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Pitching Notes
From Cindy Rodriguez, Urban Affairs reporter, WNYC Radio, a National Public Radio member station


Each week I receive dozens of pitches either in the form of formal press releases or phone calls from both strangers and regular sources.  The ones I pay most attention to are succinct, not gimmicky, and either reveal a potential trend, systemic problems, or circumstances that could potentially impact a broader community. 


I often cover poverty issues in the form of homelessness, child welfare, sub-standard housing and other problems in New York City. As federal, state and city governments begin to slash programs and services to fill huge budget deficits; I expect my beat to be especially busy as I try to keep up with public policy shifts and their impact on low income communities. Non-profits that have been in poor neighborhoods long periods of time are often useful sources in being able to provide context to issues as well as in helping to gain access to people and families.


Beyond my role at the station, we have reporters covering education, politics, health, immigration, business, transportation, the courts and public safety.  Feel free to send pitches to or if they fall within my beat, to  Our radio stations, 93.9FM and AM 820 reach 1.1 million listeners per week. 


Upcoming Workshops


City Hall Magazine I am helping plan a panel discussion for non-profits on moving government to achieve organizational goals.  I will send details when they are available.

My communications workshops cover everything from creating effective promotional content, to generating media coverage, to creating effective social networks.  For more information, check out one of my presentations here or email me .

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Issue: 3February 2011


I frequently come across non-profits that aren't maximizing their use of social media, so I've dedicated space in this newsletter to providing some broad observations and recommendations and lots of links to further information. 

If you're looking for ways to reach more potential supporters through social networks, Chronicles of Philanthropy is sponsoring a webinar on the topic. First 4 non-profits to email me can join me for free to participate in the webinar and a follow-up discussion.  For more information, click here.

Finally, while I have been in a Tiger Mom-induced panic about my parenting skills, my friend and colleague Rose Yu has been thinking about the communications lessons we can learn from Amy Chua. Her smart and funny column on this topic is below.

If you have any requests for the next newsletter, let me know.  And, as always, I welcome your questions, suggestions and comments. 


Effective Social Media

I recently conducted a communications workshop for United Way's BoardServeNYC. I was happy to learn that about a third of the attending organizations used social networking, but I frequently find that this means nothing more than throwing up a Facebook page or creating a Twitter account.

Don't Pick Any Social Network, Pick the Right One

By now we've heard and read about countless non-profits, even small organizations, successfully using social media to further their organizational goals, like Big Love Little Hearts, & Miriam's Kitchen. Individuals have also been successful in using social media for a cause, like the friends of Sameer and Vinjay. Success, in part, comes down to having the right strategy and picking the right network based on your goal, the network that's most likely to engage your target audience, and your internal resources (using Facebook can be less time consuming than using Twitter).

For a great guide on finding the right social network(s) for your organization click here

Success = Engagement, Not Numbers of Fans or Followers!

If your target stakeholders (not just your friends and family) aren't actively engaging on your social networks - if they aren't commenting on your posts or retweeting your tweets - then you need to go back to the drawing board and create content that's of greater interest.  This is especially important given Facebook's most recent redesign: if people aren't engaging on your page, your posts are unlikely to be seen. More on this and other FB redesign info here.

If you want to know more about your FB fans and measure their engagement, click here.

For great advice on engaging stakeholders read: The Networked Nonprofit, The Dragonfly Effect, visit the FB non-profits page or click here.  For advice on engaging people through Youtube, click here.  I also recommend following Beth Kanter and John Haydon on Twitter.  And, you can search Mashable's social media section for great advice and success stories.

Six Things I Learned About Communications from a Chinese Mother

By Rosemarie Yu

To paraphrase Carrie Fisher, if you have the chance to get The Wall Street Journal to publish an inflammatory excerpt from your recently published book, yielding thousands of comments and more than a few death threats - DO IT!

The hue and cry over Yale Law Professor Amy Chua's extreme parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom(Penguin Press, January 2011), has run the gamut - from American mothers defending their "Indigo Child" parenting methods to economists wagging their fingers at a generation of lazy American kids unprepared to compete with a Chinese workforce armed with the discipline to practice the piano for three to four hours daily.

As an Asian American parent, I can't stay away from this dialogue and won't stop reading everything I see on the subject. As a communications professional, I know when I'm being manipulated and have held out for a good two months on purchasing a copy of this book that I've been dying to read.

Which brings me to my point - that Amy Chua's book is selling millions, and Tiger Mom isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I'm wondering what next - Memoirs of a Tiger Cub? Why Confucianism Kicks the Socratic Method's Ass for Teaching Law School? Regardless, someone is definitely doing their job.

So, after finally breaking down and placing my order from Barnes & Noble, I put together this list of take-aways from the truly superior communications strategy of the Tiger Mom:

1.       Choose a controversial topic that everyone has an opinion on. And if it's chock full of other simmering issues such as fear of China's emerging power, the "model minority" stereotype and - the most universally sacred of all cows - parenting techniques, so much the better. I know what you're thinking - you're selling widgets, and they're not that sexy. Well pull the telescope back on those widgets and see what you come up. Are these widgets made in China? Do these widget-makers have mothers? You get the drift. Be creative.

2.       Once you've hit upon this highly controversial topic, go even further by taking an extreme position. The Wall Street Journal blasted in huge font that Chinese mothers are "SUPERIOR." Okay, so the death threats were a bit much and Ms. Chua ended up having to backpedal on that position. But that didn't hurt book sale none, and the backpedaling, in the end, only extended the dialogue further.

3.       Launch this extreme position via an exclusive in as high-profile an outlet as possible - but choose with care. Why The Wall Street Journal, a business paper, to launch a book about parenting? Well, aside from the demographic of the readership (more affluent parents are likely to be more involved), it's the perfect place to rile up those deep-seated business fears about China's potential to overtake the US. (And who thought a 7-year-old pianist could be that scary?

4.       Use social media to engage your audience in a robust two-way dialogue. The original WSJ article alone has almost 8,000 comments to date. It has been "liked" by 349,000 Facebook users. That's not even beginning to count the number of blog posts, Tweets and other ways in which Amy Chua has been propelled through the digital world. She's "gone viral" without even having to shoot a music video, so imagine if she did?

5.       Hang on to that 16th minute just as long as you can. That means get out there and shill, Baby, shill! Don't go resting on the laurels of having created some juicy controversy and few reviews. Do the morning news shows, talk to The New York Times, and get one of your daughters to write a Stockholm Syndrome evoking article defending you, further fueling the controversy.

6.       Leverage your new-found fame into high-profile speaking gigs - Because, really, you ain't nobody 'til you've debated Larry Summers - formerly president of Harvard, Obama's economic advisor and Treasury secretary - at the World Economic Forum in Davos - the Carnegie Hall of speaking venues. Is this shooting too high? Apparently not for a Chinese Mother.

To sum up, wherever your communications plan happens to take you, remember to keep your eye on the prize. If you're here to sell books, sell books! I don't mean to reduce serious issues such as suicide among Asian teens and America's trade imbalance with China down to a simple Amazon ranking (which, by the way, was as high as 4 and is right now hovering around 16). But we have a goal here, and the dialogue, although interesting, must always have that underlying purpose in mind. Because, at the end of the day, if you can convince millions of people that your product, service or program is superior to everyone else's, DO IT!

Rosemarie Yu is principal of Rosemarie Yu, LLC, a communications consultancy specializing in professional services. She can be reached at