The Q&A Team: The Benefits of Event Sponsorships for Businesses and Non-Profits

Events are a primary method for nonprofits to raise money for the causes that mean the most to their organizations while forming strong personal bonds with their donor base. However, event space, refreshments, tables, and equipment are pricey, so having a corporate sponsor helps nonprofits reduce their costs while allocating the maximum amount of funds raised towards their cause.

For businesses, event sponsorships are an opportunity to personally engage with customers and establish a long-lasting, positive brand impression. Therefore, non-profits and businesses can form mutually beneficial relationships by combining their respective strengths and hosting events.To help connect non-profits and businesses in search of event sponsorships with each other, Lemuel White and Mickey Lukens created an easy-to-use and resource-efficient platform called SponsorMatch. The pair loaned their expertise to the ProfNet Q&A team and offered sound advice on how businesses and non-profits can launch successful sponsored events.

How can a business decide what event sponsorship will work best for them?

Marketing managers must ask themselves if the prospective event aligns with their overall business goals. Think about whether it reinforces the right experience for their target customer and if it will produce the greatest return on investment.

Is there a limit to the number of events a business should sponsor?

Not at all! However, as with any advertising effort, businesses should assess if the long-term return on investment, such as new customer gains, is greater than the cost of sponsorship.

What channels should you use to promote an event sponsorship?

One of the most successful and cost-effective methods of promoting an event is through a well-planned social media strategy. But depending on the business, event being sponsored, and customer being reached, promotion through a diverse combination of mediums and digital platforms is best.

How should a business handle an event sponsorship that ends up being a conflict of interest?

A thorough investigation of the proposed sponsorship and background of the organization can prevent a conflict of interest before it occurs. However, if an issue arises that could not be mitigated, businesses should collaborate with the organization to minimize any aspect of the event associated with the conflict that might negatively impact the customer. In extreme cases, company leadership should be as transparent with customers as possible by acknowledging the issue and responding accordingly to keep from alienating trust.

What are the typical processes and challenges for nonprofit organizations in search of sponsorships for their event?

One of the greatest challenges for nonprofits is effectively communicating the right information to businesses that will lead to a partnership. With the exception of very large nonprofits, most small to medium nonprofits spend hours cold calling businesses in hopes of forming a partnership. The entire process is very informal and problematic for event organizers who must locate marketing decision makers, pitch their event and levels of sponsorship, and convince the business that their investment would benefit their target consumer. When reaching out to potential partners, nonprofits must come prepared with detailed information on who their members are such as where they are from, where they live, how much income they make, and other relevant demographics.

How can using SponsorMatch connect businesses with nonprofits?

SponsorMatch works by matching the needs of nonprofit events to the goals of businesses. Similar to online dating sites, nonprofits and businesses will be able to see exactly what each side is looking for and only reach out when those needs match. Nonprofits will be able to easily divide their event into levels of sponsorship. Businesses will be able to see all the details of any given event and select what level they are willing to support, at what cost, and what exposure they will receive. The platform will even notify both nonprofits and businesses automatically if it believes there’s a possible match. Overall, SponsorMatch saves valuable time and resources for both the nonprofit and business by holdng all of their partnership assets, communication, and details in one place

How do you see event sponsorships changing for nonprofits and businesses in the future?

Technology has created more channels for individuals to learn about the businesses they purchase from, and customers are placing a high value on the social contributions of those businesses. In the future, businesses will continue to incorporate more socially responsible partnerships to help their communities while elevating their own brands. Technology will also allow nonprofits to change not only the way sponsorships are conducted, but also how members are found, donors are retained, and visions are fulfilled on a worldwide scale.

polina opelbaumWritten by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Grammar Hammer: Justice is Served for Common “Word Crimes”

the Grammar Hammer

I would be remiss if I didn’t spotlight Weird Al Yankovic’s latest hit, “Word Crimes” as the star of this week’s Grammar Hammer. Off his newest album, “Mandatory Fun,” the viral sensation tackles the most egregious grammar errors of all time and proves once and for all that you can be a stunningly creative songwriter and still employ the rules of grammar to get your point across.

