Summer Publicity – When the Living is Easy

It is not always the case, but often the news cycle slows down during the summer. Many people take vacations, organizations postpone major decisions and reporters can be a bit more willing to consider your story pitches. As summer takes hold, here are a few seasonal suggestions to enhance your organization’s chance of getting positive media coverage.

Take it outdoors: Everyone likes a sunny day. If you are making an announcement, debuting a new service or simply rewarding current employees, hold your event outdoors. If your facility doesn’t have an attractive outdoor area, consider staging it at a nearby park.

Use a light touch: As serious as your work is, varying the story approach a bit helps to keep it fresh. If your organization typically holds fund-raisers during the year, consider an ice-cream social in June to mesh the season’s relaxing atmosphere with your efforts. If you hold the event in a park on a weekend, there will be curious passers-by who will be hearing about your organization for the first time.

It’s the silly season: Summer is the season for off-the-wall publicity ideas. Got an idea for a tree-climbing competition? Now might be the time. Just remember, thousands of Americans doused themselves with icy water two years ago for charity. Is there an aspect of your name, activities or history that could set up a similar result for your organization?

Look at summertime problems: Communities sometimes struggle to cope with heat, poverty and limited resources. Is there some aspect of your expertise that might be of assistance? Would that be newsworthy? If it is, let the organization that’s being helped make the call to the media.

Idle hands and a publicity windfall: Speaking about lax activity during the summer, are there bored teens who might be interested in volunteering for a half-day to help your organization? Spice up the volunteer activity with music, donated prizes and an extra effort to demonstrate how this activity will help others. If you partner with other local organizations, the combined involvement will increase chances of coverage.

Speaking of idle hands: Legislators are back in their home towns for their summer break. Maybe invite your local State or Capitol Hill rep to appear at your event, present awards, or come by to visit and speak with the youth and other volunteers. That may garner good coverage as well.

VBS and beyond: Many adults and children are familiar with vacation Bible school. Ask yourself: Is there a unique insight or experience that your organization can tie into a greater understanding of the role the Bible plays in people’s lives around the nation and around the world? If so, a few phone calls could lead to an enhanced experience at an event that’s a summertime staple in many areas.

But we are missionaries: If your organization is dedicated to helping the unreached in other nations, then consider how you can use the summer theme to create a vivid impression of your work within your community. Ask yourself: What is summer like overseas? Can we bring the summertime activities from our mission sites to life for a day in our community? Can we organize an outdoor festival on a weekend?

Winter is coming: And so is fall, when most organizations inject fresh energy into current campaigns, revive old ones and kick off new ones. This is the time to give a little extra thought to livening fall projects and events. Better yet, is there a way to use a summer event or announcement to tee up a fall campaign?

Boiling it down, a good summertime publicity event combines several elements. First, it is a bit unusual, not the sort of event put on at other times of the year. Second, it is light-hearted, but still makes a point about the value of your organization’s work. It makes that point in your community, the same community covered by local media. Finally, it engages the mystique of summer in your local outreach activities.

One final tip: If you decide to hold a meeting to discuss this, have everyone wear a Hawaiian shirt to get in the mood.

Palmer Holt, founder and CEO, is an award-winning communications professional with more than 25 years’ experience in journalism, corporate and agency public relations, marketing and advertising.

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