Defend Life at your school!
1. Choose a mission for your publication. Write it out clearly and decide which life issues you want to address. Once you have this, choose a name for your publication that fits your mission. You want something that will spark curiosity and make readers reach for your publication even if they aren’t already pro-life.
2. Decide on a style. Do you want a magazine, a tabloid (half-size or folded sheets), or a newspaper? Can you afford to publish in color and/or on glossy paper? (Remember that as your publication grows, you may be able to upgrade.) What types of writing will you include? Many good publications combine news articles, feature stories, investigative reporting, photo compilations, and op-ed pieces in order to cover the different aspects of the pro-life message. Are you planning to publish monthly, bimonthly, or once a semester? Monthly is recommended, especially since you can adjust the number of pages each month to fit this frequency. The frequency of your publication will depend largely on the resources that you have available.
3. Recruit your staff. Depending on the size of your publication, you will have a number of positions to fill. These include publisher (oversees fundraising, advertising, and accounting), advertising manager (compiles a list of businesses for advertisement solicitation), editor-in-chief (directs the entire paper, manages the staff, and approves the paper before printing), managing editor (assists the editor-in-chief and oversees distribution), production editor (oversees the layout and makes sure the design is consistent), staff photographers, and, of course, staff writers. You can advertise for writers among your pro-life friends, at other student clubs’ meetings, and in each issue of your publication. Make sure that your staff maintains professionalism at all times. This will make donors and advertisers more likely to contribute and will also help your credibility on at your school. Remember that others will be looking to fault you due to your pro-life stance.
4. Fundraise. The first element of production is fundraising. You can raise the initial funds from pro-life donors in your area. Build up a list of prospective donors and send a letter asking them to donate. Continue adding to your donor database. You should have your publisher solicit advertisements from a large number of companies and non-profit organizations. Donations and advertisements can drop off, so be sure that you have a variety of donors and advertisers. Also be sure to take advantage of any resources that your school has available, such as student government funding. You may need to become a recognized student group to do this. Make sure you know your school’s funding and non-discrimination policies, in case you have problems getting equal funding with other publications. Find out where the other school publications get their funding and which printing company offers the best rates.
5. Produce your publication. As you raise the necessary funds, you can produce your first issue. Develop a schedule for when different stories need to be completed. For example, if the pro-choice club organizes a controversial event, make sure that at least one staff writer and photographer can cover the event. It can sometimes take a few weeks for writers to get all of the necessary interviews for an article, so give your staff as much notice as possible. Each component of the issue will have to be reviewed by the editors before the printer’s deadline, so keeping deadlines is critical. Make sure that your entire staff follows your set deadlines and track story progress in an Excel spreadsheet.
6. Distribute the issues. Choose places that receive a fair amount of pedestrian traffic, especially next to the other school publications. Distributing by hand is especially effective. If you have publication distribution centers outside, be sure to get magazine or newspaper racks—otherwise your issues will be ruined when it rains. Put your publication in your school’s student centers, women’s center, and health clinic if at all possible. You can also put issues in faculty and student mailboxes. Once again, review your school’s non-discrimination and equal access policies to know what you are legally able to do. Distribute your publication in several different areas of your school, and don’t put all of your issues out at once. Vandalism and publication theft do occur. Keep track of which distribution centers are most popular and look at how many copies of your publication have been taken. You can leave more issues there in the future. Be sure to pick up any back issues of your publication when you distribute each new issue so that you can mail them to your donors or give them out in your community.
Contact SFLA for more free help and information!
- Start a Publication Guide Part 1
- Start a Publication Guide Part 2
- Publication Templates in Microsoft Word