If you read this column regularly, you know that much of the weekly content is stories written in advance of upcoming special events or initiatives. The stories inform the community about the nonprofit scene and often help drive attendance or participation.
The charities and their supporters appreciate the news coverage and hope that lots of people read the story and tell others about it, maybe even clip it out to put on the fridge. But is this the most they can hope for in terms of exposure?
The answer is a resounding “no.” While it’s true that I can only take your story so far, you can take it as far as you want. The news story in print is only the beginning — and how far beyond this initial publicity the story can go is pretty much unlimited in the vast world of digital opportunity.
Here’s what happens when I write your story: It publishes in print and online. You can read it in the paper or on a computer, smartphone or tablet. You can only share your knowledge of the print version of the story by word of mouth, but you can share the digital story with scores of others with only a tiny bit of effort.
Here are a few suggestions on how can you help your favorite cause take a newspaper story and leverage it for maximum benefit:
▪ Read the online version of the story on your computer. If you get your news primarily in print, expand your influence by also finding the digital version of the news story and sharing it. Find out if your print subscription to the Star-Telegram includes digital access, and if not add it for only $1.99. You can also choose a digital-only subscription if you prefer. Either way gives you unlimited access to all the news 24/7 by simply activating your online account.
Stories that are read online influence what type of content the newspaper will deliver in the future. Help your favorite cause by reading stories concerning charities (for example, the Social Eyes column) to show your interest.
▪ Read the story on your mobile device. You can get the free Star-Telegram app on your phone and tablet. When you read a story about your favorite charity on your mobile device, not only have you registered interest in this type of content but also you can electronically share the story in many ways. Chalk up more free exposure for your cause.
▪ Read the story on social media. Each week I post digital links to all the columns I write on my Social Eyes Facebook page as well as tweet the links to the columns on Twitter. When you see my post about one of your favorite charities, don’t just pass it by — engage with it by clicking on the story!
Your interaction with the story is a signal to Facebook that you like this type of content and means more Facebook users will see it. And clicking on the story link leaves another digital footprint showing what kind of news you prefer to read. Both are win-wins for your nonprofit.
▪ Make the social media post explode to help your cause. Engagement is the key to making social media work for your favorite charity. To engage means liking, commenting and sharing and clicking on the story itself.
Here’s a visual: When you take action on a social media post (such as a share, comment or like) rather than simply looking at it, it is like throwing a rock in a pond and watching the ripple effect in all directions.
If you just read a post and do nothing with it, then it becomes your private information source. But when you take action by sharing or commenting or clicking on the story link, you set in motion a whole slew of beneficial exposure for the charity featured in the story.
For posts on Twitter, be sure to retweet or favorite it. Or tweet it yourself. And by all means, click on the story link to actually read all or at least part of the story.
▪ Email or text the digital link to the story to others you want to influence or inform. You can also post the link on the charity’s website. This small effort on your part can generate a tremendous amount of publicity for the nonprofit featured in the story link.
▪ Post story links on your social media channels. You don’t have to wait for the story about your charity to be posted by someone else — post it yourself and begin the viral marketing explosion by your action.
The communications director for your favorite charity can no longer be expected to spread the good word alone. Become a self-appointed ambassador and share any news about the cause with the ease that digital communication affords.
How can you tell the Star-Telegram you want content about nonprofits, their causes and their events? Make your preference known by using some of your reading time to view stories digitally. Relax in the evenings by reading the stories about your favorite cause on your phone or tablet. Keep up with the news digitally while you’re on vacation or on the go. Your actions taken by clicking on articles on your mobile devices as well as engaging with them on social media are evidence of your interest.
As the Star-Telegram continues to deliver the news across a variety of platforms in your hometown and far beyond, it is important for local causes to be in sync and capitalize on all the help with publicity that the newspaper can offer.
Let me know if you have questions, and I’ll be happy to find answers for you as we work together to keep the community abreast of the nonprofit scene. And why not start forming your new digital habits today by sharing this column with your friends?