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Breaking Through the Noise: How to Get Media Coverage for Your Nonprofit

Having spent nearly six years working for a large nonprofit organization, another eight years on the PR agency side servicing nonprofits and countless years volunteering for various organizations, I know how tremendously rewarding nonprofit work is. You feel like you are actually making a difference in the world — and you are!

Karen Addis Karen Addis

When it comes to pitching your organization to the media you are at a distinct advantage because everyone, including the media, loves a good story. That’s where nonprofits shine; they are never at a loss for powerful stories.

The challenge, however, comes in getting a reporter’s attention for a story that often is not breaking news. In today’s competitive media market with fewer reporters to target that is becoming increasingly difficult.

But if you frame your story correctly, keeping the following five tips in mind, you can increase the odds of breaking through the media noise and getting your story told.

  1. Pitch everyday people. One of a nonprofit’s greatest strengths is the numerous people it impacts. Find out what those stories are and then tell them.
  2. Profile leaders. Oftentimes people in leadership positions, whether paid or volunteer, have their own personal story. Talk to your CEO and board members and find out why they are involved in your organization. Don’t forget to approach their alumni publications, which often are looking for profile pieces.
  3. Seize the day. When it comes to breaking news stories, media are looking for credible, third-party experts to help round out their stories. Offer up your organization’s leadership when appropriate.
  4. Create news. When you don’t have news, create your own. And that’s where your creativity comes into play.
  5. Be persistent. There’s no substitution for good old-fashioned follow-up done in a respectful, polite manner. Reporters are inundated with requests, many of which get lost in email clutter or, worse, caught in a spam filter. Certainly send the reporter a brief email pitch, but then follow up via phone. Be prepared to follow up with several phone calls at different times of the day.

Understand you aren’t always going to get media coverage. However, a powerful story, combined with some creativity and lots of persistence, increases your chances of getting media coverage for the valuable work your organization does.

The preceding is a guest post by Karen Addis, APR. Karen is a senior communications executive with more than 25 years of experience providing strategic communications counsel and support to a range of clients, including numerous nonprofit organizations. You can follow her on Twitter at @karenaddis or connect with her on LinkedIn at

Topics: Communications