On May 4, 2015, Martha’s Table announced plans for a major expansion into Ward 8. This signaled a shift from its primary location to one of the most under-resourced and underserved communities in all of Washington, D.C. Then, on May 5, Martha’s Table launched the Setting the Table for Our Future capital campaign to fund the new site, with a goal of raising $15 million. Patty Stonesifer, Martha’s Table’s President and CEO, enlisted Carrie Fox to carefully manage the expansion announcement ensuring it was clearly articulated and consistently delivered to key audiences. The key success measures were defined as 1) the placement of high impact, on-message media coverage and 2) increased recognition of Martha’s Table among potential Capital Campaign donors and within the Ward 8 community. To inform our thinking about positioning the announcement to key audiences using the media, we assessed Martha’s Table’s existing messages. First, we hosted a Message Strategy Summit with leadership to identify and refine the messages that best address the organization’s focus areas and its evolving role in the community. Then, we conducted In-Depth-Interviews with leaders and members of the community (including those who benefit from Martha’s Table services), board members, and donors. Our research informed our approach to media relations and allowed us to refine talking points before going public. Carrie Fox developed a media relations strategy for the May 4 expansion announcement with a goal to secure at least one high profile, in-depth and far-reaching news story for Martha’s Table. Prior to the event, Carrie and her team spent several weeks coordinating in-person interviews and phone conversations between members of the media and the CEO. That work resulted in a front-page feature story in The Washington Post, accompanied by 11 additional feature stories. Together, those dozen on-message feature stories resulted in 22 million impressions about the announcement. The Washington Post article continues to be referenced by Patty, her development team, and her board in setting context with new and potential donors.
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