One of the messages I tried hard to drive home during a session I held at the NC Center for Non-profits Statewide Conference two weeks ago, was this: Stop depending on the news media to tell your story!

It’s amazing that in this day and age of social media, many organizations and industries are still so heavily reliant on traditional media. I got the feeling during an informational lunch which was hosted by the Marketing Director of a local TV station and attended by several leaders of non-profit organizations, that everyone around the table would give their left arm just to know the magic secret behind getting news coverage.

“How do we get you to come to our events,” one woman asked.
As a former assignment manager at numerous TV stations, I know that there is no magic secret and I told them as much. I even went further to tell them that I was one of many managers in newsrooms across the country, who routinely tossed their well-crafted press releases in the recycling bin.

I saw shock on the faces of many. I went on to discuss the 22 minute news hole and the plight of producers charged with presenting the best and most important news of the day during that time frame. Couple that with a small number of news crews, and throw in a 2-alarm fire, and the chances of your festival or major fund raising event getting coverage are really slim. Actually the chances are pretty much non-existent.

“Have you ever thought about shooting your own video and providing it to the station?” I asked.
“We can do that?”

Yes, but you can also post your own video on YouTube and other video sharing sites. You can post it on your own website, or provide a link. You can submit it to communities that accept user-generated video. And that’s just a start. There’s so much that can be done beforehand to generate buzz that doesn’t involve traditional media.

It’s a brave new world, where you control a lot more than you once did, so learn the ropes and get involved. With social media comes freedom and it’s time for non-profits to break free.

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