Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interface between Media and NGO - CIOSA Event

The Tamilnadu Development Dialogue about 'Role of Social Media in NGOS' went on well on 20th August at Mafoi conference hall in Poonamalee, Chennai. Nine NGOs participated in the event. One of the speakers joked that only a seminar on "Fund Raising" pulls more than 40 NGOs. Other topics usually get a lukewarm response!
The first speaker was Ram of Catalyst PR. Ram said that a PR consultancy can act as an interface between NGOs and different type of media mediums such as print, electronic, and broadcast. Ram said that any brand name gets registered when a person hears it for atleast 36 times!
Ram of Catalyst PR
Ram's client MGR Janaki college planned to celebrate Pongal. Catalyst PR gave a lot of ideas and asked men to wear dhothi, women to wear half-saree, stage a bullfight, and set up 'sandhais selling elantha pazham'. So, the event became very colorful and all papers splashed the colorful photos in their Pongal news. But u need to celebrate Pongal or Deepavali few days before the actual festival date. Then only the news will appear on the festival day in newspapers!

Catalyst PR also promoted Harvey Heart Charitable Trust event. The publicity for the event increased when cricketer Krishnamachari Srikanth auctioned his bat for 1 lakh rupees. However, the focus on Srikanth did not go down well with the charity staff.

But Ram emphasized the high marketing value of film celebrities and government celebrities. Government celebrities such as IPS, IAS officers are trusted to give authentic news. And so the demand! Agaram foundation gets very good exposure because actor Surya is a member/founder.

NGOs need to constantly keep in touch with media people. They need not give only news but also views. Say, they can give their views about a new bill that the government plans to release.  Ram also told that NGOs must not switch off their mobile phones when there is a bad news about them. They have to communicate, apologize, and clarify the situation.

Ram receives a memento from Prasanna of CIOSA

The next speaker was journalist Aravindan who has been reporting for 22 years. Aravind quoted a very interesting example of how NGOs can capitalize on current hot events that may or may not be associated with a cause. For example, old people in theVishranthi home for the old fasted one afternoon and sent the Rs.2000 saved to soldiers of Kargil war. Though the act was genuine, there was a lot of press coverage because of the link with the happening Kargil war then.

Aravind emphasized that small acts like giving buttermilk to traffic police, and making slum kids collect plastic from beaches can propagate a NGO cause.  

All NGOs need to maintain a soft copy or hard copy of the activities/news of other NGOs around the world. Some NGOs may not prefer publicity. But when you write about your service, ideas for process improvement, new tools, or a time and cost effective solution can come from any quarter. 

Aravind told you need to appreciate and encourage writers whose articles constantly appear in magazines and newspapers. People in NGOs must not have personal egos or stakes and must not take disagreements to their heart. Aravind also urged NGO staff to become resource people or experts in their field of work.

Senior Journalist Aravindan

The next speaker was blogger Anitha. She spoke about the advantages of blogging over traditional media. A single article or a blog post can have any number of words, photos, and videos. This no upper limit on content is a great advantage of blogging. Anitha introduced various applications like Blogger and Wordpress. She also told how NGOs can capitalize on the 20,000 member strong Indiblogger network. A handout about the different type of social media methods was distributed.

The video below contains interesting excerpts of speech by Aravindan and Ram.

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