Our Laguna: The art of pitching to the media

January 24, 2013|By Barbara Diamond
  • The Making Your Nonprofit Newsworthy workshop was presented as a partnership between the Laguna Beach Seniors and Laguna Beach Community Foundation. From left to right: Chris Quilter, Laguna Beach Seniors president emeritus; Darrcy Loveland, Laguna Beach Community Foundation CEO; Terri Johnson, Laguna Beach Seniors director; Rick Balzer, Laguna Beach Community Foundation director; and Nadia Babayi, Laguna Beach Seniors executive director.
The Making Your Nonprofit Newsworthy workshop was presented… (Courtesy Laguna…)

Representatives of Laguna Beach nonprofits learned Jan. 18 how to get ink for their organizations.

About 80 representatives from nonprofits showed up for a workshop on what organizations should and should not do to get their stories in newspapers. The workshop was sponsored by the Laguna Beach Community Foundation and the Susi Q, where it was held.

"I thought the nonprofits came away with valuable information on how they can improve their public relations activities," said Mary Fegraus, a founding trustee of the foundation. "All the comments I have received have been very positive."

The workshop was the first of the foundation's hat trick on how to make their press releases newsworthy and how to approach the media. The next workshop will be held March 1 at the Susi Q and will zero in on social media and online news. A date has not been set for the third workshop.


Last Friday's workshop focused on planning effective media campaigns and how to excite the interest of those who receive press releases.

Freelance writer Randy Kraft moderated the workshop. Laguna Beach Independent Editor Andrea Edelson, publicist Barbara McMurray and this reporter sat on the panel.

An earlier version of this column had Barbara McMurray's last name misspelled.

"This was a great beginning for all us nonprofits," e-mailed Charlotte Masarik, who attended the workshop on behalf of the Laguna Bluebelt. "It is always good to be reminded of how media works and is rapidly changing and to get the latest up-to-date info."

Participants left with a lot of information to assimilate and a valuable tip sheet from McMurray, available from the foundation.

Among the tips: Get to know the media you plan to use — what it likes — and the right person to talk to, McMurray recommended.

Don't get discouraged if the pitch is rejected — someone else on the staff might be interested, McMurray said. Ask.

My view: Remember that local press is a captive audience for your news; we live to publish it.

But the press release has to be newsworthy — and what does that mean?

Basically, is it the kind of news that will cause someone to call or text a friend and ask, "Did you know this?"

Announcement of an organization's monthly meeting is not news. It is an item for newspapers' calendars. The fact that former City Manager Ken Frank will be the guest speaker could be news. Why? That is an unusual occurrence.

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