Wisconsin Conservation Initiative

A cooperative partnership to deliver the full spectrum of bird conservation emphasizing volunteer stewardship.

Communication Plan

WBCI Communication Plan
Compiled by the Outreach Committee

If you have any additional suggestions or corrections to the information provided, please contact Karen Etter Hale, WBCI Chair, at (920) 245-1395 / wbcibird@gmail.com


Appendix A. A 10-Step Guide to Creating a Public Information Plan. (PDF file)
Appendix B. Key messages to consider. (PDF file)
Appendix C. Potential audiences. (PDF file)
Appendix D. Sample press release format. (PDF file)
Appendix E. When a Reporter Calls. (PDF file)

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI) Communication Plan is to help guide the outreach efforts of WBCI’s committees and endorsers. The Communication Plan should be used as a guide in the planning process for bird conservation related events, such as workshops, conferences, festivals, etc. It is our intent that this plan will help make your outreach efforts go smoother and save you valuable time.

DEVELOPING A COMMUNICATION PLAN

You can never start planning and advertising your event too early. For the printed media, it’s a good idea to make your initial contact a month or two in advance of your event and then follow-up as the date gets closer. You should begin even earlier (9-12 months) if you are looking to do an article for a magazine. As a starting point to developing a communication plan for your event, we recommend answering the questions from “A 10-Step Guide to Creating a Public Information Plan” (see Appendix A).

In the paragraphs to follow, we will provide additional information and suggestions on developing your message(s), target audience, and working with the media.

Messages

When promoting your event, it is important to carefully choose and focus on 2 or 3 key messages you would like your audience to hear. But first, you need to have a “hook”, to get editors and writers interested in your cause. The “hook” can be an event, especially for the printed media, but for TV and radio, you need a more emotional connection (ex: a 10-year-old who’s crazy about birds, an 80-year-old who has been birding for 70 years, an intriguing scientist who discovered something amazing about a certain species). The hook is then followed by the 2 or 3 key messages you would like to get out. The 3 overall key messages for WBCI are:

  1. Keep common birds common.
  2. Conserve and restore endangered, threatened, and rare bird species.
  3. Birds are a resource for all of us.

Your messages could be a combination of the above or they could include more specific messages tied into your event. For example, if your organization or group was setting up a display at Farm Technology Days, where the target audience is farmers, you may choose to focus on the following 3 key messages pertaining to bird conservation: 1) human decisions about land use affect birds, 2) keep cats indoors, 3) agricultural pesticides can have negative impacts on wildlife.

Appendix B contains a list of additional messages brainstormed by the Outreach Committee and categorized by cultural/human connections, ecology/life history, habitat, and issue related messages.

Audiences

You will also need to consider who your target audience(s) is/are (i.e. who do you want to hear your messages?). To help reduce the amount of time your organization or group spends on brainstorming who your audience is and how to reach them, we have created a spreadsheet of potential audiences that can be sorted by a variety of categories, such as educators, farmers, youth, general public, etc. We have also included links to websites containing contact information for the corresponding audience (See Appendix C).

Media Contacts

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to promote your event, is to develop a relationship with the local media. If the newspaper, radio, and television media give attention to your event, it will not only provide you with free exposure, but it will also add to the credibility of the event. If the local media reports that the event is a good idea and successful, then that is what the public and potential sponsors will believe. A press release alone is not very effective; personal contact with an assignments editor or other decision-maker is crucial in getting your story out. It is critical to establish a relationship with the media in your targeted area very early in the planning process. Don’t be afraid to invite the editor out for coffee or lunch to discuss the importance of your event and providing him or her with an overview. Additionally, if you can provide video of birds that TV stations can use for stories or audio of bird songs for radio and TV reporters it will really aid in their development of a story and create a better “hook” for your audience.

The following website contains contact information for additional news sources.

1) The ABYZ News Links website contains a list of state and local news sources and their corresponding website, organized alphabetically by city.

We have also included a sample press release format (Appendix D) and an informational sheet on how to respond if a reporter calls (Appendix E).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This communication plan was developed by the WBCI Outreach Committee, members include: Jamie Nack (Chair), Ron Windingstad, Karen Etter Hale, Andy Paulios, Bettie Harriman, Susan Gilchrist, Matt Schlag-Mendenhall, Susan Foote-Martin, Steve Kupcho, Joan Garland, and Korie Klink. We would like to thank the following people for their useful suggestions and insight: Bob Manwell, Steve Betchkal, Laura Erickson, Genie Campbell, John Nolan, Tim Eisele, and Vicki Piaskowski.