MemberWise seminars are free events for association and membership professionals: they offer practical information, targeted learning and networking opportunities; and are linked to the core capabilities of leading sector providers and interest of membership organisations who take on a role of a host.
In the 1st week of October a MemberWise seminar took place at the premises of the British Society for Haematology (BSH) in London. The attendees were from an eclectic mix of membership organisations from health, law, business, and finance sectors. The seminar was PR and media focused: exploring how smaller membership organisations can punch above their weight and have their voices heard. Ann Wright, co-founder of Rough House Media and a seasoned media trainer, turned the seminar into a practical and fun workshop, making delegates think before we all had a drink (wine and delicious canapes from @to be precise).
If you were not able to attend, do not despair. It is perfectly possible to devise a media strategy and do it yourself. Here are some of the areas covered by Ann at the recent MemberWise seminar Punching above your weight – raising the profile of a small membership body:
- Identifying why and who
Once you know why you want coverage and who your key audiences are, you can avoid a scattergun approach, and target precisely the best places to get coverage, which is likely to be far more successful.
Your reason for wanting more media coverage may be to increase membership, to increase your influence, to publicise events, to support campaigns against public policy.
Key audiences might include your members, politicians, the wider sector, suppliers, customers or the general public.
- Identify key publications and programmes to target
Once the initial aims and key audiences have been identified, draw up a contact list containing the names, numbers and emails of key and relevant journalists on every potential outlet for stories.
This might include national and regional media, local newspapers and magazines plus specialist press and journals. Keep this up to date and make contact with the journalists so they know who you are and what you do.
- Develop consistent key messages for the organisation
It is important that your organisations has a clear identity and brand, and established ‘key messages’ which are consistently presented whenever media opportunities arise. This helps build up recognition and awareness of what you do and what you stand for, and ensures that your values are reinforced every time a story is released.
If there are particular issues on which you need to take a view, then work on key messages for each of these – particularly if they are political or contentious. Test them with working journalists or media consultants.
- Establish a clearance procedure for press material and press releases
This is important, since opportunities for coverage can easily be missed if the process of approval is unclear or protracted. The PR team needs to the ability to be as nimble, proactive and reactive as possible, especially nowadays when social media is so influential.
- Produce a ‘media toolkit’
This would include:
- short biographies of key figures within the charity
- a history of the charity
- case studies of people who you have helped or who need help
- interesting photos to demonstrate your work
These should all be ready to send out with each news release, although every element may not always be used, and new case studies and photos may be necessary for individual stories.
- Establish a social media policy
Social media is becoming increasingly integrated into the mainstream media, so make sure your PR or media strategy recognises this and incorporates it.
The manager of your social media needs to be part of the PR team, and know the latest issues and messages that you need to deliver.
While social media policy should be part of your overall strategy, allow it to have its own personality, since social media is a far more ‘personal’ medium.
- Story Brainstorm Session
Brainstorm potential story ideas and for each one, establish the key elements needed to them attractive to the media and your target audience.
Produce an action plan to make sure the stories happen and a timetable for releasing them.
- Identify potential spokespeople
It is important that you have several spokespeople who are prepared to do interviews on your behalf. Each one needs to be credible, happy to make themselves available at odd hours, comfortable doing interviews with the media, and able to make your case effectively.
They must be clear what your key messages are and, if necessary, be given media training to ensure they are able to make the most of every opportunity to promote your organisation in each interview.
- Produce promotional film
A promotional film and some stock shots which are made available to the media help tell your story in a vivid and compelling way. Often the availability of footage can make the difference between a TV programme deciding to cover a story or not.
Films are also be a fantastic visual way for you to reach out to the general public direct via your website or Youtube.
This is a lot of work, but it is well worth investing time at the outset, because with these elements in place, you are far more likely to be able to make the most of media opportunities and create stories which secure the coverage they deserve.
Author: Ann Wright is a media trainer with more than 25 years’ experience working with the media (from both sides of the fence) and co-founder of Rough House Media. Her training courses include media interviews, crisis communications, public relations and social media and she runs courses on media relations, press release writing and PR for the Public Relations Consultants Association, the Chemical Industries Association and the How to Academy. All her courses are informed by her decades of experience as a print journalist and TV producer working on high-profile and prestigious BBC programmes.
Contact for Ann: [email protected]
Rough House Media equips clients with confidence in how they manage the media, providing training courses, strategic advice and video production.
Upcoming FREE lunchtime seminar for association and membership professionals: 19 November, London - Dealing with negativity on social media.