Fighting for space on the front page challenges every organization, no matter the size or cause. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches each week with pushes to cover events, causes, or points of view. How can advocacy organizations break through the noise and get their issues represented?
Successfully pitching reporters holds the key to consistent, positive coverage for your cause. Before you step up your game with pro tips, there are a few basic principles to live by so you don’t irritate the reporters you’re trying to influence.
Avoid giving an intern a script without background information and just telling them to make calls. The person pitching needs to have a thorough understanding of the issue and the reporter they’re trying to reach. Don’t pitch without knowing what that reporter has written in the past. If they’ve written on a similar topic recently, you should be ready to explain how it connects and expands upon their past work. You never want an interested reporter to take a call from your organization only to have them find that the person they’re talking to can’t dive deeper and answer crucial follow-up questions.
Going in prepared will help to eliminate those reporter pet peeves, but what can you do to actively stand out from the crowd?
First, don’t reinvent the wheel! The tried and true press release with a follow-up call still works. In an effort to be heard, some organizations release long pressers that attempt to cram all information into one place. Press releases are strongest when limited to a paragraph with the what, when, and where at the top. Don’t try to do too much with it. If the reporter needs more information, they’ll call you.
Cultivate good press-organization relationships by developing a reputation as a go-to person. Become this go-to person by keeping in mind the reporter’s audience, knowing your issue deeply, and being an honest broker in your conversations with reporters.
Find a way to give them a unique angle. Reporters love an exclusive. If your story has a personal touch, share that with them. Offer to connect them to someone with a compelling story directly impacted by your issue. Use your expertise to develop intriguing answers to these questions: What makes your organization’s pitch different? What’s the argument? What’s sexy about this story?
Lastly, make their job easier. Compile fact sheets with sources for reporters. Your day may be crazy, but reporters have tight deadlines and if you don’t call back soon enough, your organization’s story won’t see the light of day. Your schedule should cater to theirs.
Even the most popular advocacy organizations aren’t immune from the battle for space on the front page, but using these tips and avoiding reporter pet peeves will help garner you success in advocating your organization’s messaging with the media. What pro tips or pet peeves would you add to this? Let us know in the comments section!
With the increase in demand for our communications and advocacy services in the health and financial sectors, our three-year old DC-based public affairs agency has added five new staff members in the past month to our rapidly growing team.
It all started with five public affairs practitioners and an idea for a new public affairs venture; one that would lead the progression of the public affairs industry toward a community-based, hive-driven approach. More information on the partners of Beekeeper Group and their story here.
Flash forward to our third year in business, with a burgeoning client base and a diverse pool of staff talent. The past summer, Beekeeper Group added the positions of Account Director, Lead Developer, Creative Director, Videographer, and Account Coordinator.
Nick Walters, Brad Rizza, Charles Puliam-Moore, Lauren Fliegelman, and Jonathan Wilcox.
Meet the talented new bees who filled these positions:
Brad Rizza, Account Director, was most recently at Widmeyer Communications and assists Beekeeper Group clients with strategic communications, digital media strategy and reputation management. Brad’s previous experience includes stints at Pappas Group, EyeTraffic Media, Discovery Communications, and Kieloch Consulting.
Jonathan Wilcox, Creative Director, is a Michigan transplant with over a decade of experience in illustration and design, including work for Rutgers University. He will be now wielding his creative tools for Beekeeper’s creative services department.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, Videographer, has previously lent his video production and writing talents to Slate Magazine, NPR’s Metro Connection, PBS’s Planet Forward, and The George Washington University’s Hatchet news publication.
Lauren Fliegelman, Account Coordinator, brings to the table an array of communications and design skill. She had previously applied this knowledge as an intern in the communications department of FasterCures, a medical research think tank, while finishing up her MA in Public Communication at American University.
In other recent news, Beekeeper Group was recently honored with “Best in Show” recognition by the W3 Awards in their advocacy website category and the firm was also named a finalist in the PR News “Agency A List” awards.
“We are thrilled to have Brad, Nick, Jonathan, Charles, and Lauren join the Beekeeper team. They each bring a skill set rooted in public affairs and emerging media that, when combined with the existing team, brings the level of service and strategy we provide to our growing client list to the next level.” – Mike Panetta, Partner at Beekeeper Group
The Public Affairs Council awarded its top honor for innovation in grassroots innovation to the International Franchise Association (IFA) for their IFA Franchising Votes mobile application developed by Beekeeper Group in support of IFA’s 2012 Public Affairs Conference.
