danniewriter

A Dickens of an impact

The frontispiece of the original printing of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (public domain photo)

I love movies, but am no longer someone who “must” see a film on opening weekend; sometimes I’m even a year late.

Falling squarely in the better-late-than-never category is The Man Who Invented Christmas, which I missed in 2017 but now intend to add to my “best Christmas movies” collection.

The film follows Charles Dickens’ frantic and very bumpy road in writing A Christmas Carol. His family in dire financial straits, Dickens needed a bestseller. A frequent speaker on the charity circuit after the tremendous success of Oliver Twist, Dickens was keenly aware of society’s poorest of the poor, even as he wrestled with personal money woes.

In reference to the title of the film, obviously, the celebration of the birth of Christ pre-dated Dickens’ lifetime, but how the day is celebrated definitely was impacted by the novella.

With the success of the small book, Dickens inexorably linked the holiday with overt expressions of compassion and generosity toward the less fortunate. In a 1998 article, The Washington Post shared examples of the book’s instant impact in 1843. Here is just one:

A young Robert Louis Stevenson was beside himself after reading A Christmas Carol for the first time: “I want to go out and comfort some one; I shall never listen to the nonsense they tell me about not giving money— I shall give money; not that I haven’t done so always, but I shall do it with a high hand now.”

The book has never been out of print. It has been adapted for the screen dozens of times. It is performed on thousands of stages, small and large, every year. I would argue that every red kettle, every toy for a tot, is linked in some way back to this small book with its huge message.

I read it every Christmas, for no particular reason other than the sheer joy of experiencing Dickens’ words. Now, having watched The Man Who Invented Christmas, and having dug into the story behind the story a bit deeper, I love and appreciate it even more.

Just as the fortunes of every retailer rise and set on the period of Black Friday through Dec. 24, non-profits depend, mightily, on the public’s generosity this time of year. Without Dickens and his novella, how different that picture might be.

Please follow and like us:
error

Egon got it wrong

print

In 1984, Ghostbuster Egon Spengler pronounced: “Print is dead.”

Many people likely believe he was just ahead of his time, but (with all due respect to Harold Ramis) the truth is, he’s as wrong now as he was then.

Certainly the heyday of the medium is in the past, but when it comes to local news outside the nation’s big urban centers, newspapers are still an important player. The best ones are sharing news in column inches, 140 characters or less and a half-dozen other formats.

Another characteristic of today’s best papers is a big interest in “hyper local” content: information relevant to specific communities–down to the ZIP code and even the streets.

Why? National/international news comes at us from all directions. What is really lacking these days is the story from the next block.

That’s why details on your non-profit, or a special event your business may be planning, can still find an audience via your town’s newspaper and accompanying digital assets, but don’t expect the newspaper staff to beat a path to your door begging for details. You have to provide them complete and detailed information.

And make sure you leave the advertising copy where it belongs: in your ad budget. Don’t contact the newspaper unless you have a real story to tell.

Most newspapers (and TV stations for that matter) have an email address or “contact us” form on their websites to submit news. The forms usually have a word limit, but if you are sending an email, don’t make it too lengthy.

If you are a non-profit, focus on your clients and the track record of your organization. Are you expanding your services to a new demographic or geographic area? Is there an individual or family who have experienced real improvement in their circumstances or outlook because of the assistance they have received from your organization?

Are you promoting a special event such as a Trunk or Treat Halloween outreach or free movie for the community? Provide the newspaper with all of the details including alternate plans/locations in case of inclement weather. If the event is free, include that important point up front.

If you are seeking community support in some way: a donation of canned goods, winter gloves, etc., make that clear, too. Provide the newspaper with contact information to be included in print. (Make sure the reporter can contact you if he/she has questions, but if you do not want your personal email address/phone number included in the write-up, make that crystal clear in your communications.)

Small business owners working together to sponsor a block party/open house is newsworthy. Giving away free Halloween candy, face painting or hosting a costume/pumpkin carving contest? Donating a day’s receipts to charity? Are the employees of your hair salon giving free haircuts for the homeless or students from struggling families? Is your restaurant offering discounts on Thanksgiving to local college students? How about a Veterans’ Day promotion? Is your store going to be a Toys for Tots drop off location for Christmas?

Readers of your local newspaper, who by the way are your potential customers, want to support small businesses who provide excellent goods and services and also give back to the community. Give your newspaper the information they need to highlight your good citizenship.

Last week I mentioned that “old school” still works in reference to the U.S. Postal Service. The same goes for newspapers. Don’t count them out, especially if you are living in a suburban/rural area. Keep them in mind as you market and promote your business or non-profit.

 

Please follow and like us:
error
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
LinkedIn