How to Leverage the Local Media for Your Nonprofit
We are living in a time when the media is playing a huge role in just about everything. Your local media is a tangible tool to get your nonprofit recognized. Unless you are going national right away, your local media is the best place to start to catch the eye of your local supporters. You can do this with news releases about things your nonprofit is doing.
So, how do you start?
Research and introduce yourself to the local media people who are most likely to cover your stories. Try to figure out a point person at each news outlet that writes or covers stories relevant to your cause. Join networking groups, get to know the person who writes about volunteer opportunities and cultivate a relationship with those people. Personal connections always fare well over sending a general email to an editor.
On the other hand, get to know the reporter, but do not become a nuisance. There is nothing wrong with making yourself known to a media outlet. However, be careful not to cross the fine line of becoming a pest. Arranging a meeting with a local media outlet is a good idea but be considerate of a person’s time. Do not send a press release and then continually follow up to see if they are going to cover your story. If they do not respond, they are probably not interested.
Work in casual contacts with your reporter. Do not negate the fact that a written invitation or a printed and mailed copy of a press release can go a long way. Even if a reporter does not pick up your story, you made an impression. Have an event coming up? Send a personalized invitation. Keep your nonprofit on their mind.
Have a good story. The news is not going to pick up a story that is only relevant to your organization’s everyday events. When you send out a press release, make it a worthwhile story of something unique or new your organization is doing. Journalists love human interest stories—stories that pull at a person’s heart strings. These stories are the ones that will have a better chance of being published.
Think about creating a virtual media kit. Create a simple media kit that’s listed on your nonprofit’s website. Include a gallery of photos that can be used, your mission and vision statements, along with your key staff and board members. As simple as it sounds, this makes a reporter’s job easier and they are more likely to pick up your stories.
A thank you goes a long way. Never underestimate the power of saying thank you. An email followed by a handwritten thank-you note is a simple gesture that leaves a big impression.
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