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)

divide exists between what PR people think journalists want and what journalists expect to find in online newsrooms

Green Media Toolshed has been working with Vocus since August of 2000. We are working to customize tools and deliver service to the environmental community and have watched our needs and discoveries also get reflected in the survey work Vocus does every year. This year is no different.

Yet with all of the discussion on the topic of online content, a perplexing divide exists between what PR people think journalists want and what journalists expect to find in online newsrooms. In nearly every category of information, journalists placed a higher value on online availability than did the PR professionals surveyed.

For example, while 93 percent of journalists rated media kits as valuable, only 71 percent of PR professionals thought they were important. Similarly, 91 percent of journalists placed a high value on executive team bios, compared to just 58 percent of the PR community surveyed. But the greatest gaps came in the areas of past media coverage, upcoming events, awards and speeches. Journalists valued all such details highly, while PR professionals surveyed did not consider this information important to the media.

It's essential that organizations understand what the media wants and provide that information. Better access to information means better exposure for your organization and enhanced relations with the media. Yet, PR people have reported it tough to create and keep online newsrooms up to date.

It is important to recognize that being a journalists and a communications officer are different jobs. While a journalists would love to see all the information in a press room including past media stories it may not be the best for PR people to provide the information in the pressroom. The goal of the pressroom is to make moving your message of the day easy for journalists to access and understand. You want to meet the journalists needs and let them know they are valuable visitors to your web site. You really want to make it as easy as possible for them to cover your issues.

Kudos to Vocus for publishing the study

September 3, 2004 in Online Press Rooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clipping Services for Advocacy Community: East Coast Environmental Groups Take Note

At the Bluevision Conference, I spent some time chatting with Shaw Thacher from Atlantic CoastWatch. They have a great service of free clippings for the environmental groups working on Coastal Issues along the Atlantic (North America to to Venezuela) I recommend river, sprawl, bay and ocean groups to get the clips. Shaw and the staff actually find key articles, surf the papers in small markets and kick out a newsletter of interesting stories.

They are in the middle of some changes but it is worth checking out (today).

News Nugget services are being upgraded. The new interface is accessible via:

At this time you should pull down the region, issue and last 30 days to get a feel for the huge amount of work these guys are doing collecting links to stories.

July 13, 2004 in Current Affairs, GMT Tips and Tricks, Message Development, Online Press Rooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (5)

Raising Money for Communications Efforts

Raising Money from Individuals
Pulling together a group of media savvy volunteers and potential donors can be a big challenge. You will obviously want to send letters to them requesting general support for your organization. However, some folks want to know exactly what their funds will be used for or why you need them to underwrite capacity development at your organization. Please feel free to use portions of the following sample letter to aid in your fundraising effort.

(feel free to grab any language you might need to raise funds for access to communications tools)

Dear Ms. Donor,
Thank you once again for your support in our fight against the needless pollution and destruction of our river. We have had some great victories in our campaign to clear up the riverbanks and establish new public access points to the river for local families. This has been a great year for our efforts and organization. We are now planning new initiatives that will require public signage on outflow pipes and require polluters to set up public signage, phone messages and web site information explaining the contaminants being dumped in the river.

There will be strong opposition to our work. Powerful interests have made it clear that they oppose additional access to the river and will fight all the "right-to-know" efforts that will focus attention on the discharges they release.

Our initial research suggests that the public overwhelming supports our position and views our organization as a reputable voice for the river. Hopefully, this proposal highlights the importance of our campaign and makes a compelling case for your financial support.

We are requesting $100 in support our operations and to underwrite access to the suite of tools we will need during this campaign. Effective communications takes people, training and tools. Your support will help us access the tools we need including:
* A media contact database of all journalists in the state
* An image management system to collect and distribute images of the river. We will need these throughout the campaign including shots of the outflow pipes, degradation of the river and great images of the special places and activities that demonstrate why the river is worth protecting.
* Training content for communications outreach
* An online Press Room for our organization so we can accommodate the increase media interest we are expecting a s a result of the campaign
* Secure online campaign coordination areas for all the watershed groups and activist in the basin.

I look forward to future discussions of this proposal and welcome any opportunity to present our services to your staff and prospective members. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.


