Archive for the '3rd sector' Category

Sticking it to Tesco

December 16, 2008

Picture the scene; I’m innocently sitting at my desk, thinking high level strategic thoughts as usual, when something interesting prevents me making the Campbell-like intellectual comms leap I was undoubtedly about to make.

It is twitter. More precisely it is a tweet from @stickitotesco, suggesting something might be up my street. Curious. Interest piqued I check out the profile. It is followed by clues which include the unveiling of an image of an appeal and an apple pie. Everything branded to look like Tesco value.

A few other ‘tweeps’ also interested. We’re promised a 2pm unveil amongst some good banter.  (I was suspicious this was something pie-related and an unkind but not unjustified comment on the impact of the Christmas party season and a few too many hours at my desk).

When it comes ’tis indeed good. A campaign from ActionAid for better pay for workers overseas producing UK supermarket goods. The apple bit uses a neat attention grabbing hook encouraging us to push Tesco to pay 5p a kilo extra to South African apple pickers to lift them out of poverty.

Now I’m not well-enough versed in the intricacies of these issues to make any moral comment beyond that it is always good to spread the wealth to those less fortunate. I’m pragmatic enough to know we don’t get cheap supermarket prices by magic. I also have no axe to grind against Tesco per se (beyond their abysmal online shopping service, which I’ve bemoaned and abandoned before).Either way ActionAid got me discussing a issue I certainly otherwise wouldn’t (remember I was on the verge of re-defining strategic comms thinking before they rudely interrupted).

The point is more a great PR execution, picking an attention-grabbing hook, using some good ol’ fashioned teaser principles, utilising an effective online channel, culminating in an appealing mini-site. My only real suggested improvement would be a longer teaser lead-in process to allow the follower numbers to grow.

Interesting stuff. Check it out.


‘Tis the season for charity PR

December 3, 2007

A few Christmas thoughts on Third Sector PR from regular guest contributor Rob Dyson.

Should we all be committed (givers)?

December is upon us, and it’s the time of year charity PR’s cautiously welcome. I say cautiously because we predictably get a flurry of journalists – who ordinarily shun our meticulously-crafted pitches – seeking those warm feel-good stories, miraculous acts of human kindness and tales of ‘triumph over tragedy*’ (*TM every tabloid in the country).

A well-resourced charity PR will pull out those case studies we’d been keeping aside, unleash the Christmas campaigns, and speak sweetly to capture the public’s sense of festive generosity….but charities are for life, not just for Christmas.

And that can be the problem. In January, when the tree’s browned needles cover the floor and most people emerge blinking, pallid, confused and sober into the new year – charity PR’s have got to keep campaigning, lobbying and largely selling ‘the concept’ over ‘the tangible’. Alas, relying on people’s resolutions to ‘do more for charity’ doesn’t fund third-sector projects forever.

But as discussed in my previous offering not-for-profit PR’s best tools are clout, a sense of the current climate and the ability to raise consciousness with a well placed editorial, corporate partnership or celeb endorsement. So enjoy the season-to-be-merry. Relish those media slots where you can exploit topical stories of excess, goodwill and traditional notions of charity to your advantage. After all, if you’re a third sector PR, who needs NY resolutions? Apart from maybe being more forgiving to those Xmas ring-round hacks…

Charitable Relations

November 28, 2007

With thoughts turning to Christmas, and goodwill and charity towards all men [or presents and food, but we’ll skip past that], we thought it was about time to update on the progress made by the Third Sector PR and Comms Network. The group was inspired by the PR and Comms Network, but that’s as far as we can take any credit. Rob Dyson has enthusiastically driven it forwards, and here’s how they’ve been getting on:

Formed in May, ‘The third sector PR and Communications Network’ got a mention in PR Week back in July, and now has over 430 members, who are all PR’s, comms directors, fundraisers, journos and other movers and shakers in the industry.

Some top “facebook friends” are:

Andrew Bloch, co founder of Frank PR
David Wilcox, Social reporter / writer.
Howard Lake Director, Fundraising UK Ltd and editor of
Helen Jane Beckett, Media Trust, Head of Communications
Jane Dawson – Media Connections Project Officer at Voluntary Action Media Unit
Peta Delahunty Media and PR Manager (Fundraising) Macmillan Cancer Support
Christina McGill Head of Communications, Breast Cancer Care
Jude Habib – SoundDelivery, Owner and Director.

The group’s first drinks and speed-networking event happened in London earlier this month, and we had a really good turnout, including reps from Media Trust, ex-BBC and freelance agents, British Royal Legion, Bliss, Marie Curie Cancer, Mind, Volunteering England and Make Your Mark, to name a few.

Media monitoring agency Clipability ensured no-one was left thirsty with their generous bar tab, and donated a bottle of champagne to a business card raffle.

