Did you know that more than 5 million Australians volunteer? Australian volunteers contribute more than 700 million hours of community service to so many areas of society, including community health care, heritage and arts, environment conservation, emergency services, education, social justice and sports. National Volunteers Week is a great opportunity to generate some media coverage for your museum. You can also use it as an opportunity for a recruitment drive if you are looking for new volunteers. The Volunteering Australia website has some innovative ideas for how you might celebrate National Volunteers Week– check it out: http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/html/s02_article/article_view.asp?id=3024&nav_cat_id=357&nav_top_id=55
They give their top ten tips on how to attract media coverage – here are the ones that we like best:
1. Local character
Media love profiling colourful characters – in fact this is often the best chance of having your organisation featured. Choose someone who has an interesting story.
2. Long service recognition
Choose a volunteer who has achieved a landmark length of service, or a group of volunteers and present them with a certificate of appreciation recognising their long service.
3. Certificate of Appreciation
The certificate is downloadable from the NVW web site. Use it to recognise all your volunteers and have them presented by a local dignitary – that could be an MP or the local Mayor.
How to go about it – 6 easy steps
1. Choose which story hook you are going to use to interest the media.
2. Prepare a few notes as background detail – this can just be dot points with the facts about your story. You don’t have to try and write the story but the more information you can give the journalist the more likely you will be to get a great result.
3. Contact the local newspaper at least two weeks before National Volunteers Week. If you don’t know how to contact them, find a copy of the paper you are interested in and the contact details are usually inside the front or back page.
4. Call and ask for the editor. Ask the editor if he or she would be interested in featuring your organisation during National Volunteers Week to help recognise and thank the local volunteers for their efforts over the past year.
5. Tell the editor about the story options you have identified. Be ready to send him or her the dot points you have prepared as background information.
6. Talk to the editor about timing and setting up a photo opportunity, and the rest will just happen.
At History SA, we say thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who put so much into the CMP network. The great work that you all do to help preserve and interpret South Australia’s history is greatly appreciated. Without you, our state’s distributed collection would be poorer.