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MESSAGING: the basics Always begin with target audience in mind Make sure its newsworthy – Don’t cry wolf! Local impact Timely Widespread interest Well-known people involved Human interest or emotional appeal Five W’s, how, call to action A hook Paint a picture with quotable quotes
Quotable Quotes Prepare in advance 3 core messages 30-second sound bites Metaphors Don’t put dull facts in quotes Clever, succinct summary Vivid words to paint a compelling picture
PRESENTING: Practice 3 B’s: Bullets, Bridges, Blocks Bullets -- Identify three main points Bridging -- Make sure all discussion leads back to the three main points Blocking – Don’t be afraid to stop a question in its tracks
Get the Story YOU Want Create three main ideas and practice stating these succinctly, clearly and creatively. Approach the media and don’t wait for them to approach you. You don’t have to begin an interview immediately. Have a one-page fact sheet prepared in advance. Use “bridging techniques” to bring the interview back in the direction you want. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. Suggest another source for more information. Never say “no comment,” which sounds as though you are hiding something. Don’t allow reporters to put words into your mouth or lead you down a path you are unwilling to go.
Weatherization Bullets to Consider Workers are being hired, homes are being improved, and families are being helped. We're training a workforce and building a home energy efficiency industry that will be a crucial part of America's new, clean energy economy. Weatherization is good economics. It saves people money. It creates jobs. It decreases carbon emissions and helps save our planet. Weatherization Assistance helps localfamilies better cope with rising energy bills year after year.
PACKAGING: Choose and use wisely Know your tools Media query Media advisory News releases Wire Services Letters-to-the-editor Op-ed News conference New media
Media Query Sometimes it is best to pick up the phone or send an e-mail to tip off a reporter. A way to build relationships.
Media Advisories Simple way to let media know about an event they may want to attend. Send to the assignment editor, city editor or news editor. Five W’s Identify key dignitaries who will attend. Outline the story angle and relevance. Keep it simple and to one page!
News Releases Inverted pyramid Keep it to one page Write in style Associated Press (AP style) Chicago Manual of Style Individual papers Could be fashioned as a statement only NCAF sample releases
News Releases Inverted pyramid Keep it to one page Write in style Associated Press (AP style) Chicago Manual of Style Individual papers Could be fashioned as a statement only
Letters to the Editor Among the best-read sections of any newspaper, especially by decision makers. Major newspapers get hundreds of letters each week, and most run only a few letters a day. Pay close attention to the individual rules for getting your letter in the paper. A few generic rules: Be timely. If your letter is about news that’s a month old, it may not get play. Be brief. Generally under 200 words. Shorter letters more likely to get printed. Have an angle. Have a reason for them to run it. Say it up front. The most important points should be in the first two paragraphs. Be sure it is well-written and typed or e-mailed. Try to make reference to something that has been in the newspaper, especially in another letter to the editor. Refer to the title, date and author in opening sentence.
Op-Ed Pieces Expresses an opinion or reaction to a current issue or event. 500-750 words, concise, to the point. Read the paper’s editorial section and guidelines before submitting. It may take several weeks and some require “specials.” Some papers only accept up to two op-eds per year. Strategize who the proper author should be: Head of the organization? President of advisory board? A client? Include complete contact information and a blurb about the author.
News Conferences Gives organization a proactive opportunity to state its position indepth. Allows you to hit multiple outlets at once, but reporters get the same story. Call a news conference only if you have newsworthy and timely news to break, you have access to a limited-access expert or official. News rooms are stretched and deadline-driven, so the topic must warrant their leaving their desks to attend. Check deadlines of the major media before booking. Make sure reporters’ needs are met. Mult-boxes for audio, make sure there are interesting visuals for television crews and photojournalists. Print and electronic copies of background. Prepare your representative for a grilling by the media. Spokesperson should have a brief statement, then open the session for questions from the floor.
ARRA Core Messages Trust Community Action can be trusted to run Recovery Programs effectively Competence Community Action is demonstrating its competence in delivering needed services through the Recovery Act. Success Community Action has been successful in accomplishing recovery act goals of putting people back to work, investing millions of dollars back into local economies, and helping local residents get through hard times.
