Chapter Seven: Newsletters, Articles, Radio & TV Programs, and Podcasts
In this chapter, we discuss the use of newsletters and articles that you can create and circulate by one or a combination of distribution methods. We also discuss creating your own radio programs or podcasts that air on a regular basis to reach out to your various targeted audiences. Many of our ACB affiliates and chapters are already creating and distributing a newsletter, some monthly, but most are quarterly. However, very few are creating regular radio programs or podcasts, and none that we found were creating their own TV programs. As you can tell, we cover a lot of exciting guerrilla marketing ideas in this chapter; so let’s get started covering what you need to do to utilize these potent guerrilla marketing methods.
Create and Publish a Regular Newsletter
If your affiliate or chapter is not already publishing a regular monthly or quarterly publication, like a newsletter, you definitely should be! Such a publication can be used to reach out to your members, prospective members, financial contributors, and other interested stakeholders. Such a newsletter can serve many purposes, including:
- Strengthening relationships with your target audiences
- Keeping everyone informed of your most recent activities
- Keeping everyone informed of your planned future activities
- Letting your target audiences know about your accomplishments
- Serving as a vehicle to recognize the achievements of contributing members
- Serving as a way to recognize the achievements of committees
- Serving as a published record for documenting your history
Your newsletter can be produced and delivered in many formats. It can be produced in both regular and large print, in braille, audio cassette, and/or CD. Usually, you can produce just one print version using large print, which can be read by everyone, fully sighted or with limited eyesight. Also, it is normal to use more than one format. In today’s world, digital formats are becoming more and more the standard, DAISY preferred if possible. CDs can be produced with several different file types on the same CD, e.g. text, Word, MP3, and braille-ready file.
In like manner, there are several ways for disseminating your newsletters. You can send it out using regular U.S. mail service, and if this delivery method is used, you can even send the large print, braille, and CD versions as free matter for the blind. You can publish your newsletter to your web site. You can very easily send it out by e-mail, which is not only free, but it is also almost instantly delivered.
To create your newsletter, you will need content contributors, and someone to serve in the role of editor, and you will also need someone in charge of production. Ideally, all of these people need to be in close communication with each other. Often the editing and production roles can be combined into a single position with just one person responsible for both tasks, depending on the size of your newsletter and the capability of the person or people involved. The overall challenge of creating, producing and distributing a newsletter can be greatly enhanced and made much more efficient if a set of production guidelines are established and followed. You can maximize production efficiency by using some of the newest reproduction equipment, e.g. producing several CDs at the same time.
If your guidelines are well-written and followed, for the most part, only a light edit should be necessary, like checking for spelling and the most obvious grammatical errors. This can usually be accomplished with a basic grammar and spellchecker, like the one used in Microsoft Word. For that matter, all of your content contributors should be strongly encouraged to run spell-check before submitting their material for publication. However, it is usually a good idea to refer to some much more powerful resources. We strongly recommend the following tools to all editors: The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary is available online, http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/noauth/mwlogin.php?return=/.
A style guide helps with the gray areas. The Associated Press Style Guide is designed for short-form and limited space. It is available online at http://www.apstylebook.com/. The Chicago Manual of Style is also available online at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.
All content should be original, but if content is used from another source, like copyrighted material, you need to request permission to reprint it. Even if you use something written by someone else that does not appear to be copyrighted, you still should seek the permission to use it from the original author or source. If sources are quoted, there should be a full acknowledgement indicating where the quoted or paraphrased material came from. In addition, you should encourage writers to check facts before submission, especially names, dates, and numbers.
All of your content contributors should be encouraged to use the inverted pyramid style of writing. This simply means that the most vital information is placed at the beginning of the article, and less important details move to the end. The lead paragraph should be concise and clear. How is that decided? It is decided by treating the content like a news story, answering the key questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why. What information affects the most people? Is this recent or old news? Is this information related to a hot topic? Does it involve a prominent person or conflict?
It’s also important to try to include something in each newsletter that will be of interest to each of your target audience segments if at all possible. This cannot always be achieved, but it is a goal for which you should strive. Remember, you are producing your publication for the readers, not for yourself. Therefore, it is vitally important to know your targeted audiences, what they are interested in reading, and address those needs, not your own. Strive to build anticipation. Give your readers "teasers," little hints about what will be included in future newsletters.
