Porch Light - PR, Media Relations, MarketingPorch Light - PR, Media Relations, Marketing

By Lilly Iffert

Importance of PR for Nonprofit Organizations

Although I was born and raised in Indianapolis, I had never really known much about the nonprofit community here. I was unaware of the impact these organizations have on our entire community. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 when I started working for a local nonprofit, National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL,) that I became aware of how nonprofits can change lives.

Now working on the public relations side of things, I am beginning to realize how important it is for nonprofits to designate someone to cover the PR aspects for their organizations. Due to the fact that most nonprofits are volunteer-based and have limited budgets, they generally don’t have a large staff working for them. PR is often overlooked and the nonprofit’s story doesn’t get told to the public.

One of our nonprofit clients, Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis, recently held its annual grant ceremony, awarding $100,000 to Ascent 121 and the Foundation for Lutheran Child and Family Service, two organizations working together to serve survivors of sexual trafficking. Four finalists each gave presentations at the dinner to the members of Impact 100 who held a live vote after listening to each contender. I had the privilege of attending this event and learning about the four finalist nonprofit groups that each focus on social issues or promote the arts. Leading up to this event, our firm worked with the members of Impact 100 to help them achieve their goals. For example, we met with them a few months prior to the dinner to launch a campaign to make the public aware of how you can become a member of the organization. The more members they have, the more money they are able to give away. As for the event, we sent out media alerts, wrote press releases for each finalist and sent out the news release announcing the winner. I learned a lot about how much work goes into telling the stories for these organizations and why it’s so important for the public to know about their achievements and goals.

Overall, in my opinion, I think it’s necessary for nonprofits to designate someone to cover PR for them. Without some promotion, many of these organizations would be unable to fulfill their missions since public awareness is a critical element to fundraising. PR can literally mean more money for these agencies to continue the selfless work they do for the community.

 

By Shannon Samson

Cleverness, Confidence and Cannabis

 

 

Three things impressed me last week: a clever idea, a client’s confidence and because it was 4/20 on one of those days, I will add cannabis to the list. Also, because any talk of marijuana gets people’s attention.

Let’s start with cleverness. Just when I thought I’d heard all the good ideas, my colleague/boss Jennifer Chan told me she was trying to get media placements for our client Eskew Law, LLC. She looked at the calendar and rightly surmised that National Weed Day was going to be a big deal, more so this year than usual since four states have legalized marijuana and other states may soon follow. Jennifer pitched to a TV station the availability of a legal expert willing to talk about the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Indiana. One station bit and together, the illustrious reporter (my friend) Jessica Hayes and the brilliant attorney (our client) Chris Eskew made TV magic that you can enjoy again and again here.

 

 

Here’s what I liked about it. Both Jennifer, as an agent of our public relations firm, and Chris, as the face of his legal firm, didn’t shy away from the topic of marijuana even though it’s divisive. One of the biggest frustrations I had back when I was a TV news reporter was contacts who shied away from being involved in stories for fear of looking bad. Granted, in some cases, it made perfect sense for them to steer clear, but many times, in my opinion, the exposure would have been good for them. Yet, they feared being associated with something even slightly edgy would forever link them to controversy. Nonsense, I say.

When I was a reporter in Evansville, for instance, I had a short list of go-to people I would call all the time. They were fearless. They would talk about nearly ANYTHING. One was a clinical psychologist who wanted to grow her client base. Once, I called her because I wanted to do a tie-in story to the then-popular NBC reality game show Fear Factor that often made contestants dive into snake pits or eat cockroaches. Would she be willing to take a few questions about fear exposure therapy? That’s the idea that submerging yourself into what you fear will cure you of that phobia. This is not something the doctor dealt with in her practice every day, but she recognized this as a good opportunity to get her face out there, so she agreed to do a little research on the topic and be interviewed for my story. Another time, I’d read about a new study that analyzed how much bacteria is exchanged between two people when they open-mouth kiss. I thought that would be an interestingly provocative story for Valentine’s Day. I called up a local dentist who’d pitched some more conventional story ideas to me in the past. While it wasn’t his first choice of topics, he was willing to talk about mouth germs on TV. In both cases, the stories were unique enough to garner some above-average attention from viewers. By extension, the psychologist and the dentist were toasty warm in the spotlight, at least for a little while.

So, here’s my advice to PR people: pitch the clever and racy ideas. Media folks like clever and racy. When an idea is different from the norm, it becomes news. As for clients, say yes to more media interviews. No reporter will ever come to you and ask to do a piece on what makes your business great. That’s a commercial. They may come to you thinking you have some insight into a subject that’s new and exciting. That’s a compliment. Take it. It doesn’t mean you’re the definitive resource on the topic. It just means you might have something to say about it that’s worth listening to. It means you’re smart. And that’s good PR on National Weed Day or any day of the year.

By Jennifer Chan

For the Record

I dread putting together monthly status reports and everyone on our team knows it. I recognize they are imperative to providing clients with a timely record of their earned media and to convey the value of our activity, but the job can often feel overwhelming come the 28th of the month.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find the ultimate PR media monitoring tool, but with a combination of the services below, we have been able to help ease the process and make the development of reports a bit easier.

