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How Major News Can Help Your Nonprofit

How Major News Can Help Your Nonprofit

Nancy Schwartz

July 27, 2010

I was thrilled last Thursday to receive this timely e-news alert from HealthRight International.  It’s nonprofit marketing at it’s finest.

This scrappy organization doing fantastic grassroots public health work worldwide had learned just a week prior that it had a fantastic marketing opportunity on its hands: Hillary Clinton had selected its Smile of the Sun center in Hanoi (a model for providing support and advocacy services for children and families living with HIV) as the stage for her signing of a five- year agreement with the Vietnamese government to fight HIV/AIDS.

Healthright’s executive director Mila Rosenthal (in photo in white shirt) is a close friend who happened to be visiting us a few days before Clinton’s visit. She couldn’t leave her  Blackberry alone for a minute – not like her – and when I asked why, she shared the news as she continued to work on visa issues.

Mila knew that:

•Nothing’s more powerful than connecting your nonprofit with a major news event. Clinton had already done that. It was HRI’s job to make the most of it.

•Clinton’s visit was the biggest media/marketing opportunity HRI had ever had, especially since her team had vetted many programs before selecting HRI’s program as the “set.”

•This was a priceless moment for HRI to a) build awareness of its work and impact with existing supporters, and to b) engage many others as supporters, or at least pique their interest.

•Mila better be there, on the scene, herself.

Despite visa delays, Mila did make the signing.  Then she and the HRI team capitalized on it. They:

•Captured as many photos as possible, with Mila included when possible (the visual connection between Mila and Hillary is worth a million dollars).

•Distributed two press releases, one each the day before and the day of the visit, including one featuring the photos.

•Sent out this e-news immediately.

•Featuring the story on the HealthRight’s homepage

The only additional suggestion I have for HealthRight is that they continue the story across online and offline channels, including the blog (nothing there yet on Clinton’s visit).

Remember that engagement is fleeting: Once your organization does engage a new or re-engage an existing audience, make sure to keep in close touch with related content (in this case, more about the trip, the center and HealthRight’s work in Vietnam and other countries.  It’s much harder to re-engage them, than to keep the conversation going.

This article was originally published on Getting Attention.

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