Content We Love: How Non-Profits Can Use Owned and Paid Media to Spread Awareness

ContentWeLove

via Safe Kids Worldwide

via Safe Kids Worldwide

In the wake of the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, a lot of discussion has been centered on how more non-profit organizations can leverage digital communication to increase awareness of social issues. One of the most important parts of a non-profit’s communications strategy is to educate the general public about the importance of their cause with facts and information that will inspire action. Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organization aimed at preventing childhood injury, demonstrates how the power of content  distribution can help spread awareness of a single message to the greatest audience possible in a press release titled, “Can We Change the Culture of Youth Sports?

Safe Kids Worldwide partnered with Johnson & Johnson to shed light on the dangerous behaviors and cultural expectations of child athletes that can result in severe injuries or in the worst case scenarios, death.  The release employs a mix of tactics to grab attention and get the point across effectively:

  • An infographic included in the press release highlights key findings from the survey in a concise and visually engaging way. Content needs to be delivered in all the formats that audiences prefer to consume information. Considering that mommy bloggers are a powerful source of influence on the web, this infographic is a great visual to accompany a potential story.
  • The headline uses a provocative question to capture attentions and a subhead provides supporting detail to hint at the findings of their survey
  • The lead paragraph omits the boilerplate language and instead begins with an alarming stat regarding the number of children who sustain a sports injury every year to immediately grab attention.
  • A call to action linking to the survey and infographic immediately after the first paragraph drives readers to the intended action to learn more about the seriousness of child sports injuries
  • Additional stats are listed separately to surface different story angles
  • Statements from the President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, Kate Carr and NCAA’s former football coach Jack Crowe, emphasize the importance of the issue and offer journalists a highly credible source to quote in their stories
  • Bullet points and bold text with sports safety tips the eye toward the bottom of the release as well

Stats from the “Changing the Culture of Youth Sports” report as well as the executive quotes from the release were republished in major outlets including CBS News and USA Today. For other non-profit organizations who need help spreading awareness of their messages, Safe Kids Worldwide sets an example of how content can be formatted and shared in different ways to bring much needed attention to a cause. Congratulations to Safe Kids Worldwide on their efforts to prevent child injuries and on the success of their release!

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator.

Timeless Storytelling Tips from Former PR Newswire Features Editor Fred Ferguson

freddieEditor’s note:  The following piece is based upon an article published years ago by our then Features Editor, Fred Ferguson.  We were saddened to hear news this week of Fred’s passing.  A PR Newswire employee for more than 16 years, Fred left an indelible mark on the organization and instilled keen news sensibility in many of his colleagues.   In today’s age of content marketing, his advice on fashioning effective news pieces is more relevant and timely than ever.

A computer programmer develops a program to keep Internet pornography from the PC his son uses.

A retired schoolteacher produces a set of cards to teach his own children math and vocabulary faster.

And a dance teacher confined to a chair because of a broken leg creates a videotape teaching chair dancing.

These are the personal, dramatic stories that once hid in routine news releases, according to Fred Ferguson, the former manager of PR Newswire’s Feature News Service who passed away on August 22, 2014.

His advice, which encouraged organizations to incorporate feature news writing into their press releases and publicity campaigns, is still instructive today, and not just for PR pros penning press releases.  Marketers who want their content to resonate with audiences should pay heed to Ferguson’s words too.

“Organizations and companies who need publicity may get more exposure by doing a feature story rather than issuing a straight news releases,” said Ferguson, who was a longtime reporter, editor and executive with United Press International before joining PR Newswire.  “Unless you’re announcing something or have breaking news, tell your story in a feature that won’t bury the heart of it.”

Ferguson’s tips for creating a compelling feature story focused rigorously on putting the audience for the story first, and the brand second.

  • Hit editors with the story in the headline, which is all they see in selecting stories.
  • Tell the same story in first paragraph, which should never be cute, soft, a quote or a question. These leads obstruct getting to the story. People, editors included, don’t read deep;
  • Support the first paragraph with a second that backs it up and provides attribution. Bury the product and service name at the end of the second paragraph so it becomes less advertorial.
  • Try to keep all paragraphs under 30 words and to three lines. This curbs fulmination, is easier for editors to cut to fit available space, holds the reader’s attention and is attractive in most page layouts;
  • Do not excessively repeat the name of a product or service. Doing so is story desecration and the feature loses print and broadcast opportunities;
  • Forget superlatives. Forget techno babble. Forget buzz words. Tell why consumers care instead;
  • Never say anything is first or the best, express an opinion or make claims unless you directly attribute it to someone. Editors avoid anything not pinned to someone;
  • Avoid the self-serving laundry list of products or services. A better way to introduce a product or service is to have a spokesperson discussing it as a trend or advising how to use it;
  • Know that putting the corporate name in all capital letters violates style and will be rejected by many as advertorial and unsightly. Also beware trademark repetition.
  • Do not use the corporate identity statement. Instead, use the information throughout the story so that it will be used. If you must use the boilerplate, put it in note to editor so it won’t interfere with text.

