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How to prepare for media interviews at your next charity fundraising event

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Today’s media industry is constantly in flux, with 24-hour news cycles demanding journalists keep to tight deadlines. What’s more, Canadian media has experienced a ‘slimming’ in recent years, with Rogers, Bell Media and Postmedia Network all experiencing redundancies. This landscape has led to fewer professionals in the newsroom with time to cover external events.

What does this mean for your organization?

Charity events can be heavily dependent on media coverage to draw attention to their cause and subsequently achieve their fundraising goals. With journalists often stretched for time, media preparation is imperative to securing optimal coverage, spreading a charity’s key message to wider demographics. Preparing your spokespeople with the information the press wants is vital to ensuring your event wins the limited available space.

Here is what to prepare for the media before your next harity event:

1. Be informed. Know relevant statistical data and have this information readily available for journalistic use. This will serve the media well, freeing their time to conduct the interview rather than stretching resources to search for information that you already have.

2. Get human. Develop a human-interest angle by introducing a beneficiary, a volunteer, and/or using b-roll/photos to be used as backdrop during an interview. This will help make information relatable to your audience and attract increased interest to your cause.

3. Think ahead. Develop potential Q+As ahead of time. While doing so, think clearly about how you can summarize the history of your cause, the overarching purpose of your organization as well as of this specific event, and what inspired your fundraising event. Preparing for a question that may catch you off guard is always recommended. If you prepare an answer to certain questions – for instance, “How much of the proceeds raised will go to administrative fees?” – you can answer sufficiently, devoting more time to gaining awareness of your actual cause and the event in question. And don’t forget to bring all answers to questions back to key messages you want to convey.

4. Avoid jargon. Save the acronyms and tech speak for internal company emails. Keep your language as simple as possible to help your message reach a wider audience, not just those who already have industry insight.

5. Be personable. Your subject matter or cause may not be be something to smile about, but that doesn’t mean your body language can’t be positive. Try and engage the reporter and/or your audience. This could be nodding to indicate you agree with a point, or making eye contact with the reporter and the camera.

6. Look the part. If you’re going to be photographed or be onscreen, try to wear something branded with your charity. Avoid bold patterns, which can be distracting on screen, or wearing white on camera. Use your charity apparel to your advantage – bring an extra branded shirt, cap, or pin and a reporter may just wear it on screen with you!

7. Practice makes perfect. Your valued charity coordinator may be excellent at their job, but that doesn’t make them a natural spokesperson. It’s important to select a confident spokesperson before meeting the media. Ensure that they are comfortable under pressure, well briefed and won’t deviate from your main message during interview, giving your event the attention it deserves.

8. Push your plug. If you’re concerned a reporter is missing crucial elements of your campaign, don’t be afraid to bring your key message into play. Remember, reporters are human, and they can get side tracked too. If the purpose of your interview is to create awareness of your cause and increase donations, you need to make sure the public knows how to donate!

Marketing communications company Zenergy Communications supports chartable initiatives with preferential rates through its corporate social responsibility arm, ZenergyCause. For more helpful tips on marketing your event or if you’d like support with media outreach or event marketing, learn more here.

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