeles Alliance for a New
Little Rock, AR 72206 Brennan Center for Justice Manhattan, KS 66502 Economy (LAANE)
(P) 501-376-6451 161 Avenue of the Americas (P) 785-537-7519 548 S. Sprint Street, Suite 630
(F) 501-376-3952 12th Floor (E) Los Angeles, CA 90013-2320
(E) New York, NY 10013 (P) 231-486-9880 ext. 111 (P) 212-998-6730 (F) 213-486-9886
(F) 212-995-4550 John Exdell (E)
Jen Kern (E) Flinthills Living Wage Coalition
ACORN Living Wage 1911 Bluestem Terrace
Resource Center Manhattan, KS 66502 Beth Butler
1453 Dorchester Avenue Andrew Gussert (P) 785-532-0359 Louisiana ACORN
Boston, MA 02122 Center on Wisconsin Strategy (E) 1024 Elysian Fields
(P) 617-436-7100 ext. 2 1180 Observatory Drive #7122 New Orleans, LA 70117
(F) 617-436-4878 Madison, WI 53706 (P) 504-943-0044 ext.116
(E) (P) 608-213-8585 Jessica Fry (F) 504-943-3842 (E) Idaho Community
Action Network
Steven Kest Andrea Cole 3450 Hill Road Jose Soto
Executive Director Executive Director Boise, ID 83703 Maine Rural Workers Coalition
ACORN National/New York Connecticut Center for a (P) 208-385-9146 145 Lisbon Street, 2nd Floor
845 Flatbush Avenue New Economy (F) 208-336-0997 Lewiston, ME 04240
Brooklyn, NY 11226 425 College St. (E) (P) 207-753-1922
(P) 718-693-6700 New Haven, CT 06511 (F) 207-753-1226
(F) 718-693-3367 (P) 203-785-9494 Madeleine Talbott
(E) Illinois ACORN Lisa Clausen Sarah Mersha 117 West Harrison Street Massachussetts ACORN
Direct Action for Rights and Suite 200 1486 Dorchester Avenue
David Swanson Equality (DARE) Chicago, IL 60605 Boston, MA 02122
Communications Coordinator 340 Lockwood (P) 312-939-7488 (P) 617-740-9500
ACORN National/ Providence, RI 02905 (F) 312-939-8256 (F) 617-436-4878
Washington, D.C. (P) 410-351-6960 (E)
(E) (F) 410-351-6977 Cindy Arnold Deepak Bhargava
La Mujer Obrera National Campaign for Jobs
Cindia Cameron Swaroopa Iyengar PO Box 3975 and Income Support
Atlanta Living Wage Coalition Development & Communications El Paso, TX 79923 88 3rd Avenue, 3rd Floor
1430 W. Peachtree Street Coordinator (P) 915-533-9710 Brooklyn, NY 70117
Suite 610 East Bay Alliance for a (F) 915-544-3730 (P) 718-246-4858
Atlanta, GA 30309 Sustainable Economy (EBASE) (E)
(P) 404-876-8134 548 20th Street Oakland, CA 94612 Dan Cantor
(P) 510-893-7106, Oscar Paredes Executive Director
Amanda Cooper (C) 510-325-1981 Latin American Workers Project New York Community
Media Relations Manager (F) 510-893-5362 840 Broadway, 3rd Floor Leadership Institute
Brennan Center for Justice (E) Brooklyn, NY 11206 88 3rd Avenue
161 Avenue of the Americas (P) 718-486-0800 Brooklyn, NY 10017
12th Floor Pele Soakai (E) (P) 718-222-5735
New York, NY 10013 Faith Action for (F) 718-246-3718
(P) 212-998-6736 Community Equity (E)
(F) 212-995-4550 1352 Liliha Street, Room 2
(E) Honolulu, HI 96817 (cont.) (P) 808-522-1302

Winning Wages Media Kit 171



Phaedra Ellis Lamkins

Steve Williams J ohn Liss Executive Director
Executive Director Executive Director Working Partnerships USA
People Organized to Win Tenants’ and Workers’ 2102 Almaden Road, Room 100
Employment Rights (POWER) Support Committee San J ose, CA 95125
32 Seventh Street Comite de Apoyo de Iquilinos (P) 408- 269-7972
San Francisco, CA 94103 y Trabajadores (F) 408- 269-0183
(P) 415-864-8372 PO Box 2327 (E)
(F) 415-864-8373 Alexandria, VA 22301
(E) power@unite- (P) 703-684-5697
(F) 703-684-5714 Nato Green
Tom Hucker (E) Young Worker’s Project
Executive Director P.O. Box 15866
Progressive Maryland Gyula Nagy HERE