VOL. 127 | NO. 93 | Friday, May 11, 2012
FUNdraising Good Times
Pearl and Mel Shaw
No News Is Good News?
By Mel and Pearl Shaw
Is your nonprofit organization getting the media attention it deserves? Do you ask, in frustration, “Why do we even bother creating press releases if no one covers our events?” You are not alone. We can’t promise a cure, but we can help you develop stronger relationships with appropriate media.
Start with identifying which media would be a good fit for the message you want to send, and the people you want to communicate with. Identify media with a similar target. Within a news station, know which news shows or segments would be an ideal fit.
Identify the highest-ranking person within the media organization you can secure a meeting with. Ask someone to open the door. “Example, Jeanine, I know you have a relationship with the news director at FOX news – would you be willing to get an appointment for us to meet with her?” Simple, but you have to ask.
Your goal is to cultivate media before you need a story run. Visit media representatives at their offices (always respecting deadlines!). Come prepared. Bring a press kit. If you don’t have one, ask someone with experience to help create one. Make sure your materials make the case for your organization right up front. Who you are and what you do should be spelled out clearly. Accompanying photos will make it come alive. Share your nonprofit’s story in a concise and compelling manner.
During the meeting ask about the newspaper’s interests, goals and target market. Discuss the direction they are seeking to move in, and explore how your nonprofit can help them meet that goal by providing access to experts, reports, data and human interest stories.
Ask for suggestions on how to improve your press kit, and the best way and time to submit materials. Ask who in specific you should submit information to. And don’t forget to invite them to come see your organization in action.
By meeting in advance with people behind the scenes you can learn a media outlet’s business goals, upcoming focus segments, timeframes, deadlines and requirements. You want to make it easy for an editor to run your nonprofit’s press release, to cover a news or human interest story that ties back to your organization, and to report live from your event.
Come prepared with how you want to recognize the media throughout the year. Are you looking for a media partner? If so, come with an annual schedule of events and examples of how the work of the nonprofit ties to compelling issues within the community.
Remember – nonprofits have to be all about transparency, accountability and impact. Be open and honest with the press. You want friends. If you are concealing or tell half-truths the media you want as a partner may investigate you. Get on the front page the right way!
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help nonprofit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of “How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors.” Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.