I’m a hip-hop fan, and one of my favorite artists is Guru. He’s part of the seminal group Gangstarr, which has a great song called, “Mostly Tha Voice.”
Why am I telling you this? Because Guru was right, “voice” is key to storytelling
. And storytelling is what you’re doing via the media when they cover your charity event. As a result, your charity event should have multiple voices telling the story. The key is to understand the role each plays.
Around a cause-related event, there are usually a number of potential spokespeople. If, for instance, you were working on a run that benefitted a local hospital your list of spokespeople might include:
• The head of the hospital’s foundation;
• Some of the doctors or nurses who work at the hospital and whose work is financed by fundraisers like the run;
• The CEO of the hospital;
• People participating in the run;
• Former or current patients of the hospital, who benefitted directly from the proceeds raised by the event.
Each type of spokesperson plays a role and speaks to different topics/angles of a story. Based on my own experiences working on charity events, here are the roles each of these people might play:
The head of the hospital’s foundation
• Speaking about the nuts and bolts of the event itself: what the event aims to do; what set the event apart from others; what communities it brings together; why the event is unique, amazing, etc.
Doctors or nurses who work at the hospital and whose work is financed by initiatives like the run
• Communicating how many people participated and/or how much was raised.
• Answering questions about event organization or logistics.
• Addressing how the event fits into the broader fundraising framework.
• Handling tougher questions if there is a crisis at the event or if there are issues related to cost per dollar raised.
• Talking about the impact of the event.
• Thanking the community and participants.
• Talking about the amazing work going on at the hospital from a medical, science, or caregiver perspective.
The CEO of the hospital
• Explaining how the event funds critical research programs and a bit about them. It is key to make sure this type of dialogue does not devolve into a science seminar.
• Talking about the work of the hospital, its mission, and its impact in the community in broad terms.
People participating in the run
• Potentially serving as a spokesperson if there is a crisis or incident on event.
• Thanking the community and participants.
• Humanizing the event.
Former or current patients of the hospital, who benefit from the proceeds raised by the event
• Telling personal stories about why they’re participating in the event and their relationship to the benefitting organization.
• Explaining how they raised money or trained for the event.
• Discussing the personal benefits (weight loss, sense of satisfaction) of participating in the event.
• Demonstrating the tangible impact of the event and the benefitting organization. Some of these people will be participating in the event. When this is the case, you have the makings of a perfect spokesperson.
The main thing you need to remember is that members of the media are humans. Stories that tug at their heartstrings are compelling and get covered. This means that the most important voices for your event are the participants and the ordinary people who benefit from the proceeds raised.
I will say it again so that you absolutely get it: Pitching media on human-interest stories that tug at people’s heartstrings is the best way to get your charity event covered. These are also the stories that do the most in terms of driving your bottom-line fundraising goals.
If you’re throwing a charity event you probably have access to a lot of these emotional stories. You should establish a system in which the people who deal with your event participants talk regularly to your communications team. The communications staffers should be telling your front line people about the elements of a good story. From there, you should be able to harvest some emotive, compelling stories that you can use as part of a broader narrative about the community around your event and its impact.
A version of this story first appeared on the blog Proper Propaganda.