I Can’t Believe They Didn’t Run It!
Five Steps to a Good Relationship with the Media

press release

I was speaking with someone new to the field recently, and they were perplexed that their press releases weren’t getting run in their local paper. So, I told him a story about the first press release I ever sent out. The short version is that when I followed up with the reporter — to complain — I got lambasted. The last thing the reporter said to me was, “Do you have ANY idea how many things I’m working on right now? THIRTY! So pardon the [bleep] out of me if I don’t have time to chase down a quote for your [bleeping, bleeping] BOARD ANNOUNCEMENT!!!” Click…

I learned the hard way that while I may think what I’m sending is top news of the day, others may have different thoughts. So following are five things that will not only increase your chances of getting something in the media, but might also make you some friends:

  1. Look at your relationship with the local press as a long-term one. Take the time to reach out and introduce yourself. Include some brief information about your organization and offer to be a resource. Reporters and editors are always on the lookout for fresh sources.
  2. Make a reporter’s job easy. Write the press release as a story; something you would like to see in the paper. Include quotes. Reporters are typically working on many other stories. So if they can just “plunk it in,” you’ve increased your odds and possibly made a friend for life.
  3. Don’t take things personally when you don’t get in the paper. Getting “bumped” is a common occurrence, especially when it comes to TV stations. You will ALWAYS get “We’ll try to be there, but no promises . . . and call us the day of to remind us.” They’re not kidding. Call.
  4. NEVER send your press release as a pdf. Reporters are always looking to copy & paste. So include all text of your press release in the body of your email (including contact info). You can attach a Word document if you want something that looks prettier. If you’re including photos, attach them and offer captions.
  5. If a reporter calls you, call them back IMMEDIATELY. Since they’re always on deadline, there’s a very good chance that they’re calling a bunch of different people for the same quote. Sometimes they’ll take the first one, and sometimes they’ll take the best. So call back right away, and be prepared.

BONUS TIP: Thank the reporter or editor if they run something of yours – a simple, “hey, thanks for running that story – appreciate it!”. They can surely be gruff with the pressures of reporting – but they’re human. They’ll remember a thank you and just might call you first the next time.

Community Seeks to Make a Big Impact in Addressing Childhood Poverty

Collective Impact

What better way to start the New Year than to set a goal to reduce childhood poverty in not just one Connecticut community, but many? The Valley Community Foundation, Griffin Hospital, TEAM, Inc., and Valley United Way came together with more than 20 other organizations in Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton (the Valley) to figure out how to do just that over the next 10 years. Danosky & Associates was honored to be asked to facilitate this initiative as they explore all the different facets that contribute to childhood poverty – and the impact it causes.

The priority to focus on childhood poverty came as a result of a facilitated brainstorming session to highlight some of the pressing needs within the Valley Community. The one issue that continued to resurface during this exercise was childhood poverty. According to detailed data the collaborative has compiled, 26% of all Valley children live in households below 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Over the course of the next several months, these organizations will utilize an innovative and structured approach known as Collective Impact, which facilitates collaboration across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations, and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change. The concept of Collective Impact is based on the idea that, in order for organizations to create lasting solutions to social problems on a large-scale, they need to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal. Nonprofit organizations in the Valley have a long history of collaboration, so this approach was a natural fit as they sought to move forward. In addition, the project will be facilitated by Danosky & Associates, which has successfully managed other collective impact initiatives – including the Working Cities Challenge in Danbury, which resulted in a $450,000 grant to reduce the number of minorities living below federal poverty guidelines.

One of the community leaders heading up this initiative is Valerie Knight-DiGangi of Valley Community Foundation. “It has been a wonderful evolution of time and energy with people who are so committed to working together,” said Valerie. “In these early stages of this project, we are working through three task forces on a very structured timeframe. The first task force will work to identify who these families are: the make-up of their households; where they live; the many factors that impact their economic status in the community. The second will determine who in the Valley can connect us with people who have direct experience with childhood poverty – who can talk to us about what the needs are and truly inform our work. The third will create processes to bring all of these people to the table. To ensure this important project maintains on track, Sharon Danosky is keeping us on a very tight timeline to acquire the necessary data before reporting back to our task forces to discuss next steps.”

The task forces include a diversified representation from nonprofits across a variety of sectors. Leading the initiative with Valerie are Sharon Gibson of Valley United Way, David Morgan of TEAM, Inc., and Monica Oris of Griffin Hospital’s Valley Parish Nurse Program.

