Writing Tools Blog

A great new blog to check out is one from Roy Peter Clark: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=78.

The blog is aimed at giving the reader tools for writing. His latest post goes over how to "stick the landing" when using a quote to end a piece of writing.

"If the quote is long enough, embed the attribution.
The reader will learn the name of the speaker earlier,
and will discover the stronger words in a
more emphatic position."

Clark also has a new book titled Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. You can view the quick list of the 50 writing tools here: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=78&aid=103943. A few highlights include not being afraid to use a long sentence, simple and short is better than technical and complex, and you should create your writing around a certain question that will be answered in your work.

August 25, 2006 in Good Reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Organizing a Press Event and Other Great How To's

When planning for a press event, several factors need to be taken into consideration. What type of news are you looking to inform the media about? Who do you want to reach? How quickly do you need to organize your event? Sometimes a conference call is more effective than a press conference because it's easier to get reporters from across the country on a call rather than gathered in the same room. If you are simply looking to share background information on your issue, a press briefing should be held rather than a press conference.

Check out GMT's Media Event Top Ten. This guide gives you a brief overview of the different media events and when they are appropriate. You can also click through GMT's Media Training content for other guides on pitching, interviewing and more.

Remember one key point: It is important to work with reporter deadlines when deciding the details of a press event.

Cause Communications (www.causecommunications.com) has several free guides to help non-profits with their media outreach. One of these guides, Eleven Steps to Organizing a Media Event, places emphasis on the most important areas of planning a media event. If you'd like even more information after reading through these useful media training guides, you can order their book, Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits.

August 22, 2005 in Good Reading, Media Training, Working with The Press | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

Stories within the Story: A Look at Frames and Stories Used in the Media

Here is a really interesting article on the ways reporters struggle with the presentation of news stories. It is particularly note worthy on the use of anecdotes toward the end of the story and the way the anecdotes stick or hang the rest of the narrative.

It's an exercise. These activists want to more effectively present their messages to the media. I'm volunteering to listen, to ask them questions as if this were a real press conference.

Unfortunately, their presentations deconstruct into a gyration of language; most are too muddled to be written into a story.

I'm struck by how hard they have worked, spending half of a sunny Saturday to thoughtfully shape press releases on issues they care deeply about -- politics, the environment, social services.

So much effort to reach us, the media.

Sounds like many media training gone bad. (look over a sample of the environmental movements' press releases to see what you think)

The question is how do the stories and language we use paint an image of environmental work? Are we reinforcing perceptions of loss and powerless by talking about the loss of species and environmental quality? Is the movement way to wonky and unremarkable?

Where are the stories that stick on environmental issues that tell the power of planning and repercussions of positive and unintended positive side effects created by environmental protection.

Stories worth retelling like Alabama Dune Mouse, The Story of the Wolf in Yellowstone or the hundreds of stories about river protection efforts saving homes from being flooded, clean air efforts protecting children from asthma or smart growth efforts revitalizing lost communities.

July 22, 2005 in Advocacy, Environment, Good Reading, Media Training, Message Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (8)

Communications Toolkit: Cause Communications Book

Here is another great resource for the desk. It is smart and free!

Cause Communication’s newest book, entitled Communications Toolkit—a guide to navigating communications for the nonprofit world can help nonprofit newbies, veterans, and anyone in between find the resources they need to wage more effective communications campaigns.

Based off of national qualitative and quantitative audits of what nonprofits need in the area of communications, the book offers an overview of all the possible tools used to develop smart communications.

This comprehensive guide offers practical information in virtually every area of communications—from how to develop and budget a communications plan to what tools you need to help raise awareness and funds.

The book was made possible by support from The Annenberg Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation and The Marguerite Casey Foundation.

Make sure you order your free copy and let us now what you think.

July 13, 2005 in Advocacy, GMT Tips and Tricks, Good Reading, Media Training, Message Development, nptech, Online Press Rooms, Organizing, Working with The Press | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (9)

SPIN Project: Strategic Communications Training and Guide

The SPIN folks have published a useful collection of tools and guides to help in planning and organizing a communications plans. Holly Minch (on the GMT Board) continues to do great work and contribute to the field of advocacy communications like few other groups.

