Chapter II: Outreach and Media
Now that the event is planned, you need to send out the "invitations". Usually this consists of developing an outreach flyer, registration information and press releases or a media strategy, if desired. Allow at least six weeks to get the word out to people before the event. Participants need tine to make arrangements to attend such as arranging for child-care or taking time off from work.
If you have more than 200 prospective participants, then a bulk mailing would be advisable. In this case, give yourself at least two months for the information to reach people. Check with the planning committee to see if anyone has access to nonprofit bulk mailing rate status. Maybe you'll get lucky and find an organization which will sponsor the mailing for you.
Information on the outreach/registration flyer should include:
Date, starting and ending times. Include registration time (e.g., 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.) and the beginning and ending times for the workshop (e.g., 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.).
Exact address of workshop site, room number and name of location such as the "Conference Center." Include directions and a map if possible.
The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least two contact people. Include telephone numbers where someone can be reached during the day or night.
How much the workshop will cost and where to send the registration form. You may want to give participants a break on the cost if they register early (e.g. $20 pre-registration up to the date of the event $30 the day of the workshop).
Information about food. Will their be refreshments? Any other instructions you may have such as "lunch will not be provided however, many nearby local restaurants are available during lunch break".
Decide on whether you want children or teenagers to attend and if child care will be available.
Next you need to brainstorm with the planning committee about how to get the word out. You can do amass mailing post flyers in clinics or schools, telephone professionals and consumers, or post messages on home pages on the world wide web, e-mail, or listservers. You may obtain mailing labels or lists from consumer groups membership lists, school district personnel or professionals. For example the speech-hearing clinic, state association or from the national organization consumer affairs division of American speech-Language-Hearing Association. You may want to draft an outreach letter requesting other organizations or consumer groups to distribute flyers also. If you are sending a flyer, to professionals ask them to pass along information on the workshop to their clients.
Once you have your mailing lists and labels call the planning committee together to stuff and address envelopes.
Using the media is a powerful way to focus public attention on the problem or issue your workshop addresses. There are a number of different media outlets which can be explored. Such as Public Service Announcements on radio or television or feature articles in local newspapers or magazines. A speech-language pathologist drove four hours from Buffalo, N.Y. to attend the Cleveland symposium after she read about the "Year of the Child Who Stutters symposium in Advance magazine.
Public Service Announcement
A Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a short commercial that advertises a message for a non-profit organization. PSA's can be placed in variety of media outlets (television. radio or community newspaper) and are usually run free of charge. PSA'6 should be sent out two to three weeks in advance to advertise an upcoming workshop.
A sample Public Service Announcement would look like this:
For immediate release
The Cleveland Chapter of the National Stuttering Project will be holding a "Year of the Child who Stutters "symposium for parents and speech language pathologists on Saturday1 May 13th at the Cleveland Speech and Hearing Clinic. The workshop begins at 9:OO a. m. For more information contact Gary Woods at 312-333-1212.
To place a PSA you need to contact the appropriate person at your radio television station or newspaper such as the Public Service Director, Community Service Director or editor. Typically you need to provide:
Proof of non-profit status
A letter stating the importance of your workshop (it might help to provide local statistics on how the problem affects your community). A copy of the text of the PSA
News Articles/Press Release
In some instances newspapers or television stations may be willing to write an article or run a show involving the issue or problem of concern to you and your group. Most of the time you need a news angle. Such as an upcoming event (e.g.. workshop or protest) or story (e.g.. success story or report after the workshop) to secure press coverage. You may have more success with trade journals, local newsletters or local cable television talk shows which may be interested in your issue and how it affects local residents than with national media outlets.
See Attachment E: How to write an effective press release