Lessons learned honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan

Honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan - photo credit Reis Birdwhistell

Lessons Learned honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan – photo credit Reis Birdwhistell

I had the news on in the background while I was reading. My pups Kiwi and Keno were asleep on the sofa.

Then I heard a news report about First Lady Nancy Reagan’s links to Atlanta. Ms. Reagan was honored at a PRIDE (National Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education) conference.

I sat straight up and yelled “Wow, that was my event!”

The conference had programs for young people and adults. Highlights included workshops with internationally recognized drug abuse experts, community leaders and law enforcement officers. Celebrity participants included wives of world leaders and well-known actors committed to Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No project.’

Included within the 2-day conference was a fundraising luncheon featuring Mrs. Reagan hosted by then Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta. How fortunate I was to learn how to manage the luncheon from Ms. Be Haas, a founding partner, Haas, Cox, Alexander.

I want to share event management lessons learned from honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan:

Event management is like a high wire act without a net!

Plan ahead:

  1. Start with robust brainstormingBring your board members, volunteers and new voices to the table.
  2. Set clear objectivesYou’ll know what is important during the event and you’ll be prepared to gauge your effectiveness.
  3. Create a timeline A comprehensive timeline will guide you from start to finish!

Promote, promote, promote. Although there are a lot more channels to use to create buzz, the fundamentals of matching your choices with your target audience preferences and goals still stands. Now you want to create a Digital Ripple to promote your event.

Brand Your event – Special event branding creates an experience and/or memory that participants will not forget. And, done properly, the event will carry the brand promise of an organization and add to the public knowledge of its mission, vision and values.

Don’t forget to evaluate your event – Evaluation is critical to your success.

Protocol is of utmost importance! – The lessons I learned working with First Lady Nancy Reagan and the wives of world leaders continue to position my success when managing special events.

Most importantly, I always learn as much as I can about an honoree or guest speaker, from their favorite foods to their favorite color.

I discovered Nancy Regean’s favorite color was red.

Can you see the red streaks in my hair?!

Do you have any event management tips you’d like to share?

As always would love to hear from you!

Create a Digital Ripple to Promote your Special Event

 

 

Creating a Digital Ripple

Creating a Digital Ripple

 

“Hey,” my friend Bobby said. “We’re honoring Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat with a special performance by Broadway Diva Tovah Feldshuh. Are you interested in spearheading the marketing?”

“Silly question, I’d love to!”

My commitment to special events is well known. I encourage all nonprofits to integrate special events into their development plans. Seen this way events are part of a holistic development effort that integrates into everything you do as an organization to raise money. And, it is strategic – the events are focused on the mission. At each level of your giving paradigm you will find distinct events for distinct goals.

Promoting Stu, Long Overdue: A Salute to Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat

Stu, Long Overdue was an exciting yet challenging event to promote. Ambassador Eizenstat has a long active relationship with the presenting organization, Ahavath Achim Synagogue. The Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture is a gift to the synagogue and the community at large, and features high profile speakers from the United States and Israel.

Members of the congregation were the primary marketing target for this special event fundraiser. On the other hand, Tovah Feldshuh, a well-known Broadway star opened opportunities to outreach to the whole community, especially those interested in seeing a special performance of her award winning one-woman cabaret Tovah: Out of Her Mind!

To start we developed a press release, fact sheet and visuals that integrated messages for those interested in attending the event to honor Eizenstat and people who would attend to see Tovah Feldshuh up front and personal.

We identified the paths to promote the event, which included traditional and new media elements.

This included:

  • Stu, Long Overdue page on the synagogue’s website. The website did not have enough bandwidth to create a Press Center. The print quality JPEG files and documents were housed off-site.
  • Foundation press release, fact sheet, flyers and posters, which we housed in the Press Center.
  • Personalized direct mail
  • Email blasts
  • Placements on all the relevant event calendars within the metro area
  • Identified organizational partners to help distribute html email and flyers to their constituents
  • Geographically our target market was in metro Atlanta. We chose the Atlanta Daybook. I love using the Atlanta Daybook for local news releases. They have direct reach into the newsrooms, corporate headquarters and nonprofits in my target market.
  • Personal outreach through twitter and email to press and bloggers
  • Creation of Stu, Long Overdue Facebook page
  • Event hashtag #Stulongoverdue

The Daybook helped create the event’s digital ripple through their distribution channels.  A digital ripple provides actionable insights into how campaign strategies and tactics worked.

