I’m often asked how a nonprofit can get more exposure in the media, especially when there is no money to pay additional staff. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just remember to be consistent, be friendly, and be flexible. Oh, and don’t forget to say thank you.
1) Be consistent. Set up and stick to a regular schedule for media pitches. Make sure that the media knows who you are and is reminded regularly that you are around. It’s like branding – you want to be top of mind.
Now, that being said, you don’t want to bombard them with stories they are not interested in writing. For example, a story on your new staff break room is not newsworthy. A client testimony on an issue of national concern (obesity, job development, etc.) is noteworthy. Be strategic.
2) Be friendly. Get to know the reporters that cover your geographical area and the topics your nonprofit deals with. For example, if you deal with gang issues then you should get to know the crime reporter. If you deal with education, get to know the education/schools reporter. You can invite them over to tour your facility and meet a couple of clients. Then, when you send a press release to them or email a story idea, they have a personal experience with your mission.
3) Be flexible. Remember, reporters have a job too. They need to please their editor and their readers. They also have deadlines. You may get a call on Friday afternoon at 4pm asking if you have a client they can interview or if they can use your site for a picture for a story. Say yes. Helping out a reporter when they are in a jam is a sure-fire way to make friends.
4) Say thank you. Gratitude goes a long way. Always email or call to say thank you to a reporter who has covered your nonprofit. And, at the same time, you can ask a board member or donor write in as a citizen (and reader) to express their appreciation for the great story. Then, send these stories out via social media. This increases the publicity for your nonprofit and for the reporter (whose boss, more than likely, looks at the number of pageviews each story gets).
Additionally, if the reporter covers your mission (but not your organization), it is still appropriate to say thank you for highlighting these important issues. This simple act encourages future stories and develops your relatinship with the reporter.
These are simple hints but, in my experience, they go a long way. And most nonprofits don’t follow them.
What are your favorite media tips?