Creative Outreach Efforts

by Mike Zlotnicki

Don’t just think outside the media box; stand on the box and look around. There are myriad ways of getting your message to the masses.

  • Embrace social media. EVERY member of your staff, board and organizations should “friend” or “like” your Facebook site. The site should be updated daily. Make it an online habit for members AND non-members. Establish a program feed on Twitter, if appropriate.
  • Keep targeting the big media outlets, but don’t forget about the small-town papers for press releases and smaller radio stations for guest appearances on talk shows. Bigger outlets will probably want to cover issues with staff. Smaller outlets will welcome the help.
  • Don’t discount local cable access television. When engaging any of the broadcast media, tell them to invite representatives of other stakeholders. • Include photos (when possible) with press releases. Tap your members to supply you with them. Start a stock file. Keep track of who sent you the photo for credit. Try to identify people in photos and dates taken.
  • Invite media to observe an event or issue. Have a local contact or program participant to host.
  • Create inexpensive awareness campaigns. For example, an environmental organization can put a half of an oyster shell in an envelope and tell how many tons of these they are putting in our sounds – OUR sounds – to restore clean water AS WELL as oysters. Put examples in the hands of reporters and editors.
  • Create single-page fact sheets for the main issues your organization addresses. Make the data-template available for members to print at home and disseminate at venues. Make non-members aware of the issues. These should have a headline, a picture, a sub-head, and some bulleted info on the issue. Easily digestible, with contact numbers/Web site for more information.
  • Put facts and numbers somewhere accessible on your website. Make sure they’re accurate and have references/attribution right there with them.
  • Don’t hesitate to tap local organizations for projects. They are likely to get press in their local paper, and perhaps your organization will too. You also expose your organization to people not familiar with it, and many civic groups actively look for service and philanthropic projects.
  • Explore partnerships with related programs at local universities and colleges. Tap into their communication networks.

Bottom Line: Don’t overlook nontraditional or new ways to reach out to the public--with a little effort and creativity, you can effectively communicate with and engage a broader audience.

Mike Zlotnicki is a freelance writer based in Garner, N.C. His resume includes newspaper and magazine editing as well as advertising and marketing experience. He can be reached at

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