Trust Community Action has been entrusted with $XX million in Federal Recovery Act resources to help those hit hardest by the recession by: helping families be able to stay in their homes helping people find new jobs/gain new skills in order to find a new career path Our staff of ___ has grown by___ to ensure that we manage every penny is accounted for and spent well.
Competence We have produced XX jobs We have served XX people
Success Regardless of what you are hearing on TV, the fact is the Recovery Act is making a substantial difference here in___. Without these resources (_ x more unemployed/Y more foreclosures /z more youth without summer employment/ your numbers here…)
Core Messages in Action http://www.uticaod.com/guest/x1526473792/Guest-view-Agency-has-made-good-use-of-stimulus-dollars-to-help-area-people
Bridging Example A regional reporter calls you to ask: “Why have job creation numbers not lived up to expectations?” Do not point fingers for the delay. Bridge to the positives and the future. An example: “The funds were allocated more slowly than everyone hoped. But, now it’s here and we are already seeing the impact. XYZ jobs will be created and XYZ jobs will be saved locally.” If pushed for a reason for the delay, “The federal and state governments were taking the time necessary to make sure taxpayer dollars are well spent,” and move to the present.
Another messaging example: What happens when all this stimulus money goes away and we’ve created all these jobs? Stress that the new weatherization workers are being trained with skills that prepare them for a long-term green-collar career path in the growing field of energy efficiency. RE: Reports on government red tape/worse (e.g. “government programs don’t work”) Yes there is a lot of new paperwork and reporting associated with these Recovery Act funds. We are very experienced after 45 years of managing government reporting and financial accountability and, with Recovery Act, we definitely are taking the time to get it right. That hasn’t stopped us from creating new jobs or starting up the Weatherization program which will be producing x homes a month (or other figure..) ..
Sample Weatherization Program Key Messages Federal stimulus money for home weatherization is helping A-Z Community Action invest over $XX million dollars into the local economy by cutting energy costs for qualifying residents, and by creating jobs, helping the environment and improving the economy. A-Z Community Action has been performing weatherization work for over XX years. With the incoming weatherization stimulus funding, we’ve been able to hire an additional XX people as well as work with XX additional mechanical crews to get the job done. A-Z Community Action can weatherize even more homes and reach out to more people thanks to the increased federal funding. In an average year, A-Z Community Action weatherizes about XXX homes. In 2009 and 2010, A-Z Community Action will be able help more than XXXX homeowners and renters improve the energy efficiency of their homes. It will greatly reduce the number of residents on our waiting list of XXX people who need home weatherization. Weatherizing reduces household fuel costs an average of 20 - 25%. In some households it has reduced utility bills by as much as $160 to $450 per heating season. In addition to helping the environment by lowering energy use, we put a premium on providing green services as a part of our weatherization. We use cellulose insulation and recycle all building parts. And we use the latest diagnostic tools to verify the effectiveness of our work. Weatherizing homes and apartments decreases the reliance on Federal money being used so more people can get help. Presentation prepared for the Illinois Energy Assistance Conference March 10, 2010 by MinnCAP
Weatherization Service Providers in Minnesota are national leaders. On January 13, 2010, the US DOE visited the state to recognize that the Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program is in the top five states in the nation in the number of units weatherized with ARRA funds. As of January 31, 2010, 2,019 units have been weatherized with ARRA funds. Minnesota Weatherization Service Providers are committed to ensuring that the job gets done and that it is done right. Weatherization Service Providers in Minnesota have relied on their 30-plus years of experience to ramp up efficiently and economically in order to meet program needs. Current Weatherization Service Providers have received $53,918,709 in stimulus funds for weatherization. The ARRA contract is through March 2012. In spite of unexpected delays and red tape encountered, we have been hiring and training new staff, purchasing equipment and weatherizing homes. After delays in rolling out the program, the Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program is now on target to meet monthly goals and to outperform other states. We anticipate doing so during the spring of 2010. With the incoming weatherization stimulus funding, Minnesota weatherization programs created 341.5 FTEgood living wage jobs between September and December 2009. The Weatherization Assistance Program results in energy conservation, money saved, healthy and safe homes, and good jobs. Increased ARRA funding makes it possible for Community Action Agencies to provide benefits to more people. The additional 17,000 homes that are being weatherized in Minnesota due to ARRA funding are all homes of individuals and families living at or below 200% of the Federal poverty level. Combined savings for energy and non-energy benefits in 2008 show Weatherization returns at $2.72 for every $1 invested. Small business, minority- and woman-owned businesses were actively solicited in the RFP process for contractors and during the hiring process. Community Action Agencies are developing new partnerships and innovative ideas to sustain programs. Community Action Agencies across the state are exploring partnerships with multifamily housing landlords, utility providers, training organizations, and renewable energy companies. CAAs are seeking out innovative programs and relationships in order to sustain programs after ARRA funds. With a Memorandum of Understanding between the US Department of Energy and HUD being formalized, CAAs are exploring the potential for weatherizing more multifamily units.