To my delight, I counted ten grammar topics mentioned in “Word Crimes” that I have also covered via Grammar Hammer:

  • Verb tense
  • Nouns and prepositions
  • Less vs. Fewer
  • I could care less
  • Oxford comma
  • Homophones
  • Who/Whom
  • Quotation Marks
  • Good vs. Well
  • Literally vs. Figuratively

I also gained a few more great suggestions for future posts, which shows that we have a lot of work left to do when it comes to fighting bad grammar. At PR Newswire, the Customer Content Services Team thoroughly reads each press release that crosses our wire and catches around 4,000 errors per month. It’s slightly embarrassing (but more delightful) to think about how often I engage in conversations about grammar with my team.

Tweet your favorite #wordcrimes to me @cathyspicer or drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

You might also want to check out Grammarly’s exclusive interview with Yankovic about the song and the challenges of proper grammar in songwriting.

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

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: The Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC News, CNN 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.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA): Deputy Managing Editor of Features Sandra Clark (@SandraClarkInq) was promoted to Managing Editor/Features/Operations/Digital. Deputy Managing Editor/News Gabriel Escobar (@escobarinquirer) becomes Managing Editor/News & Digital @PhillyInquirer.

Energy Xtra (Washington, DC): This new blog (http://blogs.rollcall.com/energy-xtra/) produced by CQ/Roll Call covers the energy sector. Energy & Environment Reporter Randy Leonard (@RandyLeonard) is the main blogger.

NBC News – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Former KCRA-TV Correspondent Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) signs on @NBCNews as a Washington Correspondent.

The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Abby Ohlheiser (@abbyohlheiser) joins the team as a General Assignment Reporter. Also, former Star-Ledger Reporter Amy Ellis Nutt will join the staff @washingtonpost on Sept 15th.

CNN – New York Bureau (New York, NY): Former Fox News Anchor Alisyn Camerota (@AlisynCamerota) has joined @CNN as Anchor.

Maxim (New York, NY): Kevin Martinez is named Publisher @MaximMag.

Travel + Leisure (New York, NY): After 21 years, Nancy Novogrod (@TLNancy) is retiring from @TravlandLeisure.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Former @WSJ Reporter Alexandra Alter (@xanalter) is now @nytimes as a Publishing Industry Reporter. Also, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger is made Senior Editor of Strategy at the publication.

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA): Angela Salazar departs from InStyle to join @sfchronicle as Deputy Style Editor.

The Hollywood Reporter (Los Angeles, CA): Jon Frosch (@jon_frosch) is the new Reviews Editor @thr. Frosch was most recently the Film Critic/Editor for France24.

Los Angeles Business Journal (Los Angeles, CA): Cale Ottens (@CaleOttens) will be joining @LABJNews as a Business Reporter in August.

Billboard (New York, NY): Joe Lynch (@branniganlynch) comes aboard @billboard as a Staff Writer.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, MO): Samantha Liss (@samanthann) has joined the paper (@stltoday) as a Reporter, covering the healthcare industry. She was previously with the St. Louis Business Journal.

WeatherNation (Denver, CO): Rhonda Lee is joining the network (@WeatherNation) as a Meteorologist. She was previously at KTBS-TV in Shreveport, LA.

Coastal Living (Birmingham, AL): Lindsay Lambert (@LLBeanTown) has been hired by @CoastalLiving as its new Managing Editor.

Texas Monthly (Austin, TX): Senior Executive Editor @TexasMonthly Brian Sweany (@Brian_Sweany) has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief of the magazine.

Harper’s Bazaar (New York, NY): Mallory Schlau (@malschlau) has been promoted to Senior Market Editor @harpersbazaarus.

Glamour (New York, NY): Jessica Sailer was named Fashion Market Director @glamourmag.

The Daily Meal (@TheDailyMeal): Kate Kolenda (@TheConversant) is joining the outlet as the new Restaurant and City Guide Editor.

Gawker (@Gawker): News and gossip site @Gawker welcomes Leah Finnegan (@LeahFinnegan) as its new Senior Editor.

Marie Claire (New York, NY): Nancy Gillen joins @MarieClaire as Managing Editor.

Teen Vogue (New York, NY): Marina Larroude (@marinalarroude) has been added as Fashion Director @TeenVogue.

Center for Investigative Reporting (Berkeley, CA): Robert Salladay (@bobsalladay) has been promoted from Managing Editor to Editorial Director for @CIROnline.

Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME): Sarah Walker Caron (@SarahWCaron) is the new Features Editor @bangordailynews.

MedCity News (Cleveland, OH): Dan Verel (@DanVerel) has joined the trade outlet (@medcitynews) as a Reporter covering healthcare technology. Verel most recently served at North Bay Business Journal (@NBBJ) as a Reporter.

The Seattle Times (Seattle, WA): Matt Pentz (@TDNMattPentz) is a new Sports Reporter on the team covering soccer.

The Washington Times (Washington, DC): Tacoma News Tribune Sports Reporter Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) is the new Sports Enterprise Reporter @WashTimes.

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

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

You can view the full version of MEDIAware here: http://www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/public-relations/

 

Content We Love: Visual Storytelling Is the New Black

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the complete press release

Click here to view the complete press release

Did you know that an Emmy award exists for ads? For communicators who are still not convinced by the power visual storytelling, Budweiser is setting the record straight. The beer giant is proving the impact that branded videos are having on the mainstream after earning two Emmy nominations in the “Outstanding Commercial” category for their ads “Puppy Love” and “Hero’s Welcome.” The popularity of these videos skyrocketed after the massive exposure garnered from this year’s Super Bowl. To keep the momentum going, Budweiser announced the huge honor in a press release titled “Budweiser Super Bowl Ads Score Two Emmy Nominations.” It is currently among the most popular press releases viewed on PRNewswire.com.

This announcement serves as an additional content component of Budweiser’s major marketing campaign and leverages the targeting capabilities of press release distribution to seed awareness among new audiences. For example, this release becomes relevant to a number of industries with related interests including beers, wines and spirits, food & beverages, entertainment, television, and awards.

Highlights from the content of this release include:

  • Images that capture the most emotionally compelling moments of the ads attracts reader attention
  • High-quality copy written in the “inverted pyramid” style traditionally employed by journalists, the release leads with the most newsworthy information first, followed by supporting details, and closing with general information. Budweiser has essentially written the story that they want the media to tell.
  • A call-to-action to spark further social engagement around the ad campaign, and triggers increased visibility in search engines.  “Puppy Love’s” adorable canine star became so popular that he even has his own Twitter handle, hyperlinked mid-release.
  • Quotes from  executive leaders humanize the brand and further establishes Budweiser as a leader in creative communications.

Even with the ad campaign’s commercial success, Budweiser employs a multi-channel distribution effort including television, social media, and the wire to keep their story top of mind. Pay close attention marketers, now with the booming popularity of original programming streamed by sites such as Netflix and Hulu which are also earning Emmy nods, who knows if there is a potential opportunity for the branded videos being shared online to have a shot at earning a golden statue. A multi-channel distribution gives your content the additional visibility needed to drive discovery and continued awareness. Wouldn’t you like to be the first to break this barrier?

Congrats to Budweiser on their well-deserved Emmy nominations and on a great release!

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. 

13 Tips for Writing and Pitching Op-Ed Stories

New York Times writer, Jennifer Finney Boylan

Op-ed pieces are unique in their structure, length, voice in comparison to other non-fiction writing. Knowing how to merge your opinion with factual information is an important part of writing op-ed pieces and attracting readers to your story, is a skill that takes time and practice to finesse.  Jennifer Finney Boylan, author, speaker, and writer for New York Times Opinion joined our last #ConnectChat discussion, where she not only shared how she writes op-ed pieces and turn them into compelling stories, but also about how to pitch them to major publications. Here are 13 tips from Boylan all op-ed writers should remember:

Write a clear headline, but don’t expect it to make the final cut.
Writers almost never choose their own headlines. In fact, the editor won’t even consult you about the headline most of the time. This is an ancient writer/editor practice. Headlines are chosen based on space as much as anything else, and positioning. My recent piece in the NYT, “Home is Where the Horses Are” was originally titled “Why the Long Face.” Still, you need to have a headline on your piece when you submit it. That helps the editor know what you’re up to, especially if your piece is a “gimmick” piece.