Your Name Here

Including Communications Tools in Foundation Proposals

In the majority of your proposal you will be laying out the need for your campaign and investments in high quality communications planning and roll out activities. However, at some point you might like to add a Communications Tools item that includes your membership fees to Green Media Toolshed. Here is some language you can play with and plug-in to your proposals.

Communication Infrastructure

Effective communications take people, training and tools. Our organization needs access to the basic communications tools for this campaign including access to complete media contact lists of reporters and journalists, an image management systems for complementing news releases with photos and the set up of an online press room for our website.

We plan on accessing these tools plus media training content, polling and opinion research, on line collaboration tools through Green Media Toolshed.

Two years GMT Membership -
Your set up and training time -
Budget for faxing, digital scanning, etc. –

Please feel free to add feedback, additional language for other groups to use and other fundraising tips in the comments section.

June 29, 2004 in Advocacy, GMT Tips and Tricks, Online Press Rooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (8)

Working into Media Daybooks: Communications Planning

Daybooks are event calendars posted by wire services and larger news organizations in Washington, DC that list each day's area news events. Basic details are given for each event, including: location, time, speaker and contact person. Editors use daybooks to assign reporters and photographers to events they've chosen to cover.

Daybooks Quick Tips
Fax or e-mail your media advisory to the daybook editor no later than noon the day before the event. Listings for the following day start to appear about 2:00 p.m. Check the listings to make sure yours is posted and is accurate.

If the event is occurring outside Washington, call the Associated Press (AP) wire-service bureau in that location and send a media advisory to its daybook. Phone numbers for AP bureaus are listed in the Media Database or can be found on the AP Web site.

Weekly Daybook Quick Tips
If you have enough lead time before an event (five days is ideal), fax or e-mail your advisory no later than noon on Thursday of the week before the event. Weekly listings start to appear about 1:30 p.m. on Fridays. Check the listings to make sure yours is posted and is accurate.
If an event is listed on the weekly daybook, it will automatically be listed on the daily daybook, too.

DC Daybooks
After faxing/e-mailing, call and ask to speak to the daybook editor to make sure the information was received and will be placed on the daybook.


Associated Press (highest priority): Fax to 202/736-9699 or E-mail [email protected]; Phone 202/736-9696.
Congressional Monitor (This daily morning newsletter accepts event listings up to 48 hours before they occur): Fax to 202/419-8753; Phone 202/887-8515.

Federal News Service (Also goes to Washington Times, National Journal; Roll Call and others): Fax to 301/429-2752 or E-mail to [email protected]; Phone 202/544-4812.

Reuters: Fax to 202/898-8401; Phone 202/898-8345.

Washington Times: Fax to 202/544-4825. E-mail and phone numbers same as Federal News Service.

United Press International (UPI): Prefers E-mail to [email protected] (doesn't accept faxes); Phone 202/898-8291.

June 29, 2004 in GMT Tips and Tricks, Media Training, Message Development, Online Press Rooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

Exploiting Trends in the Media: Advocacy Response to Journalism.Org Findings

There is a great new report on the state of journalism in 2004 posted by The study is the work of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an institute affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The report is a must read. The trends and dynamics they discuss are targeted toward the journalists but the work also has major implications on the strategy you should be using to distribute messages and work with these dynamics.

Here is my take on the findings and a brief discussion of the possible strategy implications.

1. More news outlets are fragmenting views and audience. They are also seeing a general decline in audience size.

It is more important than ever that advocacy groups have access to great database of always changing news outlets. What online sources, radio, TV, magazines and papers are reaching your target audience. It is no longer safe to assume that if you get the local papers your are moving your message to the right people at the right time. It is also essential that you work your "hooks" into the online version, TV version and radio versions of the outlet (or reporter).

2. Budgets are disappearing. Newsroom is shrinking. Less reporters need to generate more content.

Make it as easy as possible for the reporter to cover your story. They do not have the time to track down leads and facts. The more you can complete the story for your journalists friends the more likely they will do something with your story. Make sure you have an online press room. Have the story, images, graphs, video, key contacts, etc. prepared for the journalists.

3. Online, ethnic and alternative media have growing audiences.

It is essential to develop the relations with the emerging media. The dynamics are moving in the right directions and the online, ethnic and alternative media are going to have increased budgets and resources to help "break" stories. these are the places where the y will have more resources to attack stories important to their readers. Increasingly advocacy communication staff should have a communications plan that taps into the increasing power of alternative media.

