Today I had one of those “proud parent” moments. A photo of my six year old daughter in her swim cap, Speedo race suit, and goggles was splashed across the front page of the sports section in our local paper.

The paper had done a large story on our youth swim team. My daughter just happened to score the front page. She was thrilled.

But, honestly, the best part was the article. It was well-written and very positive about the team, the coaches, and the growing number of swimmers. After I read it for the twelfth time, I tried to imagine how a parent who didn’t have kids on the team would react to it. Would they consider having their kids give the swim team a shot? How beneficial, I wondered, would this article be for our club?

That got me thinking about all the things we, as a team, should do now that we’ve got this great piece of PR in our pocket. This is a big deal!  We should be very excited and take every advantage of this good luck.

So, I jotted a few things down and then suddenly realized that this would make a great blog post. Now, keep in mind, this advice is geared specifically toward a youth swim team, but you all are smart people. You can extrapolate and insert your own non-profit’s situation into my list below.

So here you go:

15 Things to do Right After Your Group Gets Some Good Press

1. Send a thank you letter to the author and photographer of the newspaper article right away.  Emphatically tell them how great the article was and encourage them to visit again anytime. Try to develop that friendship with the paper/reporter for future coverage. If you don’t think it would be over the top, you could send them a team hat or t-shirt as a token of your appreciation. Remember, this is a local paper; it doesn’t hurt to take care of your friends.

2. Purchase as many extra copies of the paper as are available. Go overboard. Newspapers are cheap. You’ll use them!

3. Send out an email to the entire team with a link to the online version of the article if it’s available. In your message, ask your people to forward the email to their family and friends. You want this to be widely distributed. Actually tell your community that you hope this article will help grow the team.

4. If the article did not appear in an online version of the newspaper, call and ask the reporter if he/she will email you a copy that you could use for emailing promotion. If that won’t/can’t work, then re-type the article yourself. Just remember to give all the credit:  the paper’s name, the reporter’s name, and the date in your re-typed version.

5. Purchase the actual photos used in the articles. (This could be a little more expensive, but it will be worth it.) You want to get the digital files/rights if you can. This way, you can use them on your website. Don’t forget to give printed credit to the paper/photographer below the pictures. Let the paper know you want to use the photos, so they are aware. They can even give you advice on how to use the pictures without breaking any copyright laws.

6. Write an informative blurb about the article.  Be sure to include a web link to the original piece and place it on your organization’s website.

7. Put the same blurb (with the web link) on your organization’s Facebook page. If you don’t have an organizational Facebook page, make one. This publicity is a great excuse to hop on the Facebook express.

8. Make photocopies of the full article (you might have to cut and paste a little bit and then re-size on the copy machine) to distribute a hard copy to everyone on the team as a keepsake.

9. Ask someone you know who has some graphic design skills to make a digital file of the entire article that can be saved as a JPEG or a PDF. This will be a great promotional piece to use in the future.

10. Cut out a few copies of the article and go around to area schools. Ask the principal if you can staple a copy up on a prominent bulletin board, somewhere that will be noticed by parents and students walking by.  Future team members!

11. Send out a copy of the article to other media outlets in the area, but not direct competition with the paper (to be respectful). I’m thinking that a local radio or television station might be interested in interviewing the coaches or even a few swimmers, based on the piece in the paper. You’re a hot property now, play it for all it’s worth!

12. Use the article as leverage for fundraising within your community. The organization was just recognized very nicely in the paper. It’s social proof that you are doing well. Use that in your next fundraising appeal.

13. Make sure someone in your organization is continually sending new information about your organization to the reporter. I think that reports about individual accomplishments would be especially interesting to them. They wrote in general about the team the first time. Now, send them news of outstanding swimmers and their record setting accomplishments. It’s a good option for the paper to do a follow-up piece.

14. If your team or organization has any local supporters, such as businesses that have purchased ad space or banners or have donated items for an auction, you should send them copies of the article, framed or at least nicely laid out. They want to take pride as team sponsors. Don’t forget to include them in your celebration of the piece. This will help keep them interested in donating to you going forward. Don’t forget to tell them how helpful their donations and sponsorships are to your success.

15. If you don’t have any business sponsors, use this piece to go get some. People/businesses want to donate to winners. This article proves you are just that.  It will also will make the asking process much easier.

Any other thoughts?

Ok, can you think of any other really smart things to do with good press? Please share your thoughts in our comment section!  Thanks!

Photo by: ahisgett

Posted on 29 December 2010

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