(This is the first of two posts on getting your organization quoted in news stories.)

Measure everything you can.  That way when reporters are writing stories about trends in your industry, they won’t need to settle for the abstract general statistics that are usually the impetus for their story in the first place.

Most schools and charities don’t track nearly as many facts about their fundraising as they could.  According to a study of 550 major schools, two thirds don’t even track the total number of online gifts they receive.  If you’re one of the few schools that tracks this information, you’re in a position to be a tremendously valuable resource for any reporter writing a story on fundraising trends.  And if your numbers show that your online gifts are rising while other gifts are falling, or if your online giving is falling at a slower rate than the national average, the reporter will be thrilled to be able to highlight your numbers (along with a short, positive explanation for why you’re beating the odds) to give validity to their story.

And if you’re one of the few organizations tracking detailed trends in your fundraising efforts, it’s also very likely that you’ll be using that data to outperform the competition, which means you’ll be glad when the reporter highlights how great you are in her story.

Back when I was the Press Secretary for a Congressman on Capitol Hill, I didn’t need to worry about any of this.  I could say, “My boss just did such and such,” or even, “My boss is thinking about such and such,” and the next day, or later that afternoon, there would be a story quoting me or my boss on TV or in print.  Outside of Capitol Hill, life isn’t that easy for most people.  If we want to get all the benefits of being highlighted favorably in a news story, we need to illustrate how we fit into a trend that the reporter is writing about.  And the best way to establish your credibility for this is to have as many unique statistics as possible about whatever you’re doing.  So measure everything.

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Email him at will@alumnifidelity.com