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Integrate platforms and amplify your message

2 August 2011

As a lone PR person in a small to medium-sized charity, I can't emphasise enough the importance of integration and amplification.

By integration I mean harnessing as many online, and smartphone accessible, platforms as creatively as possible – but not forgetting to join it up with traditional press.

Most newspapers – local and national – will have an online version, and the smallest media mention can be "amplified" to make as much resonance as possible. What I've seen is a viral loop "ripple" effect – the kind espoused by US author Adam Penenberg – as followers, fans and supporters share links amongst their friends and networks.

A case study: Fast Forward

I've been keeping key trade press aware of Whizz-Kidz' Fast Forward campaign (calling for a reform of NHS children's wheelchair services) for a good few months now; building relationships is vital if at some point you're hoping for coverage. Last week, the trade magazine Children and Young People Now immediately came to us for a line when they decided to target every Primary Care Trust with freedom of information requests to find out how long young people have to wait for wheelchairs. It was a solid piece, squarely in the territory of the charity's work.

The article was read by a journalist at the Sunday Express, who rang me for the bigger picture on the numbers of disabled children missing out on equipment, and a case study of an affected family.

On Sunday morning, Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company was reviewing the newspaper stories on BBC Breakfast – and picked our Sunday Express story to feature (thanks, Camilla!). And this is where social media kicks in.

Digital amplification in action

Prompted by the BBC mention I jumped onto my laptop, found the Express story online and tweeted the URL to over 5,000 followers, and 2,600 Facebook fans. I was able to link the "scandal of wait for wheelchairs" Express piece to our (newspaper omitted) Fast Forward campaign call, and added our campaign hashtag #FastFWD.

Immediately, our social friends began sharing both links with their networks; in the first hour (approximately) 3,000 additional people were made aware of

a) a strong case study of the issue in a national newspaper

b) Whizz-Kidz and our work, and

c) our online petition to reform wheelchair provision.

A rush of people signed the petition, and I will continue to use our existing online videos and images (hosted on Youtube and Flickr respectively) to build momentum of the campaign, exploiting the triangle of newsprint, TV, and online channels.

I'd emphasise that comms needs to be live, and in a small team – or as a solitary PR person – the news doesn't stop at the weekend. But if you have lots of toys at your disposal (video content, images, a web-based call to action, a smartphone), it's possible to capitalise on two or three pieces of coverage and really amplify your message.

Rob Dyson

public relations & online engagement manager, Whizz-Kidz

In his day job, Rob leads on all public relations for young people’s charity Whizz-Kidz, including corporate fundraising partnerships, youth campaigning, NHS partnerships and parliamentary work and most notably social media: building conversational, community engagement in Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Flickr. Rob blogs on third sector issues, Big Society, and digital comms and founded the Third Sector PR & Communications Network on Facebook.