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Creating Newsworthy Projects

Your Project is Newsworthy When It…

Relates to an Issue or Story that is Timely and "New"

Example: With the economic downturn, many families are facing challenging times. As the MLK Day of Service happens shortly before the start of tax season (February 1st – April 15th), this is a great opportunity to help low-income families find free tax preparation services in their community and take advantage of the earned income tax credit. Additionally, social service organizations could be invited to make brief presentations about services available to families in the community such as free or low-cost health screenings, food pantries, or energy assistance.

Is Groundbreaking

Example: It is often challenging for people who are homeless or live in shelters to find employment because they lack a permanent address or phone number. One community organization provided homeless or shelter-based community members with a mailing address and a unique phone extension/voice mail box to receive messages about jobs. Volunteers can conduct outreach, register individuals for phone lines, collect clothing, or work one-on-one doing resume writing, interview skills, and dressing for success. Finding an innovative way to address a community issue will attract media and volunteers.

Affects the Community's Well-Being

Example: Using the theme "40 Days of Nonviolence" – the National Association for Faith and Justice (NAFJ) and Service for Peace received a lot of media attention for helping to reduce violence in schools by getting young people to commit to 40 days of nonviolence and peace. NAFJ also worked with juvenile detention centers, where they had great results.

Is Trendy, Relevant, and On Everyone’s Mind

Example: There is growing interest and concern about the significant increase in childhood obesity. As such, having a health education and fitness program for youth and cooking classes on preparing quick, healthy meals for busy parents will meet a community need and attract the media. Get a well known local athlete to participate in the fitness portion or a celebrity chef to do the cooking classes. Ask a publisher to donate cookbooks as a giveaway.

Ties In with Historical and Current Events

Example: Every community has its own rich history and MLK Day is a great time to showcase that history. Consider creating a timeline that documents the challenges and triumphs or heritage of groups with a long history in your community. Create a public display or traveling museum.

Appeals to Both Heart and Head

Example: An eleven year old boy, who was dying of leukemia, decided that he wanted to help feed homeless people. Because he unable to do so himself, his family and friends got together to make and distribute hundreds of sandwiches. Not only did the story make national news, it has sparked a movement of people, inspired by this young boy, who are now making a commitment to feed those who are homeless in their communities.

Distributes New Data

Example: Consider partnering with the local health department and health practitioners to host a fair to address health issues that are common in your community. Educate people about the causes, treatments, and cures as well as lifestyle changes that will improve these conditions. Also provide health screenings if possible.

Appeals to a Mass Audience

Example: Conduct a blood drive with a goal of getting 50% of the eligible donors in your community to give blood. If widely promoted with locations set up throughout the community, this event could engage hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands depending on the size of the community.

Brings Dr. King's Legacy to Life

Example: In Philadelphia, which hosts the largest MLK Day initiative in the nation, service teams are organized to match volunteers with new people and places, so that individuals serve with others with whom they may otherwise not interact. Working side-by-side to achieve and reflect on common goals, volunteers embrace Dr. King's teachings and make a positive impact on the community and each other.

Download the "Is it Newsworthy Checklist."

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