It has been a full year since I left the media biz and I sure have learned a lot. I like jumping in head first into much of what I do and my experiences in the non-profit (NPO) sector have proven to be a welcome challenge. Paid, day job aside I have formulated this idea during the last 12 months that I am going to use my skills in communications and media relations to help NPO’s affect social change in my community. I mean clearly the organizations I have been encountering in my previous years as a journo who have struggled to get their message out really just needed someone with the right knowledge
fighting writing for them. I was going to use communications to help change the world!!
Not that I thought that I was the only one who could do this – just that I was someone who could leverage my awesome AM Talk Radio Host status into something really meaningful #sarcasm.
You will notice I have been speaking in the past tense.
Many of these organizations, my current employer excluded (and that’s not because I am worried about being fired, rather it is because this phenomena I have noticed mostly occurs in small NPOs and organizations) I have found are hurting themselves when communicating, or not, their message. I don’t want to crap on anyone here but in a few instances I have been involved in a scenario where members of the organization have been very ‘ho hum’ about some key PR issues. This has made me angry.
Maybe not that angry but pretty frustrated as then it is the media who get labelled, by the organizations, as not caring.
If you don’t communicate your message well and to a certain degree help to get your message out you run the risk of it getting over looked.
While still in the radio biz I gave a couple of presentations on media engagement. It is important here to note that when I say media I mean news media. While you would now have to hire me to share those points in detail with you (will work for bacon and gluten free pancakes) I will give you one tip.
Make it easy.
Don’t make the media guess the significance of your happening. s-p-e-l-l-i-t-o-u-t. In your media release (hopefully you are doing a media release) hit them with the cherry on the top of the sundae right away. In journo terms it is called burying the lead.
“The failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph is sometimes called “burying the lead”. ~ Wikipedia
The fact that you are having a health and wellness conference is not the lead. The fact that you are bringing in an internationally renowned speaker who is recognized as the pre-eminent expert on the positive effects of bacon and red wine on a person’s health IS THE LEAD. That you are having a walk/ride/opening/conference/health and wellness fair is not significant. I’m sorry, but it is true. I feel I can freely tell you that now that I am with you, slugging it out, on the ‘other side of the fence’.
Everybody and their hashtag is having a something. The media is inundated with invites and requests. The problem is what is going to make yours stand out? (if you don’t know what a hashtag is you’ve got bigger problems)
A special speaker? who is it? Why are they so special? Why do we care?
An anniversary? Whopdeedoo – everyone has an anniversary, it better be the 100th
A fundraiser? Wow…really…cause no one else has had a fundraiser here before…
You need to get their attention – like I did with the picture of Tom Cruise as the image for this post. Maybe you rolled your eyes when you saw the word communicate in the title. But then you were intrigued by the ‘Help Me Help YOU’ – PLUS the Tom Cruise pic and you’re thinking: ‘YES Jerry McGuire – I loved that movie. That scene was awesome.’ So then you clicked on my blog and now you are reading it.
That’s how that works.
You get what I’m saying. Make sure you have an important, interesting, or attention grabbing something as part of your pitch to the media and put it bold and 36 font right in front of their eyes. Our businesses or causes are near and dear to OUR hearts but the media must cater to a greater portion of the population, so we must sell them harder on it so they can sell others on it. Because we could all use more people who are championing our ideas.
This by no means is comprehensive advice, there are several other factors to take into consideration. However, this is one basic component I find I am running into time and time again.
Now that I’ve touched on how best to engage the media, next I’ll talk to you about why you don’t necessarily need them…for a small fee.
Okay must get back to changing the world!