Securing media coverage for your nonprofit organization can be a powerful way to boost your brand’s visibility, attract donors and volunteers, and raise awareness about your cause. To achieve this, storytelling and relationship-building are key elements.
In this guide, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to craft compelling press releases, cultivate and maintain relationships with media contacts, and measure the impact of your media coverage.
By implementing the right strategies and tools, your nonprofit can reach a wider audience and make a greater impact in the community.
Writing a perfect Press Release
A Suitable Subject Line
To increase the chances of your press release being noticed by journalists, it’s important to make your headline attention-grabbing and clear, and highlight the most newsworthy aspects of your story at the beginning.
A good rule of thumb is to limit your headline to 10-12 words and avoid unnecessary adjectives and filler words. Consider using humor, curiosity, or a unique angle to make your release stand out from the crowd.
Develop a Compelling Story
A well-crafted press release should be concise, with a maximum of 500 words, and read like an informative news story. To catch a journalist’s attention, your story should have a unique angle, relate to current trends or newsworthy events, and align with their area of focus.
Your opening paragraph should answer key questions, such as what the story is about, who it involves, and where the charity is based or where the story takes place. Whenever possible, link your story to specific projects, beneficiaries, success stories, and milestones achieved by your organization.
Use high-quality images that are properly captioned and credited, video content to increase your potential for online coverage, and include relevant quotes to add a human touch to your story.
Additionally, provide a clear call to action for both journalists and readers to follow.
Use AI tools
AI tools like ChatGPT can be a valuable resource when writing a press release. They can help you with wording, grammar, and tone, and suggest headline ideas. ChatGPT can also provide feedback on the structure and flow of your press release, and offer tips on how to make your story more engaging and newsworthy.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that AI tools cannot replace the human touch. Use them as a supplement to your own writing and editing process, but be sure to review and revise your press release with a critical eye before submitting it to journalists or publishing it online.
Create a Press Kit
Having a well-organized press kit in the form of a PDF, Dropbox or Google Drive link, can greatly assist journalists in understanding your charity and its work. A concise press kit should include your charity’s background, mission statement, recent achievements, success stories, and visual elements such as photos and videos.
Keep the information organized and concise to avoid overwhelming the journalist.
By providing a comprehensive press kit, you make it easier for journalists to find the information they need to write about your charity in their articles.
A Perfect Pitch
To increase the chances of your press release being picked up by journalists, it’s important to take a personalized approach based on their interests and geographical focus.
While it may be tempting to send bulk emails, building relationships with journalists can be more effective in the long run.
Begin by greeting the journalist in a friendly and professional manner. Highlight the most newsworthy and unique aspects of your story, and emphasize how it aligns with their audience, editorial focus, or mission. Consider the wider context of your story and how it may be relevant to current events or trends. Personalization can go a long way in getting your press release noticed and increasing your chances of coverage
Finding Media Contacts & Distributing your Release
Finding Media Contacts
When it comes to finding media contacts to send your press releases to, there are several options available. One approach is to utilize the South African Government Media Directory, which provides a comprehensive list of media contacts that are available to the public.
Another option is to visit the “Contact Us” or “Submit Story” section of any media publication’s website.
Additionally, social media platforms can be an effective way to identify and connect with journalists and media outlets.
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for referrals from your existing contacts, partners, or board members as networking is often the best way to find new media contacts.
Do Your Research
To identify media contacts that are a good fit for your charity, you should conduct thorough research. Start by looking for journalists and publications that cover topics and issues related to your cause. Take a look at their previous articles and see if there are any patterns or themes that emerge. This will give you an idea of their interests and preferences, as well as their style and tone.
It’s also important to consider the geographic focus of the journalists and publications you’re targeting. Make sure that your charity’s location or the location of the story you’re pitching matches their coverage area. This will increase your chances of getting your story published and reaching the right audience.
Distributing your Press Release
When it comes to distributing your press release, there are several steps you can take to ensure maximum visibility and impact.
First and foremost, send your press release from your official charity organization’s email address as it adds credibility and legitimacy to your message.
