Article originally published in Knightline, a monthly resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline archives,click here
First, ask yourself the real question
So, you want to tell your council’s story? That’s the easy part. The real question is “who cares?”
If you know the answer to that, then the rest becomes more manageable and useful. That process has the fancy title of strategic communications.
Sounds important doesn’t it?
Actually it is. Each of us sees or gets countless messages, calls and texts a day. Many we let slide on by, while the rest we decide how and when to reply to, what to say, and so on. All of this is part of strategic communications.
Next, follow these four steps to get started
1. Identify your target audience, i.e., who should want to know about your event.
2. Decide how you’d like to tell them.
3. Use words and/or pictures to share your news.
4. Rethink your first step: Be sure your message is what your target audience wants to know, and be sure that the way you plan on delivering the message is effective
Why is strategic communication important? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan puts it well: “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” It’s easy as one, two, three — as long as you’re spot on with number four. And there often is the rub. We’ve got a great story, we’re making a difference, we are helping others, yet we seem to miss the mark in getting the word out.
Then, create a connection with the media
That’s where “strategic communications” comes into play. Media relations begins with, well, the relationship you have with the media.
Ask yourself these questions: Who covers the news in your town? Do they print newspapers, have online editions, blogs, radio or local television stations? Is there a reporter covering community stories?
Learn the “news value” of your story
Next comes the news value of your good works.
That is decided by somebody else, usually an editor or news director. Their motivation is to sell ad space or air time so they can get paid. If the choice is reporting on your council flipping pancakes for charity or the controversial community board vote, guess what wins? And when it comes to reporter resources, most TV or radio news stations are limited to where and for how long the news director can send a news team out to cover a story.
Finally, celebrate the good news
But there’s still good news. You can make the story broader and more enticing. How? “Buddy up” with another organization to make your story have a larger appeal. For example, say you’re fundraising for Special Olympics. Ask the Special Olympics’ local chapter to create a media event with you. You will likely draw more media attention, and everyone who loves Special Olympics will share the story. The “buddy” may be featured more prominently in the story, but you’ve both made it into the news, so it’s a win for everyone.
Article originally published in Knightline, a monthly resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline archives, click here.
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