Storytelling is all the rage today in marketing circles.  Fred knew the power of stories, and taught scores of communicators the ins and outs of storytelling.

Our thoughts are with Fred’s family and friends, and he has our everlasting thanks for his sharing of his knowledge and enthusiasm with his cohorts, cronies, colleagues and clients.

Striking Out ALS, One Ice Bucket at a Time

If you have logged into Facebook over the last couple of weeks, you most likely witnessed many of your peers dousing themselves in ice water in the name of charity. At the time of writing on August 22nd, this grassroots campaign known as The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had raised $41.8 million dollars in donations for the ALS Association. As of August 26, the campaign has accumulated a whopping $88.5 million dollars total from existing donors and 1.9 million new donors.

The enormous surge in donations for what was once a largely overlooked cause is in part due to elevated exposure from celebrities, political figures and corporate executives worldwide. What is even more amazing is that the ALS Association had not planned this massive fundraising initiative. So how did the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign work and what did the ALS Association do right in order to capitalize on these past few weeks?

The story behind the Ice Bucket Challenge

The social explosion  began when former college baseball player Pete Frates, whose career in sports ended when he was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, posted a video to Facebook on July 31st calling on friends and public figures to take the Ice Bucket Challenge in an effort raise awareness and donations toward research for the disease.  A short 3 weeks later, the ALS Association has experienced an exponential increase in donations –  $88.5 million vs $2.5 million raised during the same period last year (July 29 – August 26).

The significance of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Communicators who are unsure of how to tell their corporate social responsibility stories more effectively can learn a few lessons from the ALS Association and the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s no secret that many mistake corporate-charity partnerships as a shameless effort by for-profit businesses to generate positive publicity. What many fail to realize is illnesses that affect a smaller group of people tend to have smaller initiatives and fundraising efforts surrounding them. Therefore, the organizations dedicated to fighting these rarer illnesses have to use every opportunity they can to get the same attention that more common illnesses do.

If you haven’t already donated to #StrikeOutALS, follow the link to donate now: http://prn.to/IceBucketChallenge

Lessons for communicators

Here are the key takeaways from the Ice Bucket Challenge that communicators should make note of:

1. Use positivity to tell a powerful and emotionally compelling story

The effects of ALS are devastating and there is no known cure, but the Ice Bucket Challenge shed light on the issue by combining humor and compassion to get people to pay attention. ALS patient Anthony Carbajal recently made headlines for his Ice Bucket Challenge video, which told the emotional personal story of being diagnosed with the disease at age 26 and how its hereditary nature has affected his family for generations.

With regards to the previous lack of attention surrounding ALS, Carbajal said, “Nobody wants to see a depressing person that’s dying and has two to five years to live. They don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want their day ruined.” Carbajal sums up a heartbreaking reality for many people and organizations who are trying to raise awareness for certain causes, and illustrates why the Ice Bucket Challenge is so important.

2. Know your social audience and what platforms will work best

One of the biggest reasons why this grassroots campaign proved so successful was the social media component. Most of the videos were housed and shared on Facebook, and there are several reasons why this was the best social channel to showcase the ice bucket challenge.

  • First, Facebook’s auto-play video platform meant that users scrolling through their newsfeeds didn’t even have to hit the play button to view the Ice Bucket Challenge videos that were shared, a key feature for grabbing attentions and piquing viewer interests.
  • Secondly, even though Twitter’s Vine videos also contain an auto-play feature, Facebook videos have no time limit. Challengers were able to nominate as many people as they wanted without having to race against the clock, proving that elongated content formats are still quite relevant.
  • Finally, when nominees were tagged in the videos, it appeared on their respective profiles seeding further awareness among their network of friends and family.

However, relying on social channels to power the campaign leaves important publicity on the table.  Even though the Ice Bucket campaign developed organically on social media and amassed an astonishing amount of media attention, the ALS Association has also capitalized on the visibility generated online, using paid distribution via press releases to continue seeding awareness around the issue and supplying the media with newsworthy information and data points such as the growing number of donations the organization has received thus far.

