Grantee Communications Toolkit
Congratulations on receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is a significant achievement, and you probably want to share the good news with others. We hope you do just that.
In the past, many grantees have asked us for guidance as they sent out press releases, set up social media platforms, and reached out to stakeholders. For those who are not sure how to proceed, we have put together this kit, addressing several common publicity and outreach questions.
As you can see in the “Manage your Grant” section of the NEH website, there are specific acknowledgment requirements you must adhere to after accepting your grant. You can find these requirements here.
NEH does not endorse the products or services mentioned in this material. For further information please see: Website Disclaimers.
- Searching for Grant Data
- Social Media
- Sample Social Media Posts
- NEH Talking Points
- Connect and Engage with NEH
- Media Outreach
- Stakeholder Outreach
- NEH Logo
- NEH Boilerplate
- Template Press Release
Reach Out to Us for Help:
National Endowment for the Humanities
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506
Contact the Office of Communications: email@example.com
It may help to know that information about your grant is available on the NEH website. Using this form, anyone can learn about projects funded by NEH. Our grants can be searched by state, congressional district, institution, key word, or by year. And the results can go into a spreadsheet, which you can use to make totals, populate a map, or create a handout.
Social media can extend the reach of your message. However, the variety of platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, and many more—can also be intimidating. The trick is in finding the platform or platforms that will be most effective in promoting your project.
Choosing the Best Platform for You:
- If you do not have a website, then setting up a blog could be a good first step. It will enable you to feature writing and imagery relevant to your project. There are many free web hosts, like Medium, WordPress and Tumblr, as well as blog platforms that charge small fees, such as Squarespace and Posthaven.
- If your project already has a website and you also desire a blog, then the blog should be added to your existing site. A separate blog or website would draw traffic away from your existing one.
- In your blog entries, tailor your message to your target audience and focus on information specific to your project.
- You should post new content regularly. If you post fewer than three times per week, try to be consistent on what days you post. Start a regular post called “What we are up to Wednesdays.” Consider collaborating with other bloggers and re-posting each other’s content.
- You also need a plan for how you are going to promote your blog articles. Adding another social media channel will help promote material from the project blog to online communities in your social network. Millions of people are already on social media, so those platforms can help you reach more people.
- Facebook is an online community that allows billions of people to connect and share their experiences with one another. It’s a great way to let people know what is going on with your project.
- The basics:
- your page—This is a space separate from your Facebook profile where you can post status updates on your project. It is a great place to repurpose blog posts and content from your website.
- events—If you are hosting or sponsoring an event related to your project, you can create an event from your Facebook account and invite your followers to attend.
- photo albums—If you have great photos from your project or events, you can create photo albums for the public to see visual updates on your project.
- Facebook Live—You can broadcast events live to the public and allow them to interact with your event by posting comments and questions. Check out a few examples of this on NEH’s Facebook account.
- Be sure to set your Facebook privacy filter to “everyone” to allow people to share your Facebook page and posts on their walls.
Be sure to follow the main NEH Facebook account.
- Twitter is a microblogging platform that limits posts (or “Tweets”) to a maximum of 140 characters. You can sign up here.
- Use your name as handle or choose one that represents your project, the shorter, the better.
- Twitter is especially good at connecting people within a given area of interest, for example, museum professionals or librarians. To connect with these people you need to:
- Search Twitter for relevant organizations, follow them, and engage them (re-tweet and like their posts and tag them in your posts that they might be interested in).
- Twitter will give you suggestions based on the people you currently follow. Be sure to check those people out.
- Learn to use proper hashtags such as #Twitterstorians to dig deeper into ongoing conversations.
- Conversations on Twitter are often grouped by hashtags such as #NationalDogDay, #Berlin, #NEHturns50. Consider creating a hashtag around a new product, event, or exhibit to encourage the online community to give you feedback and comments. You should advertise your hashtag in press releases, on Twitter, and at these events.
- Like all social media, Twitter has its own style of verbal and nonverbal communication. Pay close attention to any tweets from other accounts that you think work particularly well. Remember that while a catchy Tweet can draw interest, so can imagery and video.
- Studies have shown that social media posts with images or videos get three times more engagement than posts without images or videos. Always try to include rich media in your posts.
- To protect yourself from any issues that might arise on Twitter, you should put this in your bio: Follow/RT ≠ endorsement.
- Posting frequency can fluctuate a great deal, but it is a good idea to post unique Tweets once a day and retweet others around two to three times a day.
- Twitter does a great job explaining how to get started here, if you have more questions.
Be sure to follow NEH on Twitter: @NEHgov
- Instagram is an app-based social media platform that can be accessed on your phone or tablet, but not on a computer. (It is possible, however, to monitor your account and other accounts from a computer.)
- Instagram is for sharing photos and short videos only. If your project is rich in media, Instagram could be a useful social media platform for you.
