Will 2015 be the year your nonprofit is highlighted in news stories and feature pieces? Will those who could benefit from the work of your organization read about you in the newspaper, see a story on TV, or listen to an interview on the radio? The media could “somehow” find out about your organization and decide to cover it. Or you could dedicate time and resources to cultivating media. Here are four things to consider when engaging the media in 2015
- Meet with the editorial board of your local paper. If you are looking for TV or radio exposure, meet with the station’s management. To secure this meeting, call the editor or station manager and request a time to meet. If your organization has a marketing person on staff, he or she should secure the meeting. If you don’t, ask a member of the board who has marketing experience or a relationship with the media to make the call. If you are without this resource, the executive director should request the meeting.
- During the meeting make the case for your organization, share your impact, and your plans for the coming year. Ask about their guidelines for how to share news about your nonprofit. Request assistance in creating awareness for your organization, its programs and events. Ask for their criteria when covering an organization such as yours. Who should you contact? How much lead time is required? What constitutes a good news story and what types of feature stories are they looking for? Be prepared to honestly answer questions they may ask of you, especially those that may be uncomfortable.
- Bring your media kit. Your kit should contain your case for support, annual report, program highlights, testimonials, and an annotated board list. It should also include a calendar of upcoming events such as fundraisers, lecture series, performances, receptions, and visits by people of note. As appropriate, include a list of the businesses and organizations you partner with, and any honors and awards.
- Be prepared. The executive director, board chair, top development person and top marketing person should attend the meeting. All should be prepared. Create an agenda and determine what role each person will play.
- Follow up. Keep your media contacts apprised of key staff changes and promotions, new board members and upcoming events. If you have expertise on a topic in the news, let them know you are available as a resource. Invite reporters to visit your organization to learn more.
Building media relationships takes time. You have to build a relationship with the media same as you would with a potential donor or board member. Get organized and integrate media relations into your work plan. Build a partnership that creates awareness and provides accountability.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.