Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Communication and Education

Media Advocacy

Media advocacy involves shaping the way social issues are discussed in the media to build support for changes in public policy. By working directly with local newspapers, television, and radio to change both the amount of coverage the media provide and the content of that coverage, media advocates hope to influence the way people talk and think about a social or public policy.

There are two primary ways to think about media advocacy. One way is to see it as a set of guerrilla activities designed to draw the attention of the media to issues of community concern.3 This tactic was used quite successfully by AIDS activists in the early 1990s to expand prescription drug coverage for people living with HIV. The second way is to develop long-term relationships with local media and identify ways to constructively engage them in your prevention efforts. Understanding the mission and culture of media is the first step toward constructive engagement. With this understanding, you can, in effect, work as a social marketer and position your organization as a resource to the media, as opposed to an organization that simply wants coverage.

Some examples of media advocacy environmental strategies to address underage drinking include:


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