4. Much of the new investment in journalism today - much of the information revolution generally - is in disseminating the news, not in collecting it. Most sectors of the media are cutting back in the newsroom, both in terms of staff and in the time they have to gather and report the news.

Every good story hit is increasing in potential redistribution value. Many outlets are entering content sharing and re purposing agreements. Do not disregard smaller outlets as an outlet for your big story exclusive because the value of the story can be picked up across media partnerships. Target small bureaus of the big papers to see if you can "trickle up" rather than merely going with the "big" hit and then customizing the story for smaller markets.

5. raw elements of news as the end product...

Produce your own content. Provide your video, photos, recordings of people in the street or public meeting. The 24 hours cycle has an endless demand for fresh content and almost zero money to produce it. The more that you can connect them to volunteer video and accounts "on the scene" the higher likelihood that some outlet will grab the raw feed. If you expect it to be a great visual you can grab it with volunteers. Collect the images, track down email and contact information on people recording the event.

6. delivering essentially the same news repetitively without any meaningful updating.

The initial story matters. Plan your campaign and events for short burst of attention not a big ongoing story.

7. Journalistic standards now vary even inside a single news organization. ... a mass audience for news not in one place, but across different programs, products and platforms......the way that advertising intermingles with news stories on many newspaper Web sites would never be allowed in print.

You need a database of all the distribution channels associated with an outlet. Advocacy groups also need to think about exploiting the loose rules on advertising. If there is an upcoming report on water quality by the states or feds see if you can get an online ad for connecting people to your group. Ask your local news outlets (TV, News and Radio) for a sales pitches from the advertising department to see what options they offer for "placement". You don't want just ads you want on air personalities to wear your tee-shirt, hat, etc. How much would it cost to develop a Friday river report for the summer months?

8. public perception evident in various polls that the news media lack professionalism and are motivated by financial and self-aggrandizing motives rather than the public interest.

When the media screws up attack them. They are weak in the public's perceptions and the y screw up advocacy stories all the time.

9.Study shows general increases in journalist workload, declines in numbers of reporters, shrinking space in newscasts to make more room for ads and promotions

Again. Prepackage your key messages in short blast. Think about ways to use ads and promotions to move your message.

10. Traditional media is in TROUBLE..the economics are not looking good and audience is shrinking.

Advocacy groups had better start thinking about the alternatives and new ways to move messages directly to target groups without the media.

11. Online journalism appears to be leading more to convergence with older media rather than replacement of it. When audience trends are examined closely, one cannot escape the sense that the nation is heading toward a situation, especially at the national level, in which institutions that were once in different media, such as CBS and The Washington Post, will be direct competitors on a single primary field of battle - online. The idea that the medium is the message increasingly will be passé. This is an exciting possibility that offers the potential of new audiences, new ways of storytelling, more immediacy and more citizen involvement.


12. Those who would manipulate the press and public appear to be gaining leverage over the journalists who cover them. Several factors point in this direction. One is simple supply and demand. As more outlets compete for their information, it becomes a seller's market for information. Another is workload. The content analysis of the 24-hour-news outlets suggests that their stories contain fewer sources. The increased leverage enjoyed by news sources has already encouraged a new kind of checkbook journalism, as seen in the television networks efforts to try to get interviews with Michael Jackson and Jessica Lynch, the soldier whose treatment while in captivity in Iraq was exaggerated in many accounts.

While I would not expect any checks for your story ...make your story pre-packaged and easy to cover. when you have the "hot" issue of the moment be prepared to take much more intense volume of interest because of these dynamics.

May 14, 2004 in Advocacy, Current Affairs, GMT Tips and Tricks, Good Reading, Media Training, Network Advocacy, Online Press Rooms, Working with The Press | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (6)

Images Define the Frame, Scale of the Problem and Perceptions: You should have images with EVERY Release and Communication

Jon Stahl for the link:

Here is an interesting play with images that has a powerful impact on the tone and perception of the issues.

In the photo, the Palestinian looms large above the bulldozer. He is a lanky, but determined and formidable force — a dark, faceless enemy poised to smash the small, apparently unarmed machine. The force of his attack is accented by patterns in the clouds, and exaggerated by the tilt of the camera (note the horizon line.) The bulldozer does not seem to be attacking the Palestinian or doing anything other than driving by, going about its business. The article reinforces this, making no mention of the purpose of the bulldozer or why it would need an escort of tanks.

