Magnify the impact of your action or campaign by getting the word out. Use both traditional and social media to reach as many people as possible. This page is broken down into three sections:
350.org Talking Points
Mainstream Media Outreach
Making Your Own Media
350.org Talking Points
We’ve found that the best “talking points” often have a personal touch, so feel free to adapt these as you see fit. Here are some basic talking points about 350.org, climate science, extreme weather and climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline, and the need to take on the fossil fuel industry.
350.org is an international campaign dedicated to solving the climate crisis. Over the past four years, we’ve organized over 20,000 climate rallies in more than 189 countries.
350.org was founded by writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben and a group of friends from Middlebury College in 2008. Since then, we’ve grown to include hundreds of thousands of people in every continent on Earth.
350.org is a distributed network of grassroots organizers that work on everything from a local clean energy projects to bold national campaigns like stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.
About 350 parts per million and climate science:
350.org is named after what scientists say is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. Right now, the atmosphere contains over 393 ppm of CO2 and going up about 2 ppm every year.
At 393 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere, we’re already seeing massive climate disruption and devastating impacts, from the melting of the Arctic to the terrible floods and droughts of the last year. If we stay on our current pathway, CO2 levels could go up to as high as 700 ppm by the end of the century. That’s not a future we can leave for our children.
112 countries around the world have adopted the 350 ppm target as their official negotiating position at the UN Climate Talks, but the biggest emitters, including the US, still refuse to recognize the scientific imperative of meeting this crucial red line for the planet.
Extreme Weather and Climate Change:
Climate change is loading the dice for more extreme weather events. Warmer air holds more water vapor than cold air, meaning worse droughts as the air absorbs that moisture, and more devastating floods as it a lets it loose in deluges.
We can’t ignore the increasingly sever weather. The extreme weather we’ve seen over the last few years is dangerous and not normal.
We owe it to our kids and grandkids to protect them and that means addressing climate change before it becomes irreversible. Running away from tough problems only makes them worse.
In 2012, over 1,300 counties in the United States have been declared national disaster areas due to drought, losing billions of dollars in agricultural production, exports, jobs and income.
2012 was the hottest year on record. In the United States, over 17,000 temperature records were broken across the country during the summer.
The nation’s top scientists say things are going to get worse and that climate change must be addressed now if we want to make sure our kids have a safe future.
The Keystone XL Pipeline:
350.org has helped lead the campaign against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a 1,700 mile project that would carry tar sands from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
Tar sands oil is the most polluting form of oil on the planet, with far higher emissions than conventional crude. Our top climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen at NASA, has said that burning the tar sands would mean “essentially game over” for the climate.
Keystone XL is a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet, the Canadian tar sands.
The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would not improve our energy security since the oil is meant for export: that’s why they’re so intent on getting it to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Real energy independence can only come from getting off oil entirely.
The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline puts our land and precious water supplies at risk. A previous tar sands pipeline spilled 17 times in its first year of operation.
Right now, TransCanada, the pipeline company, is attempting to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, but is meeting serious resistance from landowners and ranchers, especially in Texas where a citizen-led effort called Tar Sands Blockade is leading acts of principled civil disobedience against the project.
In order to build the northern leg of Keystone XL pipeline that would cross our border with Canada, TransCanada must receive a “presidential permit” from the Obama administration. The permit is currently under review by the State Department and other federal agencies.
President Obama promised to “end the tyrrany of oil” and “help heal the planet.” He needs to make true on his promises, stand up to Big Oil, and reject Keystone XL.
We have the solutions to solve the climate crisis. Businesses and innovators around the world have developed renewable energy technologies, including everything from huge solar mirrors, new efficient wind turbines, and jet fuel made from rapidly growing algae.
Cities and communities across the planet are leading the fight against climate change, from keeping waste out of landfills to stop methane emissions to making government buildings more efficient.
Independent studies show that in the United States a sustained investment of public and private dollars in clean energy would generate 1.7 million new jobs in industries like construction for making homes and office buildings more efficient with new windows, lighting and cooling systems — and in manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
Clean, renewable energy is a bright spot in the global economy. This industry is a success story that has resulted in job creation, scientific innovation, cleaner air, and a stronger manufacturing sector. When we invest in clean energy, we invest in a safer future, and we keep our money and jobs in our communities rather than padding the pockets of Big Oil.
Tip: Whenever possible, use clean energy stories and solutions from your own community to support your clean energy narrative. The more local and visual your example is, the better!
The need to challenge the fossil fuel industry:
We need to break the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold over our democracy and our economy.
Oil company Super-PACs are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence elections and lobby Congress. They are attacking clean energy and rigging the system to protect their profits.
The fossil fuel industry is intentionally misleading the public about climate change. Exxon, for example, has paid 40 organizations to create doubt about the settled science of climate change, using some of the same PR people the tobacco companies used. They are manipulating the media to convince us that fossil fuels don’t hurt our environment. They’re lying.
