public relations

Writing a Press Release for events

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Organization: 
WERU-FM Community Radio

A simple guide for writing a press release to advertise an event or activity within the community; created by corps member Meaghan Lasala.

Marketing and Outreach Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
James Lofton
Program Start: 
2/2007
Project Description: 

- Lead community outreach and marketing efforts
- Hold information sessions about NTRC Programs and Services
- Develop our database, track client information
- Create surveys and evaluations for users to evaluate NTRC programs
- Coordinate community groups and leaders and hold meetings including users, stakeholders, and other community members on issues related to the NTRC projects
- Market NTRC programs and services to partner organizations, Service Connectors and Housing Developments
- Create publications, press releases and newspaper articles

Marketing and Outreach

Organization: 
Grassroots.org
VISTA Name: 
Molly Fergus
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
5/2010
Project Description: 

We determined the need for the marketing/member recruitment project based on the positive reaction Grassroots.org received from publicity on Reddit.com, Mashable.com, The MIVA Ad Network and Monster.com at the end of 2008. Being featured on all of these websites generated significant traffic to Grassroots.org and both our membership and new volunteers increased as a result. Knowing what a little publicity can do for a nonprofit like Grassroots.org made it clear that a stronger online marketing and member recruitment campaign will be essential to us.

The VISTA will inform more nonprofits about Grassroots.org and expand our client base, increasing the number of people we serve. Last year Grassroots.org began a campaign to reach out through many social networking sites and create monthly press releases. Findings were that neither of these methods brought in significant members. What did attract major traffic to our site was free online advertising Grassroots.org received in addition to outreach to bloggers. This year a Grassroots.org VISTA would build upon what we have found will achieve success: focusing on membership by reaching out to umbrella organizations, continuing to network with bloggers, and pinpointing the social networking sites best suited to Grassroots.org.

Working in cooperation with the Executive Director and Director of Outreach & Development, the Communications Coordinator responsibilities would be to:

-Develop, plan and execute an online fundraising campaign, reach out to potential partners

-Develop and execute a strategic marketing/member recruitment campaign. The marketing/member recruitment campaign will allow us to reach as many potential nonprofit organizations as possible, increasing our capacity to serve. In addition, the campaign will increase our financial capacity as an organization as warranted attention attracts the attention of potential donor and partner organizations.

Project Outcome: 

Shortly after coming to Grassroots.org, Molly created a Public Relations/Marketing plan for us and has been implementing the plan for the past 3 months. Molly created a format for writing and sending out press releases and created a network for us to distribute our media materials to (including local news outlets and nonprofit technology blogs). She launched our first public relations campaign, which landed coverage in PC Magazine, Ode Magazine and the Philanthropy Journal. Molly regularly edits and contributes to the Grassroots.org website, notably our press page and frequent blog posts. Molly has been instrumental in engaging our nonprofit membership by recruiting members to contribute to the newsletter, annual report and blog.

Molly has accomplished an incredible amount for us in the past 6 months and has been a wonderful addition to Grassroots.org. Molly’s press efforts have undoubtedly played a large part of the huge membership growth Grassroots experienced in the last year. In addition to helping us gain new members, Molly has also reengaged older members by reaching out to them for blog contributions. These engagement efforts are so important to us because the best way for us to gain new members is my word of mouth. So far, Molly has launched a “Member of the Month” series that allows us to feature one Grassroots member every month and give our other members advice on what makes a good nonprofit website. The monthly release has been standardized and will be very easy to continue to publish for other staff. In addition, Molly created our “Tool of the week” series. This feature presents reviews from Grassroots.org staff of technology tools that we think would benefit our members. This series has been extremely popular. Molly not only created the format for the series, but also came up with an extensive list of tools that we will be able to continue to feature on a weekly basis.

In addition to the annual report (which came about because Molly was self-motivated and thought that it would benefit our organization immensely), Molly has greatly extended the reach of our organization through her work in developing our social networking reach; namely our Twitter account. Although we had a Twitter account that was managed by me (Laura Benack) when Molly came on board, she completely changed the way we were using this outlet. In addition to getting all recent Grassroots.org news pushed out on Twitter, Molly also started to thoughtfully share useful articles and resources with our Twitter followers and interacting daily with other users in the nonprofit and technology fields. Molly has grown our follower list to just under 3,000 in just a few months. We will now be able to leverage this community of followers in the future and continue her methods of Twitter engagement.

