Non-Profit Media Relations

23 Mar

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have you ever realized how many pitches a reporter gets on a daily basis? How can a non-profit organization stand out and get noticed? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for non-profits who want their voices heard.

Do’s:
1. First of all, make sure you indeed have a story. Is what you are pitching relevant to your community? Is it interesting and newsworthy? Would people want to read about it?

2. Learn how to write a good press release. And practice, practice, practice.

3. Include infographics in your release for added interest; and for ease-of-use and printing, include a written version of the statistics summarized in the infographic.

4. Get to know the reporters you’ll be pitching to. What beats do they typically cover? What are their writing styles? What types of stories pique their interest? Build relationships.

5. In my experience, the best time to send a press release is Tuesday or Wednesday morning around 10:00. However, see #6 below.

6.Twitter has made pitching directly to the reporter at any time super easy. It’s not necessarily simple to do, though, because you have to craft your message just right to fit the 140-character max. Another caveat: don’t let your pitch get lost in the resporter’s feed! Research and strategize the best time to pitch. 

7. Visit a newsroom to get a firsthand view of where your story goes. You’ll gain an appreciation for what media does. And reporters will see that you’re serious about getting your stories published.

8. Position yourself — or your organization — as an expert in your respective field. Pitch your expertise on a given subject for feature stories and regular column contribution.

Don’ts
1. If your story doesn’t have local significance, it probably won’t get published. Your story needs to resonate with the audience; if it doesn’t, the reporter won’t waste their time. Make sure your news is relevant.

2. Don’t disregard a reporter’s pitching preferences. Do they prefer electronic only? Do they allow follow-up phone calls? Do they want the pitch in the body of an e-mail or as an attachment? Follow instructions explicitly.

3. Don’t forget to say “thank you”. Follow up after your story is published. Your name and organization will stay in the forefront of the reporter’s mind for future stories. Note: A handwritten note goes a long way.

4. Don’t use the same angle everyone else would. Dare to be different in order to stand out. “You can often propel your story from important to newsworthy just by highlighting a different angle.”

5. Don’t send a bulk press release to multiple media outlets. Instead personalize the pitch with the reporters name and tailor it to the reporter’s niche and style.

6. Don’t offer queries or pitches and then not be available to reporters for questions and interviews. Consider giving them your home and/or cell number. If you miss the call, return their call as soon as possible.

7. Don’t assume that just because you follow these suggestions that all your stories will be published. The amount of pitches reporters receive is staggering and there is only so much air/column space to be filled. Sometimes you’ll hit, sometimes you’ll miss. Keep trying and your story will be heard!

Your turn: In the “Comments” section below, answer these questions:Do you have any other tips for successful media relations? What has worked for your organization? What have you had to reconsider?

Thanks for stopping by!

~Laura~ 

Other Posts Related to Non-Profits: Here are some other posts you may find helpful: ABCs of FundraisingFangelismGrant Writing Resources

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