Capitalizing the Newspaper for the Message
By W.L. Burgan
For sixteen years I have been engaged in newspaper work from the office of the Press Bureau of the General Conference. Prior to that time I had been a professional newspaper reporter and editor. As such, the third angel's message seemed to me the most wonderful thing I had ever heard, and I felt that through the press all the world should know about it. My experience during the years has served to intensify this conviction, and I feel warranted in saying that the newspaper is the one and only agency available whereby to reach all classes of people at the same time. It is also true that the newspaper reaches more people with the sermon in print than could ever be reached at one time by the sermon from the pulpit. The sermon delivered to an audience of four thousand people would, if printed in the newspaper, reach several hundred thousand people not in attendance.
I believe that the newspapers are designed by God to play a leading part in the closing proclamation of the message, and that we as a people will be enabled to accomplish God's purpose in reaching every nation, kindred, tongue, and people by making legitimate use of the press. There is great need of men who know how to use the press to the best advantage in proclaiming the most vital message that has ever been sent to the inhabitants of the earth,—the only message which offers a solace for the sorrows of a sinful world.
Washington, D. C.
By L.K. Dickson
We are not utilizing the possibilities of the newspapers in the line of paid write-ups which give the message word for word. I am not unmindful of the heavy expense involved in this kind of advertising, but I believe we shall be able to reach many more than can be reached through other means of evangelism costing as much, if not more. Some part of the funds appropriated for evangelistic work in every conference should be assigned to this kind of newspaper work. Personal experience has taught me the value of this particular feature of advertising, for I have known of entire families coming into the truth by reading a very few carefully written articles in the newspapers.
The advantages which newspaper advertising offers are well worth considering: 1. The newspaper of any large city reaches hundreds of thousands of readers which cannot be readily reached, if at all, by our public efforts or house-to-house work. 2. The newspaper reaches the finest class of business and professional men, and I have found that such men are more willing to read the newspaper presentations of truth than they are to attend public services. 3. By the use of newspaper advertising it is possible to present the truth to men and women who read it around the breakfast table, when the mind is clear and retentive. The gigantic possibilities of a single newspaper article amply compensate for the necessarily heavy expense attached thereto.
New York, N. Y.
A Unique Experience
By Stemple White
The most common and the most effective medium for general publicity today is the newspaper. Since the word "news" means "information about something unknown; fresh tidings; recent investigation," from N-orth, E-ast, W-est, S-outh, why should not the gospel, which is "good news," appropriately be included in the daily newspaper? The press eagerly broadcasts advance information regarding the expected arrival of king, queen, or prince, the achievements of science, the feats of "birdmen," et cetera; and if properly prepared notices of the progress of the everlasting gospel and preparation for the coming King of Peace are furnished to the editors, there cannot fail to be far-reaching results. One thing is certain, and that is, no newspaper will ever contain a historical write-up of the greatest event of all time—the second coming of Christ. This is a news item which must find its way into the press before the event takes place.
I am a firm believer in the value of newspaper advertising, and have often had the unique experience, while on my way to deliver my Sunday night sermon, to purchase on the street a copy of the first edition of a leading daily, and find there my sermon all in print ready to reach a half million readers, while I proceed to preach it to an audience of perhaps a few hundred people.
Back in 1920 I was making a trip across the country and stopped off at a city where I had labored for four years, during which my Sunday night sermons had regularly appeared in the leading dailies, and called to see the city editor with whom I had enjoyed most pleasant relationship. I have never received a more cordial reception by any man than on this occasion, and he urged me to tell him where I was located, where I was going, and how things were moving. The minister who had succeeded me in evangelistic work in that city I knew to be successful in reporting to the press, and in the course of conversion I asked this editor how Pastor Blank was getting along. His reply was: "Just fine. He's a progressive chap. I seldom ever put the blue pencil to his stuff. He's onto his job." Then he put this question to me: "Do you Seventh-day Adventist ministers have special instruction in newspaper work?" I then explained the work of our Press Bureau, and he said, "That is wonderful! Clergymen ought to be awake to the value of the press in their work." As I left after that interview I felt a new sense of burden that every minister in the cause of God should realize the importance attached to the press work.