“We are honored to receive this award that recognizes the power of grassroots within the franchising community,” said Matt Haller, IFA vice president of Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to IFA President & CEO, Steve Caldeira. “Working with Beekeeper Group we were able to develop and deploy powerful tools that our members could use to communicate IFA’s message to lawmakers. The app’s integration with social media amplified our ability to promote the economic impact of the franchising industry in every state and congressional district.”
“We are very proud of our client and thankful for the opportunity to work with them on this award-winning grassroots innovation,” said Mike Panetta, Partner at Beekeeper Group. “We are all increasingly living in a world where there is no ‘offline’ any more. The ubiquity of mobile devices and the increasing speed of wireless connections enable organizations to develop and distribute robust tools that create powerful opportunities for associations and issue groups to advance their causes.”
The IFA Franchising Votes application empowered the IFA franchisee membership by providing all the tools needed for effective grassroots lobbying within a single mobile platform. Using this application, IFA members were able to:
Review organizational talking points to ensure IFA presented a unified message on key issues in meetings with legislators
View conference and congressional meeting schedules
Watch videos from organizational leadership related to IFA’s issues
Consult congressional directories and Wikipedia entries to gain additional intelligence on Members of Congress before meetings
The application increased the “public echo” of the franchisee’s efforts on Capitol Hill. By using Franchising Votes, IFA members were able to generate social media content related to the conference that would be automatically appended with the appropriate hashtag and posted on the member’s Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare profiles. Through IFA Franchising Votes their members could:
Provide status updates on to Twitter and Facebook related to congressional meetings
Post Videos or photos from the events to Twitter and Facebook
Check-in at Foursquare locations that were curated by IFA, such as House and Senate office buildings, the U.S. Capitol, or the IFA Public Affairs Conference
The application was available as a free download via the iTunes and Google Play stores, for iPhones and Android devices respectively.
The W3 Awards, which honor “creative excellence on the web” for videos, websites and marketing programs, recently recognized Beekeeper Group for our work with two outstanding organizations. The advocacy testimonial video we produced for the American Heart Association, “You’re the Cure: 30 Years of Building Healthier Lives through Advocacy,” won in the category of Web Videos – Activism. We also received an award for our work on the website Yes on Y in the category of General Websites – Politics.
We were also recently honored with a Telly Award for our work on the National Academy of Public Administration’s “Our Fiscal Future” animation. The video won in the category of Political Online Video. Click here to watch that video.
Beekeeper Group enjoys teaming up with clients to create high-quality digital projects, and it is even more rewarding when organizations like W3 and Telly recognize our work.
Yes on Y: W3 Awards Winner, General Websites – Politics.
Yes on Y: W3 Awards Winner, General Websites – Politics.
Our Fiscal Future: Telly Award Winner, Political Online Video.
Beekeeper Group worked with IFA to develop a customized version of our standard Lobby Day application that allowed attendees of their 2012 Public Affairs Conference to have everything they needed for effective lobbying right in the palm of their hand, wrapped in the branding and messaging of the organization.
The article cites the experience of one franchisee, which is a typical use case of activists using the Lobby Day application during Congressional visits:
“Moments after meeting with his congressman, Tom Epstein spread the news using a new app customized for the International Franchise Association. He hit the “Share” icon on his iPhone, and with a few clicks sent a tweet, posted on his Facebook page and checked in on Foursquare, all using the #franchisejobs hashtag.”
By using the Lobby Day app, not only did IFA save resources by not having to print hundreds of Congressional directories that would have been obsolete within a few months, it empowered their members to spread the word about their activies in Washington and the issues they cared about through their own networks via integration with major social media channels.
According to the article, IFA is already planning on using the app next year. “This was kind of a beta test,” said Matt Haller, FA vice president of public affairs. “We think it was a home run from that standpoint.”
You can see a demo of Beekeeper Group’s Lobby Day in the both the iTunes and Google Play app stores. To arrange a demo or for more information, please contact Mike Panetta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 540-8787.
We at Beekeeper Group often tout the benefits of social media for bringing traditional media attention to your association/corporation/nonprofit, but now I have a unique and personal case study.
