In August of 2009, Michelle Tennant Nicholson of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., spoke with Catherine Porche, charity event organizer of, about how to land media coverage for a charity event. This call was part of Wasabi Publicity’s Wasabi Club, where listener’s learned:
• What to say to TV stations to get them to cover their event,
• About free resources to publicize their charity event — especially if their budget is $0 to nothing,
• Which different newspaper departments to send press releases to,
• How radio is different than TV and newspapers,
• When to communicate to producers and reporters,
• Why people profiles trump organizational round-ups,
• And common time-waster pitfalls when publicizing an event.
Here’s the transcript of Catherine and Michelle’s call:
Michelle Tennant: Catherine?
Catherine Porche: Hi. Hi, Michelle.
Michelle Tennant: How are you doing?
Catherine Porche: I’m doing great, how are you doing?
Michelle Tennant: Great. So I am – let me just introduce you a little bit to everybody who’s listening to this recording, okay?
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: This is Catherine Porche, and she is about to do a fundraiser called the Nolichucky Splash to increase awareness of the wonderful work that First Descents is – you can read about them at, what they do to raise money. And what they do is they help people who have – they’re young adults with cancer. And they provide them whitewater kayaking and other outdoor adventure experiences.
And that is intended to really promote their emotional and psychological and physical healing. It’s a really worthwhile cause, everyone. And Cary first – her husband – Cary Porche – first learned about First Descents while he was doing some research on a philanthropy project that he and his wife could support.
So – and Cary’s an avid whitewater kayaker, and Cary and Catherine are both realtors with Northeast Tennessee Real Estate in the tri cities area of Erwin – Tennessee, right? It’s not North Carolina. I’m in North Carolina, but you’re in Tennessee, right Catherine?
Catherine Porche: Yeah. That’s right.
Michelle Tennant: Okay. And they have three boys and two Siberian huskies in Erwin. So it’s really a pleasure to talk to you. And this is – so this is just something that the two of you are putting on, and then you’re going to do an annual fundraiser?
Catherine Porche: Well this actually is going to be the annual fundraiser, the Nolichucky Splash. And we just really were looking for a way – we gave money every year. And we just wanted to be able to give more money. And so I contacted First Descents because they said if you want to do a fundraiser. So I contacted them and said, “Ooh, sign me up. Where do I do a fundraiser?”
And their fundraiser was more of a door to door collecting money type thing. And we just had bigger ideas and wanted bigger money. So we started putting this together. It started to snowball. And I figured if I’m going through all of the learning experience of getting this together for one year, I’m going to keep it going.
Michelle Tennant: Cool. So I just wanna – people might be hearing a hum in the background. Are you on a phone that’s far away from your cradle, by any chance?
Catherine Porche: I’m actually on a cell phone at a remote location in the woods.
Michelle Tennant: Oh. Oh, okay. So everybody’s going to have to just deal with the hum in the background. If there’s any way that – like right now the humming has stopped, so –
Catherine Porche: I did up my window. I’m in the car.
Michelle Tennant: Oh. Oh, okay.
Catherine Porche: My cell phone only gets reception in certain areas, so –
Michelle Tennant: Gotcha, okay.
Catherine Porche: Erwin’s a little town.
Michelle Tennant: Gotcha. Okay. Well the other thing is people might not know who I am if this is the first time that you’re listening to teleseminar associated with I’m Michelle Tennant. I co-own with Wasabi Publicity and I’ve been doing PR for about twenty years.
And the short story on what I do is I place people on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, New York Times, and all of the other media, whether it be print or broadcast around the world. And I have a long list of clients that you can check out at
And we also – I have another firm that specializes in technology and search engine optimization and online press kits and so forth. They have a free PR tool that everyone should be using if you want media leads. And that is And if you’ve not signed up for that you should.
Every day you get about a dozen or so media leads. And these are requests from reporters. And they’re looking for commentary or experts or stories to file, whether they’re family or businesses. So you should check that out.
So that’s who I am. And if you want to look at the websites while we’re talking in this call, you can go to or or So talk to me a little bit about – Catherine is actually someone who is a personal friend. And she knows that I do PR. So she contacted me for assistance.
And I said, “You know, I think it’d be great to record this call so other people who are doing nonprofit fundraising events can actually benefit from the advice that I’m going to give to Catherine.” So with that in mind, what types of questions do you have?
Catherine Porche: Well my first question is what’s the most effective way to get the television people to cover my event? Would it be best to go to the stations in person, solicit them in writing like in a letter, email, phone – what’s the most effective – especially for television? Because I’d like either media coverage to get on one of our little AM shows or something like that. What’s probably the path of least resistance?
Michelle Tennant: Now you said one of the AM shows. So also radio or just TV?