The fossil fuel industry spends millions corrupting our politicians and then receive billions of dollars in subsidies every year from the American taxpayer.
Destroying our climate is a radical act and the fossil fuel industry is a rogue industry. It’s time for a grassroots movement that can confront them and create the clean energy future we need and want.
“Do The Math” Tour and Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign:
To grasp the seriousness of the climate crisis, you just need to do a little math. We have 5 times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate.
At our current rate, we’ll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years, around the time today’s preschoolers will be graduating from high school.
Once you “do the math,” there was only one possible conclusion: the fossil fuel industry is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization.
The fossil-fuel industry is allowed to dump its main waste, carbon dioxide, for free. They have no economic incentive to stop business as usual.
Breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry is going to be difficult, but there is a historical example of when a movement was able to challenge industry to make basic changes: the campaign in the 1980s to divest from South Africa.
In the fall of 2012, Bill McKibben went on a 25 city 25 night tour of America called “Do The Math” to explain the clear math of our current crisis and build a new fossil fuel divestment movement.
350.org launched this divestment campaign on college campuses and at religious institutions around the country, and provides opportunities for people from all walks of life to engage and take part.
Mainstream Media Outreach
This short guide will help you to spread your local activism far and wide, and also give you tips on how to build successful relationships with reporters to support your future efforts. We’ve structured this guide around the steps that you will take if you’re organizing a local event, rally, or protest. There are lots of other ways to create change, but no matter what sort of activism you’re engaged in, these steps are a great place to start.
Steps 1 – 4 can be done in one group meeting, Steps 5 & 6 require a little ‘legwork’, Step 7 should be easy, and Step 8 is just some follow up.
1. Create an exciting event idea!
First step is to for your group to come up with ways to make your event unique and creative so that it will get the attention of the media. The more unique an event, the more likely the media will cover it (no one wants to read about something that’s happened a 100 times before). Remember, you don’t necessarily need to have 1,000 people to get coverage — sometimes the most creative events are also the simplest to organize.
2. Media buzz plan
Your group wants to try get some media attention before the event to ‘build the buzz’ (and this may get more people to attend your event too). You can do this through traditional media such as radio and newspapers, as well as through new media by blitzing out twitter and facebook messages. See if you can get in touch with a few sympathetic reporters, bloggers, or show hosts and see if they will help cover the lead-up to your event. Think about what announcement you could make before your event to make some news (like announcing someone important who is attending).
3. Target the media
This next step won’t take too long. Identify what local/regional media outlets (newspapers, radio and tv stations, etc) might be interested in your event. Your group might discuss what shows, stations, or papers are most relevant to your event or might be most supportive (such as a certain DJ known for his community interest). Then contact these outlets to collect updated contact information for journalists, DJs, TV show producers, etc. This is your “media list”. (Be aware that on weekends, different reporters/media crew are often on duty instead of the weekday people, so as your event will take place on a Saturday, make sure to get the right contacts!)
4. Develop your message/story
Having the following information together will make you better prepared to work with reporters and talk to the press about your event:
5. Build relationships with the media
Right, now to get to work:
6. Media advisory and press releases
Here is what you should be doing with a media advisory and press release:
Media Advisory Template (.doc)
Press Release Template (.doc)
We have found at 350.org that the event photos are incredibly powerful ways of telling stories, particularly the story of the growing movement of people around the world who are taking action to solve the climate crisis. These photos get used in many different situations for months and even years after the event itself to help open people’s minds and hearts. So, even if journalists come to your event with professional photographers, make sure to have someone in your group assigned to be your ‘official’ photographer. Here are great tips for taking a good photo and remember to send your best one to us!
8. Follow up, follow up, follow up
Here are some important tips for follow up after your event:
Making Your Own Media
Don’t just rely on the mainstream media to tell your story, make your own! Here are three great ways to spread the word about your work party:
1. Blog about it
We’ve found that a great event blog post is usually 3-4 paragraphs that describe what happened at your event, include some description of how the event felt (maybe a quote from someone who attended), talk about what’s next for you and your fellow organizers, and include a picture or a video. If you publish a blog post, make sure to share it with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Take a great action photo
Creating a great photograph of your event is very important! A great photo allows you to share your event with the world, helps 350.org tell the story of this global movement, and serves as a visual petition to our world leaders to join us in taking action. Here’s a Flickr slide show of some of our favorite photos from last October 24’s day of climate action (notice that not all of them are big crowds — sometimes a great photo of a small event can make it have a huge impact). Click here for a more extensive guide to taking a great photo.
3. Make a video
Video is another great way to share your event with the world. Good videos can also help build up excitement for your event, so think about making a before and after video if you have the time. We’ve found that the best videos are often:
Here’s the compilation video we made for last October 24’s day of climate action that featured footage shot by 350 supporters all across the planet. Click here for a more extensive guide to making a great video and some good examples.