Publicity Planning and Tools
Use publicity to tell your community about the
National Pro Bono Week Celebration
The Pro Bono Week celebration should generate some interest from the media and others in your community. Taking time to focus on pro bono activities by your lawyers is a way of recognizing the time and talent they invest in improving the lives of their neighbors.
Top Ten Planning Tips
Keep the following suggestions in mind as you plan your publicity strategy.
1. Clearly define your goals.
2. Identify your target audience(s). Are there groups you especially wish to reach? If so, add them to your list.
3. Consider the most effective techniques to reach each target audience. Prioritize techniques based on the number and type of person it reaches, as well as how it fits into your budget.
4. Diversify your publicity outreach. Be creative.
5. Include electronic media in your plan.
6. Determine resources (including personnel) needed to accomplish your goals. Don't forget to plan for a last-minute publicity blitz.
7. Your publicity outreach doesn't end at the event. Send out or post photos on your website of participants to encourage volunteerism for next year.
8. Keep copies of press releases and budgets for next year's planning.
9. Confirm the activities your local or state bar association will do to observe the Pro Bono Week Celebration and highlight these activities in your news releases and media interaction.
10. Partner with related organizations and leaders in other disciplines to extend your promotional reach.
With planning, publicity can be free!
Radio: Use popular radio programs to provide your local audience with information on how you will observe the first National Pro Bono Week. Depending on your programming content, the stations might run information as public service announcements.
Public Access Television and Local News Programming: Many local stations are hungry for the kind of human-interest stories that come out of pro bono legal work.
Ready-Reference Calendar of Events: You can use one easy-to-read calendar of events to reach the community as well as the local reporters you hope will take an interest. This calendar should contain the basic who, what, where, when and why information as well as who to contact for more information.
Use the Internet: It is one of the easiest and least expensive methods of promoting your Pro Bono Week Celebration. Here are some ways to attract online attention:
- Visit www.celebrateprobono.org and post information about your event.
- Ask other branches of your local legal community to link to your Pro Bono Week Celebration site: legal services, bar associations, law schools, law firms and other community groups.
- Create a Web page for your event and include links to the page in all news releases, calendar listings and PSAs.
- Start a blog that links to your event Web page, to your organization's site, and to the site for the groups you are serving.
- Host a virtual town hall or panel discussion leading up to your event(s).
- Post your event(s) on local community bulletin boards.
- Use Facebook, Twitter and Youtube creatively both to promote and document your program.
Although there is no fool-proof method for getting the media to report on pro bono-related activities, there are some trusted steps and tools that will increase your chances for coverage. Ideally, you're aiming for coverage from all directions: TV, radio, newspapers, Internet. Keep that goal in mind as you send out materials.
Draft the news release. Consider the following:
o Where's the news? How can you catch the attention of the person reading your release? (Remember children, intergenerational activities as well as useful information on services all make good hooks).
o Have you answered the questions who, what, when, where, why and how? Make sure those answers are in the first several lines of your news release.
o The lead first paragraph should be 30 words or fewer. You have a matter of seconds to catch your reader's attention, so be clear and concise.
o Keep the news release to one page.
o Avoid the impulse to be cute or clever. Let the facts speak for themselves, but be sure to include the facts most interesting to the media!
o If you have one, include a photograph or other visual hook to help TV and other reporters see the potential in your story.
o Be sure to include a link to the Web address for your event(s).
Send the release and then follow up
o Always put your correspondence and press releases on letterhead.
o Don't be afraid to send your release through several channels: e mail, fax, mail.
o Follow up by email to see if the reporter or editor has any questions.
Consider working with officials in your state, city or other locality on issuing a proclamation on the National Pro Bono Week Celebration. It's a great way to involve government officials with an event that may attract your local media's interest. Keep the following tips in mind as you move forward:
- Start your request early! You need to give the appropriate government official time to write, vet and schedule the proclamation.
- Provide a sample proclamation to the official.
- Don't forget the media. The signing of a proclamation is the perfect occasion for a press conference or photo opportunity. Invite all of the state and local media, providing them with copies of the signed proclamation.
- Be persistent. Follow up. Ask to have the proclamation printed in newspapers and announced on the radio and on TV.
See sample state and city proclamations here.
A Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a community-focused, non-commercial advertisement publicizing events or giving information for the benefit of the community.
Consider the following as you write your PSA:
- The PSA should be in a statement format, telling who, what, when, where and why in one or two sentences.
- The PSA should take between 10 and 20 seconds to read aloud.
- Distribute your PSA to every possible media outlet.
- Be persistent! Follow up with the media outlets you contact to encourage placement of the PSA.
Getting the word out and receiving media coverage is the goal; the following tactics can enhance your efforts:
- Partner with a media outlet
- Include media in your program content
- Ask schools to help and publicize their activities
- Identify a local media celebrity who can lend support
- Seek coverage in a variety of outlets
- Seek an emotional investment from local media
- Bring newsmakers and the community together
- Provide valuable information
- Use the Internet by creating a Web page for the event and including links in all publicity materials.
- Know that securing one media outlet often brings others.
- Word-of-mouth is the most effective and least expensive publicity.