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Make the most of media at your Lights On Afterschool event

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Make the most of media at your Lights On Afterschool event

With Lights On Afterschool only two weeks away, many programs and coordinators are busy finalizing the creative and fun celebrations that will take place across the country. But while many afterschool providers are experts at planning engaging activities for large groups, all Lights On Afterschool events can stand to benefit from something that they might be less comfortable with: engaging the media. While the task of contacting media and news outlets sounds daunting, taking the time to publicize your Lights On event can be easy and contribute to an even more successful event.

Why should I reach out to my local media outlets?

One benefit of publicizing your Lights On event is obvious: more people will hear about it! Parents, educators, and relevant community figures that consume local media sources will be made aware of your event, which in turn will help drive buzz and boost attendance.

Furthermore, media coverage bolsters the reputation of your event; creating the precedent of a well-documented promotional push will help with event-planning in years to come as you try to attract more community partners and attention. Lights On Afterschool is a great time to build relationships with influential voices in the community; local media definitely count!  The connections you make this season can be pivotal players in future initiatives down the line.

Finally, your locally-elected officials pay attention to the publications and news that their constituents consume—and they’re the ones you ultimately want to convince of the value of afterschool!

Who should I be promoting my event to?

When it comes to promoting your event, you should be looking to target outlets that members of your community typically consume. This includes print mediums, such as your municipality’s newspaper or newsletter. It also includes your surrounding broadcast news outlets, such as nearby high school or college radio stations, and your local network television station. These groups often have a vested interest in running stories about events in the communities where there viewers live. Another potential source to consider is local bloggers who have a wide readership within your communities; often times, if you can be featured on those blogs, readers will take those endorsements more seriously, as they would a personal referral.

If you’re uncertain which outlets are the best to be reaching out to, ask your network what outlets they use for keeping up to date with community news. Parents, educators, and other program providers are likely the audience you’d like to be targeting anyways, so learning where they receive most of their information will help you hone in on the most effective publications and channels to contact.

How do I promote my event to my local media outlet?

There are various ways to get your event publicized in your local media. One of the simplest steps you can take is to send a calendar alert to your local print and broadcast outlets. Another option for spreading the word is submitting a media alert to reporters and editors in your area that cover the education or community news beats. A media alert should give the nuts and bolts of your event, as well as a compelling reason for why it’s worth being covered in the media. Make sure to follow up your media alert with a phone call to the reporters you contact to gauge their interest!

A slightly more time-intensive option for publicizing your event is writing an opinionated column, or op-ed, and submitting it to your local publications. Writing an op-ed gives you the opportunity to more vividly illustrate the landscape of afterschool programs and why it’s vital to your particular community.

I've contact my local outlets—now what?

No matter what you choose to submit to your local outlets, make sure to follow up by phone with the relevant member of the editorial staff. If a reporter or editor chooses not to publish a piece, don’t be discouraged—reporters often get pitched dozens of stories a day, and sometimes there simply isn’t time to cover it all.

One final effort for getting published can be to submit a letter to the editor, as most publications can run many more of these in a given issue than opinionated columns. (But only submit letters to the editor if you know they won’t be running your column!) A letter to the editor will also give you the chance to paint a broader picture of the importance of afterschool programs.

While these are just a suggestions for engaging the media around your Lights On Afterschool event, there are plenty of other way to involve a broader audience through traditional and social media. You work hard to bring a quality afterschool program to your community, and you deserve a wider audience to know about it!

P.S. ARTS celebrates Lights On Afterschool with SpongeBob

By Oscar Navarrete, program coordinator, Community, at P.S. Arts. P.S. ARTS is excited to collaborate with the Afterschool Alliance and Nickelodeon in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Lights on Afterschool and SpongeBob Squarepants’ 20th year on-air. Together, we are working to shine...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/19/19

Explore a Lights On Afterschool Wonder with Wonderopolis

By John MacLeod, community manager for Wonderopolis. Created by the National Center for Families Learning, Wonderopolis is a website that encourages learners of all ages to use their natural curiosity and imagination to explore and discover new things about the world around them. Every day...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/12/19

3 quick ideas for a healthy, happy Lights On Afterschool

Afterschool programs play many important roles in their communities, but one of the most powerful is the positive impact out-of-school time programs can have on the health of their students. From providing healthy meals and safe places to play outside, to supporting students’ mental and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/05/19

Host a sizzling Lights On event: A pitch contest

By Liz Nusken,Young Entrepreneur Pitch program lead at the Ohio Afterschool Network. Lights On Afterschool presents afterschool programs with an opportunity to showcase their fun, hands-on learning experiences to partners and members of the larger community. A Lights On live pitch...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/29/19

Tips from the Pros: Getting the most from your Lights On Event

This October 24 marks our 20th Lights On Afterschool, and we’re so excited to welcome new programs to our celebration as well as those who have been celebrating from the very beginning. Register today and don’t miss out – every program that signs up gets 150 KIND snacks for your...

BY: Ursula Helminski      08/01/19

KIND to celebrate Lights On Afterschool

By Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind LLC. KIND is helping programs celebrate the 20th Lights On Afterschool this October 24. KIND will be on hand at about a dozen Lights On Afterschool events AND they’re donating 150 KIND products to Lights On Afterschool sites nationwide,...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/25/19

Join the Light Up A Landmark Challenge: Light up the night sky across all 50 states!

This October 24 marks our 20th Lights On Afterschool, and one of our brightest partners is back: for the 13th year in a row, the iconic Empire State Building will light up the New York City skyline in support of Lights On Afterschool! The national landmark will light the sky in blue and...

