Every fundraiser dreams of being the most loved and well supported nonprofit in town.
The charity that EVERYONE gives to and talks about.
Sounds good, right?
But how do you get there?
You need a big, loyal donor base of people who love your nonprofit’s mission. How do you grow a big, loyal donor base? You start with raising awareness of the need your nonprofit seeks to meet.
And if you can get your nonprofit’s story in the news, raising awareness gets easier.
Get your nonprofit’s story in the news = Increased Awareness
Your nonprofit’s story in the local news media will help spread the word about the work you’re doing. It will give you instant credibility, even if your nonprofit is very young or very small.
The old marketing adage that someone has to see your message 7 times before it sinks in is probably no longer true. Because we’re all inundated with messages now through social media, email, and more, it probably takes more like 20 times now.
If you can get your nonprofit’s story in the news, it can be one of those times and for certain demographics who still loyally read the paper, you’ll be able to reach them.
Any time you have an appeal out, getting a story in the news will boost your response rates. It just reinforces your message to your donors and can be a good reminder if they meant to give but forgot.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is typically a slow news week and local media are hungry for feel-good stories, especially local ones that they don’t have to work hard to get. Pitch your nonprofit story a week or two ahead of time so the reporter can get it “in the can” and ready to go. After all, they want to have that week off, too.
4 Steps to Pitching a Story to the Local Media
Here are the basics to get your nonprofit’s story in the news:
1. Pick a good story. Find the human interest angle. Don’t just pitch anything – news outlets aren’t interested in your nonprofit’s anniversary or upcoming fundraising event. They want to know what you’re doing that’s making a difference. Choose a story that they will want to run.
2. Pitch it to the right media outlet. Not all of them will cover your type of story. Find the television station that touts itself as “community based” or “home grown.” They’re more likely to cover the local feel-good stuff. Find the newspaper reporter who covers your content area and pitch your story directly to them. You can usually do a little research on their websites and figure out exactly who to send your press release to.
3. Answer the 5 Ws in your press release. Follow the standard press release formula and give the who, what, where, when, and why of your story. Show how your nonprofit is the right one (or the only one) addressing the particular need and how you are fully committed to making a difference. Include your contact info, too. You can google Sample Press Release and find a ton of ideas for what your release should look like.
4. Follow up with a thank-you note if they run your story. Seems obvious, but lots of reporters and News Directors have told me they hardly ever get a thank-you from a nonprofit. Thanking them for helping you out is not only polite, it can begin a relationship, which will make your next placement even easier. And if something amazing happens because of your story (you collect an unprecedented amount of money or stuff, a dog gets adopted, etc.), definitely let your media contact know. They LOVE knowing that their story made a difference.
Pitching stories to the news media is like anything else – the more you do it, the better you get at it.
So do it. Often. Get a volunteer or intern to help you if needed, but get in the habit of finding and pitching stories.
5 tips to make it easier
Trying to get your nonprofit’s story in the news can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before, so here are some tips to help you get your story in the news.