Old fashioned public relations has a lot to offer as part of the holiday fundraising mix, even in this time of the Great Shrinking News Media.
National news stories researched and reported by sources like the AP are having have an increasing influence on local news outlets. Besides using their content outright, editors may hunt for a local tie-in.
So here’s not-to-late tip #2: take advantage of Google Alert. Google Alert is a cheap way of staying on top of news that might represent an opportunity for your non-profit, besides its value as a basic listening tool.
Example: the US Department of Agriculture released a report this week that documented a rapid rise in hunger, which triggered an AP story. Cynthia Hubert, a Sacramento Bee reporter, localized the story of the federal data by reaching out to local non-profits that provide emergency food and shelter. Having a Google Alert set up for “hunger”, for example, could give food closets and other emergency social service providers a chance to suggest a local angle to key news organizations.
Even if your call to an editor or reporter doesn’t result in a story, you can still construct a brief news release regarding your organization’s data or experience, and use the information in electronic or printed materials to add credibility to your messages.
With mainstream media gasping for resources, I’ve said that non-profits will have to find other ways to get their messages out. One technique is to find bloggers who write about your area or issue, learn about their interests, and customize pitches to match their interests. The problem is that there’s no great way to find them yet.
One rather cumbersome way to do this is to use the “tag surfer” tool on wordpress.com. You define the topics you’re interested in, which can include locale, and WordPress will serve up a day’s worth of blog posts (you have to sign up for WordPress to take advantage of this feature, but you don’t have to actually publish a blog). Most of them will be off topic (“hunger” for example, will yield more bloggers who write on food cravings than those who are interested in poverty). Google Alerts will also do the trick, but again, you’ll get a lot of gluck (garbage/muck).
In the future, this one might be worth something, but I’m not impressed with the quality yet: outside.in, a tool that surfs news websites and blogs by localized community. On my most recent visit, I checked out what came up for Folsom, CA. The 30 abstracts were mostly sourced from the Sacramento Bee over a 3-day period, plus a few blurbs from two other print publications and a few news stations. When I checked what came up for Sacramento, the 30 posts were from the Bee and a music-lovers’ website called Gruvr. In fact, more than half of the posts were sourced to Gruvr. In other words, no listings of interesting local blogs published by individuals. I guess they’re all quiet right now.
Keep your eyes peeled for tools that help you mine for locally-focused blogs. Send me anything you find!