HOW TO GUIDE: COMMUNITY OUTREACH

 

Topics in this section:

Comunicating Your Message
The Seven "C's" of Communication
Communication Mediums
The Media
Preparing a Media Release
Promotional Tips

 

Communicating Your Message

Maximizing the number of communications tools you use to promote National Public Works Week is important. The celebration is only one week long, and the impact of the message must be high. Your message must reflect the integrity of your organization and carry content of specific interest to each target audience. Some promotional tools transmit your message at no cost; other tools require a budget. A combination of the two provides variety and increases the chance your message will be received.

A potent, intriguing, carefully formulated message has the best chance to evoke the desired response from the target audience. A single message is often sent to the target audience using a variety of communications tools to ensure the audience hears the message, and hears it often. The strategic, focused effort to send a specific message to a specific target audience is the heart of a promotional campaign.

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The Seven "Cs" of Communication

The sender must be credible.
The context of the message should reflect the realities of the organization.
The content must be meaningful to the receiver and be compatible with his or her values system.
The message must be clear; put in simple terms.
There must be continuity and consistency in the message.
The channels of communication should be those the receiver uses and respects.
The capability of the audience should be considered. The most effective communications require the least amount of the recipient's effort.


Heeding these seven Cs of communication will help you retain the integrity of your message and its appropriateness to the target audience, regardless of how the message is sent.

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Communication Mediums


Free promotional tools:

Media publicity
Public service announcements
Community news broadcasts
Word of mouth
Contributions of time, space, labor
Public speaking engagements
Community events calendars
Library bulletin boards
Local business bulletin boards
Display cases in libraries, schools and other public buildings
Internet page

 

Purchased promotional tools:
 

Posters
T-shirts, buttons, hats, gadgets
Banner
Recognition awards
Marquees
Exhibits
Newspaper, broadcast and outdoor advertising
Special events
Direct mail
Employee communications

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The Media

A good relationship with the press does not come easily or quickly. Although it is often thought of as the most important channel of communication, it also is the hardest won, and thus should not be the sole focus of your promotional campaign.

As you develop your plan to generate media interest in National Public Works Week, it is wise to think of the media as a target audience. The media is much more than a communications channel. Like other target audiences, it must find your message intriguing and persuasive enough to take action. The media has its own needs and values. Developing your message to meet these needs and values is the best way to ensure a positive response.

Before you approach the local media with your message, you should understand the difference between news and publicity. The main difference between news and publicity is that with publicity, it is its sponsor who considers it newsworthy; the media receiving it may or may not agree.

Conflicts may arise as you try to persuade local media of the importance of your celebration. The best approach is to follow these rules for good press relations:

  • Shoot squarely, with accuracy, integrity and professionalism.
  • Give service. Media professionals will respond to interesting, timely stories and pictures that arrive when they want them, in a form they can readily use.
  • Don't beg or carp if you're told the material is not sufficiently newsworthy to interest the public.
  • Don't flood the media with repetitive information.
  • Keep lists of media contacts current. Make the effort to know the names of reporters and editors who cover public works and community events.

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Preparing a Media Release

Sample media releases at the end of this section provide you with the blueprint for an appropriate release. Follow the format and seek guidance from the publication or broadcast station regarding to whom you should send the release and when they need to receive it. In general, schedule your release to reach the media at least three broadcasts, publications or editions in advance.
 

When writing a release, keep the following in mind:
  • Write a creative, intriguing headline; otherwise the editor may not read the rest of the release.
  • Use simple, concise, memorable language.
  • Tell the reader Who, What, When, Where and Why in the first paragraph, then cover remaining important facts. This type of organization is called inverted pyramid style.
  • End the release by typing ###, the media's traditional symbol for the end, at the bottom of the page. If there is a second page, type -more- at the bottom of the first page. At the top of the second page type Page 2 on the first line and the headline on the second line.
  • If you include a photograph with the release, type of label that identifies those in the photo by name, repeats the headline of the press release, the contact person and a phone number. Adhere the label to the back of the photo. Never write on the front or the back of a photo or use a paper clip to attach it to the release.
  • Follow up with a phone call to your media contact and offer to answer any questions. Avoid calling at deadline time. Be as brief as possible, but be confident that your call is important. It is important, whether the release is well-received or not.


    Click here for a sample Media Release (PDF)

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Promotional Tips

Photographs
  • Plan photo opportunities at events and activities.
  • Consider hiring a professional freelance photographer.
  • Include photos in all areas of your promotional campaign.
  • Use black and white film.
  • Focus on the action, with an eye on the human element.
Television
  • Make sure media release describes the visuals available.
  • Include a slide or photograph with each 10-second spot, two with each 20-second spot, and so on.
Radio
  • Use what you can learn about a radio station's target market.
  • Use simple, descriptive words that create a visual image.
  • Time announcements to run 10 seconds, 20 seconds or 60 seconds.
Publications

Develop a newsletter to publicize the innovative ideas that affect citizens' daily life and distribute in early May to the intended target audience. Include photographs of public works projects, profile outstanding employees, highlight recent innovations and provide a schedule of events.
 

Fact Sheets

Write a fact sheet to create awareness of your accomplishments and upcoming projects. Distribute at scheduled events and send with other mailings, including media releases.

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Download a sample proclamation here

If you have questions about NPWW or art requests, please contact Jon Dilley via email or call 816-595-5251.