Check out each Photo:

Images are one of the most powerful communication vehicles available to environmentalists. The text around your story can say a lot and your opposition can get quoted in response to your work but if you provide the image . You frame the story. Work with photographers and artists that care about your issue to think about the best image to sell the story.

Which image would you use?

Kudos to Objects in the Mirror.

April 29, 2004 in Advocacy, Current Affairs, GMT Tips and Tricks, Media Training, Online Press Rooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

Dark Sites | Public Relations at the Flip of a Switch

In today's media frenzy issues are suddenly "discovered" in midst of crisis. Advocacy professionals need to think ahead. How can you knock you opponent when they are down? When can you use events to create momentum for policy change? Your opponents are getting ready for you.

Look at AudienceCentral. These guys are set up to control the spin the hour of the crisis. They can immediately launch a new website in response to an incident or issue and link it to your main site. They help the offending corporations position friendly names and pr staff as the central source of information in a crisis. They can instantly record and effectively manage inquiries from the community, media, agencies and elected-officials. They end run around other sources of information so that they flood the media market and directly inform stakeholders. They offer a system is able to withstand 2,000,000 hits per day. The entire company is surviving on building sites that the corporate client hope no one ever sees. (How many big companies you think do this work in-house?)

Do you even have a press room link on your home page?

April 14, 2004 in Advocacy, Current Affairs, Media Training, Online Press Rooms, Working with The Press | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (6)

What's a Blog, and Why Should Nonprofits Care?

What's a Blog, and Why Should Nonprofits Care? by Zafar S. Shah

Another interesting push for the nonprofit community to consider the value of making more of the thinking and learning of the organization available to staff, friends and the public. while the topic is not new and there are old blogs and rants on the nonprofit use of the blog as a tool in their work, Zafa makes a contribution to the chorus pushing nonprofit staff to be more transparent through use of the blog as an easy content tool.

Related Post:
Weblog Strategies for Nonprofits
Blogs as Training Tools
Going Beyond The Internet: Blogs from the Front
Web Dominance No Longer Tactical Strategy for Campaigns

My favorite clips from this new article:

When she encouraged her staff to blog about their work, Sisnett recognized another benefit of nonprofit blogging: She could now easily keep up to speed on her staff's work and the progress of various, concurrent projects. Soon, between the executive director, the technical staff and volunteers, Austin Free-Net had three staff blogs full of updated and archived information that could easily be incorporated into strategic plan updates, VISTA reports, press releases, newsletters and grants. When a colleague, a sponsor or even a journalist needed information about a project or issue, Sisnett could refer the interested party to a blog.
blogs with an "internal focus" have made it easier for organizations to capture the knowledge of teams and support their collaboration. "Rather than only a linear discussion list for a team," she points out, "individual and collaborative blogs make it possible to see ties among team members and issues they are working on."
While blogs entail a requisite amount of timely attention and care, the work you put into them is not "just blogging," Sisnett adds, thinking about how the research and learning behind her blog have improved Austin Free-Net's projects and partnerships. "That work affects all of your organization's work."

March 27, 2004 in Advocacy, GMT Tips and Tricks, Good Reading, Media Training, Online Press Rooms, Organizing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (5)

Spamming Your Media Contacts?

Here is an interesting article exploring the anti-spam legislation impact on communication staff. It seems to be leaning toward the conclusion that media pitches are not spam. However, (it worth a read ( Full Article ).

I also thought that the story brings up a few really points to avoid getting deleted as spam.
We have blogged before on email formats (other rants on email) but it is always good to remind our members that there are "rules" to email and "best practices" weather you are sending an email to a journalist or a member.

“We're very concerned that our e-mail pitch material may be considered spam, and we're taking active measures to avoid these challenges going forward,” Wrisberg says. “When pitching a story to the media via e-mail, our team has been instructed to identify the story and pitch focus in the subject line of the e-mail. We've also asked our team to include closure communications as footers to all e-mails.”

March 22, 2004 in GMT Tips and Tricks, Media Training, Online Press Rooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (5)

Training | Tools | Contact | Copyright | Terms of Use