When I was going through some tough times, I read and re-read this book about gay history. It gave me this feeling of being connected to something bigger than me. I’ve traveled from Sappho’s birthplace on the island of Lesvos in Greece to Harvey Milk’s store in the Castro District of San Francisco following that feeling of connection to my community. This is a huge part of what inspired me to become an activist.
I know not everyone is interested in history and wouldn’t actively seek out websites about this information or proactively search for places that tweet about it. That’s why I want to create an engaging mobile app that will bring this rich history to the world in a new way.
The LGBToday app will feature a story from “today in history.” For example, if today were January 13, when you open the app you will see that on January 13, 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on its first decision on a gay issue. For each event there would be a one-sentence description of the event, an image or video if available, a link to more information about the story, a cited source, a map of where in the world it happened, and more. For days with more than one event, one would randomly to be chosen to show up, but you could click to read the other(s). You can learn all about it at the fundraising page and the website. Of course, you can give the project a like and a follow, too.
I truly believe this project can help make some gay youth out there feel a little less lonely. Please donate and share the link to make sure that happens.
If you are a blogger or other press, please download the press release.
Vintage Vignettes glimpse into the Communicationist’s past, one to ten years ago from this day.
On this day in 2005, I had an op-ed published in the Hartford Courant. Same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Connecticut like it is today and I wrote about the ever-evolving history of the institution and why civil unions are not an acceptable substitute for full marriage equality. Looking back on this is a lesson in how quickly our own views can evolve (I already disagree with some of my parallels and terms), but I’m proud that I was able to do my part to get the message out to well over a million readers in my home state. Here is the link to the full piece and an excerpt:
I spent this past summer in Paraguay, where I met an American gay man who was living there with his Paraguayan partner. The couple met in the United States and they wanted to get married. But when the American’s partner’s visa expired, the only way they could continue to be together was to leave the country. If they had been straight, this American would not have had to make the choice between the partner he loves and the country he loves.
Many of us in Connecticut are wondering where civil unions, which became legal in the state today, come into all of this. Simply put, civil unions are separate and unequal. Some people call them a compromise, but when we compromise civil rights we create second-class citizens. That is what civil unions do: State that gays and lesbians are not worthy of full rights. As long as same-sex marriage is illegal, we will not be able to call ourselves a nation that is just.
I learned a lot through the process of planning my wedding, like how to walk the line between being a detail-orientated planner and a detail-obsessed bride. But between negotiating contracts and placing orders, sometimes it felt more like a business experience than a personal one. Mass mailings (invitations), website design and writing (wedsite), brand identity (theme/color scheme), and obviously event planning. It even involved writing for the press and video editing when we were selected to be featured in the New York Times (announcement and video here). It all reminded me a lot of the branding process at work.
In branding an organization or a wedding, you want to make sure that there is a cohesive feel to all of the materials without getting matchy-matchy. Open and frequent (but not too frequent) communication with your constituents/guests as well as your partners/vendors is key. Most importantly, you need to have a strong base of knowing who you are as an organization or as a couple to be able to come up with any of this. Our wedding stayed true to who we are: environmentally-friendly, vegan, personal, and just a little silly. I wouldn’t necessarily say we are casually elegant, though that is the feel we were going for.
This week brought the official launch party of my employer’s new identity: our new name, our new brand, our new website. I have learned some do’s and dont’s for these kinds of parties through the process:
- DO invite the whole world. We tried to keep the guest list manageable since we have a relatively small space and didn’t really open it up to the public. We wanted mostly the leaders of the organizations we work with and want to work with. But a small guest list means a small party and less of a party feel.
- DON’T allow there to be too many speakers. Want to know another detractor from a party feel? A PowerPoint presentation. Or multiple PowerPoint presentations… Yes, its true. In our efforts to be inclusive of every stakeholder, our event turned into a bit of a lecture. Highlight the leader of your organization talking about what you are there to celebrate and he/she can mention and thank the stakeholders, but doesn’t need to give them 5 minutes to speak.
- DO serve food and give out swag. We chose dishes that reflected the cuisines of the countries we work in and gave away our new promotional items like Post-It notepads.
- DON’T forget about the details and to have every detail branded. We had orange programs, orange balloons with our new name and tagline, and orange signs to describe the food. We also had a greeter at the front of the building and a greeter at the elevator door at all times.
- DO put out a press release about your event. Ours got picked up by a regional paper (see portfolio).
This week’s class at Emerson was about press releases. These are a great tool for getting news about your non-profit out there, whether its a new advocacy campaign, a recent accomplishment, or a change in leadership. Never used one in your marketing? Never fear! Here are the take-away tips for getting started:
- Free advertising!…Kind of. Unlike public relations where you attempt to control the public’s perception, you give up some control with a press release. Since this is not an ad where you would pay for it to appear exactly as you want, once you send it out to the media without any money exchanged they can take what they want of it and add their spin… positive or negative.
- Anticipate questions. Of course you should answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how. But once you’re done writing, read over the press release and think about what follow-up questions a journalist might ask you after they read it. Then add in the answers!
- Format is important. Using the layout of a press release makes it recognizable and readable. The top should have “For Immediate Release,” with your name and all contact information. Directly below should be a clear headline (which should be in all caps) and below that you can put a subtitle (not in caps). Headlines must be in the present tense and concisely summarize the story. The body of the release would ideally be one page long, but it can be two. It should always end with one of the three options for signifying the end of a press release: -30-, ###, or -end-. The ### is most popular and my personal favorite. Of you are going on to a second page, write -more- or (more) at the bottom of the first page.
- Format is really important. There’s so much on this I have to write about the body of the text in its own section. Before the first sentence, write the city and the date (of release, not of the event/news). Your first line will look like: “BOSTON (October 8, 2010) — Blogger Sarah Prager will publish her best post to date at http://www.sarahprager.com today.” The first paragraph goes on to give all the most important basic information. Imagine this is the only paragraph that will be read (because it might). Your very last paragraph is called a boiler plate. This paragraph gives all of the main information about your organization like the year it was founded, where its based, its size and, most importantly, its mission. You can put this at the end of every press release.
- Write for a 5th grade level. Keep your language simple. Use active voice and present tense whenever possible. Always remember your audience. Save space by using less words and shorter words.
Posted in Diary
Tagged Press, Writing