Catherine Porche: Well my question is mostly about TV, but radio would be great, too. At this point, I’d like to just get whatever I can get, and I need to know – because I’ve driven past the TV station plenty, and I saw that they had security like Fort Knox. Because my original plan was to go in person. I don’t know if that’s best. What do you think is best?
Michelle Tennant: I think it’s a waste of time to go in person. The only reason to go in person is if you want to drop off chocolates.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: You might drop off a cake that has – they – what might be interesting, okay, is to drop off some food, like a cake, with a picture of one of the kids from First Descents.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And then like a little packet on the side. Not too much, just say, “Hey.” The who, what, where. We’re doing a fundraiser for First Descents. This is Linda and she’s a young person who has cancer and they’ve got whitewater experiences. Just another way to kind of get in front of the crew.
But you’re definitely going to have to follow it up with personal phone calls. I would just call into the newsroom and don’t call in and around the times they’re broadcasting. And what you would say is, “Hey, I don’t know if you know but we’re doing something called Nolichucky Splash. I’m a mom in the area. This is something that my husband and I put together.” And they’ll say, “Great. Tell us more about it. Send us an email.” That’s what they’ll say.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: They might on the off chance, because they’re in Erwin, say, “Send us a fax.” And then you want to make sure you have everything together. I love online links – that’s why we developed You don’t have to spend a lot of money and a lot – you don’t have to hire a PR team. You can do it all yourself as well.
You can even just put up information about the Nolichucky Splash on social networking. So you could just do a Linked In page or Twitter about it or whatever, and those are all free services, right?
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And I think even with Linked In, you can put – actually, you can print a flyer out pretty quickly off your information. So if you were doing it yourself, you would need to have the information online as well, though. So where you could also put photos and things like that. So you might do a Facebook or a Myspace account where you can share information or share files. Okay?
But you sent me some nice pictures via email of some whitewater shots. That’s the most important thing, to let people know, “Well, what is the opportunity?” And if you just want them to cover the event, then that’s – you want to let them know just a day or two in advance. Like, “Hey, this is happening. Come to our event.”
They’re going to say, “Okay, so?” You want to give them something to photograph or someone to interview that’s got a compelling story or something compelling visually, right?
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: So you might say – we’re just creating Linda, arbitrary name out of the air. She’s 13, she has cancer. She’s going to be going down the river for the first time. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can interview her. And then what was it about. I would recommend doing that in advance so that the event can actually be publicized beforehand. Because it’s open to the public right?
Catherine Porche: Yes.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah. So give them something compelling to cover. Hi, I’m Catherine Porche. I’m a mom in Erwin. You just want to first say, “I have a story idea for you, do you have time to talk?” And they’ll say, “Let me know.” Or, “No, we’re in the middle of something, breaking news. Call back later.” And don’t be put off. Don’t make it mean anything if they can’t talk to you/
Catherine Porche: Oh, right.
Michelle Tennant: Right? So you can – then just quickly – you want to make sure that you’re talking – a lot of times what people will do when they’re talking to the media is they give the whole back story first. You have to help the media locate what the hell you’re talking about at the very beginning.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: “Hi. I’m Catherine Porche. I’m a mom and a business woman in Erwin, Tennessee. My husband and I have created something called the Nolichucky Splash. It’s a nonprofit charity event that helps young kids with cancer experience whitewater and other outdoor adventures. We’d love to connect you with one of these young people so that you can get a whole back story on how their life’s been affected or improved.”
And they’d be like, “Oh, well tell me.” And then you get them talking about, well, what type of things do you like to cover like that? And then they’ll say yes or no, or I don’t know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. If you have a person of note – like a mayor or somebody that’s important, then that’s also someone they could interview. But the most important thing is to try to get them to do it before the event.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And they may not. They may say, “Oh, we’re just coming to the event,” and that’s what you got, so you can always then, with the coverage at the event. Then people will go to the website and maybe donate later.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Same with print. Like, same with the newspapers. Just make sure all the calendar people know. And then just put your who, what, when, where and how in an email or a Word document. Get that over to them. The photo that you sent to me would be something – do you own that photo?
Catherine Porche: Yeah. That’s actually a photo of Cary.
Michelle Tennant: Oh great. So then you just want to provide that as – you’ll see it all the time in papers and stuff. They’ll say, “Special to the paper.” That’s just because it’s from the people – people are just giving them a photo to use. But you want to say, “Here’s a photo that you can use.” They love photos, make things visual.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And then same thing. Let them know about the opportunity to maybe interview a child or somebody with a compelling story from the nonprofit. Or if you don’t have that, then you guys are compelling stories.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Why are you doing this? Uncle Butch, you share the story that your Uncle Butch passed of cancer. So that may be something that you want to quickly say – say, “Well we’re doing this out of personal reasons. We’re just a couple in Erwin. We decided to do this because our Uncle Butch passed of cancer, and so we wanted to give back.”
