Establishing Your Organization as a Leader
The leadership and staff of community organizations generally have extensive knowledge about the issues on which they work every day. However, the general public may not be aware of this knowledge or the work that the organization does to improve the community. The MLK Day of Service is a great way for an organization to begin to establish its leadership on issues of concern to the community.
Organize a Community-Wide MLK Day of Service
Many organizations implement individual MLK Day projects with great success. However, in order to establish your organization as a leader on the issues that are important to the community, your organization will need to move beyond a single project to a community-wide initiative.
Convene residents, businesses, community organizations, schools, colleges, faith organizations and others in the community that are interested in the issues your organization works on every day. Utilize the group to develop service projects that represent a community-wide response to these and other issues that begin on MLK Day and continue throughout the year.
Host Community Discussions
Often, people in a community have a difficult time seeing how, as individuals, they can help to create change. Through community discussions, residents will have an opportunity to provide input on issues including ways they would like to see these issues addressed. Your organization can share information on what it is already doing and ways that individuals and groups can help to improve the issues facing your community. Strategies arising from the community discussion can be used to create MLK Day projects.
Get your Leadership and Community Partners on Public Service Talk Shows
Communities usually have locally or regionally-based television and radio public service talk shows. Pitch a story on your MLK Day initiative to these talk shows. Suggest that the partners representing various segments of the community—business, education, faith, government, and residents—appear on the talk show along with a leader from your organization. Leadership should speak about the MLK Day initiative and its connection to your ongoing work.
Write an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor of the Local Newspaper
An Op-Ed is an opinion commentary that generally appears opposite the editorial page. Newspapers usually have either an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor page where citizens can voice their opinions about current issues. A letter from the leadership of your organization about the MLK Day initiative and your organization’s work will help to establish your organization’s expertise among readers and generate publicity for the MLK Day initiative. You can increase your chances of having your commentary published by connecting your comments to a story that recently appeared in the newspaper.
Hold a Press Conference
When your organization has news to share about the MLK Day initiative, hold a press conference. The announcement should be significant, such as a major corporation agreeing to provide funding for the MLK Day initiative, or all the colleges and universities in the state signing on to participate in service on MLK Day. Don’t forget to tie the announcement to the ongoing work of your organization and the other MLK Day partners.
Use a Blog or Twitter to Keep the Community Up-to-Date on Issues
Use social networking tools, such as a blog or Twitter, to help catapult your organization’s issue leadership from a local to a national or international focus. Many news outlets search blogs and Twitter feeds for key words and will begin following your blog or Twitter account if the information you are providing is of interest to them. Update your blog and send tweets regularly about your work, new research, findings, programs, or accomplishments.