Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Generating Interest in Your Activities

Generating Interest in Your Activities

The help sheet Tips on Getting Free Exposure for Your Event looked at ways your community group could supplement its marketing budget by leveraging free coverage of your special event.

But good media publicity should go much further than just coverage of your special event. Your group needs to make sure its relationship with the media works when you need it to - when you have a story to tell, something to spruik, a call for support to make or new information to get out into the public arena.

If you have something to shout about, then your group or organisation needs to be sure it can get that information into the media and out to the public. However, it takes preparation to provide something that might get a run.

There are probably times you or members of your organisation have watched the TV news or picked up a newspaper and have wondered why a smaller group than yours, or one with less of a story than yours, has achieved coverage and you haven't.

There are two possible reasons:
  • You didn't give them your material or your story while someone else did, or
  • You did give them your material or story, but it wasn't as media-friendly as the other group's.
The first problem means that your have to put much more work into your media contact list - which you can do with help from the Creating a Media Contact Book help sheet.
The second problem shows that your group might have to work on its presentation. And that is the subject of this help sheet.

Tips Towards Improving Your Presentation to the Media

There are many many ways your group or organisation can present a story to make it more media-friendly.

Some of the methods towards making a story more media-friendly emphasise a certain element it has, while others look at different ways of presenting the same story to make it attractive to certain parts of the media.

Not all of them are appropriate for every situation, so your group should look at closely at the options before using one (or some).


Your idea for a potential story needs to be novel, or look novel, or have a novel hook that can be explained in a single line.

If you're trying for TV, the hook has to be visual; if you're after the print media, an idea will do but an idea with a good photo opportunity is very hard to resist.

New Data

If you've done - or are presenting - any research on your people or area, then it counts as news, even if it's not really academic standard work.

In the modern world, numbers, too, make news - every idea has to have a bodyguard of statistics. The best time to think about this is when you're drawing up the questions. Tick it off; age, sex, suburb, client needs, media grab.

New people

The reason why non-profits look for celebrity endorsements is that names make news. A celebrity turns everything they touch into a publishable story - or at least a picture.

It's even better, of course, if you can attach them to a real story.

Celebrity endorsements can sometimes open their own can of worms for community groups, so your group needs to first agree as a whole to pursue this type of endorsement, and then ensure it chooses the "right" celebrity.

New Gimmick

The real winner here is to have a story, idea, report, drive, that's news in its own right.

Making your actual event or item a story in itself can be as easy as holding a quirky fundraiser, or having an interesting item to auction at an upcoming event.


People want novelty, but within a context - and that context is made up of genres.

People still need to be able to know how they are supposed to respond. It is therefore important to make sure part of your message includes the answer to the  question: "What can we do?"

Not only that, but if your event can piggyback on what they know already - for example, your footy club is building new clubrooms (which everyone knows) but now you are holding an event an inviting the public to a launch and fundraiser towards the final stage of construction (which is news).

Hitch a ride on what's currently news

One way of fitting your story into a pattern is to base your approach on an existing story.

If you can link your piece or your presentation with something that's currently in the news - an incident, a debate, someone else's survey, or another press statement, then you can publicise your own organisation and work. If and when appropriate, comment on government policy - or the policy of a relevant peak body or over-arching association.

Hitch a ride on trends

Another idea is to show how your story idea is relevant to wider developments in the region/state/country/culture - and how well your organisation fits in with these trends.

One example could be after a report on a drop in volunteers to administer sporting events. Your group could show how it keeps volunteers interested - or how it is trying to - showing itself as a smart club and also marketing your club and attracting volunteers at the same time.

Local interest

With any story, its position in the paper or on the news will be determined by how close to the local market the story is.
Make sure you know the location that is relevant for the level of media you are seeking - local, state, national. Tailor your story presentation to suit each market:
  • Nationally say an Australian care group is….."
  • On a state basis mention the state and tweak the introduction.
  • On a local level, get even more detailed - mention suburbs and areas relevant to the area.

Specialist interest

Break down the newspaper into its various sections and direct your pieces at them individually.

You may be able to interest the technology section in the way your organisation uses technology, or the money section on the way you run your finances (and how that is important for all community groups). Or the Food and Drink section for your wine festival fundraiser, or the sport section for your netball club's presentation night.

Information and advice

Are there other needs your material can meet? Your group might have specialist knowledge, so how can you best package that for the media? Can you offer them an information packet, or an article, or a series?

How-To Guides

Depending on how specialised your organisation is, you may have material that can fill a column or semi-regular contributor's slot in a newspaper or magazine.

How to get fit, avoid disease, recycle, educate your children - the voluntary sector contains many encyclopaedias worth of instruction and information.

What do your clients worry about most? You may be able to rework your information sheets and pamphlets for this purpose. Getting yourselves known as a public educator is hugely worthwhile publicity.

Human interest

You must be able to embody the idea in real people - people who have a story to tell and can tell it. This means putting a human face to your story.

A story about a grief counselling service being cut is news - and the story and photo that tells the tale should concentrate on the human aspect of the closure - a real grieving family talking about their pain shows why the service has to stay open.

A Final Point on Feedback

When your work is knocked back, try ringing up later and asking for comments on why your piece didn't fit and what they really do need.

Chiefs-of-staff and reporters are busy people, and you won't get more than a few sentences at best, but they can be very valuable.

If you are published, don't give up at just one publication - see if you can take the same facts and information and tailor for another paper or program or magazine.

And make sure you ask reporters to include contact details in the last paragraph. Those details can be as simple as a name and phone number, or can be e-mail or postal addresses.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.