Many of our ACB affiliates and chapters do an excellent job producing a regular newsletter. Some of the most prominent ones include: ACB of Ohio, Washington Council of the Blind, California Council of the Blind, North Dakota Association of the Blind, Missouri Council of the Blind, Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, and Pennsylvania Council of the Blind. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the web site called eHow, where you will find hundreds of related articles. The web site is http://www.ehow.com/. In the search edit box, type in “produce a newsletter,” and you will be overwhelmed with information.
Writing Articles for Other Publications
Another great guerrilla marketing approach for getting your organization’s name out and gaining public awareness is to write articles for other publications, like other organizations’ newsletters, the newspaper, or a local magazine. Often the editors for such publications are looking for good content, just as you are.
You do the writing and let them do the editing, production work, and absorb the cost. This is a great way to reach a broader audience and build awareness with groups with similar interests. This requires researching the organization and their guidelines. Some information may be on their web site, but it’s always a good idea to talk with their editor to find out what he or she is looking for in terms of content and precisely how the editor wants you to submit your articles. Today, most editors want the material submitted to them by e-mail in a specific format and file type (Word, rich text format, etc.).
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) held a fishing contest among its members on Barron River Lake. Sighted members from a local bass club were paired up with blind members of the SCKCB. The competition started at 8:00 on a Saturday morning and ended at 3:00 that afternoon. There were several different possible winner categories: the heaviest stringer of 8 fish of any kind; the largest number of total fish caught; the largest bass caught; the largest catfish caught; the largest bluebill caught; the largest rock fish caught, and the largest of any other kind of fish caught. This event produced several different articles featuring the SCKCB and one or more of its members. There was an article first introducing the SCKCB and its members who like to fish to the bass club’s members that was published in its bi-monthly newsletter; this article also promoted the fishing contest and solicited volunteers from the bass club to participate. Another article was published in the bass club newsletter just before the contest describing how excited the SCKCB members and the volunteers were about the event and some challenges of who was going to whoop up on whom. SCKCB wrote a media release and sent it out to all of the local media. Then we wrote an article and sent it out to all of the local newspapers, inviting the public to the event. The media showed up the day of the contest, resulting in more coverage in local newspapers and on the local TV station. Finally, the SCKCB president wrote a follow-up article that was published in the bass club’s newsletter, describing how much fun all of the SCKCB members had and suggesting that it become an annual event. One activity created several media opportunities, giving the SCKCB extensive public attention. It resulted in three new SCKCB members, and some fishing buddy friendships that are proving to be long-lasting.
Writing a Regular Column for Local Newspapers and Magazines
Small community papers are often hungry for content that will be of interest to its readers. However, column writing is much harder than news or features writing. It is not your mere opinion on key issues. You need to be well informed; research your subject in depth and present a supported and convincing argument. Familiarize yourself with the publication and their intended audience. It is a good idea to actually meet with the editor. You should bring your portfolio representing your writing or a sample article and pitch your ideas on a general range of topics that will be of interest to the editor’s readers.
Like when writing articles and content for your newsletter, the local media outlets will probably have particular formats they like to follow, and you should find out what those formats are and be sure that you follow them. The publication often refers to this as their submission guidelines.
To our knowledge, none of our ACB affiliates or chapters is engaged in writing a regular column for a newspaper or magazine. However, it seems quite feasible to have a regular column discussing disabilities, featuring, for instance, different people in the community with a disability and how they cope with it. The column would always include a blurb at the beginning of end about the author, e.g., "This column is provided by Linda Peters, President of the Gulf Coast Council of the Blind (GCCB). The GCCB seeks to … To join the GCCB or for more information about our organization, contact Linda Peters at 555-789-1234."
Produce a Radio, TV or Cable TV Program
To our knowledge, the only ACB affiliate that has produced a regular broadcast radio program on a weekly basis is the Kentucky Council of the Blind with its program called: “Sound Prints.” Producing any kind of a regular program, whether it be for radio, TV, or cable, takes a major commitment of time, tenacity, and dedication. Normally, the first step is to come up with a new program concept, a new or different twist, something that will have appeal to a fairly large market or audience. Then you have to develop a proposal that will become the pillar of your pitch to the station’s programming decision-makers. The approach is similar whether you are trying to sell the idea for a radio, TV, or cable program.