And it’s a positive story. It’s uplifting. It’s about good charity work and how people can get involved. It’s something that people need to hear about right now, especially when an economy is down. The newsrooms are really, really clamoring for positive news stories. So you would just call the – and you would call the station. Let me give you a website that you can find everything for free.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Years ago we found this. I’m in no way affiliated with it. It’s called So it stands for – yeah, U.S. Newspapers List.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: The And then you go in here. So you’re Tennessee, right? Not North Carolina. So –
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Tennessee, let’s see the – and then you go into the cities. Okay, here’s Erwin. So there’s the Erwin Record, okay? And then you would – the paper is currently inactive, it says. Okay. That’s fine. That’s happening a lot around the country. And then there’s the Beacon.
So then you would go into the Beacon. And then – I’m on their website right now. And then you would look at contact info. Let’s see, da-na-na-na-na. Yeah, contact us – right there on the left hand side. And then you would just call that number. See, it says “Tips and press releases.” And that’s where you would send your email. It’s that easy.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And you would just give them the who, what, when, where and how. But you want to make sure that you put at the top – if you just say “nonprofit event,” Catherine, it’s going to sound like you’re from the organization.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And it’s not interesting to them. What’s interesting to them is that you’re just a mom and pop in Erwin doing this because your Uncle Butch passed.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: That’s what’s interesting. Like, “What?” Like an average person just takes it on. And this – this – start with the sentence, just like you did with me. It was a really great thing – well the first email, you said, “I’m doing a fundraiser,” right? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Don’t start that way. Start with the one you did below when we were talking about this call which was, “My husband, Cary and I recently lost our Uncle Butch to cancer. And we feel that this is something that affects everybody in one way or another. Then we decided to do a fundraiser.”
You want to take that last sentence and put it up top so that the news people can get what it is in a heartbeat. And then you put- like in any news release, you do like an upside down pyramid. So the information is like really succinct at the top –
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And at any point, the editor can cut from the bottom. But if all they did was read the first paragraph, they would still get the news.
Catherine Porche: Gotcha.
Michelle Tennant: That’s how they – so they want the whole story in one or two sentences. And then you can send that information the newspaper, to the TV stations, and also the radio stations. So let’s look and see under, let’s see who else is in Erwin. So that’s – you can look and see who’s nearby.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: You can also look in North Carolina, because Ashville may be interested in running something, especially – probably just their calendar sections. Maybe even Charlotte. People drive.
Catherine Porche: Well we have a lot of kayakers coming out of North Carolina, and we have some organizations that have donated out of North Carolina as well. But we’ll also be drawing in some of the tri cities, especially Johnson City –
Michelle Tennant: Yeah.
Catherine Porche: As far as television, radio, etcetera. Those are all located in Johnson City.
Michelle Tennant: Well if you look on the left hand side under Tennessee information. So it pops up first, just the newspapers. But then you click on a little link called TV stations –
Catherine Porche: Mm-hmm.
Michelle Tennant: And then you can actually look and see, “Oh, well actually they have a lot here.” They have radio stations, colleges and universities, TV stations, newspapers and restaurants all would be worth contacting.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Right? So the only one in Johnson City is WJHL under the TV stations. And so that’s who you really want to cater to.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Is that who you’re passing?
Catherine Porche: Yeah.
Michelle Tennant: Okay. So then you go about us – because the only drawback about this being free is that you’ve gotta do the research yourself. You can purchase lists, or you can hire a PR firm like my PR firm, Wasabi Publicity and say, “I want to hire you to contact everybody in the entire area.” But it’s – for an event like this, even local, it’s going to be probably $2500.00.
Catherine Porche: Wow. Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Which is not really budget efficient for someone who’s just doing an event. You might as well put that money towards the fundraising, right?
Catherine Porche: Yeah. Since our goal is $5000.00.
Michelle Tennant: Right. Exactly. So then you just – this is how you can do it yourself. Then you go to “contact us,” and I always say you’ll know when you need a publicist. Everyone’s like, “Well when should I do it myself? When should I hire a publicist?” It’s just like –
Catherine Porche: If you still have time to do it yourself –
Michelle Tennant: Exactly –
Catherine Porche: You don’t need a publicist.
Michelle Tennant: Exactly. People who are just incredibly busy with their platform, whether it’s a book or they’re a doctor or a lawyer, they’ve got to have a publicist to move their career forward.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Or they have a business that needs to be represented with the media because the media is calling them and they need some interaction. That’s when you need a publicist. It’s just like, “Well, when do you need a lawyer?” Well you generally don’t need a lawyer unless you’re going to court. Right?
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So you’re probably not going to need a publicist unless you’re already – now if you want to get the media’s attention, there are plenty of ways for you to do it yourself. So I’m in the tri cities – so I’m in this TV station’s – it actually takes me to the Bristol Herald Courier, which is interesting, which tells me that they have a partnership with the TV station and then this news – but regardless, you can actually then – here it says, “Have a breaking news story? Have an event for the Bristol Herald Courier calendar?” And there it is. Email us at mdutton, email us at bnews. Okay?
