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2012 ORR National Consultation Transforming Hope into a Brighter Future Presentation by Project SOAR International Rescue Committee and Nationalities Service Center September 19 th , 2012. Utilizing Mainstream and Social Media to Tell Your Story.

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2012 ORR National Consultation Transforming Hope into a Brighter Future

Presentation by Project SOAR

International Rescue Committee

and Nationalities Service Center

September 19th, 2012

  • Utilizing Mainstream and Social Media to Tell Your Story

Project SOARprovides ethnic community-based organizations (ECBOs) and other refugee-serving agencies with technical assistance to develop and deliver quality services and improve sustainability through support to:

    • strengthen organizational management, in areas such as fundraising and governance;
    • improve services, in areas such as project design and case management;
    • and build networks with peer and mainstream agencies.
    • Funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement since 2003, Project SOAR is a partnership of the International Rescue Committee and the
    • Nationalities Service Center.
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Increased visibility, name recognition, understanding of mission, agency credibility

  • Raises awareness, public education
  • Influences policy
  • Triggers donations

Why work with the news media?


What headlines would you like to see in the news tomorrow about your work / group /organization?


Breaking stories

  • Big events
  • Big numbers
  • New twists on ongoing or old news
  • Conflict, controversy and tragedy
  • Success and achievement
  • The bizarre, unique and unusual
  • Interesting, influential, successful & talented people
  • Ordinary people who do extraordinary things
  • Local relevance
  • New statistics, reports, trends and findings
  • Follow-up and analysis of major events
  • Feel good stories / human interest
  • Openings, closings, beginnings and ends

What makes the ?


Good news stories contain:

  • News, Context, Impact and Human Dimension
  • Journalists look for: A “story within the story”
  • “Moving stories” that show change and results
          • Compelling characters and storytellers: dynamic, informed, articulate individuals
          • Interesting and powerful visuals and audio
  • How do you get in the news?

“Good Story” Ingredients

make a plan
Make a Plan

Create Communications Plan to help you strategize your media outreach efforts

  • Goal: What is your goal? What will change if you are successful?
  • Audience and Message: What key messages does your organization want to communicate? Who are you trying to reach? What stories you could use to communicate this message?

Identify media outlets (reporters/blogs/talk show hosts, etc.) that might be best at communicating your key message to the audience you are trying to reach with your story.

targeted approach
Targeted Approach

Publication, Radio/TV Station Contact (Editor/Producer/Reporter)

Who will you contact?

Can you offer visual/audio?

Things to consider:

  • Has anyone covered your group/issue in the past? Who are they? How to contact them?
  • New radio stations?
  • Ethnic Radio/TV?
  • Local and community newspapers?
  • Other?
generating news coverage
Generating News Coverage
  • Create a contact list of reporters working on the topic of your organization’s interest (i.e. refugees, immigration, civil rights, etc.)
  • Introduce yourself to local media by sending them a note with your contact information and details about what issues you can speak to for future interviews
  • Offer your/your staff’s expertise for interviews on current topics
  • Invite reporters to your organization’s events
  • List your events and briefings in “daybooks” like the Associated Press Daybook, and in community papers
  • Issue press releases and statements
  • Pitch your great story ideas to reporters via phone and e-mail

Create your own media coverage!

developing story ideas
Developing Story Ideas

One of the best ways to assure good coverage of your programs is to pitch to reporters well-developed story ideas.

  • Identify the key issue you would like to address or an innovative project that you would like to publicize and then look for the “story within the story.”
  • Identify interesting and articulate people whom you’re assisting who can help convey your key issues, or whose lives are benefiting from your programs. Identify dynamic staff members who would be good spokespersons.

Get personal! Every refugee has a powerful and moving story to tell.

  • Secure permission by beneficiaries for all interviews, videotaping and photographs.
  • Ensure that the individual knows he or she is talking to a reporter and what it means to be part of a story that might be disseminated locally and globally.
  • Brief reporters in advance of an interview on relevant cultural issues and sensitivities. Explain what kinds of questions, comments or actions would be insensitive to local cultural values, inappropriate, could expose a beneficiary to humiliation, cause potential danger and retribution or reactivate a his/her pain and grief from traumatic events. Ask the reporter to avoid such lines of questioning.
  • Should a beneficiary volunteer such information, ask a reporter to be cognizant of the implications his/her reportage when using the quotes.
tips for successful interviews think strategically know what you what you want to say
Tips for Successful InterviewsThink Strategically – know what you what you want to say!
  • Think about three or four key messages, and write them down. For each message: write a short follow-up sentence, using simple and descriptive words.
  • Think about an interesting story or anecdote to help illustrate your key messages.
  • Do your research and have facts and figures on hand.
  • Try to anticipate the reporter’s questions and have answers in mind. Think about every negative angle and ways to respond positively.
  • Moving around from the central point to the problem statement, values, and recommended action is a good way to stay on message while following the flow of a normal conversation.
tips for successful interviews stay focused on telling the story that you want to tell
Tips for Successful InterviewsStay focused on telling the story that YOU want to tell.
  • Do not forge it. If you don’t know an answer, say so, don’t guess. You can always tell a reporter that you’ll e-mail more details or exact figures later in the day or you can refer them to someone else.

If you’re asked to speculate or guess, say that you prefer to stick to the facts.

  • Avoid acronyms, jargon and NGO-speak. Say your organization’s full name.
  • Don’t get too chatty. You’ll forget your key messages. Do not say more than you planned to say or feel comfortable saying.
  • Speak slowly, clearly and forcefully. Speak in complete sentences, especially in reply to a question.
  • Always be courteous and helpful. Be memorable.
  • If reporters ask questions that make you uncomfortable, stay calm and move the conversation to your key messages.
after the interview
After the Interview
  • Provide reporter with your card.
  • Get the reporter’s contact details and include them in your ever-growing media database (if they are not there yet)
  • Give reporter publicity materials that describe your organization
  • Ask if your organization’s web site, phone number, and/or donation information can be included in the article or broadcast
  • Invite follow-up questions
  • Ask for recording of interviews, find out likely

publication/broadcast dates

  • Present additional story ideas & invite future


multifaceted media approach
Multifaceted Media approach

Produce Your Own Media!

  • Videos and photo essays
  • Op-eds and commentaries

Social Media:

  • Blogs, tweets
  • Facebook, Linked-In
  • Youtube
before you get started get organized
Before you get started, get organized!
  • Evaluate various social media platforms
  • Define your commitment
  • Define your goals and objectives
  • Create content
  • Define metrics and create social media ROI (Return on Investment)
  • Create a social media policy for your agency
post method
POST Method

P – People

  • Who are your trying to attract as followers?

O – Objectives

  • What are you trying to accomplish?

S – Strategy

  • What do you need to attached followers

T – Technology

  • What tools are the best for you to use to communicate?
how much time should you invest in social media
How much time should you invest in social media?
  • Listening
  • Participating
  • Generating buzz
  • Sharing your story
  • Community building and social networking

Good luck with telling your story!

More resources on the next page.

For more information, please write to

or call 917-332-0810

Want to share your experiences?

Have questions?

resources for further study
Resources for further study:

Resources of project SOAR on Media Communication Strategies:

  • Telling Your Story:
  • The Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC):
  • Care2’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog:
  • Community Media Center:
  • Mr. MediaTraining: