This post highlights media coverage shared by five JusticeVoices Network members. Whether it led to a policy change or a positive outcome for a client, spurred fundraising efforts, or helped convey the value of civil legal aid to an important audience, each of these stories made a difference in 2017.
At Voices, we know that media is an incredibly powerful advocacy tool, but you needn’t just take our word for it. As we enter 2018, the Voices team is taking a moment to celebrate and share some of the recent media successes of our JusticeVoices network members.
We asked network members to send us their stories of media coverage that they believed made a difference—whether it led to a policy change or a positive outcome for a client, spurred their fundraising efforts, or helped them convey the value of civil legal aid to an important audience.
Their stories are below. We hope you find them as motivating and inspiring as we do.
- Ariel Levinson-Waldman, Founding President and Director-Counsel, Tzedek DC, shared this piece in the National Review, by conservative columnist Mona Charen, which he says “came about after a Rabbi suggested to Ms. Charen that she might consider writing about our work as she looked for Holiday-time activities to celebrate. The piece was helpful for us in conveying to a national audience — and one with a broader set of political views than usually focus on our work — the need for legal aid for low-income families facing debt challenges. ”
- Jacob Inwald, Director of Foreclosure Prevention, Legal Services NYC, shared this Buzzfeed article, which arose because, “as part of a coalition with which we work, a relationship with these reporters evolved and we supported their very lengthy investigation into the subject.” Jay notes that the article, “was not about promoting our services or our organization, but garnering important media attention to the covered phenomenon, and featured quotes from several of our staff and colleagues from our peer organizations.”
- Alexandra Pullara, Marketing Specialist at Bay Area Legal Services (Tampa, Florida) wrote, “We celebrated 50 years of providing legal services to our community this year, and kicked off our new Veterans Legal Initiative with a celebratory event. We wanted to have our new veteran’s initiative featured in the media around the same time as our event and we worked closely with Søren to craft media pitches to local news outlets. We have been featured by Ernest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times in the past and our event coordinator also has a close relationship with him. We used Søren’s tips and Ernest covered the issue just in time for our big event!…The timing was everything for us and helped create a buzz in our local community. We also had a volunteer call us who saw the article and wanted to get involved. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for many years and is proving to be a very valuable asset to us.”
- Caitlin Brown, Communications Director, Community Legal Services(Philadelphia), says that CLS has advocated for stronger nursing home enforcement in Pennsylvania for years, and released a report two years ago on how the PA Department of Health (DOH) had failed to protect nursing home residents.Caitlin writes, “After releasing the report, we worked with the media to keep attention on this issue and have had 50 media placements related to nursing homes in the last two and a half years. Since we have started bringing attention to this issue and advocating for stronger enforcement, we have seen changes in the way that DOH operates… Now, nursing homes know they must follow the rules or pay the price. As we continue to strengthen protections for nursing home residents and monitor the progress that is being made, CLS will remain diligent and persistent in holding nursing homes and enforcement agencies accountable for patient safety.”
- Maria Duvuvuei, Director of Development and Communications, Community Legal Aid (Northeast Ohio), shared this article on their medical-legal partnership, HEAL (Health Education Advocacy and Law) project, from Crain’s Cleveland Business Journal, which Maria says, “helped broaden the audience of community members aware of legal aid and its value.”
In 2018, Voices would like to help you achieve your own media success story. If you think media coverage could help you achieve your policy, development, or other advocacy goals, reach out to us. We’re here to support you and the important work you do.
Organizations mentioned/involved: Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia, Community Legal Aid (Central Northeast Ohio), Tzedek DC, Legal Services NYC (LSNYC), Bay Area Legal Services (Tampa) (BALS)
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Statewide approaches to communications and media are now bubbling up from coast to coast, and we are beginning to see good results.
Something is happening in states across the country.
That was the main takeaway from Voices’ session at this year’s NLADA conference. More than 40 state leaders exchanged lessons learned in the process of building coordinated statewide communications efforts.
What did we learn?
In the same way that Access to Justice Commissions have spread to most states, statewide approaches to communications and media are now bubbling up from coast to coast.
This year, several states have expanded their statewide communications infrastructure to support their funding and advocacy goals, and leaders from five of these states shared their experiences at the conference session. Several other states are exploring this strategy to create coordinated communications networks with allies in the civil justice sector across program lines.
Some of this progress grew out of a shared recognition that we have been speaking mostly to ourselves for too long — and that it will take unified messaging and consistent media attention to effectively convey the value of civil legal aid and the good work of providers to new communities and allies.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In some states, ATJ commissions have created communications subcommittees. In other states, another existing entity or coalition of civil justice leaders has taken on the role of coordinating a communications initiative.
In a year when the threat to federal funding for legal aid became all too real, we could not be more encouraged by the organizing and the work that is being done on the state level. It motivates us every day that so many of you have embraced the statewide approach.
And we are beginning to see the results. Earlier this year in Washington state, a coordinated communications campaign accompanied by a media plan contributed to a major legislative victory – an increase of $5 million in state funding for civil legal aid.
In 2018, even as we keep up our drumbeat of national media coverage, we are committed to devote more of our time on the state level and help you shape narratives and land coverage in local markets. You will hear more from us about that in the beginning of next year.
For now, if you are looking to be a part of an existing statewide communications effort, want to learn more about what is going on across the country, or are looking to get an initiative started in your own state, get in touch with us. We are here to help.
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