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Posts Tagged ‘PR’

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When you are running any type of organisation, bad publicity can have a significant impact.  As a not for profit organisation where a large portion of funds may come from government grants or donations, bad publicity can even threaten the viability of the organisation.  As a not for profit organisation, bad publicity can come in many forms such as, for example, the result of fraud,  poor treatment of employees, the organisation wasting funds or donations not being used for the purpose they were raised.  As such, how would your organisation deal with bad publicity?

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong and the impact it has had on the Livestrong charity he established, here are some tips that may help your organisation deal with bad publicity.

  • Initially try to identify the impact of the bad publicity.  For example, does it relate to a minor issue such as, for example, delays in providing a service or of a more serious nature such as fraud or misappropriation of donations?
  • Try to assess how the publicity may be communicated such as by word of mouth or via the media.  If the media is involved try to avoid making no comments as this implies you are trying to avoid something.
  • Be open and honest about the issue and tell the truth right from the start because if there are lies they are likely to come back and get you eventually.  Don’t do what Lance Armstrong did by denying and living with the lie for so long.
  • If there is strong negative publicity don’t hide from the issue hoping it will go away.  Get on the front foot and face the public or the media without delay.  This may include the release of a press release or a meeting with relevant people such as those who have been impacted or have raised the issue.
  • If needed, issue an apology and outline ways to address the issue and why it won’t occur again in the future.
  • If there is inaccurate information used then counter this and provide accurate information and evidence.

Once the issue has been dealt with or under control the board or committee of management must undertake a review to identify how and why the issue occurred.  As part of the review a strategy or plan should also be prepared that will allow the organisation to recover from the bad publicity and rebuild the reputation.

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Article by Belinda Collins.  First pubished in  Third Sector Magazine.

Belinda Collins headed World Vision’s Media and Public Relations team through the Boxing Day tsunami period, raising $80 million in fourteen days and managing the World Cup Asia Tsunami Cricket match. Her step-by-step guide will give you the basic tools you need to be successful in approaching the media.

1. Know your objectives

Why do you want to pursue media coverage? Some common reasons are to:

* Increase ‘brand’ awareness of your organisation among potential funders and/or members. * Promote a fundraising campaign. * Promote as ‘employer of choice’. * Promote critical research findings. * Advocate for your client group. * Position as ‘thought leader’. demonstrate outcomes to funders (particularly important for Government funding).

2. What media does your audience consume

If your objective is to encourage donations and your donors are mainly women aged 35-50 then you need to find the right media to reach this audience – perhaps pursue an article in a woman’s magazine (note lead times for monthly magazines can be five months).

The same logic regarding audience should be applied to other objectives.

3. Compile a list of all relevant media

There are around 40,000 media outlets in Australia, from television news programs to fishing magazines, to radio programs on gardening and niche, special interest newsletters. This is great news for the third sector as media outlets are always on the hunt for new and interesting content and our sector has great stories to tell.

Read, watch and listen to as much media as you can in an effort to identify relevant media for you.

When I’m promoting national fundraising campaigns I’ve had great success with segments as diverse as: Mike Larkin’s weather report, Kerri-Anne Kennerly’s ‘Wheel’, Ready Steady Cook, Good Morning Australia, ABC Conversation Hour, BTN (Youth News), Totally Wild, CEOs and celebrity ambassadors profiled in major newspapers, and stories in New Idea, Cosmo and Women’s Weekly.

Media Monitors, Margaret Gee’s Media Guide, or AAP can help you identify relevant media and more specifically, relevant journalists and editors.

4. Search for a story

The chase for media coverage is a competitive race. To be successful, you have to know how to create stories of interest to your target media. Consider:

* New research findings that affect the media’s audience. * The use of ‘days’ e.g. International Children’s Day. * Being the biggest/best or first to make a significant achievement. * An inspiring story a celebrity ambassador. * Significant birthday or milestone e.g. 100 years of service, 1 millionth donor. * Including a quirky, professional photograph to accompany your story.

5. Prepare a killer media release

Whenever you contact the media you’ll need a media release that summarises your story. It’s best to stick to these tips:

* Keep it about a page long. * Display a phone number that’s contactable 24/7. * Be factual, honest and concise. * Create a heading that summarises your story.

Your first paragraph should detail:

* What the story is about. * Who is involved. * Why it is happening. * What they are doing. * When it is happening.

Subsequent paragraphs expand on this information and introduce interesting spokespeople, who are available for interview.

6. Getting your story to the media

There are two ways you can do this:

The conventional way is to fax/email the release yourself, or through Media Monitors or AAP. The downside of this is competition. Some outlets receive hundreds of releases a day. If you do need to distribute a media release widely, make follow up calls to ensure your release has been received and seen – and use this as another chance to sell your story.

Alternatively, consider some of these strategies I’ve used to great effect over the years:

* Build relationships with relevant journalists by writing to them and congratulating them for reporting on ‘like’ topics. * Ask if you can take a journalist to coffee to introduce yourself and your organisation. * Offer your services to help journalists research topics of expertise to you. I once worked for a child welfare organisation who published a lot of research on children’s issues. We also had a lot of families prepared to talk to the media. By extending this offer to relevant journalists, we were often quoted in the papers. * Use the quiet period over December and January to build relationships. PR people are generally on leave over this time and it’s easier to make yourself heard! * If radio is relevant for you, ask your local ABC station if you can come and watch a program being put to air. You’ll learn how they prioritise stories and build vital relationships with producers.

7. Work with the journalist to finalise the story

Once you have interest, there can be a lot of work in pulling the story together.

* Keep your media release with you at all times, as well as any facts and statistics you’ve quoted. * Make sure your spokespeople are available and properly briefed. * Always attend interviews with your spokespeople. * You may also need to work with photographers to co-ordinate any footage or images required.

8. Prepare for publication

It’s the small things you do from here that determine how well this coverage will help achieve your objectives. It’s important to:

* Brief your receptionist so they know how to answer any calls. * If you are promoting a fundraising campaign – make sure your call centre is staffed to deal with calls at the right time. * Get copies of the article, or ask Media Monitors to record any tv or radio coverage. * Send copies to relevant stakeholders/funders.

Belinda Collins is an independent consultant undertaking strategic projects, brokering relationships and raising funds for charitable and sporting organisations. She has previously worked with the Australian Football League, Richmond, Essendon and Adelaide Football Clubs and the University of Melbourne.

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Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisations need to promote their business in order to continuously attract new members, volunteers, funding and recognition to the cause. But what low cost options are there available to NFP organisations?

Firstly look at the talent already operating within your organisation from your board members through to your staff and volunteers. Is there anyone who could assist with your marketing efforts either from their own perspective or through their networking connections? Some of them may be connected with local businesses that could help with your fundraising promotions either indirectly by offering their support or directly by giving money to your cause.

When advertising it is important to look at all forms including media promotion, online advertising and direct meetings with the public. When you are sourcing advertising options, do not be afraid to negotiate the price. Also try writing your own media releases and send them directly to media outlets to gain free promotional coverage. Make sure the articles are written from a newsworthy perspective and worth publishing. Posting press releases online will also enable information to circulate free of charge possibly gaining more print promotion possibilities.

Join online media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and link back to your press releases. By setting up your own profile pages and promoting your stories and achievements, you will gain followers thus creating new promotional possibilities.

Face to face networking however is still equally important. Look around to see what community expos and events are operating in your area. You can, for a small cost, set up a table or booth in order to pass out information about your organisation and how people can best assist you. Ask that current volunteers and donors also attend as positive experiences and word of mouth are the best free advertising methods your organisation can tap into.

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