PR Newswire’s Support of ALS

Congratulations to our client, the ALS Association, on their tremendous success these past few weeks. As this campaign has spread like wildfire, PR Newswire employees from across the country stepped up to the challenge including Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing, who graciously accepted the nomination from our friends at CommPro.biz. We’re proud to support such a worthy cause and be part of the fight to help strike out ALS!

For more on how the ALS Association turned a grassroots effort into a fundraising machine, read “The 3 Tactical Elements That Made the “Ice Bucket Challenge” a Viral Success”: http://prn.to/1vNqNhK

Co-authored by: 

ShannonShannon Ramlochan, PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator

 

 

Danielle croppedDanielle Ferris is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

 

Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer

CU-N-CO 2.1.1 Buyer's Journey

Source: Forrester Research Inc.

One piece of content is not all encompassing for the vast and complex audience that makes up your target consumer base. Each stage of the buyer’s journey is comprised of unique personas and levels of expertise that are in search of information catered to their specific needs. For example, if your products are geared toward B2B customers, the CEO of a company might not find the same value in the introductory information that a junior level staffer might need to advance their skill set. For B2C companies, the gap is even wider if you think about the mix of demographics that your products or services might be relevant to. Would a college student doing laundry for the first time respond the same way to an ad for detergent that was geared towards new parents?

Consider that each persona will also be in search of information relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey. Most of us rely on peer recommendations and online reviews to give us an honest critique of what to expect in a product or service, but not everyone who is researching information is ready to make a purchase. For the product researchers who might be skeptical or simply curious, your content needs to persuade that potential customer to take the next logical step towards a purchase.

Mapping Comms Strategies to Resonate with New BuyerOur upcoming free webinar Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer on Thursday, August 28 at 1PM EST at will delve into how content marketers can plan and create content to meet the specific needs of their target audiences. Presentations by Adam B. Needles, chief strategy officer and principal at Annuitas, and Ken Wincko, senior vice president of marketing at PR Newswire, will cover topics including:

  • How to influence behavior through authentic and transparent content
  • The evolution of earned media, and how to harness it
  • The role of distribution as the missing link to any content plan

Follow the link to register now:  http://prn.to/1q2cWTZ

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, NBC News and More…

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

U.S. News & World Report (Washington, D.C.): Managing Editor Kim Castro (@kimacastro) is now the Executive Editor/Consumer News @usnews.

San Antonio Business Journal (San Antonio, TX): Tony Quesada  has been announced as the Editor-in-Chief @SABizJournal.

Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX): Virginian-Pilot Managing Editor Maria Carrillo (@havana58) is headed to Houston to become Senior Editor @HoustonChron.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Former Pasadena Magazine Editor Maria Russo (@Maria_C_Russo) is now the Children’s Books Editor @nytimes. And Alex MacCallum (@alexmaccallum) was promoted to Assistant Managing Editor of Audience Development.

CBS News – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Trish Turner (@caphilltrish) is the new “CBS This Morning” D.C. Producer.

The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Economics Policy Reporter Jim Tankersley (@jimtankersley) is the Editor of the new online section “Storyline” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline)(@TheStoryline) covering people, policy and data. And Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist Karen Heller (@kheller) signs on as a Features Writer.

NBC News (New York, NY): Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) has been named the new Host of @meetthepress. He replaces David Gregory who had been with the program since December 2008. Todd’s first show as host will air on September 7th.

Bloomberg News (New York, NY): Josh Tyrangiel (@Tyrangiel) was named Lead Editor for consumer products @BloombergNews.

Bloomberg View (New York, NY): Katie Benner (@ktbenner) will join @BV as a Tech Columnist in September.

ABC News (New York, NY): Ann Compton (@AnnCompton), a 41-year veteran @ABC, has announced she will retire September 10.

WIPR-TV (Puerto Rico): Miguel Rosa (@Miguelrosatv) has been promoted to General Manager for WIPM-TV/WIPR-TV in Puerto Rico.

Telemundo Network (Hialeah, FL): Norberto Hernandez has joined Telemundo’s (@Telemundo), “Un Nuevo Dia” (@UnNuevoDia) as a Correspondent.

Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA): Scout Media’s Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) joins @LATimes as a Reporter covering USC football.

Tonawanda News (Tonawanda, NY): Chris Voccio is now the Publisher of @tonanews and The Niagara Gazette @NiagaraGazette.

Ithaca Journal (Ithaca, NY): Thomas Claybaugh is now the Publisher of @ithacajournal, The Press & Sun-Bulletin (@pressconnects) and @stargazette.

