media relations

Patricia-Brooks-photo-imageGuest blogger, Patricia Brooks guides client orgs to reach and motivate people through traditional and new media sources. She’s a 24/7 newshound and loves to match the right story with the right journalist.

As a media relations expert, the question I’m most often asked is whether I have strong relationships with reporters. And many are taken aback when my response to that question is often a polite version of, “I can name drop until I am blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean that I can guarantee those journalists will cover your organization.”


Guest Blogger on March 27, 2014 in Media Relations and Press | 3 comments
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MargotFriedman-HeadShotMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share free tips and strategies.

Don’t say your opponent’s name. Don’t make the other side’s case for them.

That’s the conventional wisdom about addressing the opposition’s arguments in many advocacy contexts. In opinion editorial writing, however, the conventional wisdom may not apply.

To make your op ed more persuasive and thoughtful, consider including a rebuttal paragraph that refutes your opponent’s main argument. Rebuttal paragraphs that raise and dismiss the other side’s argument are often located after the last paragraph of the body and before the conclusion, but they can appear anywhere.


Guest Blogger on July 25, 2013 in Media Relations and Press | 0 comments
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MargotFriedman-HeadShotMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share free tips and strategies.

There is no formula for writing an op ed. You could write stream of consciousness and it could be terrific. But for folks who like structure, two basic formats make op ed writing quicker and easier.

You may recognize the first format, the five paragraph essay, from high school:

  • Introduction ending with your main point. In an op ed, the introduction is called the lead.
  • Three supporting paragraphs backed up by evidence (e.g., statistics, personal stories, studies by experts, lessons of history, comparisons with other countries).
  • Conclusion. In an op ed, the conclusion shouldn’t just be a summary of your arguments; it should urge a proposed solution or make a call to action. Now that you’ve educated your readers about an issue, tell them what should happen next and how they can make it happen.


Guest Blogger on March 15, 2013 in Media Relations and Press | 0 comments
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Guest bloggerMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share op-ed tips and strategies.

Remember those posters in your high school hallway that said, “SEX! Now that I have your attention, vote for so and so for class president?” The signs were sophomoric, but they were onto something.
Before I can persuade you, I have to get your attention. That’s why the lead or opening paragraph of your next opinion editorial is so important.


Guest Blogger on February 16, 2012 in Media Relations and Press | 1 comment
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I’m happy to welcome guest blogger, Margot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications. Margot is an expert trainer on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share op-ed tips and strategies.

At the end of the 1990s, I worked for an advocacy organization that had more or less dropped opinion editorials from their communications strategies. It was just too hard to get op eds placed.  That may have been the right decision 10 years ago, but it is the wrong decision today. READ MORE

Guest Blogger on October 13, 2011 in Media Relations and Press | 1 comment
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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 | 17 comments
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2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing WisdomThank you for all of the questions, stories and feedback you share with me. It’s your input that makes it possible for me to cover what you need to know to increase your nonprofit’s marketing impact!

You were particularly generous last December, when I asked you to share your most important nonprofit marketing lesson or key principle learned — either from hard knocks or new found success — in 2010.

Now, drawing from your submissions, I’ve compiled the first-ever Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom featuring 127 lessons learned from your colleagues in the field. Get this free guide now to be inspired and guided!

Here’s just a hint of the practical, tested direction you’ll get from your peers in the field:

  • Make professional development and continuing learning a priority – and protect the time.
  • When pricing out an item or service, call at least three vendors. This may take a few more minutes of your time, but you will save hundreds, even thousands of dollars. We’ve been able to save so much money on production costs for printing, photography and web design, by taking the time to incorporate this.
  • Test, test, and test… before any campaign gets launched. Given the complexity of the tools today, and the speed with which we invariably put things together, errors do get made and you want to be the one to find them, not the people you’re hoping to engage!

This is your opportunity to learn from the experts to achieve stronger results in 2011:  Dive into your 2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom now.

Nancy Schwartz on January 26, 2011 in Strategy | 1 comment
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2010 delivered cause-marketing shockers, highly-effective disaster relief communications, a tougher-than-ever fundraising environment and the continued emergence of Facebook, even as the basics remained the cornerstone of nonprofit marketing impact.

Here are the tools, case studies and recommendations that nonprofit marketers like you found most valuable in guiding them through this tough year:

7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Nonprofit Marketing Impact with Google Analytics

10 Ways to Make Your Online Press Room Perform for Your Nonprofit

Busted Nonprofit Brand: Anatomy of a Corporate Sponsorship Meltdown (Case Study)

How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read

Messaging Crisis for Nonprofits

My Top 6 Guides to Effective Fundraising—What Are Yours?

New Nonprofit Tagline Database and 2011 Report: Free and Open for Use
“These are great tools for crafting effective messages, and so easy to use,” says Peggy Kebel, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Local Funding Partnerships.

Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template—Ready-to-Use

Red Cross’ Communications Innovation in Haiti Disaster Relief Effort — Smart Stuff

There’s More to Marketing than Social Media

Unleash the Power of Your Email Signature

P.S. Get in-depth case studies, templates and tools, and guidance for nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on January 20, 2011 in Strategy | 0 comments
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Mila Rosenthal, Executive Director of HealthRight International, is a Letter to the Editor (LOE) expert with a significant record of success. Read on to review her most recent success — a strong, concise, pointed Letter to the Editor of The New Yorker – and Rosenthal’s tips for your own efforts.

Re: A Deadly Misdiagnosis
December 6, 2010

Michael Specter describes the way that sketchy private clinics in India are preying on people at risk of tuberculosis, and simultaneously undermining an under-resourced public-health system (“A Deadly Misdiagnosis,” November 15th). When public and private health-care systems compete, poor people are often the victims, caught between lousy care and unaffordable care. We see this in Vietnam and in Russia—anywhere that a government is unable to devote sufficient resources to the public-health system, or unwilling to regulate a private one. Unfortunately, in countries such as these, diseases like TB will continue to spread until they reach populations rich enough to afford good treatment. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to health and well-being, which includes medical care. As Specter’s article illustrates, letting only the principles of the market shape health care in poorer countries means that most people will be denied that right.

Mila Rosenthal, Executive Director
HealthRight International

Here are Rosenthal’s tips for your Letters to the Editor:

  • Identify which type of Letter to the Editor you are writing. Rosenthal distinguishes between the letter to correct the public record and the advocacy letter, crafted to get your message out on an issue. Her New Yorker letter is the latter, designed to magnify the issue covered in the article she’s responding to, and to position HealthRight International as a major player in the health rights field. She does a great job in both respects.
  • Ensure that your letter is reviewed by your organization’s media expert. Rosenthal stresses the importance of the right program (in a large organization) submitting its Letter to the Editor, on the right issue at the right time. “Remember that an organization is likely to have a letter placed only once or twice a year,” she cautions.
  • Encourage local offices or activists to submit Letters to the Editor in local papers. National or international organizations have a lot to gain from local and regional coverage, says Rosenthal.
  • Self-publish your nonprofit’s Letter to the Editor whether they’re published or not in the target channel. HealthRight headlined the letter on its home page and covered it in depth on its website.

More on Writing Letters to the Editor that Gets Published and Read

How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read (Case Study)

How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read – Part Two – Letter to the Editor Tips from an Expert (Case Study)

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s messaging with the all-new Nonprofit Tagline Database and 2011 Tagline Report.

Nancy Schwartz on January 6, 2011 in Media Relations and Press | 1 comment
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Subject:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Visits HealthRight in Vietnam



I was thrilled last Thursday to receive this timely e-news alert from HealthRight International.  It’s nonprofit marketing at it’s finest.

This scrappy organization doing fantastic grassroots public health work worldwide had learned just a week prior that it had a fantastic marketing opportunity on its hands: Hillary Clinton had selected its Smile of the Sun center in Hanoi (a model for providing support and advocacy services for children and families living with HIV) as the stage for her signing of a five- year agreement with the Vietnamese government to fight HIV/AIDS.

Healthright’s executive director Mila Rosenthal (in photo in white shirt) is a close friend who happened to be visiting us a few days before Clinton’s visit. She couldn’t leave her  Blackberry alone for a minute – not like her – and when I asked why, she shared the news as she continued to work on visa issues.

Mila knew that:

  1. Nothing’s more powerful than connecting your nonprofit with a major news event. Clinton had already done that. It was HRI’s job to make the most of it.
  2. Clinton’s visit was the biggest media/marketing opportunity HRI had ever had, especially since her team had vetted many programs before selecting HRI’s program as the “set.”
  3. This was a priceless moment for HRI to a) build awareness of its work and impact with existing supporters, and to b) engage many others as supporters, or at least pique their interest.
  4. Mila better be there, on the scene, herself.

Despite visa delays, Mila did make the signing.  Then she and the HRI team capitalized on it. They:

  1. Captured as many photos as possible, with Mila included when possible (the visual connection between Mila and Hillary is worth a million dollars).
  2. Distributed two press releases, one each the day before and the day of the visit, including one featuring the photos.
  3. Sent out this e-news immediately.
  4. Featuring the story on the HealthRight’s homepage

The only additional suggestion I have for HealthRight is that they continue the story across online and offline channels, including the blog (nothing there yet on Clinton’s visit).

Remember that engagement is fleeting: Once your organization does engage a new or re-engage an existing audience, make sure to keep in close touch with related content (in this case, more about the trip, the center and HealthRight’s work in Vietnam and other countries.  It’s much harder to re-engage them, than to keep the conversation going.

Please share your stories – in the comments box – of connecting your organization’s work and impact with a major news story. Don’t forget to mention the results. Thanks!

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing (and video) success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on July 26, 2010 in Case Studies, Strategy | 0 comments
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