What to do when the news media doesn’t show

Sometimes you feel like Cinderella all dressed up for the ball, without the fairy godmother and carriage.  Promoting events for non-profits can feel like that, especially as reporters become an endangered species.  All it takes is a little rain or snow around these parts to send the few reporters and cameras scurrying everywhere but to your carefully orchestrated event.

What’s a nice non-profit to do?  Make the best of a disappointing situation.

Aggressively jump on every social media outlet you can think of, and give your followers the tools to tell their friends.

Case in point this morning:  a wonderful group of students came in at an hour when most of their peers were still in dreamland to finish up some bowls they were donating for the March 8 & 9th Empty Bowls event, which benefits River City Food Bank.  Heavy snow and rain sent reporters and cameras scrambling up to the snow or over to car crashes.  It was pretty lonely at Vista del Lago High School in Folsom.

Though it’s no substitute for mass media, here’s what we did.  (And I was kicking myself later for not bringing my high def Flip video, since a number of the news stations accept and post user-generated videos.)

1.  We quickly posted, captioned and tagged photos on the agency’s flickr account.

2.  Uploaded photos to RCFB’s Facebook fan page and encouraged fans/friends to tag themselves so that the photos get out to an even wider distribution, quickly.

3.  Posted Facebook status updates with links to photos.

4.  Published an article and photo on sacramentopress.com (you can check it out here at http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/22532/Vista_del_Lago_students_bowl_against_hunger).  I talked about Sacramentopress.com last June, which seems thus far to be leading the race among various “citizen journalist” outlets.

5.  Posted photos an a brief description on the leading television news’ station’s “u local” social media component.  News stations’ website search engines are getting better and better, and my hope is that this story becomes “findable” when people look for related information in the future.  (Also posted photos on another news’ station’s “member” social media feature, but I can’t figure out how people would ever retrieve the information.)

So, it ain’t over when the news fairy fails to wave her magic wand in your direction.  Do-it-yourself distribution is never easy, but we have more tools than ever before to communicate with our networks of friends… and their networks of friends… and their network of friends…

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