Media coverage is a surefire way to increase your nonprofit’s visibility. It provides third-party validation about the great work you do while also capturing an audience that may have never been aware of your organization otherwise.
Given today’s ever-changing media landscape, how can you increase your chances of being mentioned? Here are a few tips based on my experience in the field and feedback reporters have personally shared with me.
1. WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT?
There are more than 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States alone. What makes your organization different? If you can express why you are uniquely positioned to tackle the problem your organization is trying to solve, you’ll set your nonprofit apart. This is the first step to telling your story.
Your next step is to figure out why this news is important. If someone sent you information on the same topic, would you care? Make sure you lead with the important details and, when feasible, offer an exclusive to the right journalist.
Lisa Bertagnoli of Crain’s Chicago Business points out what would make her cover a nonprofit she isn’t familiar with:
“Details, and exclusives. Dollar amounts of grants and contributions, if that’s the news. Cost of a new initiative and the number of people it will serve. Details get my attention and help me decide whether a story is worth pitching to my editors. I’m even more likely to pick up the phone if I’m offered an exclusive for a story that includes a sizeable grant or donation or a major new initiative. Oh, and I will always want interviews with key players, be it the organization’s CEO or the big donor.”
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Different journalists have different beats, or topics, they tend to cover. Take the time to research who's the best fit for the story you wish to pitch for each publication. Make sure to tailor your pitch to each journalist and outlet. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches a day and can tell which emails are blanket blasts to as many contacts as possible.
Take it a step beyond reading their recent articles by following them on social media. By learning what types of articles or comments they share, you can gain insight into their interests.
3. BE SELECTIVE
Fundraisers, galas, grants, new leadership, moving offices ... with nonprofit life comes a seemingly endless list of events that happen a mile a minute. But not everything your organization considers news is seen as news by reporters. Be selective in what you bring to journalists. You are much more likely to pique their interest if you aren’t spamming their in-box with every single news release you have.
4. MAKE IT EASY
Reporters want a single, easy, objective source for discovering your organization's mission, vision, values, and financials. Your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile is a perfect one-stop shop. As Marc Gunther of Nonprofit Chronicles stated earlier this year:
"As a reporter who writes about foundations and nonprofits, with an email inbox that is overflowing with pitches from PR people, I’m ready to use GuideStar as a filter. … I’m going to turn down requests for coverage of nonprofits that do not either (1) have Platinum status or (2) have a recommendation from an independent evaluator such as GiveWell, The Life You Can Save, ImpactMatters and Animal Charity Evaluators."
Each year, more than 7 million users visit GuideStar. A large portion of them are media. Don’t miss this easy opportunity to increase your visibility—claim and update your Nonprofit Profile for free today.
5. BE TRANSPARENT
Above all else, be transparent about the work you do and the way you go about accomplishing it. As Drew Lindsay of the Chronicle of Philanthropy said, “Journalists are looking for much of what discerning donors want: transparency, authenticity, and an honest appraisal of what works and doesn’t work.”
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
When it comes to getting your organization's name outside of the sector bubble, nothing beats earning positive media placements in the newspapers and websites that your stakeholders read every day.
As GuideStar’s media and outreach manager, Jackie Enterline Fekeci leads media relations and promotion of brand awareness. Prior to joining GuideStar, Jackie worked at a boutique PR Agency in Los Angeles where she managed a variety of clients in different industries including: FinTech, Tech, Lifestyle, and Nonprofit. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from George Mason University.