WSJ Speakeasy Blog (New York, NY): Reporter Barbara Chai (@barbarachai) has become the Managing Editor @WSJSpeakeasy.

HGTV Magazine (New York, NY): Leslie Corona becomes Editorial Assistant @HGTVMag.

Buzzfeed (@Buzzfeed): The new Associate Celebrity Editor is Kristin Harris (@KristinHarris).

Yahoo! (@Yahoo): Michele Promaulayko (@MichProm) will begin as the new Editor-in-Chief @YahooHealth on August 25th.

The Fader (@TheFader): Deidre Dyer (@Yung_Oprah_) has been promoted to Style Editor.

The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, MO): Steve Paul (@sbpaul) has been named Editorial Page Editor @KCStar, replacing the recently retired Miriam Pepper.

Science Magazine (Washington, D.C.): Book Review Editor Sherman Suter is retiring from @ScienceMagazine.

Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA): Tom Deschriver (@PoconoTD) is the new Executive Editor @PoconoRecord. Tom replaces Christopher Mele (@MeleChristopher) who is now a Metro Editor for The New York Times. And Brad Bailey takes on the Associate Publisher role.

Casper Star-Tribune (Casper, WY): Brendan Meyer (@Brendan_Meyer13) will join (@CSTribune) as Features Reporter.

Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA): James Normandin (@J_F_Normandin) was named the Publisher at (@telegramdotcom) and begins on September 2nd .

The Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA): Steve Fisher (@sedwardfisher) is now the new Publisher @TelegraphHerald. Fisher will replace James Normandin.

Brownwood Bulletin (Brownwood, TX): Russ Goodall is now the Managing Editor @Bwdbulletin.

Glen Rose Reporter (Glen Rose, TX): Brent Addleman (@GRR_Editor) has been named Managing Editor @GlenRoseNews.

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at agility.prnewswire.com.

Click here view the complete listing of MEDIAware

Video

The 3 Tactical Elements That Made the “Ice Bucket Challenge” a Viral Success

Unless you live under a rock that isn’t equipped with Wi-Fi, you’ve probably seen news about the viral success of the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Our social streams are full of friends, family and celebs dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and challenging others to either donate to ALS or subject themselves to an icy shower.

The results are pretty amazing. The ALS Foundation reports that donations have increased nine fold during the challenge, and the organization is unquestionably garnering new donors and supporters for its mission.

There are lots of causes out there about which people are passionate, and many charities make deft use of the social web, which begs this question: Why is ALS research getting a disproportionate share of attention (and dollars) this summer? The answers are actually pretty simple.

  1. Video is at the heart of the viral spread. Participants post videos – some elaborately staged others spur-of-the-moment – of their dousing on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other channels. Video is the most arresting visual format, and communications featuring video elements have an advantage over other message types.
  2. Personal interaction, as well as a bit of peer pressure – are built into the challenge. Participants issue challenges to others they name, and those people then follow suit. Viral spread isn’t just assured; it’s built into the fabric of the campaign.
  3. Creative license, with a shot of competition. The audience generated element rewards creativity. Case in point – a colleague and I who received the Challenge from another coworker are orchestrating plans for our own video response. We’re determined to up the ante in our response, which will probably inspire the folks we nominate to do the same. The result? An organic mix of interesting and widely varied content.

For communicators planning campaigns on social channels or at live events, keeping these three keys in mind as you structure the program will help ensure success. A strong visual core will garner more attention than plain text, and building in the right sort of interactivity that encourages viral spread and rewards creativity will result in the development of higher-quality content that is more likely to spread.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

Grammar Hammer: ICYMI, Catfishing and Brick Have New Definitions

the Grammar Hammer

Oxford Dictionary

The Oxford Dictionary just unveiled the newest additions to their dictionary, and I have to admit that I was caught quite off guard by some of the entries. Apart from some buzz-wordy jargon that I could see in professional writing (pharmacovigilance), most of these words are ones I would only expect to see in more casual styles of writing or slang phrases like “hot diggity” and “spit take,” but I did learn a few interesting new things:

Catfishing- a concept recently made famous by MTV, means “to lure (someone) into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona.”

Brick- what I originally only thought of as a rectangular block made of clay used to build things is now also a reference to early-model cell phones that were large and heavy or to mobile devices that no longer work and just sits there (like a brick).

I also finally learned the meanings of acronyms typically used in text messaging or social media such as:

SMH – shaking my head

ICYMI – in case you missed it

YOLO – you only live once

What are your thoughts on the recent additions to the Oxford English Dictionary? See Oxford’s list here (http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/08/oxford-dictionaries-update-august-2014).

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.