Hook the reader in right away with an anecdote, humorous ones work best. Then try to “show” how the story connects to an issue in the news, or of note. Wrap up it up by circling back to the joke in a new way.

The ideal length for op-eds is 800 words; original pieces 1,200 words.The NYT prefers 800 words for a standard op-ed column, like the regulars: Brooks, Collins, Bruni, etc. If I’m pitching an original piece, I go as long as 1,200 words with a note to the editor saying, “This is long; I can cut.” Having a relationship with the editor is an advantage because I know she will read my work. Sunday columns are a bit longer as well because there is more space in the Sunday Review.

Tell a story that also advocates a “position” backed up by fact and research. Op-ed pieces differ from other nonfiction in that it really is about opinion -you can’t just tell the story and leave it at that. For example, acclaimed New York Times economist Paul Krugman discusses economic facts, but he makes those stats into a compelling, moving story. The story generally comes first, along with your own charming voice, then the research.

Be aware that your opinions become public, and will become associated with you. For instance, I’m the national co-chair of the board of directors of GLAAD, and I have to be careful. People will think that my opinions are GLAAD’s opinions if I write about LGBT issues. As a writer, I don’t draw lines — I want to write about everything! As a public figure, I have to be careful not to damage the brand of the organization. Bottom line is, I try to be very careful, and don’t write when I’ll jeopardize the organization.

Be true to your personal writing style. Each writer has his or her own style, of course. It might be cliché, but your best bet is to be yourself. People can tell if you’re faking it. I bet you could read a “typical” column by one of the Times’ dozen or so regulars and know within a graph who wrote it.

Target your pitch to the most relevant publications that will connect with that story. If your story has a strong connection to a place, go to the paper in that town. You can also build a portfolio of clips starting small and going more national. My first published column was for the Middletown Press, in Connecticut about graduating from that town’s Wesleyan University. If it’s your first story, it’s good way to establish your credentials.

Pitch stories tied to seasonal events a month ahead of time.
Timing is everything in pitching as is a hook. Editors aren’t interested in your random genius. So know that, the Monday before Father’s Day, editors will be flooded with pieces about daddies. So if you’re going to write a Father’s Day piece, write it in May and send it in early.

Prioritize breaking news stories. Finding a good hook is an art, but sometimes you have to wait for the news cycle to give you your lede as well. For example, I had a piece ready to go for the Times this spring when I heard the news about the new SAT on the radio. I sent a note to my editor saying, “Hold the other piece, I’m writing an SAT thing,” and sent it in next morning, which was published the day after. If I’d waited two days later, the editor would have been swamped in SAT pieces.

Take advantage of Summer writing opportunities. Regular NYT columnists take vacations in the summer, so they’re always looking for people to fill. That’s how I became a regular after the “postcard” series — I became a designated summer filler — columnist “substitute teacher.” For up and comers and freelancers, this is an ideal opportunity.

Format your email pitch appropriately. In addition to attaching your piece as an email to the editor, paste it in as text as well. That way the editor doesn’t have to open your word document to read the piece; It’s right there and your lede is already grabbing their attention. Also, seriously: use 18 point type in the email paste. Make it big. Editors are not in their 20s. Have pity. Also, even though this is very particular, use a serif font, palatino or, say, times. Never use sans-serif font.

Be considerate to your editor and continue to build upon your relationship. Be respectful. Don’t be too annoying. If they encourage you, keep conversing. Be pleasant on email, but brief; keep in mind that editors are usually overworked. If they say no, accept that no means no. But if they pass on your story in a nice way, send them something else, although not right away.

