media relations

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 in Content Marketing | 18 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 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 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 in Media Relations and Press | 1 comment
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Subject:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Visits HealthRight in Vietnam

Healthright-nonprofit-marketing

Healthright-nonprofit-marketing

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 in Case Studies, Strategy | 0 comments
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NOnprofit marketerI want to welcome guest blogger Susie Bowie.  As communications manager at the Community Foundation of Sarasota, she is a passionate and talented  force helping organizations in the region develop their nonprofit marketing finesse. Today, Susie heralds her call to action to us nonprofit marketers…

Recently, I’ve heard a couple of remarks about nonprofits and nonprofit staff that just kill me…

First a local business person shared his view that “most of us drawn to nonprofit leadership roles care about charitable work but generally lack the skills to be leaders in the for-profit world.

Then Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, bluntly stated (his modus operandi) that nonprofits don’t have the power to change the world because they “have no resources” and are “constantly out trying to raise money instead of generating it and being self-sufficient.”

My guess is that if I’ve heard such patronizing criticism from these vocal folks in just the past couple of weeks, that this perspective is fairly widespread.

Why should nonprofit marketers care about such silly comments?

Each time word goes out, in a comment, article or broadcast – about how ineffective or unprofessional our sector is – it costs us financial support. Those messages generate doubts among our supporters, much less those who are still prospects. A heavy onus lies with nonprofit communicators to set it straight, but we can’t do it alone.

So what can and should nonprofit communicators professionals do about it within our sector? Here are three ways we can advocate for the truth:

1) Nurture the business people who do understand the power of nonprofits, support us with sponsorship dollars and provide us with outstanding board leaders.

In Sarasota, FL, local companies like Cavanaugh & Co, Kerkering Barberio, SunTrust and Northern Trust are just a few of the successful for-profits doing their part. As nonprofit communicators, we must thank such boosters profusely and set the stage for keeping the relationships going, highlighting their good work in our nonprofit’s outreach and encouraging our leadership to spread the praise.

It’s simply good public relations. Your personal and business pages on Facebook provide a great forum for shout-outs. Don’t let them slide once a sponsored event or program is over. And let your business partners know what you’re doing—just because you see a good news announcement in your local paper doesn’t mean they’ve seen it.

2) Remember that it’s a constant education process to help those who live outside our sector recognize what important and vital work we do.

We can’t fault the business world for a lack of understanding about charitable work anymore than you can fault yourself for not understanding how to fix the oil spill. Consider yourself not only a marketing ambassador for your organization but one for the sector.

Get wise about the economic impact facts in our charitable sector. Sarasota County nonprofits, for instance, reported over $2.8 billion in assets and over $1.2 billion in revenue in 2008 alone. (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics, January 2010) That’s a result of caring but inept people begging for money. Who’s the one to shed light on this? You. That’s right, it’s your job too.

3) If we’re going to be seen as professional, we have to stay ahead of the curve in professionalism and in our knowledge base.

All staff members, but particularly nonprofit leadership and communicators, represent the sector wherever they go – whether on the job or not. As the marketing ambassador for your organization, remind your staff of their personal brand (how they carry themselves, what they say about their work and your organization) and how it influences your nonprofit brand—and vice versa.

It’s not about “casual” versus “formal” in your virtual and geographic communities. It’s about aligning your actions and comments with respect and intelligence.

I think most of us do a great job of this. Our ongoing education can’t stop with awareness of the issues we care about most. Having one leg in that business world—with constant monitoring of the corporate news and trends—is critical. Communicating the intersections between the nonprofit and for-profit worlds is partly our responsibility. We have the skills to actively convey these connections to essential internal and external audiences. Leadership can determine where we go with them.

Nonprofits are taking (and historically have taken) a leading role in relationship building, the hallmark of success for any venture, public or private.  But it’s up to us to communicate our successes and strengths in a clear, consistent way, through all the grains of staff, board and program running through our organizations.

Powerful food for thought. Thank you, Susie.

What are your thoughts on how (and if) nonprofit marketers can best promote an accurate understanding of the strengths and power of the nonprofit sector and its people? Should we respond directly to slams such as Zuckerberg’s or take the high road  -showing rather than saying – our expertise and professionalism.

Please comment here. Thanks.