Community Outreach Coordinator

Organization: 
Squeaky Wheel
VISTA Name: 
Goda Trakumaite
Program Start: 
9/2010
Program End: 
9/2011
Project Description: 

The Corps member will help promote and brand Squeaky Wheel’s individual programs (such as the Buffalo Youth Media Institute, techARTS for girls, and Channels - Stories from the Niagara Frontier), help raise the visibility of Squeaky-produced media, amplify the marketing of their educational and production programs, and strengthen Squeak Wheel’s community presence of its media literacy and production workshops. All in all, the community outreach coordinator would help make Squeaky Wheel and its services to the community more visible and accessible to more people.

Project Outcome: 

Goda Trakumaite has expanded and developed our outreach activities by bringing the services that Squeaky Wheel offers to the attention of many schools, organizations and other groups. She has accomplished this by providing free one-day workshops, by organizing a number of public screenings and by directing our community outreach and documentary production program, Channels: Stories from the Niagara Frontier. Goda has increased the visibility of Squeaky Wheel’s Channels program through weekly screenings, regular email notices and acting as the contact point for filmmakers and organizations who are interested in becoming involved in the Channels program. In addition to this, Goda has helped increase the national visibility of work created through Squeaky Wheel programs by submitting films and videos to various festivals throughout the country. Goda has also been overseeing the coordination of various in-school workshops. Her activities have been crucial part of increasing the recognizability of the Squeaky Wheel brand and helping schools to see first hand how Squeaky Wheel can help them to incorporate media literacy and production into their after-school and in-class activities.

Impact Quote: 

Since Goda has served here, we have increased our membership, revived our Channels program and increased the number of schools and organizations contacting Squeaky Wheel for customized workshops, screenings and other off-site events. By having established these very important connections, Squeaky Wheel will continue to benefit from it’s increased visibility through greater attendance at screenings, more and higher quality applicants to our community programs and increased enrollment in our workshops. It is our hope that because many of these benefits lead to increased income for Squeaky Wheel, it will be possible for us to be able to afford to maintain this position of an outreach coordinator.

CTC Outreach and Program Building

VISTA Name: 
Patricia Conrad-Wexler
Program Start: 
3/2006
Program End: 
2/2008
Project Description: 

Goal 1: Successfully launch a regional web portal for area residents, businesses and organizations.

Goal 2: Create of a computer training and certification program at YES BizCenter

Project Outcome: 

1. Regional Web portal: our Vista, Pat, and I worked with our teen web programmer, David Wiles, to complete the site’s functionality and design. The site went live in mid-September. Pat issued a press release which resulted in at least three stories and recruited two youth to staff a table at our region’s largest fall festival, which was attended by over 10,000 people. Since then, Meanwhile, Pat and several youth work continue to research, gather and enter content. We have a bevy of volunteers, including a disabled YES alumni, Alan, who works at our wheelchair desk two afternoons every week, gathering web addresses for the 975 business and organization listings in the site’s directory. In November, Pat forged a partnership with two town-specific websites (OrangeTownGreen.com and PetershamCommon.com) to collaborate on soliciting site sponsors from among the region’s business community. Our site now has 22 sponsors, who pay $225/year, which is split between YES and our partners. The funds are helping recoup some of our development costs and in future will create a revenue stream to sustain the site. The site has over 75 registered users and is growing.

2. IC3 & MOS: Pat contacted CertiPort and registered with them to become a training and certification site. She helped our TechVenture! teaching team incorporate IC3 into this 16-hour youth computer training program, which was offered last June. Pat raised over $500 in cash and in- kind contributions from local businesses towards the cost of the program. We also investigated funding through the Verizon foundation and through the state employment and training consortium. Pat also solicited in-kind contributions of computer hardware (two computers, miscellaneous parts, a network switch) and eight task chairs for our classroom. She also helped streamline the operation of our weekday Teen Cyber Cafe by having youth and adults create user accounts (sign an agreement of terms and conditions, etc.), with account settings that protect the computers from viruses, etc. There are now 125 registered users.

Pink House CTC Marketing and Outreach

VISTA Name: 
Sharon Renae Smack
Program Start: 
6/2006
Program End: 
6/2009
Project Description: 

Our VISTA member will work with targeted low-income communities to ensure children (pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade) have access to computer technology and that the digital divide that currently seperates the low-income from the affluent continously decreases. Members will increase the capacity of the CTC and utilize technology resources – specifically the programs and facilities of the CTC – to educate, inform, and empower youth and adults to participate in community decision-making and local governance.