Catherine Porche: All right.
Michelle Tennant: If you want to call them, you can actually then make a phone call. And then you’ll see who’s who. You don’t want to call the advertising section. You want to call the newsroom.
Catherine Porche: Oh, okay. That was my next question. Who do I call?
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, you don’t – well who do you want? So the contact us button on this one sent me back to – so let’s go to the news channel. Because I went over to the newspaper. So here we are. So you’ve got – there it is – Eleven Connects. And then they say, “Oh, Twitter.” So they Twitter again. So you can also connect with them on their Twitter accounts or their Facebook accounts or so forth.
Or – in fact, it’s interesting. They have their profiles – their Linked In accounts, their Twitter account. Great. So then you can actually contact them through that. Now you’ve got producers, anchors, reporters, assignment manager and so forth, okay?
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Sports anchors, daytime hosts, and meteorologists and the digital journalists and so forth. Now probably not your meteorologists, okay?
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Probably not your – although your sports reporter may really be interested. I would go with a sports reporter to see if they wanted to do something special, because it is related with sports. And then if you got nowhere with him – like trying to get them to come out early. I would also then just try your – I would just go down the list. And then if you don’t get anything with the sports people, then try your regular producers or reporters.
You might first go to the assignment manager, who in your case is Doug Counts. And he’s got his Twitter, his email and his profile right there – everything that you need. They might even have a phone number. Let’s see. No, you’ll have to call the main number and then go through.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: But he definitely – you can email him and everything on the website itself. And then I’d think that you’d probably get it through Twitter – I would do all three. He doesn’t have a Linked In account, but he does have email and Twitter. I would for sure email him and then back him up with a Twitter. Like you would send an email, and then you might follow up with Twitter. Like ting, ting, ting. Say – send him a direct message through Twitter and say, “Doug, husband wife starting a annual fundraiser for cancer – annual fundraiser benefiting kids with cancer so they can have outdoor activities or outdoor experiences.” Something that short.
Catherine Porche: Yeah. With Twitter, you gotta be brief.
Michelle Tennant: So you can get – yeah.
Catherine Porche: Yeah.
Michelle Tennant: With the media, you have to be brief. That’s a really good analogy. Keep in mind, like Twitter –
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: When you’re dealing with the media and you’re giving them information, it’s gotta be as succinct and brief as Twitter. It’s the best.
Catherine Porche: I kinda – you hear in the media it’s a grassroots organization. Am I a grassroots organization?
Michelle Tennant: Yeah.
Catherine Porche: Am I doing – can I use the term grassroots?
Michelle Tennant: Well you’re more than that – you’re mom and pop. I mean, I don’t really know. I’d have to ask the nonprofit if they’re grassroots.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: But you’re just a couple – you’re a local hero. Like –
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: If you feel funny calling yourself that, then highlight Cary.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Is it Cary’s uncle?
Catherine Porche: Yeah, it’s Cary’s uncle.
Michelle Tennant: Okay.
Catherine Porche: And Cary’s the whitewater kayaker. I’m just the –
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, you’re the wife. Now listen – what you could do is put Cary in the spotlight, Catherine. And then you could do all the work featuring him.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And you could say, “I would like to nominate my husband as a local Erwin hero, a local hero. Here’s what he’s doing. His Uncle Butch passed. He’s a whitewater kayaker. He’s raising money for other kids – for kids who have cancer – so they can have whitewater experiences.” And then just focus on Cary.
Catherine Porche: Yeah. That might make it less awkward.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah. Yeah.
Catherine Porche: Like because I can easily tell people he’s a hero. I don’t really want to walk around going, “Hey, look at me.”
Michelle Tennant: And then they’ll get the story and they’ll be like, “Well that’s neat. We’ve got a wife who’s nominating her husband as a hero? That’s cool. Tell me more.” And so they want to know then. And the same with – so let’s go down to radio. So that’s how you do the TV. And literally you just keep going ‘til you get a no.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Because some people will stop. They’re like, “Well I contacted them once.” Well you know what? They’re so freaking busy, you may need to contact them seven times.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So – wow. I just went to the USNPL and the advertisement that they have is unbelievably inappropriate. But that’s all right. It’s a free site. I’m like, “Oh my God, what is that picture?” Anyway –
Catherine Porche: That’s great.
Michelle Tennant: But it gets your attention, right? The advertising worked. Okay, so in Johnson City they’ve got a classical channel. And so you’ll know which – because you’re a realtor, you’re going to know which one of these is close to you and then you’ll – and then you can also look in the surrounding states.
But right now they only list WETS as being listed in Johnson City. And so then you can contact us, and ___ can see – okay, they have an NPR station. So they may do something – they may cover you locally.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: But you gotta kinda look on their – so I’m on their page. And so what do I look for? Okay. So public radio for East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina. About us – well I’m actually going to go to programming first.