Don’t give up hope – opportunities arise when you least expect them. How I went from a one-shot column to a regular political “postcard” series in the New York Times is a good story. I’d had a really great lunch with the editor in NY. Later, I saw the Times building and thought it would be a good idea to stop in and say hello. Next thing I know, he and others were sitting around a table asking me, “What do you got?” Suddenly I realized they thought I was there to pitch.

Thinking quickly, I pitched a half-baked idea about two general stores in my hometown– one Republican, one Democratic. They sent me on my way, and I didn’t hear anything back. Three months later, I receive a call from the editor saying, “That thing about the general stores? Write it. Need it by tomorrow.” In my case, another columnist’s work wasn’t any good, so they needed a filler and remembered my story.  I scrambled and wrote it in a day and that’s how I landed the gig.  The moral of the story is: you never know when the publication of your dreams will need you, so don’t lose heart.

polina opelbaumAuthor  Polina Opelbaum is the editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

 

Copy Quality: New Imperatives for Communicators

New copy quality guidelines from PR Newswire to help improve press release content quality.

New copy quality guidelines from PR Newswire to help improve press release content quality.

How does one determine whether or not a piece of content is low quality?

Since we added copy quality to the guidelines against which we assess press releases and other content prior to distribution, we’ve counseled a number of clients on steps they can take to improve the value of their content for their audiences.

Understanding how to build/create quality content is a mandate for all communicators creating digital content.  Google started raising the bar on web content quality in early 2011, when the first Panda algorithm update was deployed.  Taking aim at link farms and websites created to propagate links and manipulate search rank but which offer little to no real use to human beings, the goal of the Panda update is to improve the relevance of the search results Google returned to internet searchers.

The new rules of content quality

Google has kept the pedal to the metal, rolling out changes and updates to its algorithms in an ongoing effort to improve the utility of its search engine by returning better and better results to users, and it’s safe to assume that this won’t change in the future.  Communicators of all stripes publishing digital content and seeking visibility in search engines will have to play by the rules.

So let’s look at those rules.  In a blog post on their Webmaster Central blog, Google offered insights into how, when building the Panda algorithm, they determined whether or not content was quality.

“Below are some questions that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article. These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves as we write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality. Think of it as our take at encoding what we think our users want.  

Would you trust the information presented in this article?

Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

 Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

How much quality control is done on content?

Does the article describe both sides of a story?

Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?

Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?

Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

 Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

Would users complain when they see pages from this site?”

- Google Webmaster Central, More guidance on building high-quality sites

Evaluating the content your brand produces through the lens of these questions will reveal with stark clarity whether or not the content makes the cut in Google’s eyes.   And even if the press releases you submit to PR Newswire adhere to the copy quality guidelines we’ve published, you can tighten the screws on your content by keeping this larger set of quality indicators from Google firmly in mind.

Messages that are useful and interesting to audiences generate results beyond search engine visibility.  They garner mentions, earn media and inspire social sharing – activities which drive brand messaging into new audiences and powering improved campaign results.    Some organizations will be challenged by this new reality but ultimately, overall marketing and communications objectives are well served by more engaging content.

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: Whiling Away the Hours

the Grammar Hammer

While away the hours

While means to “pass the time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner”

I often see “wile away the hours” used interchangeably with “while away the hours,” so which is correct?

Technically, they both are, but there are some subtle differences one should consider.

“To while away the hours” means to “pass time idly” or to “pass time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner.” For example, “I spent hours whiling away on the beach last Sunday.”

“Wile” is generally used as a noun, meaning “trickery” or “cunning” (who could forget Wile E. Coyote?); “a disarming or seductive manner;” or “a trick intended to deceive.” It can also be used as a verb to mean “influence by wile.” In that context, wiling away the hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon could take on an entirely new meaning.

Therefore, “while away the hours” is the preferred expression. “Wile” exists as a means of poetic license to convey a particular mood or theme. For context, “Wile E. Coyote wiles away his time trying to catch that pesky Road Runner.”

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.