Shine a spotlight on your nonprofit with these 5 media tips

Landing a story in the media is a great way to reach many potential sponsors, donors, volunteers, and clients of your nonprofit. Imagine! A spotlight on your good work. How would that change things for your nonprofit, and the impact it could achieve? Have you tried to get the attention of the media and been unsuccessful? Or have you been looking for a guide just like this one to show you the way? 

If your nonprofit is doing incredible work, but you just can’t seem to get the media’s attention, keep reading. Below we’ll cover the top five tips all nonprofit leaders and communicators need to know when trying to earn media coverage. 

Nonprofits have a place in our hearts, and on our client roster list. We make it a point to work with nonprofits making a strong impact in their communities. Amplifying their good work, advocating for the people they serve, and creating relationships for them to expand their base of supporters brings us great fulfillment. 

Ready to get started? As with many things in life, the magic is in the prep work. That’s right. Every single one of these tips is important work to be done before outreach to the media even begins. 


1. Get real about your message. 

What’s your mission? Now try explaining it without any jargon at all. Pare it down. Many nonprofits have long, windy mission statements, and need them in order to satisfy funders or comply with bylaws. But for the sake of this exercise, learn how to share your mission statement as simply as possible. Now, think of someone whose story personifies that mission. Consider how you would tell a five-year-old about it, a 10-year-old, a client of yours, a funder of yours, a veteran, or a senior citizen. Doing so will help you to realize the many ways you can communicate what you do. Preparing for communicating with a vast audience is an important skill to hone.


2. Know what you’re trying to say…

Have ONE clear message (per one media outreach opportunity). This can be tricky! When there’s so much to say, having the patience or discipline to say only one thing at a time can be a challenge. But, you guessed it; this step is important. When your message is clear it is easier to comprehend, easier for the audience to connect with when they hear or see it, and easier to find a journalist to work with on publishing the story.


3. …So you can say it to the right person.

When your message is clear it creates an easier path to the right journalist. The very same nonprofit may have many messages to share. But when told one at a time, more in-depth coverage is likely to happen. Is your nonprofit hosting a fun run? Consider a sports reporter. Have you just closed on a capital campaign for a new facility? Consider a real estate reporter. Are you sharing the latest stats for the success that your nonprofit has achieved? Consider a reporter who covers the community where you’ve made an impact.


4. Get permission! And get photos.

Can you recall the last time you saw a news story, or read an article in the paper or online, that did not include a person woven into the story? It’s not likely. People love to hear about other people – so journalists include people in their reporting regularly. This method humanizes the story, and is critical in most media outreach situations. Typically someone who benefited from the work of your nonprofit is a more valuable interview than someone who works there. Ideally have both – an executive or front-line person who’s been media trained, and a client or customer. Permissions are extremely important! Always know the boundaries around privacy that your nonprofit adheres to, and honor them to a T. When obtaining photos (especially for print news outlets), make sure they are high quality and don’t break any privacy rules.


5. Show me the numbers.

Consider the non-human way to tell the story: With numbers. What statistics do you have access to? Preferably, data will come from your organization directly, or from another reputable source. Adding numbers that show impact or progress can help your story appeal to a journalist. As much as we love to hear about success stories, they’re often more well-suited for marketing than for media, unless they are accompanied by relevant statistics that strengthen their newsworthiness. 


With these tips woven into your prep work, we hope your next media outreach will result in a successful placement. We’d love to hear how things go for you!