You’ve probably heard of Uber – a new on-demand car service that delivers a luxury sedan to your exact location via GPS with the touch of a mobile app for just slightly more than the cost of a taxi. Of course, the DC Taxi Cab Commission wasn’t very pleased when this innovative car service launched in DC, leading to a “sting operation” performed by DC Cab Commissioner Ron Linton in an attempt to shut down the service.
Fearful that the lack of regulations on something that is not quite a “taxi” and not quite a “car service” could stunt this successful step in innovation, I joined the fight to save Uber! A Twitter hashtag, a Facebook group, and a few tweets from my @DCconcierge account later, I was helping to lead the campaign against Mr. Linton’s attempts to shut Uber DC down.
Yes, Uber is alive and well today. But the story continued, since the battle that started on Twitter and Facebook was later picked up by local blogs, and then, the likes of TIME magazine. And when the journalist Andrew Ferguson was doing his research for a story on the DC social scene, he discovered my name from those stories and reached out.
Sure, there were many others declaring their verbal support for Uber among friends and colleagues, but that doesn’t always reach search engines. If anything, this experience solidifies my belief that you need to take your voice to social media to both amplify your message and carry it to mainstream media channels.
First it was National Journal, now a feature in Campaigns & Elections magazine (May edition). Beekeeper Group’s very own public affairs rock star, Henri Makembe, is setting the advocacy world on fire. Ok, ok, so maybe that’s a little too much hyperbole, but he is definitely a hugely positive influence around the Hive, helping us strategize so many more possibilities for engaging target online audiences.
Check out the Campaigns & Elections write-up below:
“Henri Makembe has joined the issue advocacy and public affairs firm, Beekeeper Group, LLC, as a partner. Makembe will lead the firm’s interactive division.
Before coming to Beekeeper Group, Makembe was client services manager at Blue State Digital. He has also worked with DCI Group as an account executive specializing in blogging, social networks, Web development, programming languages, and databases. Makembe is also known for his blog, Local Politechs, about ways that state and local candidates are using technology.
Mike Panetta, a partner with Beekeeper Group, said in a statement announcing the move that his firm “couldn’t be happier” with the addition of Makembe. “Henri’s dedication to both his clients and the public affairs industry, in addition to his expertise, will be a huge asset to Beekeeper Group,” said Panetta.”
Kudos to the U.S. Army Golden Knights precision parachute team for a timely, funny, clever self-promotion, video response to a recent UFO scare over El Paso. Watch the TV news report and then the Golden Knights’ video produced in response.
Beekeeper Group has often talked about the power of a quick video response to either bring attention to your cause or address PR and advocacy challenges head-on (although try to avoid using copyright protected music like Men-in-Black as this can sometimes lead to your content being removed from YouTube).
Video can now be produced relatively cheaply and with free streaming services like YouTube readily available, it is easy to find a platform to distribute your content and/or embed it on your website, blog or other social media presences.
If you have some examples of videos used to promote your organization or cause, please send it to us and we would be delighted to promote it on this blog.
I was recently quoted in a Washington Post article about how many people in DC have social science training – as opposed to engineering or business degrees.
Here’s my pearl of wisdom:
“Everybody listens to NPR. Everybody reads four or five newspapers,” Mike Panetta, a former political science major at American University who serves as shadow U.S. representative for the District, said of the city. “You can be at any sort of party, and somebody’s talking about recent strife in some corner of the room, and everybody’s heard about it, and everybody has an opinion about it.”
It’s an interesting read, but nothing that comes a huge shock to anyone who lives or works in the DC area. They even used a picture of me! You can read the Washington Post article here:
It began with my quote in a recent Mashable post on how the candidates are (and should be) using social media tools in the 2010 midterm elections. The author, Geoff Livingston, offers a comprehensive recount (no pun intended, okay maybe a little) of how the Democrats and Republicans are embracing tools from Twitter to open API’s.
“The Democrats seem to be sticking with the tactics that brought them into power, whereas the GOP, as the challenger, is exploring more innovative ways to tap the power of new media,” said Shana Glickfield, co-founder of the BeeKeeper Group, a Washington, DC public affairs firm. “Both are effective and embrace the strengths of technology and community, but I see the Republicans getting the added bonus of attracting blogger and mainstream media attention for innovating in the campaign space.”
CNN saw the post and asked to interview me for further information. We sat down for several minutes (which got pared down quite a bit, as you’ll see), but hey I got two important points across, and of course, my belief that the tools do offer a key to building a powerful community. Watch full interview below!
Have any thoughts on how political candidates should use Twitter? Share them with us below!