Catherine Porche: Right, they’re –
Michelle Tennant: Because I’m looking –
Catherine Porche: That’s our local like – it’s out of ETSU, the university here –
Michelle Tennant: Yeah.
Catherine Porche: And I think it’s actually located in Johnson City. And they just have a broad range of coverage.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, and –
Catherine Porche: Will you –
Michelle Tennant: So they’ve got – everything’s fed through NPR, you can see. But there’s a few – like under news and information is going to tap into what’s happening on the local scene.
Catherine Porche: One of the –
Michelle Tennant: And you just want to call them and ask them if they actually have a producer – just ask them for a radio host that organizes any local news. Call the main office and then say, “Look, I want to talk to producers that cover the local scene.” And this is –
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And they may actually – because there’s going to be a lot of background natural sound and that’s great for radio. Like you can hear the water. You could hear maybe even outdoor – like the birds and the chirping and stuff. So that would be something that may be interesting to them. They may even interview you on a Sunday morning show or something like that.
Catherine Porche: Right. Yeah, and like the kayakers whoop and holler a lot too, so – we also have – I’ve noticed as I flip around the different stations, they all seem to be owned by Charter media.
Michelle Tennant: I doubt that. Unless you’re – where are you seeing that?
Catherine Porche: Just on the radio station, they’ll say that. Like, “A division of charter media,” when they do their station identification.
Michelle Tennant: Hmm.
Catherine Porche: No?
Michelle Tennant: Well give me an example of one. I just – I’ve never heard that. It’s possible. I mean, Charter is a cable company –
Catherine Porche: Maybe it’s not – oh, gosh, maybe I better go back and listen again. Maybe – it seems to be all of the radio stations, though, are owned by one huge radio station. And I guess it’s not Charter.
Michelle Tennant: Well, the radio market is a lot like music used to be in that it’s getting redefined because of the internet.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So popular names that you’ll hear are things like Clear Channel or XM or Sirius and so forth. There’s a lot of conglomerates in the area – in your area in particular. I mean, from each region in the country it’s going to be different.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: But generally, there’s something called internet radio, and then terrestrial radio. And things like these stations that are on USNPL that are listed under Johnson City, that means it’s still terrestrial. It means they have an office, people come to it, they actually broadcast out of their studio and so forth.
So – and generally in every city or area there’s still the terrestrially based stations and the AM stations. Just listen to your AM radio and see which ones actually have the talk radio going.
Catherine Porche: Oh, I remember. It’s Citadel Media.
Michelle Tennant: Citadel, okay. Well that’s probably just the conglomerate in your area.
Catherine Porche: Okay. So they’ll probably be harder to reach.
Michelle Tennant: And they generally do own a few stations. So but just get on their website and see who’s producing shows. And then you call the main office and say, “Who’s your guest booker? I’ve got an interview idea.” And then you offer them Cary. And when you get the person on the phone or you get into their voicemail, say, “Hi, I’m Catherine. I wanted to know if you wanted to interview my husband. He’s a local hero. He’s a whitewater kayaker. His Uncle Butch died. He’s now raising money for kids with cancer who want to go whitewater kayaking.”
And they’ll be like, “Well that’s kind of interesting.” “We’re doing a huge event that he created. We just thought it’d be a great way to raise money for a great cause. It’s called the Nolichucky Splash. It’s an annual thing. Call me!” And then give a phone number that you can easily be reached, because if they don’t call you and you don’t pick up the phone, then it’s very difficult to play phone tag with them.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So give them a way to without a shadow of a doubt reach you.
Catherine Porche: Right. Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And then if you wanted to send them an email, you can talk to the receptionist at the main phone number and see if she can give you their email. Sometimes she’ll say, “We don’t give that out. He has to give that to you directly.” And, “Great. Can I just leave a message in his voicemail? Or her?”
Catherine Porche: Okay. Okay, now that’s all very good.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah. So when you deal with the newspaper, not only the calendar editor, okay? That’s like a done deal, they’re just going to do the who, what, when, where and how. But also the sports editor. Because the sports editor might cover it just because it’s a sports related thing. But then you can also call the feature people. And then let them know about the husband/wife story behind who you guys are, as well as the realtor editor because you guys are both real estate agents. So you might just not stop until you get one of those editors to say yes.
Catherine Porche: And do I stop after I get one of them to say yes? I don’t contact all of them –
Michelle Tennant: Well I would contact the calendar editor first just to make sure it’s in there.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Then I would start with the sports editor. If you get nowhere with the sports editor, then go to the real estate editor. If you don’t get anywhere with the real estate editor, then go to the feature editor.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And they may be the same person. Now they’ve got really small stuff.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: But at the very least you can talk about it in a different way. So if you’re calling the sports person, you want to highlight the sports content. If you’re calling the realtor person, you want to highlight the fact that you’re realtors. If you’re calling the feature person, you want to highlight the fact that you’re just a mom and pop.