Insights from Stu Long Overdue, A Salute to Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat Story Traction Report:

  • The total digital impressions from each placement ranged from 8,385 to 17,593, which was the last placement 4 days before the event.
  • Total campaign digital impressions – 54,176 
  • Average time on the page ranged from 3:34 to 8:51
  • Twitter Daybook Followers – 7,724. When a placement had just 2 re-tweets, the reach increased to 8,965
  • Facebook – 528
  • Google+ – 299

We saw increased activity on the event website including donations and ticket purchases related to Daybook placements, blog posts and off and on-line articles.

Why else are these metrics important?

We live in an age of metrics. These benchmarks are necessary to ensure that the nonprofit is spending its resources properly and that they are accountable and transparent.

I feel it is particularly important when it comes to special events and promotional initiatives since both are always under attack for not having and/or meeting measurable goals.

And, the story lives! The digital ripple created by this event will continue to raise awareness, inspire to purchase tickets to other events and even foster donations. It also established the organization as a knowledge center.

Three interesting posts that discuss ways to incorporate social media in your special events:

  1. 15 Ways to Bring Social Media to Events
  2. 18 Ways to Use Social Media for Events 
  3. Special Events Social Media

If you’re interested in a more thorough post on the importance of metrics for nonprofits, please let me know!

 

 

The Rise of Social Media Press Releases

77104_509809602408423_435631508_n

The Rise of the Social Media Press Release

Yesterday I visited a Facebook group in which I’m a member. I was somewhat taken aback when I read a post that started –

“Social media has forever changed how nonprofits and journalists distribute and consume news stories, yet the format of press releases has not evolved at all. Almost every communication medium out there has been impacted by the rise of social and mobile media, but not press releases.” (11 Tips for Making Nonprofit Press Releases Social and Shareable)

Well, I know I’ve been creating and posting social media releases (SMR) and releases that are Search Engine Optimized (SEO) since 2009 when I managed The Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture featuring Al Gore.

And, I’m far from the first!

Then I remembered the post The Definitive Guide to Social Media Releases by Brian Solis, written February 11, 2008.

The blog covers a lot of information about the creation of SMR and the evolution of press release wires and includes a description of what an SMR should include:

  • Headline
  • Intro paragraph, rich with key words, relevance and context (summary)
  • Supporting facts
  • Quote
  • Embeddable Video (The new VNR)
  • Embeddable Audio
  • Embeddable Images
  • RSS for the organization’s news
  • RSS for product/services info
  • Post in “insert social network of choice”
  • Blog this (links to blogging platforms)
  • Share on Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
  • Bookmarks
  • Relevant links
  • Digg, Reddit, and other relevant news aggregators and communities
  • Comments – Maybe also include a link to a hosted network on Ning or even a discussion forum
  • Contact: hcard, vcard, Linked, Facebook

I use a national or local release distribution service, depending on the scope of the release. All have templates in which you input your press release and include ways to ensure that they are SEO and SMR.

I love using the Atlanta Daybook for local news releases. They have direct reach into the newsrooms, corporate headquarters and nonprofits in my target market.

Once the release is posted I encourage members of the organization to share with their organizational partners and personal networks.

I also send my releases pasted to the face of a personalized email. When I do this I:

  • Keep everything flush left, including the header, sub-head, organization’s logo and contact information
  • Follow the classic pyramid with the most relevant information in the 1st paragraph
  • Ensure that the subject line has all the relevant information & piques interest in the release
  • Use keywords in the header and subhead
  • Hyperlink the name of the organization, project and/or event to the organization’s website in the 1st paragraph
  • Use a relevant quote in the third paragraph
  • Link details of relevant information back to the organization’s website
  • Provide a link to usable JPEG files housed in the website press room
  • Add a link to the website in the boilerplate
  • Add contact info to the bottom of the release
  • Post the release in the organization’s press room, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feed, blog and whatever social media platforms they use.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Read through the suggestions in 11 Tips for Making Nonprofit Press Releases Social and Shareable and see which suggestions will work with your organization. Also checkout Marketwire’s Tips for Entering Your Nonprofit into the Social Media Environment and PRWeb’s Nonprofit News Release Services. You’ll find good information and some excellent examples of nonprofit social media releases.

Remember, no matter how social and shareable your release is, be sure that the information is relevant and worthy of distribution and creating positive conversations between your organization and your target markets. And, don’t forget that to have ‘real’ people follow up and respond to queries from the media and bloggers.

Any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you!