The CTC VISTA will
- engage in outreach to low-income communities that connects families with CTC
- work with local youth advisory groups to identify other CTCs and get the word out to the public
- secure computers from local companies to distribute to the poor
- introduce new software to youth attending the CTC
- expand after school computer lab programs
- recruit and train volunteers to deliver programs
- evaluate program outcomes
- investigate funding sources and contribute to the organization’s grant writing effort
- participate in in-service trainings and national service days
- plan for personal and professional development
- develop a web site service portfolio

Project Outcome: 

Renae has collaborated with city and county agencies to create strong strategic alliances with the PINK HOUSE. She keeps on top of the changes and new programs that are provided by these agencies and continually keeps in touch with the community leaders to inform them of the programs being implemented.

Though I always come up with the purpose of the event, Renae never ceases to amaze me in the way she plans and prepares for an event. She coordinates, decorates, handles the media, finds the volunteers through programs set forth in her prior years of service from creation to completion of the event.

Through these hard times, Renae still continues to get our local community businesses to commit to the children and the community. She keeps in touch with our partners. She continues to create, implement, and maintain our technological programs for the youth using service projects.

Renae also worked The College of Charleston public relations department and was instrumental in our center receiving a team to create branding for the center as well as a solid volunteer base through the program they created.

The third grade class was in charge of creating the newsletter for the center this term. They had to select the team themselves. She monitored as they elected a editor, decided who would be the photographer, journalist etc.. Each child was given a job. They learned skills in creative writing, photography, making advertisements, team organizing and working together as a team.

Impact Quote: 

She has worked tiredlessly with our organization and others in the community to build a strong sustainable relationship. Her request from the local college in our area created not only branding for the center but a volunteer base as well. Her continued contact with the City of Charleston Organizations helped to provide services to our residents in the community also is a valuable resource to the center. It gives us a great foundation to continue our service to the community.”
- Reverend King, supervisor

Marketing and Outreach

VISTA Name: 
Kristen Nash
Program Start: 
9/2006
Program End: 
9/2007
Project Description: 

The broad focus of Kristen’s work over the past year was marketing and public relations—helping to make NTRC and our programs more visible in the community.

Project Outcome: 

Kristen produced a variety of written materials and marketing collateral for potential partners, funders, and clients. She assumed responsibility for our quarterly newsletter; created and distributed flyers, postcards, and brochures for all three sites; and provided the photography, design, and some of the written content for our annual report. In addition to Kristen’s writing and design work, she organized several events designed to increase public awareness of our offerings, including job fairs and open houses. Finally, Kristen helped NTRC evaluate and improve its community engagement efforts through focus groups and an internal SWOT analysis. Although marketing was the main focus of her VISTA year, Kristen contributed to NTRC’s day-to-day operations by representing the organization at meetings and outreach events; contributing research, editing, and proofreading services; and performing or creating interviews, surveys, and other workforce development tasks. Kristen’s impact on the organization can be seen in three major ways: first, NTRC marketing materials have stepped up several levels because of her efforts; second, NTRC hosted a successful job fair in August 2007 with over 100 participants; and third, NTRC produced a visually impressive and content rich Year 2 Report for our Chicago Housing Authority funded “Make IT a Priority” Training Program Report in the Spring of 2007.

The best story to demonstrate Kristen’s contributions to NTRC is to tell you what we did when Kristen’s year-long commitment was complete. Despite the fact that prior to her arrival, the position that Kristen filled did not exist, NTRC offered her full-time employment at the termination of her VISTA year because during that year, Kristen proved herself to be a vital member of the team and not someone we were willing to give up. Other than that, most of Kristen’s contributions are best viewed, rather than told. The dramatic improvement in our marketing materials, quarterly newsletters, and reports speak for themselves.

Marketing and Outreach

VISTA Name: 
Aaron Chalek
Program Start: 
1/2007
Program End: 
1/2008
Project Description: 

Aaron has worked on a variety of fundraising, PR, and development projects. His main projects include: setting up a database to better organize our individual donor stewardship and cultivation campaign, working with corporate sponsors to secure technology equipment for UTEC’s new youth center, and instituting a new giving program for local corporations.

