Arab American organizations do a poor job of communications
By Ray Hanania
I attend many conferences hosted by Arab American and Muslim American organizations every year, and there is one thing I always see that consistently undermines their effectiveness. They don’t put enough effort into self-promotion or creating press releases on their events.
By not producing their own press release reports on their events, they are putting their effectiveness in the hands of a very anti-Arab and biased mainstream American news media. Worse is that are failing to exploit a natural resource, their own organic ethnic Arab American news media.
Every organization MUST HAVE a communications or public relations component. Why? Because of you don’t write about yourself, why should anyone else. And, why allow strangers to define your events?
Minimally, Arab AMerican organizations should created at least one press release that covers the overall significant highlights of their conference.
Ideally, however, an effective organizations should have a small staff of writers who cover everything at their event and write a press release about everything that happens. That means writing a press release about the opening of the conference and what was said. It means writing a press release summarizing every panel discussion that is showcased. And, it definitely means writing a press release that covers the major events like the luncheon speeches and events, or, most importantly, the conference’s main banquet.
What is an effective press release? One that is written like a news story. In other words, how would you like to see the story of your conference covered in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune or the Washington Post. You write your press release like you write a news story, including a compelling lede sentence and focus, several paragraphs details important events at the conference, and quotes from several people from the guest speakers to the organizations chief officers.
I am not saying that your press releases will be republished by the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune or the Washington Post. Those and other mainstream newspapers are not in the business of reporting news. They report on tragedy and controversies that SELL their newspapers and SELL advertising.
But good press releases can also be distributed to news wire services, and distributed to the organic ethnic Arab American news media which WILL publish many of the releases, especially if they are well written.
The phrase “well written” means it does an effective job of reporting the most important things that happened, from your perspective.
Press releases should be at least 600 words, but 800 words is a good length. They should be written in individual sentence format. In other words, this isn’t a college dissertation in which you writers paragraphs of 5 sentences or more. Every sentence is a separate sentence in the release. Maybe, a few sentences are coupled if they closely elaborate on an important related point.
Every press release MUST HAVE a photo. If you have a panel, get an action shot of the panel discussion, not a staged image of the guest speakers opposing for the camera. Although the latter is an OK alternative short of a good action shot of one of the speakers making a great point or who might be the focus of the release.
Don’t think in terms of promoting your organization. A well written news story that includes information about your organization will do far more to promote your organization and event than a press release that buries the lead under a self-serving lede sentence that begins with who you are. Who you are is not the news. What happened IS the news. And a WELL WRITTEN news release will be WELL READ.
You archive the press releases on a page about the conference where people can find them all.
The news media, especially the organic ethnic Arab American news media, is short staffed. They don’t have enough reporters to provide the kind of widespread coverage they used to provide during their heydays in the 1970s and 1980s. So you have to help them. A good newspaper might condense all the releases into one story. Or, the organize ethnic Arab American news media is pick one or two of the releases that interest them.
Every release should end with a basic overview about your organization, or an ABOUT paragraph. It’s mission. Its’ history. It’s officers. And, it’s website.
For more information on how to write a press release, spend a little money on my book “Power PR: Ethnic Activists Guide to Strategic Communications.”
The book lays it all out simply and comprehensively, and even gives you fundamental theory on how to counter stereotypes. Click here for more information.
- ‘We Can’t Stop Now’: Sami Scheetz Announces Re-Election Bid for Iowa House District 78 - September 27, 2023
- American Middle East organizations protest against granting Israel Visa Waiver approval - September 27, 2023
- Alderman Lopez helped the Arab Community, now the Arab community should help Ald. Lopez - September 27, 2023