Meltwater – We use this as our traditional media monitoring service to scan billions of social conversations, blogs, and news stories. Once the keywords are entered in accurately, the information you can glean such as viewership and ad value are extremely beneficial. A nice perk of this system is it allows users to send a direct link to their client. We can also create dashboards to help measure clients campaigns.

Coveragebook – This tool allows users with the copy and paste of a web link include their coverage in a report that can be customized. It’s great for print and online coverage, but unfortunately it doesn’t track broadcast coverage

Google Alerts – This simple tool takes seconds to set-up and is a quick and easy way to receive email notifications any time Google finds new results on the topics you have set it up to track.

If you have a favorite PR monitoring tool that gathers online, print and broadcast coverage quickly, thoroughly and accurately please let us know.

By Kathleen Kimball

Clients in the News

Clients in the News 

Over the past couple of weeks Myranda and Jennifer have been working hard, check out some of their recent successes.

Domestic Violence Network (DVN) was highlighted in a segment on Fox59 in regard to training that domestic violence service providers went through to become more ready to help the LGBTQ community. Chris Handburg, Director of Programs and Research, was quoted several times talking about the intensity of domestic violence within the LGBTQ community and how important the training was since research showed that so many people in the community were not aware of the services that they have available to them. Watch the interview here.

Last Saturday, Domestic Violence Network was featured on the front page of The Indianapolis Star. The article covers the Crispus Attucks No More Club and the actions they are taking to raise awareness of domestic violence and teen dating violence. The story is online here.

In late February, Eskew Law was seen in a Fox 59 segment about how to stretch your dollar when it comes to divorce. Nathan Hacker, a family law attorney for Eskew Law, gives several suggestions of what steps to take to have the easiest divorce possible. To hear what Eskew Law had to say on the matter, view the segment and read the article Fox 59’s website.

Inside Indiana Business had Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman and Co. and Robby Greene, CEO of IMS Productions on their show in February. They discussed the growth that IMS Productions has had as a company, including their roster of 60+ clients and the latest technology that they have been using. Watch the interview here.

By Kathleen Kimball

How some of our favorite apps got started {INFOGRAPHICS}

I’ll admit it, I rarely take time to bask in the glow of our professional accomplishments (good thing Myranda took the time to highlight our work in 2015 ).  I am typically too consumed with looking ahead. Consequently, when striving for bigger and better, sometimes I look at others and get discouraged that things aren’t moving as quickly as I would like them to. The geek in me loves these infographics which gave me some great perspective, and I thought I would share them with the other small business owners. Keep striving! Your hard work will pay off. Porch Light had a wonderful year, and we still have MANY years to shatter our goals. 

By Jennifer Chan

What Makes a Difference in PR in 2016

Resolve to Be Ready – Preparation is Half the Victory

As we look ahead to 2016 and how we can help our clients gain earned media, my thoughts always come back to preparation. Behind every successful campaign is a lot of time spent brainstorming, crafting talking points and having all your bases covered!

(PR) Plan Accordingly – A PR plan (whether done quarterly, bi-monthly or yearly) provides clients and PR practitioners a great framework. We always tell clients their PR plan is a fluid document and likely to change, but it gives us an outline of when and what we will be doing on their behalf, allows us to plan accordingly based on their budget, identify the strategies we will use to earn media on their behalf and to identify target audiences and media outlets.

Talking Points – Even if not always utilized, clients as well as media appreciate them. Serving as the go-between, PR representatives often have the clearest understanding of what each party is seeking from the interview and a few key messages can help them feel prepared (client) and direct the line of questioning (reporter). Have talking points drafted in advance and ready to tailor and tweak should a last minute opportunity arise.

Schedules & Contact Information – With the news being a 24/7 business, it’s always helpful to have a general idea of where your client spokespeople are and how they can be contacted. If news breaks and your client might add a valuable comment to the story, make sure before you reach out to the reporter that you know the exact timespan your client will be available and how they can best be reached.

Friendly Reminders – We have found that most clients are responsible for a multitude of marketing functions within their organization and always appreciate a “friendly” reminder when a blog might be due, an award submission deadline is a week away, etc. We are communicators and our job is to help our clients get the job of communicating done in a timely manner.

Social Media Outreach – If you know a story is scheduled to run, be prepared to not only send your client the link once it airs or is posted, but the Twitter handles of the reporter and media outlet to accompany the posting. Time is precious and anything you can do to lighten the clients’ load and help them gain awareness across multiple communication channels is usually much appreciated.

While you can never predict the future in public relations, you can certainty try to prepare for it. What tactics would you add to our list?

By Myranda Annakin

That’s a wrap! 2015 in review.

Back in the day when I worked in television news, it was a December tradition to assign one of the news anchors the task of assembling a lengthy, year-end review story highlighting all of the biggest and most talked about stories in Indiana.  I always imagined what an overwhelming task that must have been…. trying to remember everything that happened in the past 365 days and choose what was worthy of making it into the story.

