“But, it’s important!” I get told by the author of an article we ran in the organization’s last electronic newsletter.  “Nothing has changed this week. Can’t you just run the story again?”

I understand that it takes a lot of time to create even a two- or three-paragraph invitation asking people to join in your event.  When you’re the organizer of a class and have to worry about the content and the petty organization details, writing a fresh press release can be just one thing too many. I sympathize because I’ve been there!  But, the answer to “Can’t you just run the story again?” is “No.”

Repeating a story is unwanted by readers, bad for the publication, and also bad for the activity being promoted.

Readers  know when they’ve seen something, and they will keep checking the newsletter — or listening to in-person announcements — only when they are being exposed to new information. Repeating the same words week-in and week-out because it is “important” is unlikely to get more participation.  People tune out old news, and if there is a lot of old news in the publication, they’ll stop reading it completely.  Moreover, repeating the same words another time has a diminishing impact on the reader.  They have already seen that come-on one time, made their decision not to join in, and repeating the same “come on down” message is not a good way to get them to change their mind.

Your invitation to participate has to be fresh each time you give it!

Here’s What to Do

If you are working on a major or ongoing event you can tell people about what you’re doing repeatedly.  Just give a different focus for each of your stories.

Here’s are some creative ways people have made second and third and fourth stories sound fresh and new:

  • The  organizers of the annual pledge drive ask a different person in the organization to write what the group means to them and to explain why they are giving generously.  The message of (“GIVE!”) is consistent, but each story is interesting because of the personalities of the folks writing in.
  • Weekly articles advertising a multi-session religious education course offered glimpses into the specific content for that week’s class.  While people were welcome to sign up for the whole series, the weekly focus on the topic of the next class gave people new insight each week.
  • A major fundraising silent auction wanted to build up excitement among donors and bidders, so the auctioneers sent in new stories over six weeks. Each story highlighted a different aspect of the event:  one week the article solicited donations for vacation rentals, another week’s article talked about donating  restaurant and home-cooked meals, and then the spotlight shifted to the fun of an auction reception with a preview of bidding.  The overall theme of “silent auction” ran through each episode, but the new ideas in each story made you want to read it and find out more!

Repeated articles are not nearly as fun to read as new ones on the same topic.  In addition, stories that are repeated are often inaccurate!  Plans and details change, and if your press information distribution system is on autopilot, you probably propagating outdated news.  Cutting and pasting from past releases is kosher, but you have to sit down at the keyboard and create every time blast out a story.

Finally, if you have completely run out of ideas and cannot think of a way to flog the event and make it sound interesting, maybe it’s time to stop.  If you’re tired of writing about the event, people are surely tired of reading about it!