Mila Rosenthal

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



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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