Some business firms spend a million dollars in advertising some product on which they reap a profit. When we remember that all genuine converts to this message turn into the treasury a perpetual one tenth of all their increase, plus liberal freewill offerings, supplying children and youth to fill our institutions, surely a reasonable amount of money spent in advertising the biggest and most enduring business in this world and the world to come, does not seem to be poor Christian business policy.
While we must be very cautious in buying space in the press for sermon reports on account of shortage of means, yet there are times when reasonable investment, properly conducted, would prove to be money well invested. In news stories, or free advertising matter, the city editor supplies the headings and subheadings; but when space is bought, the evangelist has the privilege of submitting copy with heading, cut, Bible text, and subheading, just as he wants it to appear. He also has the privilege of reading the proof before it goes to press. Thus the message, accompanied by Scriptural proof, goes into thousands of homes; while the same amount of printed matter, in the form of folder or pamphlet, would cost a great deal more, and in addition there would be required the cost of delivery to the many thousands.
When space is purchased, one should guard against putting in too much, and to see that the matter is most carefully prepared. Sap boiled down is all the sweeter. If it is wise to think twice before you speak, it is doubly wise to think many times before broadcasting upon paper to the heterogeneous masses.
Friendly Anakims of Our Great Cities
By R.E. Crawford
I wish that something could be done to arouse our ministers in the great cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, New Orleans, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., to approach fearlessly the editors of the great dailies, and find just the right way for making use of these friendly "Anakims" of our great walled cities for the onward march of God's truth; for I believe that these "Anakims" are not giants to be feared, but that we are well able to go up and meet them in the name of the Lord, and shall receive from them a cooperative reception.
Everybody reads the newspapers. Why not present the third angel's message in proper form to be read by the masses through this medium? Some are saying, It cannot be done. But frequent demonstration has proved that it can. To the glory of God, I wish to relate a few experiences in connection with providential openings.
In Denver we have two papers, with a combined circulation of around 300,000 daily, reaching not only Denver people, but circulating throughout the State of Colorado, also Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico; in fact including the whole Rocky Mountain area. There was a time when it seemed practically impossible for us to get a word of mention in these columns, but when we started a series of meetings in one of the large auditoriums of the city, we decided to advertise through the newspapers instead of using handbills. It seemed to us that it would be wise to have the advertising matter presented by the same individual each week, with a view to establishing a friendly acquaintance. Copy was always placed with one particular editor, who appreciated this special consideration, as it gave him precedent, and he in turn was glad to grant any favors possible.
The results have been very satisfactory. Practically everything we sent in was printed. One of the dailies is 98 per cent Catholic, and here we had a difficult situation to encounter. They gave whole page write-ups to small Catholic institutions, while large Protestant establishments received mere passing notice. I sent thirteen articles to this paper before a line came to light, but later they printed everything passed in. It was a question of getting acquainted. One week, both papers together gave us fourteen write-ups. Our magazine workers said they noticed an increase in sales as a direct result of the favorable publicity.
In almost all large metropolitan papers there is a section called "Letters From the People," which can be utilized to advantage by our people. In Denver we average a little more than two letters per week. In every Saturday issue, the newspaper gives free announcements to churches. We cannot take advantage of this, as it comes too late for our purpose, but it is well to approach the editor in a tactful manner and ask if he could allow our "free announcement" to appear in Friday's issue. We succeeded in accomplishing this in Denver, and such a notice, appearing alone on Friday, is more conspicuous than when printed with many other such notices. Newspaper editors are glad to receive interesting sermon reports, and we should take advantage of this means of publicity. We featured at least two of these sermon reports each week. The very unusualness of our message makes it "news."
As to economy in newspaper advertising, the facts are convincing. To cover Denver and surrounding territories with handbills or small literature, would call for 200,000 copies. The minimum cost on Present Truth for such use would be $1,200, to which must be added the cost of distribution. The contents of an issue of Present Truth, printed in a Sunday paper, would cost $408, and the newsboy would do the work of distributing.
Surely great possibilities lie before us in connection with the newspapers of our land.
Jottings From Personal Experience
By John Ford
I have never had time to sit down and figure out many theories as to how to do newspaper advertising most effectively. I have not taken a course in newspaper work, neither have I studied journalism. All I can do is to tell what has been done, which I hope will be of benefit to some one.
