5 Non-Negotiables To Attract Media Coverage As A Small Nonprofit

When we think of media coverage, we usually picture major publications like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or large corporations like CNN. For a smaller organization, it can definitely feel daunting or even impossible to earn media attention.
However, plenty of small to mid-sized nonprofits are able to successfully leverage media coverage to raise awareness for their cause! Let’s look at some of the ways a small nonprofit can harness media to effectively boost its presence and win over new supporters.

Have Your Digital Media Kit Ready

Before you go searching for media attention, it’s wise to have a media kit prominently available for journalists and reporters to download from your website or by email request. This media kit should cover the typical information and resources that media personnel would need while prepping your story. Key components may include:
  • your nonprofit’s mission and goals
  • answers to your organization’s most frequently asked questions
  • high-quality photos of your staff, volunteers, and those in need that your organization helps
  • recent news releases that may be of interest to the news outlet’s audience
  • relevant statistics that highlight the importance of your cause or progress you’ve made
  • your annual report
The media industry moves fast, and reporters work on tight deadlines. The more time you can save them in preparing your story, the more likely they’ll be to collaborate with you again in the future.

Tune Into Your Local News Outlets

Especially for a small nonprofit, the media in your local area should be on your radar at all times. This may mean:
  • bookmarking your local media websites
  • keeping an eye on their social media accounts
  • subscribing to their newspapers, magazines or email newsletters
  • understanding the topics and political views they tend to gravitate toward
  • making note of who currently works where in the industry
Not only do these local outlets have the attention of the folks in your neighbourhood (AKA a small nonprofit’s most valuable supporters!), but there’s always the possibility that your story can work its way all the way up the food chain to major publications like the New York Times or BBC World News. National media corporations are constantly on the hunt to pick up stories that are already trending at the local or regional level.

Craft Your Narrative With A Human-Interest Angle

The most powerful and memorable stories in the media are those that put a face to the story. So make your story as human as possible! Nonprofits usually have a leg up on this since their mission revolves around helping someone in need and making the world a better place. Human-interest angles that may work for your next piece of media coverage include:
  • Sharing a volunteer’s perspective and reason they chose your organization
  • Profiling someone whose life has improved with the help of your nonprofit
  • Exploring multiple perspectives within one story (ie. volunteers, staff, donors, those in need, the surrounding community)
All of these approaches humanize your nonprofit and encourage the audience to relate on a meaningful, personal level with the characters in your story. You can read this article for more information on powerful storytelling examples for your next campaign.

Piggyback On Other Breaking News

Known in the industry as newsjacking, it is a common tactic used by smaller news outlets, nonprofits and corporations to ride the coattails of a larger story already attracting widespread media coverage, but with a localized perspective.
The key is to keep an eye on trending news — your aim is to uncover a link between the issues being discussed, and the solutions that your nonprofit offers. Some examples of this include:
  • Record-level freezing temperatures this winter? Share with the media that your nonprofit is  distributing blankets, coats and boots to the homeless, and how viewers can help by donating their old clothing.
  • Hurricane headed your region’s way (or dealing with the aftermath)? Share that your volunteers are being sent over to aid victims and how the audience can show their support.
  • Your country is lagging globally in education? Showcase why and how your nonprofit provides literacy programs for young, old, and/or disadvantaged members of the community.

Make The Reporter’s Job Easier

Again, you want to make it as easy as possible for media personnel to work with your organization in the face of tight deadlines. Often, this means you only have a 24-hour window of opportunity to be featured in prominent news coverage before the media moves on to the next story! So be proactive with the following:
  • Photos. Provide a gallery of pictures that can be featured in newspapers, magazines and television segments. 
  • Your Resident Expert. Assign a go-to expert in your team that is trained and educated to address incoming media requests and inquiries. 
  • Contact Information. Make sure reporters and journalists have easy access to an email address and phone number where you can be reached at quickly.
Not A Fit? Pass It On! If the media opportunity isn’t quite the right fit for your organization, help them out and share the contact information of another nonprofit that may be a better fit for the story. Your proactive cooperation will be remembered by the reporter and make your organization a go-to point of contact for future stories.

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