If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a client express their desire to be featured in a news story, I would be a wealthy man. It seems like everybody wants to see their organization’s name in the news. Of course, there are many legitimate reasons to seek out press coverage — announcing a significant change, launching a new service, recognizing a significant accomplishment or informing the public about opportunities in which to get engaged.
But is getting media coverage that big of a deal? Short answer – yes. In fact, we’ve seen just one news article result in $250,000 in donations. So how do you go about getting the press interested enough to feature you? We have five tips to help you and your nonprofit get the coverage you deserve.
Tell A Compelling Story
Reporters want to cover topics that are interesting to them, their editors and their audience. Please don’t even think about pitching a story about your organization’s latest fundraiser, milestone or challenge unless you’ve identified a strong hook. For example, we pitched a story about New Life Camp’s Capital Campaign and its mission to “breathe new life into its facilities.” We wanted to visually communicate the tangible impact of the campaign. The result was a great article featuring New Life Camp in Walter Magazine, highlighting incredible pictures of the camp facilities from the 60s that had barely changed.
Know The Publication
Not reading the publication in which they want to appear is one of the biggest mistakes press-seekers make. I beseech you, if you want to appear in the News & Observer or on WRAL, at least read or tune in to check out what they’re covering every now and then. Better yet, get a subscription and support the media you’re relying on to help tell your story. Know what the publication covers and what sections it produces.
Know The Reporter
It isn’t possible to know every reporter, but it is possible to know the reporters who cover your topic and what and how they write. Is your nonprofit focused on education? Follow the education reporter on Twitter. Is your nonprofit located in Cary? Be sure you know who writes for The Cary News.
Keep It Brief And Relevant
Once you know the publication and the reporter you’re going to target, the next step is to write the pitch. Don’t try to write the entire article for the reporter. Use the five W’s and H to make sure you hit the who, what, when, where, why and how of your story. Be conversational and tell the reporter why you think their audience would care.
Don’t Give Up
So you’ve pitched the story, and it seems to have landed on deaf ears. Remember, you and about 100 other people have pitched that reporter this week. One email may not make it through. Give it a few days, then follow up with another email or a phone call. Be polite and brief. Something like, “I know you’re busy, but I wanted to touch base to see if you had any interest in the story I pitched on X date. We would love to work with you on this. So just let me know if we can help you in your reporting.”
Yes, your organization likely deserves some recognition for its work. But you can’t rely on word of mouth to spread the word to the press.
So whether you reach out on your own or engage a firm like Angel Oak Creative to manage your media relations, make sure you have a solid story to tell and know to whom you’re trying to tell it. You can do it! And if you need help, we’re always here.
– David Chatham, Senior Marketing Consultant