Catherine Porche: Right, okay. Okay, well that’s good. And then – but I shouldn’t double up. Like say the sports editor says yeah, I’d love to cover that. I shouldn’t then turn around and get the real estate guy to cover it too?
Michelle Tennant: That’s your call. And if you’re unsure you can actually ask the person who said yes first.
Catherine Porche: Okay. Yeah.
Michelle Tennant: So you can talk to the sports editor and just say, “Hey, I’m so happy that you’re going to cover this. Oh, but you’re only going to cover on the day of the event? Hey, do you think I should call the features editor or the real estate editor? Because I’m,” and then he’s like, “Why are you calling the real estate editor?” “Because we’re realtors. Or the features person because we’re a husband and wife team, because I’d like to get some pre-event coverage.” And then he’ll tell you, “Oh yeah, that’s a great idea. Call Jan.”
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And you don’t want to wait. So the newspapers – because your event’s like at the end of August?
IE; Right.
Michelle Tennant: They want two to four weeks notice. They hate last minute notices at the paper.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: The paper will probably do like a pre-event blurb about it. And then they’ll probably send a photographer to get pictures the day of.
Catherine Porche: Well that’ll be cool. And then –
Michelle Tennant: Right? And then the newspaper will probably just do a pre-event coverage like a few days before. So if you can get them a kid with cancer who’s going out – maybe they even want to go out with somebody. Like they actually want to experience going on the river or something. Or maybe you can figure out with Cary’s network, like how can they get them on a ducky or on a raft or something. They may love that and cover that.
And so TV, try to go for a pre-event coverage about a week or two before. And then if you don’t get anywhere with pre-event coverage, then the day before and the day of, call the newsroom and try to get a camera crew out and just say, “We’ve got kids with cancer. They can be interviewed,” and then get some approval with the organization or whatever. “We also got people who are kayaking, and that’s very visual.” And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And try to get them to come out that day.
Catherine Porche: Right. No, we have equipment. We can definitely stick anybody from the news media that’s wants to into a boat and let them paddle around a bit.
Michelle Tennant: Let them know that.
Catherine Porche: Yeah, so they can see exactly why it is so effective as a healing tool.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah. Great, perfect. Yeah. You might even have a doctor on hand or someone from the health field in Erwin who can actually be interviewed about why it’s effective healing. Because then it just becomes like a credible expert. And they’ll be like, “Oh, great. This person’s got the whole package for me. Awesome.”
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So you’re basically doing their whole work. So you’ve got the compelling heart tug story, “Ah, somebody with cancer healing.” And you’ve got the other person who’s the local hero putting it all together, the do good Samaritan. And then you’ve got the media expert who’s just a health expert. “I’ve got health expert, Dr. Jennifer Glasco” – I’m just kind of pulling out names. “And she can be on camera talking about the effects of healing if you want to actually cover that.”
So you’ve got like, all the elements of good storytelling for the newsroom. And it’s just a feel good story. And you can even start with – when you call the newsroom – say, “Do you have time for a pitch? I’ve got a feel good story for you.” “Oh yeah? What is it?” “Do you have time for a pitch? It’s a feel good story about Erwin.” “Okay. Talk to me.”
“Well, I’m Catherine Porche. And it’s about my husband, and he is a local hero.” And if you get stuck at any point, like you just don’t know what the hell you’re saying, just say, “Just forgive me, I’m not a publicist or anything like that and I had a PR friend who was kinda coaching me to do this, and just let me know if I’m not making any sense.” And then they’ll have grace, right? They’ll be like, “Okay.”
Catherine Porche: All right.
Michelle Tennant: “You’re doing fine. You’re doing fine. Tell me what the story is, blah, blah, blah.” They’ll help you.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: If you get stuck and weird at any point, just let them know you’re not a professional PR person. And – but you’re trying to give them the information that they need. And then just ask them, “What do you need?” And they’ll prompt you. “Well, what’s the story about? Who is it? When is it? What does it entail?”
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And just sort of your story is feel good story, good Samaritan in Erwin wants to raise money for kids who have cancer who want outdoor experiences. That’s the short of it.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: “Oh, interesting. Who is it? When is it? Background?” And then the key elements would be, “You can come out beforehand and take a whitewater rafting trip if you want to. You can meet some of the kids. We’ve got a doctor.” Or if you can’t get a doctor, maybe you can just get whoever is practicing – a nurse practitioner, whoever is in the area and just say health expert.
“I’ve got a health expert who can also comment on why outdoor experiences are so healing.” “Wow, that’s cool. And so who are you?” “I’m the person’s husband – I’m the wife. And so there’s also – you can come interview us. We’ve got dogs. We’ve got kids. So a whole feel good kind of thing. And we just want to raise as much money as possible for this great organization. And we just chose them because our Uncle Butch had cancer and we thought it was a good idea.”