Project Outcome: 

Aaron has done a significant amount of work with these projects, securing donations of large scale pieces of equipment for UTEC as well as really streamlining the research, cataloging, and time line of our donor campaigns using online research tools and creating a database. He has also done some PR work designing materials for our corporate giving campaign. Additional projects include writing two grants and securing funding for our sports and recreation program. And updating and refining our donor mailing list which we use to send out newsletters, annual appeals, and other updates. He also worked to coordinate and publicize one fundraising event: an organ concert which drew over 60 people to the center, raised $500 and generated an enormous amount of local publicity for UTEC. We’ve had some challenges in focusing these projects in a way that priorities are clear so that deadlines will be met, as there is such a large number of projects to be covered in terms of the fund raising needs of the youth center. Aaron has done a great job of learning more organizational methods, and is putting them into practice in new ways that are really helping his work.

Impact Quote: 

Aaron’s behind-the-scenes service to UTEC and the Lowell community has impacted young people’s lives and their access to resources, particularly technology in so many ways. Recently, Aaron contacted our donors and worked through their networks to secure donations and discounts of computer hardware. His work secured a deep discount of new model PCs and these will be purchased in the next few months. His hard work has ensured new technology for free teen use in our tech center. These young people typically do not have computers or internet access at home, so the addition of newer, faster computers to the tech center will ensure many more young people get access to the Internet each day for help with research, homework, job seeking and communication.

Outreach and Video Editor & Youth Media Coordinator

Organization: 
Boston Neighborhood Network
VISTA Name: 
Alli Shaughnessy
Program Start: 
9/2004
Program End: 
9/2006
Project Description: 

Alli, working as a VISTA volunteer, has filled a huge void for BNN by assisting in promotions and outreach to the community. Through her first six months at BNN she has assisted not only the organization, but BNN producers in getting their message out.

In Alli’s second year at BNN she held the position of Youth Media Coordinator. Her duties included organizing a teen media club and producing a monthly program with the teens in the club.

Project Outcome: 

She is currently helping to organize, write, and format BNN’s quarterly newsletter, our most important piece of literature sent to our members. The newsletter introduces new equipment in our facilities, editing and production tips, and production class schedules. BNN has been unable to produce a newsletter since last winter, due to lack of staff and time, so Alli’s assistance in this is especially crucial. Once the newsletter is completed it will be mailed to approximately 500 members and BNN typically receives a positive response from a large number of recipients.

Another example of Alli’s reach to the community is BNN’s Neighborhood Network News Program Highlights which Alli has been in charge of for the past six months. The Program Highlights require Alli to be in close contact to all of our producers and to contact various shows on a weekly basis. The Highlights also require her to send out a bulk mailing each month encouraging producers to contact her and let her know about their show, so that BNN can assist them in reaching as many people in the community as possible.

Not only is Alli reaching out to community members, but during the next six months a lot of her attention will go to reaching out to community organizations. BNN provides non-profit organizations in the Greater Boston area a chance to produce a PSA highlighting their organization’s cause. Alli will be responsible for the production and editing of these PSA’s, and she will assist BNN’s Education/Outreach department in contacting the organizations through phone calls, mailings and most importantly a “Get Your Message Out” seminar.

Over the last six months Alli has been a vital part in increasing BNN’s reach to the Boston community. She has kept daily communication with many of our producers and the productions that she has assisted on have gotten her out into the community and aided BNN in delivering community messages.

Project Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Clarice Lovely
Program Start: 
9/2004
Program End: 
8/2005
Project Description: 

The Americorps member serves as a project coordinator, working closely with the Director of Programs in an administrative capacity to coordinate schedules, sites and staff for computer training classes. The Americorps member assists in coordinating presentations to school sites and organizations to register students as part of the program’s existing outreach plan. Americorps members will assess and make recommendations for improving this process. Further, the Americorps member works to increase the organization’s capacity to improve technology literacy among families by serving as a computer training class instructor and assist staff in the development of curriculum and training manuals.

Project Outcome: 

As an Americorps VISTA member, Clarice was an integral part of preparing for the school district’s “back to school registration drive,” at which time, parents and students attend school orientations and register for classes. Through OTX we serve a school district population comprised of 48,000 students and 104 school sites. For the purpose of the home computer component of OTX-West’s computer reuse program, Clarice assisted in the coordination of this effort to reach 41 middle school and high school sites. Her work included creating and organizing information packets, scheduling meetings with school sites and staffing orientations. Due to the extensive outreach effort, we were able to serve 800 middle school and high school students last Fall.

MAFEI currently has six interns representing the traditional high schools in the District, two of whom have returned from the previous year. As an Americorps member, Clarice serves as a liaison with OTX interns, coordinating work schedules and advising them appropriately regarding work responsibilities.

Transmission Project