In the old days it was easy to get publicity: distribute leaflets; have supporters tell-a-friend; sweet-talk the news media into a story. News media meant radio and tv stations, newspapers and magazines.
The Internet has changed all that: your leaflets can go on your website or your Facebook page, your supporters can email their friends, or mention it on Twitter or Facebook or their blogs, and as for the news media …
The old media
TV, radio, newspapers and magazines are now just a tiny portion of the ‘news media’.
If you think of the ‘news media’ as where regular folks go to find out what’s happening, then the ‘news media’ is now millions of blogs and websites, audio and video podcasts.
It includes news aggregation sites such as Google News, video and photo aggregation sites such as YouTube and Flickr, and results from searches of Twitter, bookmark sites, blog comments and forums.
What’s more, your supporters are no longer a tiny group of people who dedicate themselves to attending meetings or volunteering each week.
Your supporters can now include millions of people who have a passing interest in your cause. They include bloggers and those who tweet. They include those who will ‘favorite’ or rate a video or photo, or embed it in their blog, or simply share an URL with others.
The connections are worldwide. A tweet from someone in New Zealand can instantly reach their friend in Rome, and when they retweet it (pass it on) it can reach their friend in Dunedin moments later.
The copyright frustration
The real reason I’m writing this Tip is because I’m a blogger, and I’m frustrated.
Time after time I hear of a New Zealand community organisation doing something cool. I set out to blog about it.
When I write a blog post I also tweet about it. Others retweet some of my tweets.
I visit the organisation’s website. I know that if I include a good photo or other image more people will read my blog post, but I find that all the images on the organisation’s website are locked down with copyright.
As for information: there is nothing about the event, or very little on the website. That little is poorly worded and I’ll have to take half an hour instead of 5 minutes to gather a good blog post together.
Now I’m gone. I don’t have half an hour to spend on your organisation’s behalf — I had 10 minutes and I’ve just used them up.
Make a media kit for your website
If you make it hard for me to write a good blog post or a good tweet about your event I just won’t do it. I’ll get back to writing Panui Tips or passing on information about other things.
You may be saving the ‘lesser banded smaller coot’ and I may think that’s a wonderful cause, but give me some photos of the bird that I can use in my blog posts. Let me and my readers see what this little bird looks like, and where it lives.
Give me some concise paragraphs I can copy and paste. Don’t make me wade through 800 words of waffle to pull out a few key points. I just won’t do it.
And when I don’t do it you’ve lost both me and my hundreds (or maybe thousands) of readers.
An action plan
Here’s what to do next time you’re planning an event or action, or even just for your ongoing work.
- Create a ‘Media’, or even a ‘Bloggers’ section on your website.
- Find some relevant, eye-catching photos that you have the rights to. Provide them in various sizes and resolutions, and with captions. Add your organisation’s URL as a watermark, and remove any copyright restrictions.
- If you can, and it’s appropriate, then ditto for audio and video clips.
- Write some ‘capsules’, some ‘soundbites’ about your event, action or campaign. Write a few more about your organisation. Keep them plain, simple, to-the-point and brief. Free them from copyright restrictions.
- Provide clear contact details for more information: URL, email address, and if relevant phone numbers or venue address.
- Include map information: a Google Maps link, and GPS co-ordinates, if relevant.
- Keep this section up-to-date, and add any new event or campaign to it well beforehand.
The new media
Make bloggers your friend. Give them photos and topics or causes they can write about and they may well spread the word about what you’re doing. They reach many people. People are the ‘new’ media.
Blog, Tweet, KaPow
Actually, people don’t *read* web pages; they glimpse them.
This hands-on workshop teaches you how to connect with your audience via web pages, emails, Twitter and other ‘web’ media. Learn specific techniques to get more of your message across, more quickly and more effectively.
This workshop is for everyone who writes emails, web pages, blog posts or documents to go ‘on the website’.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, October 2009. This article has been modified for publication here.