Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Why "tip more, pitch less" also works for freelance media coverage

PR, media relations folks: Tip more, pitch less to reach reporters is among the most-read posts on this blog. That's in part because reporter Ivan Oransky sometimes sees fit to quote it when he's speaking to audiences of scientists and communications pros, most recently at the FASEB and NIH-sponsored #BasicBioComm workshop:
I shared the post with people discussing it on Twitter at that conference, and got a great tip I can share with comms pros from a freelance journalist, Bryson Masse:
Having been a freelance journalist myself, I can attest to that! Unfortunately, many communications pros tend to see freelancers as "more work" or less return on investment, a truly out-of-date point of view in this gig economy. And they feel the same way about tips vs. pitching: It's easier to blast-email or mass-pitch an established list of journos, or so it seems.

But over time, that effort really doesn't get you more coverage, nor coverage of quality. And every company or organization has stories to tell that are more complex and less obvious than a press release can convey. For those, you need to build relationships with reporters and behave in ways that make you a trusted source, not a press release vending machine. You can get a head start by using my 8 things to do in a media interview so you get called again. And in the well-worn "tip more, pitch less" post, I make the case for giving up some of the "standard" media relations activities that are labor-intensive and time-consuming, so that you'll have more time for these more fruitful engagements.

Media relations pros ask me all the time, "How can I build relationships with reporters?" I'll just keep saying tip more, pitch less, until y'all hear it.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Tyrone Islington Photography)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The weekend read

I *was* going to be working in San Francisco this week, but a last-minute cancellation--which came as my plane arrived--had me cancelling and rescheduling the entire week. I just stayed in the airport and got on a later flight home. But the weekend can stay on schedule, communicators. Time to check out my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and don't get caught on Facebook, and curated here for you:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by atgw)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tell it better: Storytelling to prompt donations and shift power

Many of my clients want to use storytelling to help raise funds from donors. When I'm working with a group to coach them in storytelling with talks in the style of TED conferences, I challenge them to craft talks without "selling from the stage," as is the custom at TED. That means no asking during the talk, but instead using the talk to tell a story that resonates with the prospective donor and prompts more conversation leading to a donation.

So I was intrigued by the research described in How to get the wealthy to donate, in which the researchers describe how their experiments failed to get wealthy people to donate when they stressed that the donation would achieve common goals for all. What? In fact, donors responded better when the story was about them:
When wealthier people — those with incomes higher than $90,000 — were greeted by the message that framed charitable giving as an opportunity for individual achievement, they were significantly more likely to click “Donate Today” than when they encountered the message that stressed common goals.
On the TED ideas blog, Citizen University CEO Eric Liu, writing on How to get power, talks about storytelling as a tool to change the power dynamic--and tells you how to move from the story about the donor to your need today. He shares storytelling lessons from community organizer Marshall Ganz as a formula:
Everywhere he goes, Ganz uses a method for organizing that centers on three nested narratives: the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now. He teaches organizers entering into any setting to start not with policy proposals or high concepts like justice but with biographies — their own, and those of the people they hope to mobilize. 
What are the stories you tell about yourself? Why do you tell them that way? How can we find connections across our stories of origin that build trust and common cause? That work then flows into the story of us: the collective narratives of challenge, choice and purpose that emerge from any community — that, in fact, help define it. This is how in a place like New Orleans after the flood or Detroit after the crash, residents can develop a shared identity of resilience and reinvention. It’s how anti–Common Core activists nationwide have been able to forge a cross-ideological crusade of parents and teachers tired of standardized-testing regimes that crush creativity and stifle liberty.

Once that shared narrative is activated, the organizer can connect it to the fierce urgency of now: a story about why this is the “movement moment,” when individual and collective motivations converge, and when action is needed and possible. Why this and no other time is the time for change. This is how “Yes We Can” became more than a slogan in 2008, as “Morning in America” did in 1980. Or “Make America Great Again” did in 2016.
Liu notes that the most crucial of the three is the "story of us," adding, "This is more than stepping into someone else’s shoes — it’s stepping into the story of how someone else came to be wearing those shoes." So you can have your story about "collective motivations," as long as you merge it with the motivations of the individual.

SUNY Oswego's Tim Nekritz reflects on this for university communicators, using his own experiences as an alumni donor: "As I prepare to send a check to one of my alma maters, thinking of the journey and how it helped along the way, I realize that the more challenges I faced and how much the school helped has really played into why I give." It's a good discussion of applying the hero's journey to this process. Just as in Who's the hero when storytelling your customer's journey?, in which it's not the product but the customer who needs to be the hero, your donor needs to be the hero when you're telling the story of a gift or donation, and the story needs to be their story.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Kathryn Harper)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The weekend read

See that hammock in the distance? It's a smart plan for the weekend. So are my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and don't get caught on Facebook, and curated here for you. Time to work, slowly, on getting smarter by Monday:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by smilla4)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.