SAMPLEMinnesota Community Action PartnershipStimulus Weatherization ProgramFact Sheet Community Action will receive $XX,XXX in stimulus funds for weatherization. The stimulus time period is July 1, 2009 through September 30, 2012. Funds have released to in phases, and there will be a push to get homes weatherized before winter sets in. The special stimulus funding will permit Community Action to weatherize X,XXX homes in the region. 75% of the stimulus money and work must be completed by September 30, 2010. Households who are at or below 50 percent of the state median income are eligible. This means a family of four earning $____ per year are eligible. Both owner and rental properties are eligible for weatherization funds. That means that non-home owners can also benefiting from our work in regards to their energy costs. The majority of our participants are receiving bill paying assistance through our Energy Assistance program. We have XXX households on our waiting list. Each year we serve as many as we can based on the amount of funding we receive from the Federal Government. With stimulus funds, the average value of work performed on a home weatherization project will be $X,XXX. During a regular weatherization year we can weatherize XXX homes and reduce fuel costs an average of 27% per household. On average, every $1 invested in the weatherization program returns $2.72 in energy and non-energy related benefits. Over X,XXX homes have been improved in the XX years that Community Action has been weatherizing homes in the XXXXXX region. Examples of weatherization include: energy audit, caulking, adding insulation in attics and walls, furnace repair/replacement, water heater repair/replacement, air infiltration and bypass sealing, and other activities. We are creating XX new green jobs (crews, auditors, support staff), increasing our staff from XX employees to XX employees.
Stayed Tuned… Crisis Communications Plan Sample Press Releases
Telling Community Action’s Story: A Guidebook National Association for State Community Services Programs
Our success stories are critical communication tools, especially in this time of ARRA. The Guidebook highlights best practice models, proven framing techniques, and five strategic steps to assist agencies in identifying their results through effective success stories. Spotlight how your programs create opportunities and remove barriers to economic security. Download the Guidebook free at http://nascsp.org/Training-and-Technical-Assistance/707/12/Guides-and-Manuals.aspx.
National Community Action Month The 2010 National Community Action Month (May) Planning Guide is available online at www.communityactionpartnership.com. It contains sample news releases that can be tailor to reflect the needs of your CAA and community. It is designed to help you generate local media coverage on your success stories and issues affecting your communities. The Planning Guide and sample news releases are designed around our 2010 Annual Convention theme, “Community Action: The Power of Partnerships,” but feel free to craft your National Community Action Month messaging and events based on what will work best for your agency and community.
Fulfilling the Promise (Community Action ARRA at Work) “Fulfilling the Promise” is a statewide education and outreach campaign— implemented by Tim Reese, Executive Director of the California/Nevada Community Action Partnership(Cal/Neva)—to show how Community Action Agencies are using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to provide much-needed programs and services to low-income individuals This initiative includes 30 second videos—that have aired on California and Chicago CBS stations—showing how Community Action Agencies are using ARRA funds on efforts such as employment and training, Weatherization training, and YouthBuild programs. It also includes the “Community Action ARRA at Work logo,” which is available for CAAs to use in their local communities. To view the videos and logo, or for more information, go to www.fulfillingthepromise-us.org.
Enews Enews, the Partnership’s weekly electronic newsletter, features CAA media coverage and Letters to the Editor submissions to demonstrate examples of successful story placements. To be added to the Enews distribution list or to submit copies of your CAA’s media coverage to be featured in a future issue, send an email to Dini Stewart, email@example.com.