- The platform is a mix of Twitter and Facebook.
- Your photos appear on your followers' feed, similar to how the Facebook newsfeed works.
- You post the photos with captions and hashtags—for example, #VeteransTalkLiterature or #CivilWarLandmarks—that help people follow conversations and discover your account.
- You cannot insert links directly into Instagram captions, but you get around this by placing links in your bio and directing followers there (“For full video, see the link in my bio.”) This will allow you to direct people to your blog or other websites.
- Many people/businesses post about two to three times a week.
- Consider using the Instagram Stories feature. This allows for in-the-moment updates with more of a “behind the scenes” feel. Instagram stories is now at 250 million daily active users.
- YouTube is an online community space for posting videos. The average viewer spends one to two minutes watching a YouTube video, so plan to be brief.
- You can find low-cost and easy-to-use video editing equipment, but understand that it can be a time-consuming process to produce videos.
- If you don’t have a budget to produce videos, consider using the iMovie app that comes free on iPhones. You can shoot footage on your phone, and utilize the easy-to-use iMovie app to edit.
- YouTube offers easy captioning options to make your videos more accessible.
- You can use free YouTube analytics to learn more about your audience's viewing habits.
- When uploading videos to YouTube, be sure to include a link to your website, ask your audience to leave comments and rate your channel, and provide a brief description of the video with key words that help viewers find your video.
Subscribe to NEH on YouTube: NEH YouTube
While these are some of the most popular social media platforms, you might want to look into other options, including Snapchat, which allows users to send “self-destructing” photos and videos and where the majority of users are under 25 years old; Pinterest, where users post and comment on third-party art and imagery they find inspiring Flickr, an online photography community; and Reddit, an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content.
Images are vital to gaining traction on social media. One type of image that many organizations use is called a social media badge.
To help you announce to the public that you have received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, NEH has created a social media badge for you to use. Download these badges at the top left of the page.
Create/Find your own Images:
You can get free images from UnSplash, Flickr’s Creative Commons Page, the Library of Congress, and WikiMedia Commons. All of these websites explain how to credit images. To save money, use images that are in the public domain or images for which you have the usage rights.
Here are sample posts that you can use to publicize your NEH grant.
- Southwest Library just received an @NEHgov grant! [insert link to the NEH press release listing your grant award] [attach the social media badge] #NEHGrant
- I am excited to announce that I received a grant from @NEHgov! [insert link to the NEH press release listing your grant award] [attach the social media badge] #NEHGrant
- We are excited to announce that the Upstate Historical Society received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities! We can’t wait to [explain what your grant will be used for]. [Insert link to the NEH press release listing your grant award] [attach the social media badge] #NEHGrant
- Great news! I just found out that I received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to [explain what your grant will be used for]. [Insert link to the NEH press release listing your grant award] [attach the social media badge] #NEHGrant
- Veterans’ Archives just received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities! [Attach the social media badge] #NEHGrant
- So excited to announce that I was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities! [Attach the social media badge] #NEHGrant
If you have newspaper interviews, want to create social media posts, or create your own press release, here are some talking points on NEH. These can help explain why it is a meaningful accomplishment to receive a grant from NEH. They also give a brief overview of the agency.
- The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 created the National Endowment for the Humanities as an independent federal agency. The law identified the need for a national cultural agency that would preserve America’s rich history and cultural heritage, and encourage and support scholarship and innovation in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and other humanities disciplines.
- The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.
- The Endowment awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers.
- There are four levels of review before a grant is officially supported.
- Level 1: Knowledgeable persons independent of the agency read each application and advise the agency about its merits.
- Level 2: NEH staff summarize the results of the outside review and prepare a slate of recommendations for the National Council on the Humanities.
- Level 3: The National Council meets in Washington, D.C., to advise the Endowment’s chairman on applications and matters of policy.
- Level 4: The chairman considers the advice he or she has received and makes the final funding decisions. All levels of the review process prior to the chairman’s decision are advisory.
- NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.
- Since 1965, the Endowment has opened new worlds of learning for the American public with noteworthy projects such as:
- Eight thousand books, 17 of which have won Pulitzer Prizes, and 19 of which have received the Bancroft Prize
- The Civil War, the landmark documentary by Ken Burns viewed by 38 million Americans.
- The Library of America editions of novels, essays, and poems, celebrating America’s literary heritage
- The United States Newspaper Project, which cataloged and microfilmed 63.3 million pages of historic newspapers, paved the way for the National Digital Newspaper Program and its digital repository, Chronicling America
- Annual support for 56 states and territories to help support some 56,000 lectures, discussions, exhibitions, and other programs each year
If you need additional information about the grant you were awarded, you can find it on the grants page here.
NEH frequently posts about new grant opportunities and NEH grantee achievements on our social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, and Medium. Our handle is always @NEHgov. We also send a number of email newsletters to which you can subscribe.