I’ve since left the TV news biz, but thought I would start a Porch Light tradition by crafting my own “year-ender” story highlighting the exciting news that has happened for our company in 2015.

Porch Light’s dedication to providing personalized customer service helped us quadruple our client list and allow us the opportunity to work with customers including nonprofit Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis, Allisonville Nursery Garden and Home, Perfect Wedding Guide, Keepsake Media Group and Seland Chiropractic.  We also continued to be the agency of record for many of our current partners including CloudOne, and Community Solutions, Inc. Our growing client base translates into revenue growth of 136% in 2015!

We also launched a new website to reflect our reputation and dedication for providing a simple and informative approach to handling communications and marketing needs for a variety of clients.

We’re ending this year with a bang by announcing we will be the agency of record starting in 2016 for Domestic Violence Network, an Indy-based nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic violence through advocacy, education and collaboration, and IMS Productions, a premier, multi-faceted, multimedia production company located in Indianapolis that is also part of Hulman & Company.

Lastly, to help ensure we keep a fresh perspective and to provide some additional support to the Porch Light team, we are looking forward to mentoring a smart and savvy intern that will come on-board in January.

We look forward to continuing to help our clients tell their stories and the exciting and challenging opportunities that lay ahead in 2016. Happy New Year!

By Jennifer Chan

Shake it off: How to keep journalists from hating you

Have you ever Googled “why journalists hate PR people?” It’s not pretty. The comments can be brutal and make you seriously question your chosen profession. That said, when you actually read what peeves journalists about people in PR, I get why most of them would be annoyed.

That said, the simplest and best piece of advice I ever received in journalism school (yes, PR people can get journalism degrees too) is always put yourself in the journalists shoes. Select journalists are never going to be receptive to PR reps and you just have to shake it off and move on. But today’s 24/7 news cycle means reporters are always seeking new content and if you learn to be a resource, not a hindrance, then you can create a working relationship that is mutually beneficial. A few tactics include:

  • Know when journalists hold their editorial meetings (it may be that the story idea you emailed an evening news reporter at 1:30pm is a topic of discussion and considered for coverage during their 2:45pm meeting)
  • If you have an idea for a story, be prepared to give them sources in addition to your client. If your client is the “expert,” have a customer available as well. It’s a news story, not an advertorial.
  • Think about the headline and how the story might do online. Journalists are now beholden to measuring digital readership and social media sharing. Make sure it’s something that can be compelling when written as a feature and when used in social media
  • Give reporters the pieces to put the puzzle together. Provide multiple sources with contact information and good images with captions. Anything you can do to save time on their end will be remembered when you reach out again.
  • It’s been said again and again, but know their name and how to spell it!

Bottom line. Do your research, be concise, be prepared and be responsive because we could all use a little less hate in the world.

By Kathleen Kimball

5 Ways Pinterest can help Organize your Business

Pinterest is a tool no bride-to-be can live without, but what about your business? The beauty of Pinterest is simple: Users can arrange ideas and inspiration in an organized manner, then easily see all their ideas in a way that is visually appealing and easy to compare.  In short, Pinterest helps streamline the transition from planning to execution, whether it be a recipe or a new website. Pinterest users don’t stop at project planning! Below are five ways Pinterest can boost your business.

  1. Resource for clients – This is particularly applicable for businesses with visual products, or anything that takes some imagination to sell.  You can populate boards with ideas and inspiration your customers can use.  Clayton Homes, a modular home builder does a wonderful job being a resource for customers looking to build, decorate or move into a home.  Since Pinterest suggests pins via keyword search, Clayton has done an impressive job integrating keywords so customers who might not have thought of a modular home, but are looking to move/build might be open to the idea.  Most content is populated from their own website, meaning potential customers are lead back to the website, where they can chat with a customer service representative. Check out their board here 
  2. Organize your social media and or blog ideas – When it rains, it pours. One good topic for your company leads to another good topic. Use Pinterest to save articles, visual content, and other interesting tidbits that might be useful for social media.  Then when struggling for content, refer to Pinterest, where there will be content ready and waiting.  Additionally, pre-load content so others can handle social media while on vacations.  Check out this board to see how easy it is to compile ideas
  3. Collect inspiration – Work in a creative field? Thinking about re-doing a website, or remodelling the office? Build a collaborative board and add applicable ideas as they pop up.  When the time comes to implement the idea, there is no need to remember where the article was, it is saved on the appropriate board. Here is a great example of someone who has collected design ideas and inspiration
  4. Collaborate with co-workers – Cut down on the emails back and forth.  When someone stumbles across a great idea for a project, simply pin it to a shared board on Pinterest and collaborate on your ideas.  The comment section can be used to specify why the pin was applicable, or what specific portion was interesting. Collaborating is so popular, Pinterest even made a place for group boards!

We would love to hear how your business is using Pinterest! Share your experience in the comment section.  Happy Pinning!

For the Record
What Makes a Difference in PR in 2016
5 Ways Pinterest can help Organize your Business