Put Your Charity in the News

By Sheridan Bruce, FINZ

Wellington's Whitireia journalism programme manager Bernie Whelan provides advice on how charities can create their own news and be successfully heard. Bernie spoke at the FINZ Central Division learning lunch in July 2015.

Human interest is what it's all about. The power is in our hands to spread the word and grow awareness of our brands and campaigns by being clever about how we deal with the media and establishing and working our own online channels.

Mainstream media, or legacy media according to Bernie, is losing the battle against online channels. The old power and control model of television, print, or radio newsrooms dictating what constitutes news is giving way to people power and trending stories online.

More people are consuming their media on phones, tablets, and computers, and while online news sites such as nzherald.co.nz, stuff, and tvnz.co.nz are popular it's Google, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, and Apple which are perceived as innovative and leading edge. It' online technologies which are providing the opportunities for people to have a voice and tell their stories.

The Situation

A relentless daily cycle of news is now driven by the online world and with shrinking advertising revenue, media are shedding staff and newsrooms are combining. We're seeing NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB join forces and TVNZ may follow suit. Similarily alignments are forming between Fairfax Media and Mediaworks. Consequently there are fewer journalists and these journalists are under intense pressure to deliver.

Tips for dealing with the media

How you work with the media has never been more important in getting your stories read and heard. Get to know journalists from the chief to the local community reporter in your town. Visit them and let them know about the good work you're doing.

Write more media releases and make them compelling. With journalists receiving hundreds of emails daily, yours is the one that needs to be opened!

  • Write an engaging subject line
  • Write up to three short paragraphs embedded in the email followed by your contact details
  • Focus on people and who are benefiting from your charity's good works
  • Localise your copy geographically
  • Can you include a link to a short video? Mainstream media love video because they can monetise it by outting an ad in front of it.
  • Include community papers and local radio

Work with your own and other organisation's online channels

  • Upload your media releases to your own website
  • Identify community websites which are sympathetic to your cause and ask that they publish your media releases, blogs, and articles
  • Use the social media channels you have time for and develop a solid dialogue with yourcommunity f followers
  • Understand who your followers are so your stories resonate with them
  • Keep telling stories - make your posts personal and emotional
  • Use imagery and video with your stories

And finally, don't try too hard. It's hard to trend stories. But do start.

Monthly learning lunches are hosted by FINZ Divisions in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch and are open to the public and FINZ members. Charges apply. For information about FINZ events visit www.finz.org.nz/Education-Events 


Put Your Charity in the News



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