“At Danosky & Associates, we find this work to be extremely rewarding,” said Sharon Danosky. “It is a privilege to work with so many dedicated groups. And it’s exciting to be part of an initiative that will benefit so many into the future.”

 

Case Study: Local Residents Vote for a Library and Affirm Their Roles as Shareholders

ballot-vote2

It had been almost ten years since a community library in New York had received an increase to its operating budget from the town. Private funding and contributions helped, but the Library was facing a deficit that made it impossible to keep pace with the inflationary costs of salaries and healthcare. The library also feared that it would not be able to continue the quality of services the community had come to expect. In New York State, libraries can’t just request an increase from their town, though. It needs to go before a town-wide ballet and residents vote on whether or not the library should receive an increase (increasing their own taxes). The Library had never undertaken a public awareness campaign. Yet, without an increase in funding, the Library knew it would not be able to continue their level of service.

The Strategy

The Library reached out to Danosky & Associates to build a public awareness campaign that would ensure: 1) the library’s proposition for a budget increase would be included on the ballot in mid-term voting, and 2) the public would be well-informed on the fiscal and community value of the library’s services as they cast their votes. We launched a full engagement and outreach effort by doing the following:

  • Established a core constituency through analysis of library patronage vs. registered voters
  • Developed an online community survey to determine how the local community values its library
  • Used the community survey to prepare talking points and materials for library volunteers as they engaged the community to become the opinion leaders and supporters of the library
  • Implemented a strict timeline to rollout a series of structured marketing initiatives that would lead to an affirmative vote.

The Outcome

Following this eight-month long campaign, the proposition passed by a healthy margin. Not only did residents approve the increase in library funding provided by the town, many more residents learned about all the programs the library offers. And the library came away with information that can be used in future outreach, engagement, and a renewed vision of services.

Lessons Learned

  • The library gained valuable insight to the needs and expectations of its neighborhoods through a community assessment, engagement of key library stakeholders and volunteers, and recruitment of new members. It also learned how important it is to reach beyond its primary service area, as one area didn’t have as much support for the initiative because they weren’t included in the door-to-door outreach.
  • Boots on the Ground is not only effective in a campaign of this type, but it’s crucial to building trust. Library volunteers attended local civic meetings to present the campaign and answer questions; this put faces to the names associated with the library. Local businesses showed their support by agreeing to display window flyers which were branded for the library’s campaign and rotated on a monthly basis to inform the public on its programs and services.
  • When the public votes to tax themselves for a public library service, public libraries are generally better funded. This also allows residents to come away from an affirmative vote as not only a future patron, but a shareholder as well.

We want to hear from you! If there is any topic you would like us to explore, please send your inquiries to info@danosky.com! See more of our blogs to read more of what we’re passionate about!

When $1,000 is better than $1,000,000

how-to-make-money-off-grid

By Sharon Danosky

In a small town in Litchfield County, CT there is a fundraising festival called KentPresents which brings philanthropists together to learn about the local nonprofits and the work they do. They raise funds and give about $125,000 in grants to smaller, local organizations. Many of the grants are around $1,000. A relatively small amount, to be sure. But for many organizations – it can mean the difference between providing vital services or not. [Read more…]

Danosky & Associates Offers the Nuts & Bolts of Staying Afloat in Challenging Times

“I never served on a board and learned quite a bit about the purpose, the roles, the makeup, and the effectiveness. I plan to brief our organization on this and hopefully we can make some small improvements.”

“As a new organization, we can begin cultivating donors with a solid understanding of how to best retain them as supporters for years to come.”

These are the thoughts from attendees of the capacity building workshops facilitated recently by Danosky & Associates.

The work of nonprofits is more than important, it is crucial and life saving. But every day can be a struggle to maintain funding and quality services. Nonprofits need to stay on top of skills that will ensure not only their survival in these difficult times, but their growth as well.

IMG_8851Community foundations and experienced facilitators can provide useful, relevant tools through focused workshops — in this case, a series of capacity building workshops for smaller to mid-sized nonprofit organizations.

Danosky & Associates facilitated a series of these intensive workshops from April through October for Greater New Britain nonprofits, offering a top-to-bottom view on how to survive and thrive in challenging times. [Read more…]