To support your pitch, it is a good idea to supply the station with a sample; arrange to produce a sample program. For radio, obviously, this is much easier than for TV or cable. For radio, you need a reasonably good quality recording device, a good microphone or two, and possibly a mixer, depending on what kind of show you are trying to produce.
However, for a sample TV or cable TV program, you will need a good quality video camera, visual props, some attention to your personal grooming, hair, clothing, and possibly even makeup. We are not going to devote a great deal of space to this topic because it can get fairly complicated. However, if you want to learn more, well over 1,000 related articles are available by going to eHow.com and typing in the search edit box the words “producing a radio program,” or “producing a TV program.”
We need to point out, however, that it is much, much easier to produce an online radio program, and there are numerous outlets for putting your show on the Internet. With the right twist, you might even be able to get your affiliate’s program on ACB Radio.
Alternatively, you could use one of the many other internet radio resources to get your program on the internet and start building your listener base, your own affiliate “groupies!” Hosting your own Internet radio show can be a great way to share what your affiliate or chapter is doing with others. Being able to host your own radio show for free online has a lot of possibilities because it can be used in so many ways. Fortunately, hosting a radio show for free online is relatively simple. To get started in the simplest, most basic way, all you need is a:
- Internet connection
- Winamp Media Player
- Shoutcast Plugin
- Blog Talk Radio
For step-by-step details on how to start producing your own Internet radio program using Blog Talk Radio, go to http://www.ehow.com/how_6026256_host-radio-show-online.html.
Another excellent resource available to you is “Live365.” Their web site states:
Broadcast with Live365: Thousands of people just like you have created Internet radio stations! With Live365, you're the DJ. Start a station to share your tastes and talents with a global audience.
- Start a PRO Station and Build Your Business
- Create a new, live or pre-recorded broadcast or relay an existing broadcast to an Internet audience
- Earn revenue and control your own advertising
- Link directly to your station from your website
- Reach your audience through multiple media players such as RealOne, Windows Media, iTunes, Winamp and others
For more information and details about this alternative, go to http://www.live365.com/index.live.
As stated above, the only ACB affiliate to our knowledge that is producing a regular weekly, live radio program is the Kentucky Council of the Blind (KCB). The program is called “Sound Prints,” and it is hosted by Carla Ruschival and Michael McCarty. Michael is also in charge of the technical production. It is a one-hour program, and they do an excellent job hosting and producing it. Each week they have different topics and issues of interest to ACB members and blind and low-vision people in general, such as reviews of new products and services, major events happening in ACB, special guests, and more. Initially, the program aired once a week on a Louisville radio station. However, it could be heard during the week from a link on the KCB web site and links on other web sites and blogs around the country. Then, it expanded to ACB Radio, and now it can be heard by anyone with an Internet connection and a computer. The program is repeated so it can be heard on different days and at different times. Carla and Mike have even been successful in picking up a few sponsors to help support the program and generate a little cash flow.
Simply stated, a podcast is a recorded audio file you can post online for download. Originating in 2001, the words "iPod" and "broadcast" came together to become "podcasting," which has become one of the most-utilized methods of sharing information over the Internet. Podcasting is an exciting guerrilla marketing method that can be combined with many other approaches. You can place links to your podcasts on your web site. You can include your podcast on your blog, which are discussed in chapter eight. You can even produce a radio program, as discussed above, and then turn your radio programs into podcasts.
If you are interested in achieving maximum exposure to a wide audience, you can submit your podcast to directories such as iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo and Yahoo Podcasts. You can also list your web site or podcast in other online directories and web rings to make sure you're getting widespread exposure. You will want to add a link or RSS feed to your MySpace, Facebook or other social networking page. Of course, if you are interested in only reaching limited audiences, you would concentrate your distribution efforts on resources that just focus on those limited audiences.
To create your podcast, you will need very little equipment. In fact, you or other members of your affiliate or chapter will probably already have pretty much everything you will need:
- Computer, the more RAM and the larger the hard drive, the better
- Microphone, a $20 mic from Wal-Mart will work
- Audio recording software that will record to an MP3 file type, e.g. Audacity
- RSS file, e.g. use of special software such as ClickCaster, BlogMatrix or MyRSSCreator. These programs are free, powerful and help beginners by cutting out all the coding requirements.
Creating a podcast is extremely easy. However, the step-by-step details are beyond the scope of this handbook. You can find numerous helpful resources on the Internet using Google or to by going to eHow.com and putting “creating your own podcast” into the search edit box.