Saturday, April 26, 2008

7 Media Lessons from ANZAC Day 2008

ANZAC Day is the biggest and best known event in Australia and media interest in the Day is understandably intense.

This year we were privileged to help the Australian War Memorial with media relations for its ANZAC Day program.

With thanks to the Memorial's communication team, here are 7 media tips from that experience:
  • Even though an event is well known, it pays to work within specific campaign themes. This makes it easier to manage information, source images and video and identify spokespeople.
  • Media relations efforts must tie-in with other marketing, sponsorship and internal communications plans. This ensures media impacts contribute to the broader goals of an organisation.
  • Blogs can be a source of stories for journalists. Information on the War Memorial's blogs were picked up and carried into mainstream media for ANZAC Day and other campaigns. Links in media releases to blogs, wikis and on-line video (such as YouTube) can be valuable in guiding journalists to additional information.
  • We may live in a global economy but the media still want local stories. Newspapers and radio stations are always looking for local (human interest) perspectives on national issues. The first question journalists often ask is what's the local angle?
  • Approach TV producers prepared to talk in terms of images. Work with TV crews to provide the best visual opportunities and spokespersons. See this Channel Seven example.
  • Maintain a media database so you can quickly see the details of journalists and details of interviews that have been set up. In a busy campaign this helps to keep track of who to call and what's happening day by day. And when the campaign finishes it can provide good evaluation data.
  • Australian media have been reporting ANZAC Day for 92 years. Media outlets will want to report a continuing event differently each year. (See this ABC Radio's story on war time rationing). The key to continuing good media relations year after year, is to remain flexible and work with journalists to help them provide valuable information for their listeners, readers and viewers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tupperware goes digital

Remember the Tupperware party? The direct marketing experience that introduced millions of households to the iconic plastic containers used for food storage.

The concept was brilliantly simple. Invite a housewife to host a party for her friends, and at the same time present the latest range of Tupperware products for inspection. Everyone was a winner. The hostess received prizes for her efforts. Friends got the opportunity to see the latest in kitchenware and the company put its products directly in front of customers in a relaxed, social atmosphere.

Now a US company is running a new version of these parties for corporate clients. House Party invites people across the USA to host parties for their families, friends and workmates, at which Ford Motor Company, Hersheys, the History Channel and others put their latest offerings directly to prospective customers.

The company’s Gerber baby food video shows how on-line technology is bringing Tupperware’s proven experiential and word of mouth marketing model into the digital age.

Who do you trust?

When it comes to news who do you trust?

The March 2008 edition of Tactics, the Public Relations Society of America newspaper, reports that research in 2007 by PR agency, Golin Harris, shows word of mouth and personal experience are the most trusted sources of information for many Americans.

And that mainstream media scores “lower in terms of accuracy, truthfulness and honesty than dedicated on-line media channels".

The article suggests this shift in trust from mass media to personal and on-line experiences means communicators should:

  • Look for opportunities to provide direct experiences to audiences.
  • Seek to create memorable moments that cause people to talk.
  • Reach out to engage 'key influencers' - people willing to share information in their social and other networks.
  • Use a variety of communications platforms and experiences rather than just relying on traditional mass media.

Research consistently shows word of mouth is free, credible and fast. That makes it the most powerful marketing channel an organization can use. That's why not for profit groups and others with limited marketing budgets should consider factoring word of mouth into their next marketing or PR plan.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sponsorship and Not for Profits

Since 2003 we have run marketing workshops for 107 not for profit organisations.

A common question is "how can we get sponsorship for our event, issue or cause?" This question was certainly top of mind when we recently shared marketing tips with community groups in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

Before you seek sponsorships people must have a basic understanding of your cause and know about your organisation.

That comes down to marketing and PR. Before people will support you they need to know who you are and what you stand for.

Once that's achieved you can begin a dialogue with companies, government agencies and others who can provide support.

Some resources to get your sponsorship efforts off to a good start are:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Should I share my event?

When you start out planning an event you can either be a solo sailor or a clever collaborator.

Solo sailors are event organisers who want complete control over how their event will unfold. They assume total responsibility for all aspects of planning, financing, marketing and promotions. They are responsible for absolutely everything and shape their event precisely to meet the needs of their own organisation.

Being responsible for everything has its merits but it also has downsides. When you work alone you can only bring a finite amount of resources into event planning and management. And you are completely responsible for generating an audience - the people who will attend - and getting media coverage before, during and after the event.

Another option is to see if you can share your event.

So scan the horizon to see who else you can work with. Be continually on the look out for opportunities to jointly plan and manage your next event. And if conditions are right, seriously consider merging your activity with another.

But be aware that sharing means you limit the control you have over processes, proceedings, timings and outcomes of what you plan.

Factors to consider before deciding to join in with others are:
  • does the other organisation share a similar values?
  • is there a demonstrable reason for us to work with them?
  • can they give us access to resources, media coverage etc we might struggle to attract?
  • will a joint undertaking allow us to get our message to more people?
  • can we agree on roles, responsibilities and financial arrangements?
  • is there potential controversy in working with a third party?

My experience is that collaborative arrangements do take longer to establish, but sharing energy and effort can take your event further and faster than sailing alone.

The power of events

Last year we helped Cricket Australia and the Australia Department of Immigration and Citizenship to stage Australia’s biggest cricket game.

Nearly 150 000 people in over 900 locations across the country showed support for the Australian values of a ‘fair go” and respect for others by playing cricket on the same day. Four weeks later, we helped the Australian War Memorial with ANZAC Day (25 April) – the event that reminds us of Australia's defining national moment, the landing of Australian forces at Gallipoli in 1915.

Both occasions reminded me of the sheer power of events to capture people’s attention. This digital age may allow us to connect with anyone anywhere, but there remains something very, very special about an event where you actually meet others face to face.

That's why events remains the classic opportunity to gather people together in one place to:
  • raise awareness of your cause, issue, service or product
  • inspire people and generate action
  • showcase your organisation
  • recognise your own or industry achievements
  • generate revenue
  • introduce new faces or ways of doing things or
  • attract new members or supporters

There is no doubt that Web 2.0 technology is great for sharing information. But events still remain among the best channels for persuasion as long as people like to share face to face experiences.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Budgeting for your next event

Most of us are creative types and find finances boring.

But when it comes to events, the budget is the one thing you simply must get right. If you are in a not for profit organisation two things are certain this year.

  • Firstly some time this year you will run an event. That’s what not for profits do: to keep in touch, attract attention or promote their cause. Your next event could be a humble cake stall at the local shops, a national conference or perhaps a gala fund raising ball.
  • The other certainty is you will not have enough money for your next event. While most of us have champagne aspirations when it comes to events, in the not for profit world we generally work with six pack budgets.

Financing events is such a critical undertaking for not for profits. Get it right and you are a hero. Get it wrong and you may well have over-spent yourself out of a job.So before any meaningful event planning starts, you must nail down the fundamental question: how will this event be paid for?

Not for profits don't have much money so every penny needs to be wisely spent especially when it comes to events. So remember: no matter how good your event is it will never be a success if it breaks the bank.

Social media and not for profits

Trevor Cook and Lee Hopkins are two Australian pioneers in the emerging world of social media. I have previously shared a speaking platform with Trevor and he really knows his stuff. Lee is a prominent podcaster.

Trevor and Lee have just released the third edition of their Social Media Report, which provides an excellent overview of the new Web2.0 tools and how to use them.

It is a good document for not for profit organisations to learn more about social media.

Click here to download their 53 page report.