The creation and adoption of a strategic communications plan represents a significant step for any organization. For many organizations, the adoption of such a plan represents a cultural shift toward communications and a clear recognition that all the organization’s efforts have a communications element. Public education, grassroots organizing, research, public advocacy, direct service and even fundraising are all, at their core, communications tasks vital to the health and success of a nonprofit organization.

At the SPIN Project we firmly believe that a strategic communications plan has the power to transform an organization: both in terms of your credibility and status in your community, and in terms of the way you work together as a team to achieve your mission and vision for your community.

July 11, 2005 in Advocacy, GMT Tips and Tricks, Good Reading, Message Development, nptech, Working with The Press | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No More Bad Presentations from Nonprofits

Andy Goodman is on two two cool concepts with his new work on "Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes."

1. He is attacking bad nonprofit and advocacy presentations...Defunct Powerpoint Politics.... Andy continues to encourage folks to focus on the stories that stick with people and move away from powerpoint bullets as the compelling tool of the movement.

2. Andy is distributing the research across the web to the nonprofit community.

You may want to read the new book, Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, but first you have to contribute to the writing of that book. Confused? Here are the details: the book’s author, Andy Goodman, has posted a survey online to capture opinions from people like you on the state of the art of nonprofit presenting — what’s working, what’s not, and why. The survey takes just 10-15 minutes to complete, and once Andy has compiled all the responses, he’ll have the data that will help him write the new book (due out in December 2005).

Take the survey. Get the book when it comes out. (*Andy will send you a free copy of the book as soon as it’s ready as a thank-you for your time. -- This offer is open to full-time staff members of nonprofits and foundations only, and books will be sent free to the first 5,000 respondents to complete the survey. So fill it out today and ensure yourself a copy.)

No more soul sucking presentations! Go Andy Go!

January 19, 2005 in Good Reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (5)

Another Slump in Endangered Species => Enforcement of Federal Laws

Enforcement of the federal laws designed to protect migratory birds, endangered species, marine mammals and other kinds of wild life has slumped during the Bush Administration, according to authoritative Justice Department data.

The decline was documented in an analysis of a special new data base comparing the number of individuals and corporations charged with violating such laws during the first term of President Clinton, the second Clinton term and the Bush years. The data were obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

« divide exists between what PR people think journalists want and what journalists expect to find in online newsrooms | Main | U.S. Attorneys office for one reason or another declined to file criminal charges against nine out of ten of the 55 individuals or businesses the agencies had recommended be charged with criminal pollution violations: Get the TRAC Report »

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse a project of Syracuse University is releasing a unique new series of special bulletins about environmental enforcement during the Clinton and Bush years. The bulletins, based on very extensive Justice Department data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, authoritatively document the shifting policies of the federal government during the last twelve years.

This is one of the best government databases available. Make sure you read these and see how they relate to your issues. Journalists will use and quote data from TRAC. These reports are just being released so you can put your own message and branding on the data.

I also think they have assistance for environmental nonprofits to get access through foundation support.

October 22, 2004 in Good Reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

Can your Ipod help your campaign?

Podcasting is the buzz word attached to the idea of creating an MP3 file and attaching to an RSS feed in a way that allows people to download the file to their iPod (or similar device) and listen to it when they are out and about. If you're in America and you're my age you might remember Adam Curry -- he was an MTV VJ and he's been at the heart of the podcasting movement.

Wikipedia Podcasting entry
Podcasting, what is it
How to: Podcast

October 22, 2004 in Good Reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (6)

Changes in Enforcement of Environmental Laws.

The newest special bulletin from TRAC focuses on how the enforcement of specific laws relating to the handling of hazardous wastes and the reduction of air, water and other forms of pollution have changed from administration to administration.

September 27, 2004 in Good Reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

Follow the Money Running Your State

If you haven't already been to the Institute's Web site, www.followthemoney.org, I would urge you to do so. They have the most comprehensive set of state-level campaign-finance data in the country, and offer it all for free via the site. They added a custom search query, under 'more search options, that lets users build their own SQL queries of any subset of data.

The Institute uses its multi state, multiyear databases to research trends in political giving, examine how contributions drive public policy debates in the states and the nation, and see how special interests give across state lines.

Poke around with the data for your state. Dig into the state giving of donors to your opposition and find out why legislation gets stuck in committee.

September 16, 2004 in GMT Tips and Tricks, Good Reading, Message Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

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