Piggyback Content On Headlines and Notable Days – Catch the Open-Minded Moment

Nothing is more important than communicating the right message to your network at the right place and time! And  leveraging a news item or special day by connecting your organization’s issues to it (when relevant!) is a tried-and-true nonprofit marketing strategy with a strong ROI (return on investment).

That’s why I was looking forward to the emails I expected to receive on Earth Day last week, from the environmental organizations I support and others. Earth Day 2010 had delivered so many effective nonprofit marketing models, that I anticipated some great outreach.

Not that Earth Day has been a global success in any way in mobilizing us all to treat the environment more respectfully, but it is a marker heralded broadly in the media (mainstream and not) and leveraged by many advertisers in the New York Times last week. When an issue is addressed like this, it becomes embedded in our heads. Those advertisers knew that Earth Day presented an ideal opportunity of environmental issues being as front-and-center in the news as they get and piggybacked on the day with relevant advertising. An open-minded moment.

How basic then, you’d think, that environmental organizations – tasked solely on the issues at the core of Earth day – would reach out to the network of current and recent supporters. But most organizations I expected to hear from — e.g. Environmental Working Group (marketing geniuses, in a totally genuine way), Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Club — didn’t come through. I was poised to re-up our Sierra Club membership that day, but wasn’t invited to do so. Lost opportunity!

Kudos to Catalog Choice – which sent me this email, so-so in headline but spot-on on tying its campaign to Earth Day and my open-minded moment.

Here’s how to ensure you’re poised to capitalize on notable days (holidays and other days) and headlines.

  • Develop a editorial calendar around known notable days (anything from Mother’s Day, to the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution — any day that’s notable in relation to your issue. Those days that generate mainstream and other media coverage are the priority – as they position your outreach for success by getting folks thinking about the day. Your outreach just plugs right into that open-minded moment.
  • Brainstorm around the likely news events that are worthwhile triggers for your outreach.Be prepared, before the moment of, so you can use that moment asap, when your network is open mind.

How does your organization connect its marketing to stories, news and events that are top of mind for your target audiences? Please share your experiences and recommendations here.

Nancy Schwartz on April 25, 2011 in Content Marketing | 18 comments
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  • A great resource for finding notable days related to an organization’s issue is Chase’s Calendar of Events (http://www.mhprofessional.com/templates/chases/). You can also create your own awareness day or similar holiday and submit it to the calendar for possible inclusion. Thanks for the smart observations, Nancy (as always)–on World Malaria Day, no less!

  • Robin

    Hi, Nancy, I’m a very appreciative fan of your writing and guidance — thank you for all you do to help nonprofit communicators!

    I’m curious: have you reached out to Sierra Club, EWG or any of the other environmental nonprofits you anticipated hearing from to find out why they may have forsaken the typical Earth Day ask/outreach you expected? It might be interesting to see if there was actually strategy behind their decision. For instance, did it have anything to do with the fact that Earth Day fell on Good Friday and kissed Easter weekend, and many nonprofits avoided sending asks for that reason? Maybe EWG and SCF could be invited to respond and comment here! Just a thought. Thanks again for all you give to the community.

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Thanks, Robin, for a great suggestion. I haven’t reached out to those organizations yet, but will if time allows.

    Earth Day was indeed on Good Friday and that may be the reason, but I’d recommend against that choice in the future.

  • We have over 28 programs here at Catholic Charities in Madison, WI. So I use National awareness months as a way to highlight our services. For example April is National Alcohol Awareness month so I’m placing more emphasis on our alcohol treatment programs this month on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages. Plus we have online ads running with our local newspaper this month to promote that program.

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Great model, Nicole. Do your stats indicate that this strategy increases engagement? Or have any anecdotal insights on that?

  • Thanks Nancy! This strategy does seem to increase awareness of our services. I use Google Analytics for our website and I see a marked increase in hits to pages that we feature each month.

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Great that you’re tracking and analyzing, Nicole, so you have that insight. Any thoughts on expanding your “piggyback” marketing program to holidays and other noted days, and/or headlines?

  • Yes. I’m currently working on redesigning our website and using a proper blog. Recently I brought up the idea about incorporating headlines with our new blog. My hope is that once we see a headline that relates to a program(s), we can blog about how we can help (the blog entry will provide links to the source material and pages on our website as well).

  • Jacqueline Way

    My blog is all about giving so I try to connect to all the great days that are going on around the world. It seems like every week there is some great way to give back through a world movement like Earth Day. The next big one is World Give Day http://www.worldgiveday.com/ May 4th don’t miss it!

  • Designing Indore

    i really like your opening line “communicating the right message to your network at the right place and time! “

  • You definitely bring up a great point. Timing is everything. Donations are very much a spur-of-the-moment type of action, so being available at the right time is incredibly important in maximizing your chances as an organization to receive a donation to further your cause.

  • I love this. It’s a great way to catch people in the emotional space they’re in.

    I did that with the Royal Wedding last Friday. Quickly re-examined my content in light of the wedding and made a post. I was pleased to see it RT’d by people other than the “regulars.”

  • Nancy, this post inspired me to use today, Star Wars Day, to blog about fundraising! (It’s May the 4th…as in May the Force be with you. *grin*)

    The post is up at: http://fundraisingcoach.com/2011/05/04/the-force-and-fundraising/

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Love that, Marc. Make the 4th Be With You!

  • This is a great post. At the British Heart Foundation we use this model and have been integrating digital skills and tactics into our traditional press activity so topicality is just part of what we do everyday. We have definitely seen an uplift in engagement as a result!

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Laila, could you please share a few examples of your successes in integrating topicality into your communications?

  • Sure no problem. We do it so frequently there’s lots to share…

    – UK Royal Wedding: we asked people to celebrate being british (we are the British Heart Foundation after all) and support us by buying something from a ‘best of british’ gift range we had prepared in our online shop. It generated a few purchases but I don’t have exact figures.

    – UK School holidays: we’ve created some tips for keeping kids active which we highlight along with the fundraising events we have which are more kid orientated. We definitely get user engagement and awareness of the fundraising events picks up.

    – Notable new stories or media coverage related to our cause eg celebrity affected by heart condition, TV programme involving a relevant storyline, new drug or research news etc. By ensuring we have relevant content and sharing this on social media we see our charity appear in conversations and reach people who wouldn’t normally see us.

    hope those few are helpful.

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