Rob created the group in May 2007, after seeing an opportunity to harness charity comms professionals to network, support each other, socialise and share ideas and resources. If you want to know more drop me a line or visit the site.

PR’s better half?

June 11, 2007

Here’s another post froma guest contributor, Rob Dyson, discussing the challenge of PR when it isn’t about shifting products/shares/government funding…but *shock horror* about helping people. Over to you, Rob….

As Third Sector PRO’s do we need to tighten our tools?

Having worked in PR / Comms roles for around four years in the not-for-profit field, I’ve noticed some themes that run through our beloved ‘Third Sector’.

There is undeniably some incredibly good PR being done on malnourished budgets, poor resources and with ‘products’ that…well are just not that ‘sexy’, frankly. You tried selling an inclusive model of independent housing for disabled people over a sleek MP3 player with the ability to lend the listener teleportation skills?

But this can actually make us PR’s best kept secrets – innovative, resourceful, and approachable to our target media contacts. Yet before we place a worthy slap on our altruistic backs let’s agree that as a sector we’re not without our faults…

If you weren’t quick off the mark, you’ll have missed this year’s deadline in May for the innovative “Media Connections Awards scheme”, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and run by the Voluntary Action Media Unit (VAMU) and the Media Trust. I’d urge applying in ’08. I entered last year, along with about 200-odd eager charity beavers, and secured one of 20 national placements.
The purpose of the programme is to “enhance the media skills of people who work in the charity sector” by placing them in shadowing – and often working – roles in media institutions across the UK.

My time was spent with the BBC and I quickly found myself immersed in editorial meetings of the likes of The Today Programme, and felt a little like I had been permitted into a very select coven – with the chance to influence the stance of big news-setting institutions. And, I had at times brutally honest conversations with journalists regarding their opinions of my sector and our -ahem – failure to sometimes deliver the goods…

So what did they tell me?

Forgive me if I’m teaching charity PRO’s to suck eggs here but one oft-overlooked point were reiterated to me time and again – from producers, editors, and reporters: there absolutely must be the media ‘peg’ for the charity ‘apparel’ to hang on. These could be…

1. New research

A piece of brand new research, or a survey (of over 1,000 people), that reveals something about society that needs addressing is one way in. It could be about discrimination, access to healthcare, employment rights, the environment, etc; all bread and butter not-for-profit themes – but whatever it is has to be big enough, ‘shocking’ enough AND be clearly asking or calling for something to be done about it.

2. Say something – don’t be bland.

A not-for-profit should be damning a policy or ministerial decision – not just giving a shoulder-shrugging ‘disapproval’ or raised eyebrow. A really strong line is needed, and even better if it resonates with a current theme – like a response to a policy that day, or piggy backing of broader media story with your twist on it. Not only must we stick our heads above the parapet but we need to understand the devil we deal with. Don’t be afraid to feed new lines, new angles and dimensions on an existing story to a journalist. As long as the piece has genuine longevity they will welcome it. Some will be positively grateful!

3. Colour with case studies

Without the colour or texture or ability to tell a story with a real affected person, the story is weakened. Media know that real people are worth a hundred charity talking heads. Here is where you can really be their best friend – just make sure the relationship is reciprocal and your cause gets a plug in the process. It is more than frustrating when you have killed yourself getting your best / most emotive case studies over to a journo, and then…they forget to plug your organisation or they leave a website / telephone number out. Brief them well, and be clear about what you want to get out of it too.

So what’s it like working for a charity?

Well it’s not all sandals and socks and knitwear, that’s for sure. In fact charities are *gasp* quite trendy these days, and very competitive. The average age of people breaking in is early to late twenties, with possibly a slight lean towards more women, especially in PR.

Charities are big business – and many work with large corporations either through corporate responsibility programmes, charity of the year partnerships, and on innovative projects. Many also lobby Government on big issues, and are increasingly turned to for consultations on shaping policy. Government know that they can’t change society on their own, and not-for-profits can be agents of real social change. Plus lots of celebrities want to be associated with a ‘cause’ to lend them some of that feel good stuff. So you could be working with the big brands and swanning around with slebs, whilst making waves that don’t just make stakeholders money but actually change their lives for the better.

If you are interested in PR careers in charity, log on to Facebook and join up to the Third Sector PR and Communications Network

You could be surprised.

Rob Dyson is a Press Officer at disability organisation Scope. About cerebral Palsy. For disabled people achieving equality.
• The Media Trust runs successful media training seminars and a media matching scheme to help charities access marketing and PR help.
• The Voluntary Action Media Unit has developed, a database of charity media contacts which journalists can subscribe and tap into when chasing leads and case studies for stories.