Catherine Porche: Okay. I got a lot to do.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, you want to – like now’s the time. Like this week.
Catherine Porche: Yeah –
Michelle Tennant: That’s why –
Catherine Porche: Now I have this afternoon slated and Monday afternoon – or Monday day.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah.
Catherine Porche: So hopefully I’ll get it done.
Michelle Tennant: Well just start with three.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: That’s the other pitfall that people do. They have to like, call everybody and their mother. No, you have three shoe-ins. And I just saw them. You’ve got one TV station. You’ve got one newspaper. And you’ve got one radio station. Start with them.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And then if you have time after you do the three that are located in Johnson City, then you can branch out a little further.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: But start with those three. So that’s what? That’s probably a half hour, you’re done.
Catherine Porche: Okay, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin, too fast.
Michelle Tennant: No. No, and then why? Because the truth of it is is you know in a smaller community, the one news source everybody gets informed by –
Catherine Porche: Right. It’s the truth.
Michelle Tennant: Right. Now let’s talk about national. I think that you might have legs for something more national. So I know you’re focused in and around and it’s limited time and it’s just you and all that. But you do have the information to some local – or some national contacts. I don’t know that CNN wouldn’t come out and cover it. You might as well try.
Catherine Porche: I’m all about trying.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah. Just let CNN know about it. What are they going to say, no? Yeah, look – under video, you’ve got that stuff. Just look and see who is your favorite national news? Headline News and CNN, you can just go to their website, and they’ll let you know. And you can just call it, and they’ll let you know how to pitch them a breaking news idea.
Any newsroom that’s providing you breaking news will be set up to receive news. And they’re also set up and used to hearing from just Average Joe and Jane. Look at everybody doing the iReporters.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: You can go to the iReporter under CNN and let them know. And they’ll consider your story.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: They may never call you back. They may never say anything but you might as well – look at USA Today is right here on USNPL. Just look in there and then try – go in here and go, “Okay, contact us. How do I contact them?” I usually contact them from my personal contacts. Let me see what they have publicly here.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So you go news – you can go to the news – on the bottom on the left hand side, it says “Contact us.” So if you look at that – and it’ll say. It says “ editorial, advertising, travel, technical questions, email, content permissions.” So then you go – you could also send a letter – just send a letter – and you can go editorial. There’s sports, weekly, editorial. And just click on that.
To find – so then you’ve got please – and then you’ve got a checklist. Letter to the editor, inquiry, press release. So there you go. You could do both a letter to the editor and a press release.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Why not?
Catherine Porche: I can do all that.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, USA Today and then probably CNN or Headline News or Fox or one of the stations that you really like.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Good luck. Will you let me know?
Catherine Porche: I’m putting on my gloves and getting ready to jump into the ring.
Michelle Tennant: Okay, good. So then – so if anybody wants to actually email Catherine, let them know how to reach you.
Catherine Porche: Oh, you can contact me directly at – it’s spelled the way you think it is. No d’s or anything weird. And then the other fastest way and probably the best way is and there is a contact button on there also. And it’s Nolichucky nobody knows how to spell. It’s And it’s a wonderful site. You can buy a t-shirt or donate money there, too.
Michelle Tennant: Oh, yeah, there you go. That’s great. Well, you can just add a page here under your – for your press information.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: So you can just put “Press kit.” And it would be your who, what, where, when and how and some photos they can use, and then who to contact if they have more questions.
Catherine Porche: Great.
Michelle Tennant: And then you can just make sure that you’re leading with so that they actually know that you’ve got a site set up to receive donations and so forth.
Catherine Porche: Oh, okay.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: So this is great. This is great. And then you’ve got the supporters here. Oh great, you’ve got us listed here, too. I love it. Nice.
Catherine Porche: Yeah. Thank you.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, this is great. And then yeah, I would just add like a little something about – well you’ve got about First Descents. But this is actually you, right? Doing it for First Descents.
Catherine Porche: Right. It is – yeah. Yeah.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah.
Catherine Porche: And there’s a lot of firsts you’re looking at here now. So that’s our first website we’ve ever made, so we’re hammering out the details.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah. All right. No, it’s nice. I think that you – how come you’re not – it’s not clear that you’re behind this.
