As if Brett de Hoedt doesn’t get enough opportunities to bang his drum…
Monthly Archives: November 2011
Hootville editorial policy explained: no bollocks
It’s good to be independent. To us it means that no company or person will ever feature here because they paid us. That means that any recommendation we make is made because we genuinely think that the recommendation is worth making. Of course that also stands for our Hootville Lowdown eNewsletter and social media.
Occasionally we publish items as a favour or because we like a group or cause but never for any form of financial advantage. After all; that would contravene our No Bollocks policy.
We also think that showing respect to readers implies trying and entertain, provoke and yes, educate them. We give away more advice free than many consultants and trainers deliver when commercially engaged.
We expect that our readers give a damn about communications and marketing and nonprofits. We publish any reasonable, constructive feedback – even if it disagrees with us.
By jove; after 13 years Hootville finally has one policy committed to writing.
pr advice: video and audio news releases
Are video or audio news releases (VNR and ANR) worthwhile?
First up, a definition: A VNR or ANR is a complete news story – talent, voiceover, vision, background audio, introduction, expert and case study quotes et al that is pre-made by the publicity seeker and distributed to newsrooms to be either played as a whole or used in part to create a news item. Like traditional media releases, VNRs and ANRs are made, distributed and promoted with no guarantee of receiving coverage.
It’s a natural progression from a written media release and is aimed to give radio and television reporters the same head start that the written word provides for their print colleagues. Instead of simply rewriting, copying and pasting as lazy / time pressured print journos do with your traditional releases, ANRs and VNRs allow lazy / time pressured radio and TV journos to rework, cut, paste and go to air.
It makes for bad, lopsided media coverage and is thus very popular with large corporates, military and government. The practice can be damn expensive but also creates expanded opportunities. Publicly editors poo-poo ANR / VNR but they are used regularly.
They are HUGE in the US but should we use them here in Australia’s nonprofit marketing world? Hootville says, “probably not” though some local publicists swear by them. Why?
They are complex: you’ll need time to play publicist and journalist. You may soon develop some respect for the craft of turning your story idea, talent and facts into a finished story. Remember; an ideal VNR / ANR could be aired with just an overdub of the voiceover.
You’ll need some extra resources to create broadcast-quality audio or video. That takes time, research and money.
You still need to pitch the story successfully to journalists who then take up your offer of the ANR / VNR. Having a ready rep[ort only goes so far, persuasion is still required.
Suddenly you may need more coverage than normal to justify your efforts to bosses.
Distributing ANR / VNR via satellite to newsrooms can be clumsy and expensive.
The media that says yes, might, just might, want to do the story their own way anyhow and not take advantage of your effort and money. Or they may skew it in unexpected ways.
VNR stories are usually a little …off key…to the switched-on viewer. We saw a VNR-inspired TV news story in Queensland recently. The item was about mosquito control and encouraged viewers to empty all sources of water around their home to reduce mosquito habitat.
By the time we’d seen the seventh example of a good citizen (each a different nationality) contentedly turning over a bowl of water in their back garden we knew something was awry. It was too instructive, too detailed and too…happy. Some Googling uncovered a state government department was behind the story.
And; oh, ANRs and VNRs just further corrupt media coverage.
Are audio news releases and video news releases ever worth the effort? Sometimes, yes:
When you have some big name talent (say a famous ambassador) with big appeal but limited time, newsrooms will be willing to compromise and use a ANR / VNR. Your talent’s time is maximised as is your coverage.
When you have a genuinely national story that will create a lot of interest in a short period of time, over a broad area in which you don’t have spokespeople, potentially creating more demand in more places than you can meet.
When you have a strongly regional / rural story. Short-staffed regional newsrooms may be less fussy.
Marketing bridges to cross
Having recently talked marketing with over 200 nonprofit and community groups in 24 hours (no, not one at a time silly) we have some thoughts on the many marketing bridges nonprofits must cross if they are to get results.
Bridge #1: marketing at all. Most nonprofits don’t have marketing in their DNA. They are service providers with little shortage of demand – hardly the sort of organisation that lives or dies on its ability to win hearts, minds and wallets. Some organisations see marketing as extra-curricular, unnecessary, even tawdry. Such organisations are less likely to survive than those with a healthy attitude to marketing. The nonprofits that market themselves best see themselves as campaigners, advocates and spokespeople. Why bother marketing? Well would you like more and better donors, volunteers, staff, access to policymakers?