Next, consider using free distribution sites such as MyPR and MyPressportal to reach a wider audience and increase your chances of being noticed by journalists.
If you have the budget, paid services like Meltwater, Newsclip, Redbook, and Pear can be great for targeting specific journalists and media outlets and tracking your impact.
Quick Tip: Send your press release in the body of an email, not as a PDF, to allow journalists to copy and use your information easily.
Timing is Everything
Timing is crucial when it comes to the success of your press release. To increase the chances of it being picked up, it’s best to avoid sending it on weekends, public holidays, or during major events or breaking news stories that may overshadow your announcement.
Mondays and Tuesdays are generally considered the best days to send press releases as journalists are often looking for fresh content at the start of the week.
Late mornings or early afternoons are generally the best times as it gives journalists enough time to review the content before their deadlines.
Furthermore, consider the publication you are reaching out to and their publishing schedule. Do they publish stories daily, weekly, or monthly? This will help you time your press release to ensure maximum visibility and impact.
Be prepared for Interviews
When a journalist shows interest in your press release, it’s essential to be ready to provide quotes, background information, or even participate in an interview. Since journalists work on tight deadlines, it’s crucial to be responsive when they contact you. Be available for interviews or provide information promptly, and respond quickly to any inquiries or requests.
Persistence is crucial when it comes to getting your press release noticed. If you don’t receive coverage right away, don’t give up. Instead, follow up with journalists to gauge their interest and see if there are any other angles that might be of interest to them.
You could also consider reaching out to other journalists at the same publication or researching other publications that may be interested in your story.
Additionally, you can try adjusting the timing of your press release or changing the headline or content to make it more compelling.
Building relationships with journalists takes time, so don’t get discouraged and keep at it. Remember to always be professional and respectful in your interactions with the media, and don’t forget to thank them for their time, even if they decide not to cover your story.
Media release form
Before distributing a press release, ensure that you have obtained permission from all parties mentioned in the release. A Media Release Form is a crucial legal document that provides consent to use someone’s image or information in media materials. It helps protect both parties by preventing legal issues such as privacy violations or defamation. Obtaining consent builds trust and fosters a positive relationship between the media and individuals/organizations involved.
After the press
Track your coverage
To track the reach of your media coverage, consider using free tools like Similarweb.Simply copy the link to your story in the “Analyse website or app” tab, to learn value insights about the publication.
You can also calculate the value of your media coverage using the formula (Reach * 0.025 * 5) to determine the rand value associated with the coverage.
Tracking your media coverage is essential as it helps you measure the success of your PR efforts and make necessary adjustments to your PR strategy. By tracking your coverage, you can gain insights into what works and what doesn’t work, and better target your outreach efforts to reach and engage with your audience.
Build relationships with journalists
Building relationships with journalists is crucial for successful media relations. Once your story is published, it’s important to express gratitude to the journalist and continue to foster the relationship. One effective way to do this is by building your personal media database in an excel spreadsheet or CRM list. This tool can help you stay organized and keep track of journalists’ deadlines and preferences, allowing you to tailor your pitches to their interests.
Following journalists on social media and engaging with them online can also help establish your charity as a valuable source of information and keep you top of mind, increasing the likelihood of future coverage. However, it’s important to avoid oversaturating or spamming journalists. Take the time to get to know them and create meaningful, genuine relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Share your Press Release Further
After your press release has been picked up by publications, it’s important to keep track of the coverage and share it on your social media platforms and website. This can help to amplify the reach of your story, demonstrate the impact of your organization and attract new supporters and donors.
In conclusion, media coverage is an effective tool for nonprofit organizations to increase brand awareness, attract donors and volunteers, and promote their cause. To achieve this, it’s important to create compelling human-interest stories that are newsworthy and relatable, establish strong relationships with journalists, and develop a media kit that provides relevant information about your charity.
Additionally, conducting thorough research, timing press releases strategically, and identifying the appropriate media contacts to pitch to are essential steps for successful media coverage. By implementing these strategies, nonprofit organizations can reach a broader audience and have a greater impact in their community. Media coverage can help your nonprofit organization achieve its goals and ultimately make a positive difference in the world.
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