Claire and Kivi at the Book Party

Claire and Kivi at the Book Party

I have some really smart friends. I get the most amazing stuff in my email box from them.

Take this email I got this morning from Claire Meyerhoff, who many of you know as our media relations expert at Nonprofit Marketing Guide. She spent many years in the broadcast news business, including writing news copy for anchors at CNN. Claire is now the editorial director at the Planned Giving Company.

She zipped off this little email to me today about how she liked my post on using a postcard for an annual report, and how she wrote one about it too.

But look at the nonprofit messaging brilliance she just casually added to it, off the top of her head . . .


I LOVE the whole idea of anything on a postcard. In my work for the Planned Giving Company, we do “storytelling postcards” for major organizations like University of Denver and the Ronald Reagan Foundation. Planned giving is always thought of as “technical” and “hard to communicate” — but it’s not. If we can “fit” planned giving messaging along with mission information on a postcard — anything should fit on a postcard!

Maybe your new slogan should be “if it can’t fit on a postcard, get rid of it,” or something like that. When clients say, “we should have a few paragraphs on that”, I say, “if i can explain the latest on the Ethiopia/Eritrea border war in 25 seconds worth of copy, we should be able to explain any concept in three sentences or less.”

The Three Sentence Rule. You heard it here first. Don’t steal it! It sort of comes from doing TV standups. You do it in three parts, because three is easy to remember. If I had just done a story at your house about girl scout cookies, this would be my standup:

Kivi Miller and her family handed over more than 1,500 boxes of cookies to members of Troop 555. It’s been a busy week, trying to balance cookie duties with her job as a marketing specialist for nonprofits, but she says it’s been rewarding. Kivi says she’s a bit tired, but that she’s already signed up to be cookie mom again next year.”

It’s three sentences, and in your head, you’re thinking “1500 boxes of cookies” “busy balance/marketing specialist nonprofits” and “will do it again next year.” What you END UP saying, might not be exactly like the standup you wrote — BUT you remember THREE things to hit on, with the last one being the WHAT’s NEXT.


I asked Claire if I could blog her email, and she said Yes, so I’m not really stealing.

Lesson #1: Follow Claire’s Three Sentence Rule

Lesson #2: Get Yourself Some Really Smart Friends

Lesson 3#: Share Brilliant Ideas with Others, No Matter Where You Find Them!