Guest Blogger in Nonprofit Marketing News | 13 comments
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earthdayLeveraging a news item or holiday by connecting your org to its theme is a tried-and-true nonprofit media relations strategy that succeeds at little cost. (See PETA case study).

But there’s more than media coverage to be gained in connecting your organization’s issues with a major news event or holiday. Doing so links your org to what’s already in your supporters’ minds — like this year’s 40th anniversary of Earth Day — so works well to motivate them to give or sign a petition.

Here are just a few of the many strong models of nonprofit marketing campaigns around Earth Day 2010 (via my colleagues active on the Progressive Exchange list serv. Please join us.):

  • The Media & Policy Center’s “Growing Greener Schools” will air on PBS throughout Earth Day week (check local listings).  It’s supported by a terrific new network of green school activists and initiatives, and the community building is reinforced by an e-newsletter.
  • The Green for Life video series was launched by the United Methodist Church and an action alert of Six Things You Can Do this Earth Day shared by United Methodist Women.
  • The Nature Conservancy is organizing action around its Earth Day To-Do List and needs just 110 more signatures via Facebook to reach its goal for its “Be Part of the Solution” petition. Sign it now.

More great Earth Day-related nonprofit fundraising and marketing campaigns here.

Learn more by reviewing these examples of organizations connecting with a news event for nonprofit communications success, and one of a for-profit doing so and treading on your opportunity:

Please share your organization’s strategies for leveraging news events to boost your nonprofit communications in the comments box below. Thanks much!

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

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Media Relations and Press | 0 comments
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Several Getting Attention e-update readers had questions in response to this recent article: 11 Steps to Media Relations Success. This one was asked by several nonprofit communicators:

Q: What are typical objectives/measurable outcomes for media relations work?

That's the sticking point for us – with such little staff time and budget for our PR efforts, we want to be smart and targeted with what we do. But we find that we often don't hear back from the releases we send out, and don't have much time to do follow-up phone calls, etc.  So how can we measure our success?

–Kate Lucas, Grants & Communications Coordinator, Common Hope

A:  Here are key outputs to track. They'll enable you to stay the course, if all's well, or correct if you're not getting anywhere.

Track these outputs: Articles placed, links added, online mentions of your organization, number of requests for public appearances, incoming press calls, etc. For example, two articles or one letter to the editor a month, three incoming press calls or 10% increase in daily unique visitors to your website generated by links on other sites. As always, look for trending (steady increases) rather than absolute numbers.

In addition, Kate, tracking coverage helps your organization assess who is talking about you and how you can best respond proactively (before it’s a crisis, enabling you to keep the focus on your messages) rather than reacting in panic. In addition, it helps you gauge the ROI (return on investment) of your media relations work.

I suggest you create a media log to record media relations activities and results. It will assist you in evaluating the contacts/relationships you have with specific media outlets and reporters, and help you identify concerns with particular outlets/reporters so that you can address them (e.g. always misquoted, description of organization incorrect, inappropriate language to explain issue, etc.)

Remember that outcomes (changes in action, awareness, understanding, attitude and/or behavior)of your media relations work are what's ultimately important Of course, these changes (other than action, e.g. driving folks to sign an online petition) are very difficult to measure. 

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

Nancy Schwartz in Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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Media Relations Planning — 11 Steps to Success Media planning, like most planning responsibilities, is daunting and seems tedious.
  
It's hard to know where to start, how to allocate the right time and staff and, most of all, how to motivate yourself to dive in. So many of us just avoid it, as we do with other planning responsibilities.
  
But this 11-step process will ease your pain — carving out a clear, proven path to media relations planning success.
     
Dive right in. The water's fine.

P.S. Subscribe now to the Getting Attention e-update to get your free copy of the 2009 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Report (due in late fall), filled with best practices, trends and a directory of over 2,500 nonprofit taglines.

Nancy Schwartz in Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy | 0 comments
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State Department PR Expert Shares Steps to Media Relations SuccessWords of wisdom on media relations from guest author, Todd Calongne, Public Affairs Officer, Secretary’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, U.S. Department of State:

Relax. Being yourself is the straightest path to gaining a new friend in the media. 

Feel free to engage in conversation while sussing out how much the journalist knows about the subject or the field of interest, and her slant. It's media relations as media education.

Learn much more from Todd, who's a real success at developing those crucial relationships with key media, here.

Nancy Schwartz in Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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