We live in a busy, noisy world, which means non-profits are competing for attention more than ever. This reality means that nonprofit leaders need to be adept at media outreach, to rise above the crowd and garner positive attention. Here’s how they might work through these challenges:
Master the basics: Develop a comprehensive communications plan that touches on your organization’s purpose and mission. Make news releases, timeline/milestones, stories, bios, headshots and fact sheets easily accessible on your website. Making the reporters’ job easier increases the chance your story will be covered and that you can develop a longer term working relationship.
Frame the message right: Focus on the real or projected impact of your effort instead of the activity or event itself. For example, rather than sending a press release with the headline “XYZ organization secures $100,000-grant,” focus on the end result. How many additional families, kids, etc. will you serve? What’s the impact to the community at large? When you think strategically, you increase the likelihood of a reporter taking notice and giving you the time of day. Also, there has been a move away from the traditional “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality to more of a solutions-based type of reporting. This means there’s greater opportunity for feel-good stories to be covered and embraced by the community.
Persistence is key: Working with the media calls for a delicate balance. Too many attempts in a short time can be a turn off and even come across as desperate. Don’t give up, but at the same time; don’t become a nuisance. Know what’s newsworthy and what’s not and learn to be selective in your pitches. For example, the media won’t care that you moved to a new facility unless you moved to a new facility that will double your staff and your reach. (See point above.)
If you currently have a successful media relations program, what have you found to be helpful? What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? We welcome your feedback on our Facebook page.