Articles to Have Drawing Power.—In the first place, I believe that the reporting of lectures for the newspapers is of greater value as an advertising medium than as a disseminator of doctrine. We must first seek to get people to attend the public lectures. The people who attend the meetings are the ones who accept the truth, while those who do not come to the meetings, even though they receive most of the information given through the sermons, seldom accept the truth. So for this reason, I endeavor to make my articles attractive and to possess drawing power.
Style.—It must be kept in mind in the preparation of articles that they are for the newspaper, and nob
for a theological journal; therefore it is out of place to present a labored, coherent theological argument. The appropriate character of such an article is that it be short and made spicy by interspersing "catchy" sayings which give a true version of ordinary statements made by the speaker. Particular care should be taken to make the first paragraph of the article most attractive. It is the first sentence in an article which enables the newspaper editor to give the article a title. If the first sentence is a very striking statement, then the writer of newspaper headings will formulate a catchy, large-type title, with perhaps a subtitle. The heading and the first paragraph of an article are often all that people read, so the importance of beginning the article in a striking manner is apparent.
All copy should be typewritten and double spaced. Accuracy in English, spelling, and punctuation should be maintained, When these necessary precautions are taken, articles are usually published just as written.
Avoid making any statements which might appear to cast reflection on any church or organization. The newspaper is a business concern, and cannot afford to arouse the ill will of any organization or person in the community: therefore articles are critically examined to detect anything of this nature.
Be Prompt With Copy.—It is important that copy should be brought in early for each day's edition. If it is a morning paper to which you are contributing, the articles should be delivered to the newspaper office the preceding night, by not later than seven or eight o'clock. If It is an afternoon paper, the copy should be in the preceding evening, or the first thing in the morning of the day of issue. There are some days when it will not be possible to get an article in the newspaper, even though all conditions are complied with, as frequently there are "tight editions" when some very important news takes up the space.
Making Friends With the Editor.—As a rule, I think it is safe to say that newspaper editors are a class of persons more difficult to approach than others. It should be remembered that editors are pestered by fanatics of all kinds, who persist in trying to get something into the newspaper which is not of general interest, although to them it is the all-important thing. There are also many individuals eager for personal publicity, and continually appealing to the editor. Then, too, it must be remembered that the editor is a very busy man, especially about the time the edition is going to press, and it is unwise to attempt to approach him at such a time. I endeavor to find the time when I think the editor will be the least busy, avoiding the two or three hours before the edition goes to press, and then arrange for an interview with him. If when I call he seems to have some urgent work in hand, I withdraw until another time.
But when I do succeed in getting an interview with the editor, I introduce myself as the publicity manager for an evangelistic campaign soon to be conducted in the city, explaining that this will probably be the largest event of the kind which has ever been conducted in the city, and giving some facts concerning the nature of the campaign. I generally have with me some feature articles which have been published in large newspapers of the country, giving photographs of speakers, and information concerning the audience, et cetera. I make sure to explain to the editor that the meetings are under the auspices of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and that we are backed and supported by that denomination; therefore it is not our intention to make any great drive for money to pay the preacher or his associates, but that the money received as offerings at the meetings will be spent right in his city, and that a large share will be invested in newspaper advertising in his paper. I make no appeal to him for free advertising space at this time, even though we propose to buy considerable space in the paper; for I have learned that the business office and the editorial office are entirely separate, and the editor is supposed to pass on all articles handed to him as to their news value and general interest, rather than to consider how much paid space the customer is taking.
I assure the editor that we never start any tirade against any newspaper, or the officials or citizens of a city, in order to create excitement and draw a crowd, but that we consider the newspaper as our friend, and lend our influence in every way for the support of local interests. I also make plain that the evangelist and his associates will not seek to tear down the churches in the city, but that all the preaching will be from the standpoint of the Bible as the center of attraction.
Having laid my cards on the table, so to speak, I then ask the editor to permit me to write up a little story, announcing the opening of the evangelistic campaign; and send it in with a cut of the speaker. This request is granted in practically every interview. I further suggest that, if agreeable, I could furnish a short newsy story each day, concerning the development of the various features of the campaign, as I know there will be thousands of people in the city looking for such notices. And this also is usually agreed to. Thus the door for newspaper publicity is opened, and the opportunity afforded is of huge proportions.
San Diego, Calif.