BY: Ursula Helminski      07/18/19

Join the Lights On Afterschool congressional art drive

Lights On Afterschool is celebrating its 20th year! That’s 20 years of calling nationwide attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America's children, families and communities. Every year we receive hundreds of wonderful artwork from programs across the nation. This...

BY: Shaun Gray      06/27/19

Lights On Afterschool 2019 registration is open!

This October marks our 20th Lights On Afterschool celebration! Sign up today to be part of the 20th Lights On Afterschool celebration!  All who register will receive event planning tip emails and 10 free posters to promote your event. This year, in response your feedback, we’ve...

BY: Ursula Helminski      06/21/19

20 weeks to the 20th Lights On Afterschool!

We can’t believe it either—this October 24 will be our 20th Lights On Afterschool celebration! We’ve got exciting plans in the works – so many that we will be unveiling something new each week up until October 24, 2019. We’re asking you to join us and starting...

BY: Ursula Helminski      06/06/19

3 quick ideas for a healthy, happy Lights On Afterschool

Afterschool programs play many important roles in their communities, but one of the most powerful is the positive impact out-of-school time programs can have on the health of their students. From providing healthy meals and safe places to play outside, to supporting students’ mental and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/05/19

Host a sizzling Lights On event: A pitch contest

By Liz Nusken,Young Entrepreneur Pitch program lead at the Ohio Afterschool Network. Lights On Afterschool presents afterschool programs with an opportunity to showcase their fun, hands-on learning experiences to partners and members of the larger community. A Lights On live pitch...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/29/19

4-H is seeking Game Changers this October

By Kittrina Thompson, digital marketing manager, National 4-H Council, 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) is an annual initiative inspiring kids everywhere to take an active interest in STEM topics through hands-on learning. Celebrations begin October 1, with participation across the country...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/22/19

KIND to celebrate Lights On Afterschool

By Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind LLC. KIND is helping programs celebrate the 20th Lights On Afterschool this October 24. KIND will be on hand at about a dozen Lights On Afterschool events AND they’re donating 150 KIND products to Lights On Afterschool sites nationwide,...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/25/19

Guest blog: Partner with your local library for Lights On Afterschool!

By Megan Burton, STEM and Learning Supervisor at the Kitsap Regional Library in Washington State. “It is a real collaboration,” said Nicole Rawlinson, Teen Services Librarian at the Sylvan Way branch of the Kitsap Regional Library describing her work with the local Boys and Girls...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/30/18

Join the Light Up A Landmark Challenge: Light up the night sky across all 50 states!

This October 24 marks our 20th Lights On Afterschool, and one of our brightest partners is back: for the 13th year in a row, the iconic Empire State Building will light up the New York City skyline in support of Lights On Afterschool! The national landmark will light the sky in blue and...

BY: Ursula Helminski      07/18/19

20 weeks to the 20th Lights On Afterschool!

We can’t believe it either—this October 24 will be our 20th Lights On Afterschool celebration! We’ve got exciting plans in the works – so many that we will be unveiling something new each week up until October 24, 2019. We’re asking you to join us and starting...

BY: Ursula Helminski      06/06/19

Landmarks aglow across the country for Lights On Afterschool 2018

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BY: Faith Savaiano      11/08/18

The biggest and brightest Lights On Afterschool yet

We celebrated by coding, dancing, cooking, drawing, reading, making music, sharing. We had book giveaways. Canned food drives. Hackerspaces and maker faires. Puzzle pieces that, together, form over-sized lightbulbs that fill gymnasium floors. Inflatable planetariums for students to explore....

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/26/18

Afterschool shines for the 12th year in a row

It’s that time in August when students’ backpacks wait eagerly by the door for the first days they’ll be put back into use after a couple-months hiatus. While these days on the calendar excitedly mark the return of the back-to-school season, they’re also an indicator that...

BY: Faith Savaiano      08/23/18

1,800 events promote health and wellness during Lights On Afterschool

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/06/18

Champion wellness with fitness professionals: 3 tips to get started

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/20/18

Health & Wellness partners got communities active & moving during Lights On 2017

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BY: Faith Savaiano      11/30/17

Easy, last-minute ideas for an amazing Lights On Afterschool!

Lights On Afterschool is just seven days away! While many programs are wrapping up their plans, some will only start planning this week. Luckily, we’ve got something for everyone over at our Last-Minute Ideas page. Use these ideas as the foundation of your event, or add an extra...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/19/17

4-H is seeking Game Changers this October

By Kittrina Thompson, digital marketing manager, National 4-H Council, 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) is an annual initiative inspiring kids everywhere to take an active interest in STEM topics through hands-on learning. Celebrations begin October 1, with participation across the country...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/22/19

Ignite STEM learning for Lights On Afterschool

Afterschool programs are a natural space to provide engaging, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning experiences. Because so many afterschool programs make STEM learning a priority – and so many programs want to offer STEM learning in the future –...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/27/18

STEM partners helped ignite curiosity during Lights On 2017

Afterschool STEM learning was one of our top themes for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, and with good reason. Afterschool programs provide an ideal space to connect kids to exciting, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences, helping them engage deeply with...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      11/21/17

Easy, last-minute ideas for an amazing Lights On Afterschool!

Lights On Afterschool is just seven days away! While many programs are wrapping up their plans, some will only start planning this week. Luckily, we’ve got something for everyone over at our Last-Minute Ideas page. Use these ideas as the foundation of your event, or add an extra...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/19/17