I'm working with a great group of people who are very passionate about a new grassroots movement they are forming. Each of them comes to the table with their own life experiences, contacts and abilities. We're currently discussing how to launch the group. I'm giving them advice to how to launch and curated some of my best advice here so that everyone can benefit from it.
First off, there are many variables to consider. Carefully gauge the sophistication of the founders of the group. How media savvy are they? Have they had media training? Are they good public speakers? Do they completely understand the mission of the group or are they newcomers to the topic at hand? The "greener" the group, the more prep work there is to do.
Here are the basic steps that must be taken before launching a new grassroots movement:
- Survey the landscape of similar organizations. There is no shortage of non-profit organizations out there, and many have the same mission as another nearby organization. At the very least, you will be aware of the shortcomings and strengths of your competitors.
- Closely define your mission. Be sure that the mission of your organization is different enough from similar organizations that people will understand how yours is needed in the grand scheme of things.
- Decide on the ideal audience for the launch. "The media" is often the main influencer, but get creative and figure out how to reach allied groups and others who may be interested in the new movement.
- Craft key messages. When communicating a new idea or introducing a new organization, remember that there's only one chance to make a first impression. Spend some time writing and honing the essence of what the organization is - and most importantly - what the "call to action" is.
- Select the appropriate timing of your announcement. In a normal media week (Monday-Friday, non-holiday) Tuesday or Wednesday mornings are typically the best time to catch a reporter or editor at their desks. For blog and social media content postings, there is evidence that Fridays and weekends are the best time for engagement and sharing of your news. If you're launching at a live news conference or at an event, be sure to have a full command of the technology you're using. You don't want your message to be interrupted by a sloppy presentation.
- Give allied organizations and individuals a preview of the information that will be released publicly. They will appreciate being "in the know" and help spread the message once it's announced.
- Make sure the website, social channels and email lists are ready to go. Once someone hears about the new effort, make sure they are able to easily access more information online.
Now that you're ready for your "15 minutes of fame," keep in mind that the launch is only phase one of the public relations needed to keep your name out there. Once the initial buzz cools down, look for ways to publicize your cause in second tier media and social media. Good luck!
Tell me about your launch! What did I miss? What worked and what didn't?