Most nonprofits and social justice groups work with the traditional media to build audiences and new support for their vision. This morning’s stories in the Washington Post and The New York Times are what people are talking about at the water-cooler. When you get a story in the press, people believe it and become attracted to the issue.
But how do you get a story in the press? Web 2.0 can be one of your most valuable outlets for accessing the press by proving that the story has legs. You can show audience through your online buzz. Reporters and news producers are on the web all day, every day. One of your supporters could forward a story from your website to a producer they know, or a huge jump in readership for your blog at Huffington Post could gain a reporter’s attention. Another great aspect of creating synergy between traditional and social media relations is you can show the press how to best tell the story you are seeking to get out.
In this social media age, it’s necessary to make your online outreach work interconnect with and echo the external media relations work. Traditional media relations and Web 2.0 communications plans can compliment each other to serve the objectives of creating stories for the media and for audiences to connect with your non-profit vision. For example, we know that the media always loves stories around holidays, like Labor Day or Women’s History Month. You can plan to offer holiday-related stories to the press at the same time that you post them on your social media outlets. The best result would be that your audience sees your message on your blog and also reads it in the local paper.
Be your own reporter
The number one rule for our media times is: Don’t rely on reporters to tell your story. The truth is that the traditional media is shrinking. There was a time that you could make news with a new study or visible action. That’s not always so anymore. The great thing about the rise of Web 2.0 is that you can report the news to your audience in your own way. You can capture and create compelling stories and publish them on your website, blog, Facebook, and so forth. The Web 2.0 content must still follow the social media rules to be crafted to compel audiences to create a dialogue.
At the same time, the content should follow the rules of good reporting. As media consumers, we’re all used to reporting as a way to absorb a lot of information at once. We’re already trained to hear the most important item first and listen for multiple viewpoints in a story. Use this fact to your advantage and report your own story in the same manner as a journalist. This means use AP Stylebook and take journalism classes to learn more about the techniques. In this way, if a reporter sees your story online, they can simply cut and paste into their article. You make their lives easier.
An example - Humanities Council of DC
This year, we are assisting the Humanities Council of DC to celebrate their 30th Anniversary of transforming lives in DC through the power of the humanities. The best way to show the great work of the organization is to tell the stories of the grantees who are documenting and uplifting the city’s cultural history. The Humanities Council of DC will publish on their social media channels a mini-article a week for 30 weeks under the title “30 Stories for 30 Years.” We’ve selected the three that are most timely and newsworthy to pitch to the local press. In this way, we hope the press hears from us through multiple channels, realizes that the Humanities Council is a resource for DC stories, and retells the stories to their audiences.
* Sarah Massey is the Owner of Massey Media, a DC public relations firm that partners with arts and artists, justice organizations, and socially responsible businesses to make headlines.