July 2015
Communications & public relations advice for nonprofits                                                                                                                                                                                                

  Brought to you by your friends at Anat Gerstein, Inc.  



Will You Have to Register as a Lobbyist?


The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is looking to expand the definition of lobbying. This may affect countless nonprofits--forcing staff to register as lobbyists.


Of greatest concern to nonprofits is the following proposed guidance:


"An individual or entity that controls the content and delivery of a message or communication that solicits the public at large, or a segment or portion of the public at large, to engage in activity covered by Section 1-c(c) of the Lobbying Act with a public official is engaged in lobbying. Controls, with respect to the content of the communication, includes participation in the formation of the communication or some influence over reviewing or editing the communication."


This would potentially mean that anyone involved in writing press statements, testimony, letters, social media posts, or any external communication that voices an organization's position on legislation or policy would have to register as a lobbyist.


We believe this to be absurdly vague and potentially harmful: it could lead to the silencing of nonprofits that would otherwise speak out about issues vitally important to New Yorkers.


The Lawyers Alliance for New York has voiced its opinion on the issue here. We encourage you to comment on JCOPE's proposal.


Make Your Summer Picture Perfect


The dog days of summer are around the corner, so why not spend downtime acquiring a new skill? Learn how to deliver your message and move people to action through great and inspiring photography.

Anybody can be a photographer these days, and you don't need a professional camera to take great shots. With your smartphone, you can capture quality pictures that are suitable for social media, websites, and blogs, as well as for submission to media outlets. 


Good photography is all about how you plan the shot. Unfortunately, too many organizations make common mistakes. Below we have noted some of these problems along with their solutions.

Problem: Your photos lack branding or visual cues.

Solution: Your photos should say something about your organization or its goals via visual cues. Make sure there is proper signage in place and that program participants are wearing branded T-shirts. Props also are great visual cues. For example, a big check illustrates a fundraising accomplishment, and a ribbon-cutting tells the story of a new venue opening.

Problem: Your photos lack variety.

Solution: Make sure to capture multiple subjects from different angles. Get a range of posed photos and action (candid) shots. Consider enlisting more than one photographer because everyone sees things from a different perspective.

Problem: Your photos are poorly composed.

Solution: Before you take a picture, pause for a moment to visualize the frame. Make sure that each shot has a focal point, and that you zoom in on the subject. Before you shoot, remove extraneous objects.

Problem: Your photos are missing some important faces.

Solution: Prior to your event, prepare a shot sheet that lists everyone you need to photograph, such as elected officials, celebrities, program managers, and key donors. This is particularly important if you plan to send photos to media outlets for post-event coverage. Also, find out if the outlets you plan to send pictures to have specifications, such as having no more than five people in a photo. (Side note: collect relevant information for captioning--briefly note who's in the photo, where they are, and what they are doing.)

Problem: You have great photos, but no permission to use them.

Solution: If you plan on sending photos to press, using them in collateral material, or posting on social media, you must secure signed consent forms.


Pitching Notes:

Lisa Colangelo

New York Daily News



Lisa Colangelo has been a staff writer at the New York Daily News since 1999. Most recently, she has been part of the team leading the Hometown Heroes series which recognizes inspirational educators in the city.


Tell us about Hometown Heroes.


My colleague Ben Chapman created Hometown Heroes three years ago.  We hear about all the problems in education, and Ben wanted to shine a light on all of the good that happens in our schools. Hometown Heroes isn't just about teachers but principals and other educators who are making a difference. A panel of educators including Chancellor Carmen Fariņa will select winners who will be honored at a star-studded breakfast in October.


What makes a story stand out?


We look at all of the nominees, but seek those stories about people who go way beyond their job description. These are people who really are driven and passionate about what they do - but often aren't recognized for their work.


This has personal meaning to you?


Yes. My father worked for the city of New York for more than 40 years and my husband is a public servant as well. So I value the work of those who devote their lives to such service.


Why did you pursue a career in journalism?


As far back as I can remember-when I was about 8 years old-I discovered that I loved to read and write. I read newspapers, comics and lots of books, especially Harriet the Spy.  I started keeping journals and notebooks.


What was your first journalism job?


I grew up in Jamaica and Glendale in Queens. After I graduated from Queens College with a dual major (political science/communications and English writing) I went to work for the Queens Tribune.


What stories interest you most?


I'm interested in compelling stories about people and stories that can help someone who may be in a difficult position. I am always interested in stories about people who don't get a lot of attention, which is why I love working on the Hometown Heroes stories. There are a lot of people doing great work who don't get the attention they deserve.


You've also become the go-to reporter for animal stories.


I love animals, and seem to have always written about them. Often journalists focus on the quirky story. But I like to look at those stories that could raise awareness about animal cruelty and focus on a small group or rescuers that are doing good work.


What's a common mistake people make when pitching a story?


Pitches need to be concise, but often they are not. People need to get to the point quickly, but they also need to explain why their story would resonate with the Daily News' audience. We get so many emails throughout the day that I can't get to them all immediately.


What's the best way to pitch you a story?


I'm not able to answer cold calls because often I'm already working on a story. Emails are the best way to reach me, and I don't mind follow up emails. I can be reached at lcolangelo@nydailynews.com.


And if someone wants to make a Hometown Heroes nomination?


We are accepting nominations until July 24th and they can be sent by email to hometownheroeseducation@nydailynews.com, faxed to (212) 643-7831 or mailed to P.O. Box 5047, Bowling Green, NY 10274.


 We welcome AARP NY! AARP NY is the latest nonprofit to sign up with our team.  We're thrilled to have them on board and look forward to working with them to connect and engage New Yorkers with AARP's efforts to improve the lives of city residents 50+.





Anat Gerstein, Inc. is a full-service communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits, big and small. Our clients represent a range of organizations, including social service, health care, education, and youth service groups; cultural, arts, and theater institutions; business and community development nonprofits; advocacy organizations; and foundations.


We specialize in helping nonprofits build brand recognition and reputation, and deepen and expand stakeholder relationships and partnerships. All of our work is focused on assisting organizations to reach their goals, including increased fundraising, volunteerism, client recruitment, attendance and participation, and furthering an advocacy agenda.


We currently work with 16 nonprofit organizations on a retainer basis--providing them with year-round services ranging from media relations to functioning as their outsourced communications department. We also work with nonprofits on a project basis.  


To find out more, visit:




If you want to learn more about how we can help your organization, contact Anat Gerstein at 718-793-2211, ext. 100, or anat@anatgerstein.com.


anat gerstein inc.

Engaging stakeholders.
Connecting people to causes.
Building brand recognition and reputation.