Wednesday, August 24, 2016

3 Tips for Pitching Nonprofits/NGOs During a Crisis or Trendjacking for a Good Cause

When a crisis hits, NGOs and other nonprofits often seek to raise awareness of their missions and how they are helping people in need. The term for this is trendjacking or news-jacking, capitalizing a trending topic to bolster one's brand in the marketplace," according to an article, "Does Trendjacking Work: And Should You Be Doing It?" on the TweakYourBiz site.

Trendjacking can be a good way to leverage existing interest in a topic -- but it's not without risk. The main risk is for an organization to look like it is exploiting a trend or crisis -- and that can damage the organization's brand.

But there are times when a worthwhile organization should at least consider whether or not to leverage a trending topic. If you do decide to move forward, there are some logistical issues to address.

We have advised several terrific NGOs and charities, and here are five lessons we learned. 
  1. It's not enough to have experts, you need to have spokespeople with specific expertise on the ground. A nonprofit that helps with adoption from Africa seemed one that reporters would want to speak to as they wrote about children who were orphaned by Ebola -- but the media wanted someone they could interview in an Ebola-infected community. The media all felt the organization was doing good work but the organization didn't have specific information about what was being done for Ebola orphans and had no one who could talk about specific adoptions that had taken place in which a child, whose parents had died of Ebola, had been placed with a family in the U.S.
  2. Speed matters. It's amazing how fast network news can work to pull together stories. By the time you’ve read or watched an article about it, the producers will feel they’ve already told the story; there’s nothing more to pitch. To get the media's attention, you need to develop and implement your strategy, tactics and messages at the start of the crisis. You basically need someone on the ground or with direct expertise in the first few hours, especially someone who can do an interview over Skype. 
  3. Bring something strikingly new to the game by uncovering what the media hasn’t covered. Make sure to differentiate the charity from what others are doing, and from what the media perceives the story to be. Otherwise, reporters’ basic response will be, "Good to know there’s another organization that can talk about conditions on the ground but we've had already covered that angle."
Unfortunately, to get the media's attention, it takes more than doing good work to help people in a crisis. The point of helping an NGO during a crisis is to help further NGO's mission, which can include offering tips for others facing the crisis or offering additional ways for people to help those caught up in the crisis. 

The above tips assume you are working with an above-board organization. It might be worthwhile to develop a trendjacking plan to help you move more quickly in the case of a situation in which your organization's spokespeople can provide useful information that can help those caught up in the crisis.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The State of Mom/Dad/Parent Blogs

Recently, because there are people who always ask if something is "dead," a PR outlet asked if mommy blogs are dead.

Mommy blogs are far from dead – but those who treat it as a hobby may not have much of a future. This has nothing to do with the quality of their content.

There are two challenges facing mom bloggers and dad bloggers, too.

  • If you treat it as a hobby, it stays a hobby.

Those who treat their mommy blog as a hobby tend to start writing when their kids are newborns, and the content they provide can often be interesting, humorous and helpful. 

But then, their kids get older, and the issues facing teens and the parents of teens tends not to be as cute. (I say this as the father of three teens.)

And that's when mommy bloggers who are hobbyists tend to stop their blogs. 

At least that's what we found on behalf of a client looking to connect with local mommy bloggers. Our research found a lot of previously dynamic local mom bloggers had stopped maintaining their blogs within the past 18 months. In fact, we found that even a collective of mom bloggers (who had teamed together to create a more robust local mom blog) had pretty much shut down.

When we did some digging to figure out what had happened, it seemed that those who shut down had older kids. 

That might seem anecdotal but after that project, I came across a New York Times' blog post by Elizabeth Bastos: "Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children." In explaining why she wrote about her children, Bastos writes, "There is a hunger in our culture for true stories from the parenting trenches where life is lived mud-flecked and raw...We live in a break-the-internet arms race of oversharing." She initially defended a recent blog post "I had written about my son’s first signs of puberty," saying "adolescent sexuality is an emergent, fascinating topic, especially for parents who are figuring out how to address difficult questions with their children."

But, Bastos realized, "My children didn’t give me their permission to tell their stories...If I’m going to continue writing, I realize I need to find some new material, and for that I’m going to have to look more deeply within myself or entirely outside."

That's part of the problem for mom bloggers. What to write about. It’s hard to write about sleep training and other infant and toddler issues when you’re now focused on homework, screen-time addiction, etc.

So, there may be a natural life cycle for parental blogs -- I've seen the same thing occur with daddy bloggers, too.

  • It can't be only about your blog.

Another challenge for parental bloggers is that blogs themselves may not be the best mechanism these days. 

If your audience is on Facebook, parental bloggers need to make sure they’re doing more than writing new blog posts. They also need to constantly update their Facebook pages, Pinterests, Instagrams and Snapchats. It’s a lot of work.

And it helps to have a strong point of view and to think about reviewing and updating content along the way. That's what magazines geared to an age group (Cricket, Seventeen, Boys Life, Redbook, etc.) do -- they write new articles covering a standard set of topics like beauty, body, life, love and shopping (the key navigation buttons on I say this with deep respect for these publications that continue to cover similar issues but find new ways to address their readers' interests and needs.

It certainly takes more work, and it may well be challenging to come up with yet another new slant back-to-school shopping tips, but that's what parenting bloggers need to do to -- if that's their goal -- to maintain their blogs after the kids become teens.

The good news is, of course, there will always be another generation of clueless parents (speaking as one) who need parenting advice and will look for it online.