You’re a fundraising organization and you’d like to draw attention to the events you’ve organized.
This won’t be easy.
If anything makes media yawn, it’s another charity doing another walk to raise money.
Whether that makes sense or is simply callous, it’s a fact. It’s exactly what happens in a newsroom – they get pitched pretty much every day about those sorts of initiatives, and are often invited to write about the event based on, frankly, uninspiring hooks.
There are so many of them, it’s understandable so many get deleted. It’s hard to tell one from another. And the excuse for not biting is an easy one: “We get these pitches every single day. If we’re going to say yes to one, we’re going to have to say yes to all of them.”
Look, you and I both know that’s not true. Media doesn’t have to say yes to all of them. But they’ll say yes if — and here’s the big if — there are compelling stories to tell.
So when our longtime client, the Alzheimer Society of B.C., asked us to pitch the 2018 Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s – 23 fundraising walks around the province on May 6 – we couldn’t help but feel challenged. The society planned to honour longtime volunteers, or others who’ve been impacted by Alzheimer’s, at each site. If you think charity events are a tough thing to pitch, how about volunteerism? In both cases, absolutely worthy. In both cases, media usually shrugs.
How, then, did we do it? By investing time. Effort. Delving into the subject. Getting to know people. And becoming emotionally involved with our client’s story.
The society wanted us to pitch Michele Buchignani and her parents, Reg and Sally. They were, no doubt, keen and experienced volunteers. Reg’s mother had had Alzheimer’s. Reg came to the society for help, for guidance. And 30 years later, he’s still giving his time. So is Michele, who’s had her boots on the ground as a volunteer as well as being the past chair of the board of directors.
We knew we needed more than the volunteer angle. So we invited Michele to Peak’s offices one Friday afternoon. We sat her down and said: “Tell us about your grandma. Take us back to when she was healthy. What was she like?” And just like that, Michele brought her grandma back to life. It was really something: funny in places, sad in others. Mary Buchignani was a strong woman of tremendous character and personality – and then she wasn’t. Michele learned a lot, watching her grandma’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s. It led to her getting involved, becoming an advocate.
After an hour in our boardroom, we knew we had at least one great story. We had someone with lived experience who had the personal story, but also could deliver the key messages – the walks, the fundraising, the need for increased awareness about and support for people with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones – in succinct and effective ways. Listening to Michele, we knew she would make a compelling TV or radio talk show guest.
From there, our task was simple: Sell Michele. And determine what the other best stories were. We had a planner from the City of New Westminster who’s not only been working on New West becoming B.C.’s first dementia-friendly community but also has a father who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; a couple who’ve had a long life together, filled with affection and love, and the disease won’t steal those things from them; and a 69-year-old woman, several years into her diagnosis, who decided she wanted to go skydiving. Fantastic stories of different types. All meaningful. All human.
We went into this project knowing it would be a challenge. But when we take on a project, we always find a way to get media results. It’s where Peak has earned its reputation. So we landed the major media, from the Vancouver Sun to Global TV to CBC Radio and CKNW. And the regional media, who told those powerful stories about people who live in their area. We had a client in the Alzheimer Society of B.C. that was passionate and communicative and positive, and we were able to help successfully convey their chief messages time and time again.
When it was all over, the event was behind us and we all knew so much more about Alzheimer’s, we were able to say to the client: We can keep getting you, and the work you’re doing, attention. And we don’t need the walk to do it.
Tags: Alzheimer Society of B.C., Alzheimer's, CBC, CKNW, Global TV, Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's, Michele Buchignani, New Westminster, Peak Communicators, Vancouver Sun
In June, David Baines, Scott Simpson and John Manthorpe said farewell to Vancouver Sun business readers. They had accepted Postmedia’s voluntary buyout options. Postmedia is losing millions every quarter and is operating under a heavy debt load – reflecting a general decline in the viability of traditional media.
I will miss David Baines the most. He was an award-winning columnist who for the past 25 years exposed questionable practices, stock fraud and misconduct in the business world. He was afforded a generous amount of research time and he often took stories to the “legal edge.” His parting shot was a multi-page article looking at the financial stewardship of the Rick Hansen Foundation.
In his farewell column Baines said, “I learned that it takes money, not just to publish stories, but also to defend them. I am fortunate to have worked for a newspaper that has the means and mindset to do both, and to have had great libel lawyers … to guide me through this jungle.”
In the current media landscape, local TV, radio and print news seldom have the staff, the research time or the finances to pay for libel lawyers. There are still many talented journalists in our market, but they are provided with less opportunity to do in-depth work.
I’ll miss the journalistic excellence and in-depth stories that Baines provided. Let’s hope local media will still have the resources to cover much more than just the headlines in the months and years ahead.
Tags: business, columnist, David Baines, journalism, Vancouver Sun
Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians have no interest in the two sides reaching an agreement in the National Hockey League dispute, according to survey results out today. The telephone survey by NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators was completed between December 11th and 16th in six regions across Canada. It includes the responses of 801 individuals.
The survey results, which come out a week after the NHL announced the cancellation of games through to December 30th, also found that 25 per cent of Canadians don’t believe the lockout will be resolved in time to salvage a season.
“Canadians are clearly becoming disillusioned with the dispute process,” says Brian Owen, CEO and founder of NRG Research Group. “A large majority of us either don’t care about a settlement or don’t see an end in sight to the negotiations.”
The poll found small pockets of optimism, with 15 per cent of Albertans believing a settlement could be reached in the next couple of weeks and 15 per cent of Quebecers believing a settlement would be reached in the New Year.
The survey was conducted in both official languages. A survey of 801 people provides results with a confidence interval of +/- 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.
For a related Vancouver Sun article, read here.
Tags: hockey, NHL, NRG Research Group, Peak Communicators, poll, survey, Vancouver Sun
On Sept 11, 2012, with an NHL lock-out looming on the 15th, the Vancouver Giants Hockey Club approached Peak to see if there was something we could do to position them as “Vancouver’s hockey team.”
We quickly met and proposed a “Re-discover Your Giants” campaign before the lock out actually started. We suggested offering Canucks fans a discount for the first three Giants’ games on Sept 21, 28 and 30 and a 20% discount on all merchandise just by showing their Canucks Member Cards. This evolved into a 20% discount on all red seats at the Pacific Coliseum – or $15 per seat, which was offered to all hockey fans.
We knew there would be many sports and news stories about the effects of the lockout so we wanted to bring a positive story to media. We called a news conference for Monday morning, September 17.
The Giants majority owner Ron Toigo announced the deal and why Giants Hockey was such a good value this year. He also introduced the new retro sweater to a dressing room crowded with media.
We arranged for 20 comp tickets per game to use as prizes to run on hockey blogs including the Canucks Army. In addition to running the news of the Giants discounts, they have awarded ticket prize packages to people who answered Giants-related trivia questions on a variety of social networks.
The result: thanks to earned media, the Giant’s integrated marketing campaign surpassed the expected sale of 5,500 seats for Friday’s game. According to the Vancouver Sun, the Giants played the Victoria Royals before an opening-night crowd of 7,812.
Tags: hockey, sports, Vancouver Giants, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Royals, WHL