- NEH Facebook accounts
- NEH Twitter accounts
- @NEHgov- the main NEH account
- @NEH_ODH- Office of Digital Humanities
- @NEH_Education- Division of Education
- @NEH_PubPrograms- Division of Public Programs
- @NEH_Challenge- Office of Challenge Grants
- @NEH_PresAccess- Division of Preservation and Access
- @NEH_Research- Division of Research
- @NEH_FedState- Office of Federal/State Partnership
- @HumanitiesMag- Humanities Magazine— NEH publication
- @EDSITEment- Office of EDSITEment— K-12 educator resources
- NEH YouTube
- NEH Instagram
- NEH Snapchat – scan the QR code with the Snapchat app on your phone
- NEH Medium
- NEH newsletters
How to reach out to media and pitch your story
- You do not need a fancy database or a PR firm to find local reporters. Most news outlets have a main phone line or list their reporters and editors on their website. Other helpful resources are NPR.org, which has a search tool that helps you find local public radio stations, and Newslink.org, which has a list of print media as well as TV and radio stations by state and category.
- Try to make a connection with reporters by looking up past stories they have written, so you know what they are interested in. Then pitch your story in that direction. One strategy for getting attention for your release is to tie your announcement to a relevant event or to a current news issue.
- Create a distribution list that includes online media and blogs, local newspapers, radio stations, television stations, and news and wire services.
- If you are an organization, write a press release (see template below) and send it to everyone on your list. If you are individual who has received a grant, write to them individually. Whether or not you get a response, writing a press release and sending out emails will give you practice on how to present your project quickly and in the best light. Don’t forget to post your press release on your website and social media channels.
- When following up by email or phone, be prepared to talk about the main points in your press release. Be friendly and polite. If your story at this point does not interest them or that particular contact, ask for the best way to follow up with future press releases or emails.
Tips on how to do outreach to stakeholders
Remember that you can always reach out to the Office of Communications with questions about promoting your grant. It is important to NEH to be in communication with our grantees throughout and after the grant period. The more you can share your grant and project news with different audiences, the more the public will understand the role and the importance of the humanities.
- When you reach a milestone or complete a significant phase of the project, contact your program officer to discuss having your project featured on the division's webpage—you can find each division’s webpage here.
- When you create a product (such as a blog post, report, exhibit, database, etc.), or your project receives media coverage, submit the web link via the “Products and Prizes” tab in eGMS, so that it is shared with the public via our searchable online database: Funded Projects Query Form.
- Also contact the Office of Communications (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). The Communications Team can help you reach out to the media in your area and engage with you on social media about this milestone.
- When you post important updates on social media, make sure you tag the main NEH account (@NEHgov) so we can help further your reach by re-tweeting or sharing your post.
Every grantee will have different groups and organizations that are stakeholders in their grant. One place to start is with your state or regional humanities council. These councils support many local humanities programs and events throughout their jurisdictions. The full list of councils and their contact information can be found here.
You can also think about reaching out to:
- local schools
- Members of Congress
- city council
- after-school programs
- the tourism board
- convention center
- chamber of commerce
- professional-society newsletters
- community-calendar listings
Keep in mind that everyone will reach out to different groups, depending on what kind of grant they received.
The National Endowment for the Humanities requires public acknowledgment of the projects it supports, as outlined in the terms and conditions of your award. Unless advised to the contrary, an acknowledgment of NEH support and the policy statement must appear on all materials publicizing or resulting from award activities. The logo can be downloaded electronically from the NEH website here. The full acknowledgment and publicity requirements can be found here.
Boilerplate is usually found at the end of a press release, and briefly describes the company or organization related above. The same boilerplate is usually used on every press release an organization releases. It is important to remember boilerplates should be up to date, clearly written, and short.
Here is NEH’s boilerplate in case you need to use it:
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (DATE)
Organization (Agency, company, or use your logo)
Media Contact: Name, Phone Number
HEADLINE (ONE LINE ONLY)
Subhead: More Detail as Needed, One Short Sentence Only
City, State: Your announcement starts here, and should lead with a strong first paragraph that clarifies what you are announcing, where, and its relevance. Try to answer the question, Why should the reader care?
Supporting quotes should appear in the second paragraph. These are quotes solicited from partners and surrogates. Avoid exaggeration and hyperbole. Most NEH press releases contain a quote from an NEH representative that you are welcome to use in your own release.
A few more pointers:
- Be honest with yourself about whether or not your press release is focused on the most newsworthy aspects of your grant and project.
- Keep your announcement to one page
- Use language people can readily understand.
- If you are announcing an event, list the who, what, where, and when so that it stands out.
About Your Organization: This is a placeholder for a short, three- to four-sentence description with a link to your website.
*NEH does not endorse the products or services mentioned in this toolkit. For further information please see: Website Disclaimers.