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Publicizing the Event

June 18, 2008

You should have a public relations strategy in mind as you begin planning your event.  Spreading the word through publicity is an integral part of celebrating NPD.  We want as many people as possible to join in our tribute to the vital role philanthropy plays in our daily lives.

Being clear about the objectives of the public relations campaign will help focus your efforts.

In general, these are the objectives you should be working for:

  • To increase public awareness of NPD as a time to say "thank you" to those who give throughout the year.
  • To focus public attention on major accomplishments made possible through philanthropic contributions.
  • To honor key local individuals and corporations for their philanthropic endeavors.
  • To recognize local fundraisers, thanking them for their time, talent, and dedication.
  • To increase public awareness of your chapter's public service program.
  • To increase the value of your sponsorship proposals by providing a strong cause-marketing partnership and media opportunity

In addition to the methods outlined in this section, there are three other options your chapter should consider in planning your publicity efforts.

  • Advertise in a publication that reaches your target audience.  Don’t forget other communications mediums, such as radio, television or email.
  • Encourage a local media outlet to develop a special one-time section covering the world of philanthropy and fundraising.  The chapter can help develop story ideas and provide names and leads for advertising in the section.  This is usually done through a sponsorship arrangement.
  • Purchase a one-day sponsorship from your local National Public Radio station.  Almost all stations offer the relatively cheap option (a few hundred dollars) of a one-day sponsorship whereby the station will play a message about NPD and the AFP chapter a certain number of times that day. Chapters can work with the station to ensure the message gets played during some of the more popular programs on the station.  Contact the advertising department of your local NPR station for more information.

While these three options focus on buying communications time and messages (i.e. paid media), the rest of the manual focuses on earned media (what chapters can do to get reporters interested in the event and its stories). Following is an overview of the methods your chapter can use with the media to get the word out about NPD and your event.

SPONSORSHIPS WITH MEDIA OUTLETS

Why spend all of your time trying to get reporters to chase your story when you have the media outlet cosponsor your event and sure coverage?  Many chapters have asked the same question and found that the latter option was very attractive for a number of reasons: visibility, increased revenue for the event, and “takeaways” (special newspaper sections) that add value to the NPD event.

Many chapters now work with a local media outlet to develop an annual special section focusing on philanthropy, charitable giving and, of course, your chapter’s NPD event.  Often, this is through a sponsorship arrangement.  Many chapters have been very successful in working with local business journals and magazines on these types of arrangements. The journal produces a special section on philanthropy, containing articles about the chapter’s award winners and other trends and issues in fundraising. Publications can also provide pre-event advertisements, printing, and/or design services to increase the value of their sponsorship of NPD.  In most cases, the chapter helps to sell ad space for the section by providing leads and names or include an ad as a portion of their sponsorship package, and the journal is named as a sponsor (if not the sole sponsor) or media sponsor of the NPD event.

However, what chapters should realize is that most business journals and other media outlets are independently owned, even if they are part of a chain.  As such, each is free to develop its own arrangements.  In some cases, chapters entered into positive arrangements that have been beneficial for both parties.  In other situations, the benefits the chapters have received have been of lower quality, and in a few cases, chapters have even had to pay the journal money if sufficient advertising levels were not reached.

Chapters have a lot to offer media outlets in terms of gaining exposure, especially to the fast-growing charitable sector.  AFP International Headquarters has worked with several chapters in getting them better deals with local media outlets by leveraging the power of its 30,000 members.  We encourage you to contact us before you enter into such an arrangement just so we can review the contract, compare it with others and ensure the arrangement is equitable for both parties.

Story Ideas

In these sponsorship arrangements with media outlets, charities are often asked to suggest story ideas.  Following is a list of ideas that International Headquarters and chapters have used when working with media outlets.

  • Award winners
  • Youth involved in philanthropy
  • Impact of economy (good and bad) on giving
  • Technology and giving (especially the Internet)
  • The Donor Bill of Rights (what it means)
  • How to give wisely
  • Volunteerism (how charities use volunteers; how to be a good volunteer)
  • Charity Accountability
  • Boards (what they do, how to be a good board member)

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