Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How does a charitable auction make front page news?

There are a plethora of charities and nonprofit organizations. Most of them have annual fundraisers with many of them including either a silent auction, live auction, or both. Usually the event itself will receive some media coverage, but the auction is not the part that usually attracts the media's attention. 

So why and how did the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast's auction that was part of its annual Paws & Claws event garner not just coverage — but a front page hit? By having an item so exclusive that it caught the media's eye.

This type of media attention doesn't happen automatically. First, the press release must be written in a way that captures the reporter's and editor's attention right away. In this case, when my client asked me to do a news release about its auction items, the first thing I thought was that most silent or live auctions are not newsworthy in and of themselves. However, when I was told that one of the items to be auctioned was lunch and a golf outing for four people with two-time NFL Super Bowl Coach Bill Parcells, who also served as a consultant with the Miami Dolphins, I knew this auction had a good potential to attract the media's attention.

Indeed, it did. I made sure the headline and first paragraph focused on this particular item. Within 24 hours of writing and distributing this news release to the media, The Stuart News, which is the major local daily newspaper for this area, called me for more information. The result: front page coverage. ( 

Garnering any kind of significant coverage for a charitable auction is an accomplishment, but front page coverage is almost unheard of. The same rules apply no matter what you're pitching. First, you must have something newsworthy to promote. Secondly, you have to recognize what you have and determine the most interesting news angle. Thirdly, write it in such a way to quickly bring the unique aspects to a reporter's or editor's attention. Put the newsworthy angle in the headline and first paragraph. Finally, target the most appropriate media and distribute and pitch accordingly, making sure to follow up.

Doreen Poreba, APR, is an accredited public relations professional with more than 25 years of experience on both sides of the media fence in both PR and journalism. She is the founder of The PR Czar® Inc., a full service PR agency serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches and now with the Internet — the world!