If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You may have pondered this question yourself. For our Posts it is, “Does anyone know what we do to support the community through our many service projects and programs?”
The secret is to amplify the actions of the post and its members. You have to let the world know that you are active in your community and much more than a supper club for veterans.
On-line news, magazines, and newspapers are all news providers, but on-line news is seen and found by many, many people.
Let me use an example. If you buy a magazine, you read it. If you leave it out for others to read it, it is read by as many people who enter the zone (magazine rack) and pick it up. Newspapers are the same way. On-line news is not limited to you and your “magazine rack.”
On-line news is indexed, cataloged, referenced, and shared by hundreds, maybe thousands, of people with a personal computer, iPhone, Droid, or other smart phone. If your story interested them, it is pushed out to their friends on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Their friends do the same. Suddenly your story is viewed by an ever larger group. If your stories are consistent and interesting, your news site is bookmarked and visited or tagged to send notices of any changes or new stories.
Can you see the potential?
This writer has found that local newspapers are in urgent need of local stories. They watch local news weblogs (blogs) for community interest stories. They also use local web sites as reference resources and first stops as they field a story. In your case, it may be Memorial or Veterans Day. If you have a posted story, they use that story and its references to locate local speakers and people to interview for their stories. C.V. Cummings Chapel Hill Post 9100 reports that the local papers request to reprint some of their stories as local guest columnist stories. Other posts, who are using the North Carolina VFW-provided website, are reporting similar success and increased awareness and publication of post activities in local news.
Posts that are fortunate to have exceptional story writers find that their stories and photos are accepted for local printing. Why? Local papers have reduced their reporting staff writers. Your stories may not get published right away, but many are used as fill-in stories by “staff reports.”
So, in your forest (your town), you can use your post’s website or news weblog to announce veterans’ activities for all in your community to read about. Note that I did not say post activities. Write about what the men and women in your post do. They are the hometown heroes doing community service projects and programs that help local people. They are veterans in action! Write about them as members of your post. Put the microphone and spotlight on them. Their actions make good news and that reflects well on your post!
Need help getting started? Just contact the state Blogmaster and he will assist you with optimizing your post’s site. He can also give you advice on press releases, on-line newsletters, and lessons learned while working with local print, radio and television media. (For the district, contact your district commander.)
Source: vfwnc.org/website toolbox/Building Post News; by Lee Heavlin, March 9, 2012