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About Senior Corps 
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Hurricane Volunteer Support Fund
In the wake of the recent hurricanes, the Corporation is coordinating volunteers to assist with repair and relief efforts in areas affected by this devastating storm. Your donation will support volunteers in providing food and shelter, managing donations, helping victims get necessary assistance, and long-term rebuilding efforts.
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USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 05, 2005

CONTACT: Siobhan Dugan
Phone: 202-606-6707
Email: [email protected]

   

Media Pros Advise Volunteer Groups on How to Get News Coverage

 

National Service Agency Releases New Guidebook to Aid Publicity Efforts

(Washington, D.C.) – Getting positive press coverage for a volunteer program can be an uphill struggle but the payback is worth the effort, a panel of media experts told attendees of a forum at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service today.

The panel of print and radio journalists gave an insider perspective on how newsrooms operate, shared the “do’s and don’ts” of pitching reporters, and discussed trends in the media industry that are affecting the way volunteering and philanthropy are covered by the media.

At the forum, the Corporation for National and Community Service released a new publication designed to assist its grantees in their media outreach efforts. Titled Sharing Your Service Story: A Guide to Working with the Media, the 36-page booklet has pointers on conducting media outreach specifically geared to national service and volunteer programs.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said that not long ago most reporting on nonprofits was about charity balls but that in recent years there’s been an increase in the amount and quality of charity reporting. Fran Coombs, Managing Editor of the Washington Times, said newsrooms are flooded with press releases and “are looking for a way to ignore you” so pitches should be carefully researched and targeted.

Jack Curry, Executive Editor and Vice President of USA WEEKEND Magazine, said journalists aren’t only “looking for bad news” and in fact want to cover positive local stories but they are trained to be skeptics. He cited research from the Readership Institute (www.readership.org) that suggests newspapers can increase their readership by covering “good news” because readers like these stories and want ideas about how to help in the community and be better citizens.

WTOP-FM news anchor Ira Mellman called news “the day-to-day adventures of the human race” and said a news pitch must “grab the person on the other end.” He urged the audience to remember that each print, radio, and television have different needs – his radio stories, for example, are 40 seconds long and must be produced very quickly so his pitching preference is for concise one-page faxes.

The Corporation’s new media guidebook has a wealth of general information on dealing with the media, such as developing a media plan and putting together a good press list. It also focuses specifically on issues that nonprofit organizations and volunteer coordinators often experience, such as publicizing grant announcements, service events, volunteer recruitment drives, and the benefits of volunteering.

Recognizing that nonprofit groups often don’t have the budgets or time to seek out publicity for their efforts, the guidebook includes practical tips on writing news releases; sample media advisories, public service announcements, and a list of media resources available from the Corporation. It also features vignettes detailing how national service programs have achieved their public relations goals.

“This media guide is designed to help our grantees gain attention for their good works and attract resources to help them succeed,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “Taking the time to communicate with the public helps attract resources from your community, including volunteers, sponsors, and funding, and helps educate people about your program.”

To download a copy of the guidebook or for more information, visit http://www.cns.gov/about/media_kit/index.asp

  

  

The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country, primarily through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. Together with the USA Freedom Corps, the Corporation is working to build a culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility in America. For more information, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov/.

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