Media Relations for Non-Profit Organizations – Tell Your Story 

The landscape of non-profit organizations is filled with worthy causes – everything from feeding the hungry, behavioral health services, providing compassionate support for children in need and more. The incredible work these organizations do in service to our communities are stories that need to be shared far and wide.  

Enter: the media relations campaign. A strong media relations campaign is an investment in time and effort, but it can net untold benefits for non-profit organizations. The increased awareness isn’t just for the audience who could benefit from an organization’s offerings – it can also translate into recruiting and retaining more staff, donors and volunteers. By building strong relationships with media outlets, these campaigns can help shine a light on today’s issues that your organization helps address in your communities and bridge the gap between those who need services and those who receive them.

If you’re convinced, read on. We’ve included nine tips for non-profit organizations to get the most out of their media relations efforts.

Craft key messages based on mission, strategic goals and results.  

It is no longer enough for non-profit organizations to “do good things.” Tell the world your mission, strategic goals and your results. Messages like these lay the foundation for an effective media relations campaign.  

Develop your plan based on key audiences and desired outcomes.  

What do you want your audience to do as a result of your messages? Develop your plan to support desired outcomes, whether that is increasing donations, attracting more volunteers and staff or helping more people. Create a timeline and tactics for reaching out to the media based on these goals and objectives. 

Build customized media lists and relationships with reporters. 

Build customized media lists that include traditional media outlets such as newspapers, television and radio. You could also consider reaching out to new media publications across digital and social media channels to reach wider or more specific audiences.  

While it’s important to include the basics in a media list like a reporter’s name and contact information, also note what topics that reporter tends to cover; this can go a long way when pitching stories.  

While many media outlets do business via virtual meetings, phone calls and emails, look for ways to network in person. That face-to-face connection can go a long way toward building rapport with reporters and editors.

Write compelling newsworthy stories that inspire others. 

Whether it’s an announcement about a big fundraiser or a human interest story about how your organization impacts lives, bring the story back to your mission and how the the community benefits from your work.

For example, show how supporters’ donations directly benefitted someone in need and how this person’s story mirrors countless others your organization has helped. Show how your organization helps improves the quality of life for people in your community.

Show the fruits of your mission and vision.

Learn the basics about submitting news releases. 

For best results, copy and paste news releases into the body of emails to reporters or attach text documents. If you have relevant images, including a few high-resolution photos can “put a face” on the story.  

After submitting a news release, give reporters a few days and then follow up by phone. Ask them if they plan to run the story and if they need additional information, such as their source for the piece or more background. When possible, it doesn’t hurt to mention that reporter’s recent stories related to yours.  

Get coverage for events through media advisories. 

To get reporters to cover non-profit organization fundraisers and other events that showcase your mission in action, send them a media advisory a day or two before the occasion. This advisory should be brief and include “who, what, where, why and how,” the best time for cameras and who will be available for interviews. Depending on the time of the event, call the newsrooms the day before or the day of the event and ask them if they plan to cover it. While most won’t make a firm commitment, a phone call is always a great reminder.  

Even if reporters don’t make it, it is good practice to send a post release with photos – or, even better, consider creating and sending Voice-Over Sound on Tape (VOSOT). 

Respond promptly to media inquires. 

When reporters reach out for information or interviews, respond promptly and provide accurate and relevant information. Checking for accuracy and circling back to a reporter is always a better option than trying to “wing it.”  

It is a best practice to have one person, department or designated agency handle media inquiries. Everyone in your organization should know who to call for media inquiries rather than responding themselves. 

Showing the organization as a trustworthy source is a key cornerstone in building a positive relationship with the media that can lead to more future opportunities.  

Measure and monitor media coverage.  

Keep track of media coverage including mentions in newspapers, online articles and social media posts. Measure the impact of media coverage on the organization’s goals, such as increasing donations, volunteer engagement, inbound calls, social media traffic and, most importantly, helping more people.  

Get outside help. 

Executing an effective media relations plan is a tremendous amount of work that requires careful planning and consistent execution so that your messages support your mission. If you are ready to start planning your next media relations campaign for your organization, consider enlisting help from C2 Strategic Communications. Our seasoned professionals have decades of experience pitching stories that influence decision makers and help non-profit organizations change lives.

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