Catherine Porche: Okay. Behind –
Michelle Tennant: So. So – mm-hmm. I would – this is – I know you’re not paying me for peer advice for Tennessee Home Hunters.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: But I think that Tennessee Home Hunters should at the very least be under the supporters.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: At the very least. And then I think also over here, “Join us for a fulfilled day at,” ‘cause you’ve got River camp park – da, da, da. “If you would like to learn more about,” so down here. “Proceeds from the event go to the First Descents. If you’d like to – so join for the fun for a good cause, and if you’d like to know more about us,” or the coordinators, “Check us out at”
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: I think – yeah, because people – yeah, I see your email, Catherine Porche at the bottom here. But about the event, like you’ve got about First Descents and it goes there. But then I don’t know that whole wonderful back story about who you and Cary are.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: And about your Uncle Butch, which I think is just really – people really get inspired by that stuff.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, I would definitely – so you might have a home –
Catherine Porche: We’ll make that more prominent –
Michelle Tennant: Yeah, home, about the event, about the event coordinators and then that’s all about you. And then about First Descents, donate, event date, report a broken link, all that stuff. Let’s see what else you got here? Well, this has been great. I mean I think that people can hear about – the reason why I wanted to record this with you today was because I’ve given them – I come from a nonprofit background, so I’ve given a lot of PR advice over the past twenty years to nonprofits and so forth.
And I have a huge commitment to only take on clients who make a difference. And so we’ve represented some of the largest charities in the world. One of the things that I always encourage them to do is people are inspired by the background story of the people. So we often lead with the organizations. But by and large, we’re fascinated by stories about other people.
So don’t forget to keep bringing that story front and center. Just like we’re interested in the children who have cancer. We want to know how this personally affects them. And that’s what has us open up our checkbooks.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Right. That’s why we want to help. We want to help. That’s why Katrina and 9/11 and so – like we were so moved by the people affected that the community comes around to be generous.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: People by and large are just looking to be inspired. And they’re inspired by people versus just organizations. They want to know who’s behind it? Can I trust them? Can I really? And I wouldn’t worry about “Oh my God, I’m being too self-serving by getting my realtor stuff out there.” No! People get that.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: You gotta be – to be successful realtors, you gotta be in the community. So I think that that’s fine.
Catherine Porche: Well, and ultimately we do want people to understand that we’re from here. And one of the – I didn’t know how to talk about this eloquently, per say. One of my hardest nuts to crack so far has been getting the medical community to assist me in finding local young adults with cancer. I actually don’t – we talked about having somebody at the event, etcetera. I actually don’t have somebody from here.
Michelle Tennant: Oh, well why don’t you try – that’s interesting. Well it’s probably because of confidentiality.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Okay.
Catherine Porche: But I’m trying to get the information to them but I have no way of finding out if they’re getting it.
Michelle Tennant: Well what about something like another nonprofit like Team in Training? So Team in Training is a bunch of athletes who run charities for kids with leukemia. So they’re going to have a long laundry list of heroes – they call them heroes. They connect the people. I did a marathon with Team in Training years ago. And there’s always local chapters.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: So they may say, “Oh, well we want to get involved somehow.” Which is fine. Let them be a supporter. But they – you can go to a local chapter and at least get in relationship with somebody to say, “Look, this is what our commitment is. Our particular gig is whitewater. I’m getting roadblocks. Do you have any local heroes from Team in Training kids?” Because what happens is the runner is running a marathon. And then you’re connected with a child who has cancer. Or an adult who has cancer.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So then you’re actually running for that person. So my guy’s name was Joey.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And I got – I wasn’t in to whitewater at that point. I just got covered in the news because I was running for Joey.
Catherine Porche: Right. And that’s ultimately what we’d like. We’d like to have $5000.00 is enough to cover – to send five people through the program. We’d really like to have –
Michelle Tennant: And you don’t have – if you can’t find somebody locally, there may not be somebody local, right?
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: So then have Cary have a local – have Cary be the local tie-in. and he’s actually kayaking or raising money for Joey who’s elsewhere.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: Maybe the kid – lean on First Descents. And First Descents may say, “Well, we don’t have anybody in Erwin, but we have somebody in D.C.” Okay, well fine. Let’s get a picture of that child and then Cary’s the local tie-in because he’s raising money for that kid.
Catherine Porche: Right. Okay. That sounds good.
Michelle Tennant: That’s also a way around that.
Catherine Porche: Excellent.
Michelle Tennant: And we can also – more and more media are using Skype interviews so that they can actually – it’s like Oprah uses Skype all the time to interview local people.
Catherine Porche: Right.
Michelle Tennant: And so we can always connect with the child through Skype – the local TV station can, or through the phone or something like that. Okay?
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Okay. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Okay, thanks so much. And everyone, if you want to email me questions or commentary to get to Catherine, remember you can reach me through the 411 information page at And my personal email address is Two Ls in Michelle and an S on results. And I really appreciate you sharing this session, Catherine, so other people and other nonprofits can benefit as well.
Catherine Porche: Well I sure appreciate all the generosity of your time. And I know that this is what you do to give. So thank you so much.
Michelle Tennant: Thanks so much, Catherine. It’s my pleasure.
Catherine Porche: Okay.
Michelle Tennant: Bye, bye.
Catherine Porche: Bye.
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Author's Bio: 

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