Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making the most of your press release

A good article in the Non-Profit Times newsletter today with a reminder of when it's useful to send out a press release, and when it's not.

I've blogged a few times before about what it takes to create a good release, and how best to send out your pitch, but it's been a while - so I'm happy to have the opportunity to post this helpful little checklist from NPT as a reminder.

I've copied the article below to save you the click, but please do take the time to subscribe to some of NPT's newsletters yourself, I often find their information incredibly useful.

Enjoy -
Marketing ... 6 things the media really wants

The news media can help get the word out about your organization – if you know how to reach them. Press releases can inform journalists and editors about your organization and hook them for a story.

But, you should know what kind of news makes it to print before sending out a press release, according to Janet Rice McCoy, assistant professor at Morehead State University, and Jeanette Drake, associate professor at Kent State University, at Blackbaud’s 2008 Conference for NonProfits. So what are journalists looking for?

  • Timeliness. It’s great to find out about a Halloween fundraiser – but not in April. Call journalists and find out how much time in advance they need story ideas.
  • Magnitude. Will your information effect five people or an entire state?
    Impact. Journalists want to know what will happen. If you miss a fundraising goal, do you just shrug your shoulders and try again next year? Or will it keep you from feeding 100 people? Let the journalists know what numbers mean to your organization.
  • Human interest. Numbers only get so far. People want to read stories about others. See if a constituent or donor would be willing to talk about what the organization did, or does, for them.
  • Celebrity. TMZ isn’t the only media outlet that loves celebrity. Known names can help make headlines – and sell papers.
  • Proximity. Not all news is national. If you are a state or regional nonprofit, try to tailor news to what will happen in specific communities. If you are a local nonprofit, make sure you explain how things will hit home.
  • Novelty. Everything in your organization may be exciting to you, but another fundraiser will not lure journalists – or readers. Try to find a new spin that makes your events note-worthy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Power Of Visual Media

Much has been made of the latest video showing turkeys being killed as Sarah Palin addressed the media during the traditional Thanksgiving day tradition of granting a pardon to one of the birds.


Without commenting on Gov. Sarah Palin as a politician, this does present an excellent chance to talk about the power of the visual media.

In the video, the Governor is responding to a reporter's questions about the recent Presidential campaign and her current duties as the Governor of Alaska. Her comments, however, take a back seat to the visual activity in the camera frame showing the bloody work of an employee slaughtering birds behind her.

Two key publicity principals are illustrated by this footage:
  1. Motion matters:
    The fact that the man slaughtering the birds was in motion is key. Our eyes are drawn to anything that moves, especially when the things around it are stationary. In this case, even if the employee had been doing something else entirely with the birds - like feeding them or herding them into a pen - it still would have distracted from viewer's ability to follow Sarah Palin's responses to the reporter's questions.
    Lesson: If you are responsible for your organization's publicity and you have video camera's on site, be sure you know exactly what's happening within the camera's frame of reference.

  2. Connect with your surroundings:
    The fact that Palin never addressed the slaughter going on behind her is also problematic. Viewer's expect that the action they're watching to be the subject of the conversation at hand. Although the reporter didn't ask any specific questions about the slaughter, Palin - were she more media savvy - should have found a way to address the activity.
    Lesson: If you are acting as an on-camera spokesperson for your organization, be acutely aware of your surroundings. If the activity in the background is not part of the conversation, find a way to weave it in to your responses to the press to show the audience that you're paying attention - even if the reporters aren't.