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Can You Get Media Coverage of Your Utility’s Charitable Events?

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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Andy Gotlieb 31535
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 33 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
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  • May 25, 2021
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In all probability, your utility has at least one charitable program or event on the agenda every year.

The problem is that most other large businesses do likewise and, while charity’s a great thing, it’s not necessarily news. Sure, the media covers some charitable efforts, so there’s a lot to choose from. Often, only the biggest and most well-known things get coverage.

So, how might you potentially land coverage of your charitable efforts?

Remember that news inherently is something that is out of ordinary or doesn’t normally occur. An annual clothing drive, for example, thus isn’t generally considered news.

On the other hand, the media does like to cover trends and themes, so charitable giving is always a consideration.

Therefore, why not promote whatever your utility is doing at the moment or in the months ahead? Given that we’re about to enter the slower summer months, there’s likely to be less competing news. Besides, if you don’t at least make a pitch, someone else will.

There are a few things you need to do when pitching a charitable event.

Develop a “payoff” event – something with a striking visual. If you do a Fourth of July-themed event, doll it up with someone dressed like Uncle Sam, lots of flags, baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, so to speak.

You need tons of visuals. Remember that smiling, excited kids are always a winner.

Timing is of the essence. 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. are the best times for events, especially when it comes to TV crews. The first time is when most news crews are dispatched and gets footage in time for noon newscasts. At 1 p.m., you’re set up for afternoon and early evening newscasts, while 7 p.m. is perfect for the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

Along with an eye-catching event, a news release and pitching can be helpful for those outlets that have less-pressing deadlines — such as weekly newspapers and local magazines that feature space for community events. They may not have the staff to cover the events, so help them out by providing plenty of photos and background information. Make sure to properly credit any photographs you send, particularly those taken by a photographer.

As always, promote your efforts yourself on your social media outlets, website, bill inserts and anywhere else you control your message.

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