Bridge #2: changing the status quo. No change equals no improvement. You have to assess what you are currently doing and make some changes. Do you really need four quarterly printed newsletters? Why not go down to two printed editions and introduce an eNewsletter? What do you mean you don’t offer your expert opinion to media? Why not expose yourself to hundreds of thousands of potential staff, volunteers and donors? Why couldn’t you offer your clients as public speakers in suitable forums? Many changes to make.
Bridge #3: fear of over-exposure. Some nonprofits – usually the low-profile ones – worry that aggressive marketing will see them wear out their welcome with their audiences. That should be their problem! Who cares if some people tire of your eNewsletter and unsubscribe? These people don’t care about you anyway. Who cares if your peer organisations feel that you get too much media spotlight? That’s their problem – you will score the benefits that come with media profile.
Do you think corporate organisations give a damn about overexposure? Every two-bit bank, mobile phone company, vitamin maker, dishwashing liquid spruiker and real estate hawker pummels us day and night with TV advertising, direct mail, street signs, events and more. Do they suffer from this? Aparently not. They spend huge money to bombard us with little fear of over-exposure. The thought that nonprofits will suffer a backlash over our paltry marketing efforts is laughable.
Bridge#4: identifying, segmenting and understanding your audiences. How many key audiences do you have? What can you tell us about them? What can you tell us about what they think of you and your issues? How do you appeal to each of them specifically? What marketing option is best for each of them? Marketing is all about audiences, so get to know yours. Then pursue them ruthlessly.
Bridge #5: spending some money. Many marketing options need just time and forethought but yes, some need moolah. Some expenditure will gain you profile, closer relationships and a better image. Some might even make the financial investment back. There’s no better example of this than starting an eNewsletter. A better graphic designer may be worth the spend. Likewise a pro copywriter. Likewise some stock photos. The best money you can spend is on a smart, savvy, hungry and humble marketer.
Bridge #6: hiring someone appropriate. Do you hire accountants to do your accounting? Builders to build your buildings? Do you see where we are headed with this? You need to hire the best professional marketer your money can buy. This person will have experience in marketing causes, courses, ideas, events and the like via a range of marketing options – media, publications and online communications. As long as you have some inappropriate person part-timing, job-sharing and corner-cutting you will get commensurate results.
Bridge #7: going wholeheartedly online. Your website probably treats visitors with disdain. A new, better website will be the cornerstone of a more marketing-orientated you. Likewise, social media and eNewsletters which all offer fast, free marketing options.
Bridge #8: being interesting. How far will you go to gain attention? A witty headline, an eye-catching image? You’ll need all that and much more to gain people’s time in a crowded marketplace. Will you make strong statements, bold claims and make them loudly? You should. Note – being informative and well-written is not being interesting.
Up for grabs – another piece of Hootville
Do you like to sit down at times? Perhaps to read, take a phone call or stare into the middle distance. If so you may like this rocking (literally) chair from Ikea via Hootville. “Damn comfortable,” declares Squiggle. “I’ve dreamt of many great bones from my past while napping on it.” High praise indeed.
It’s comfortable, it’s free and available to any community / nonprofit group for pick up from Hootville HQ in Prahran.
The actual chair on offer has black cushions not white and is very good condition. Call 9017 1062 ask for Squiggle or Brett.
free pr consultations announced
Congratulations to Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Lismore City Council, Urban Seed, Youth Connections and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute – we’re all yours.
These fortunate five were among over 50 organisations which subscribed to the Hootville Lowdown in October. This hour of power is their bonus for signing up.
Good copy part one: Ambrose Bierce
As a media-related company intent on world domination we’ve read The Chief with great interest. It’s the exhaustive biography of the original media magnate William Randolph Hearst. As a newspaper publisher Hearst paid over and above the odds to gain the services of columnist and commentator Ambrose Bierce who was scathing in a way that seems out of step with his era (1842 – 1913).
Bierce was famous for his snark and his publication of The Devil’s Dictionary. Here’s a sample for all you language lovers out there.
media training advice: avoid performances like this
Republican nomination candidate Herman Cain has had a bad fortnight what with detailed sexual harassment allegations from multiple sources and whatnot. Libido management issues aside, his credibility as a candidate was not helped by this performance which you can view by scrolling down a tad from here. It’s actually quite awkward to watch. But not nearly as it would have been for Mr Cain. Our advice based on this? Communications Commandment #3 Know thy Message – both what you want to say and how you want to say it.