Does your organization have an upcoming event, special anniversary, new funding, an important milestone or something else worth bragging about? It may be a good thing to share with a reporter in hopes that some good press will give your nonprofit more visibility, possibly encouraging donations of funds or in-kind items or services, volunteers and new people to help.
Here’s a hint from me, a former newspaper reporter and sometime-public relations gal: reporters like media pitches when they’re crafted correctly. Perhaps an even more important item to note: reporters want you to make their job easy.
Here’s how you can do that in five easy steps:
Consider the angle of what you’re pitching and what you’d like potential news coverage to accomplish. Do you need volunteers to run a day camp for inner city kids all summer long? You might want to take the approach of noting the success of this program in summers past. How many volunteers are needed to make this program run successfully now? Show the reporter the need and that you’ve been successful with this program before, and you’ll be headed down the right track (not unlike grant writing, right?).
Choose the right reporter. Do your homework. Don’t send an email pitch to an environmental reporter when an education reporter would be better. If you’re not sure which areas each reporter on a news staff covers, send your email to an editor or managing editor.
Include photos, statistics and sources with contact information. Chances are a reporter will still do some digging on his or her own, but give them a good jumping-off place. Find people willing to speak to a reporter about their involvement with your organization, and include their names, email address and cell phone numbers in the pitch. Whether these are clients, volunteers, success stories or staff members of your organization, make sure the sources match up with what you’d like to achieve with the story.
Include pertinent information about your organization. Attach PDFs of your program brochures to an email. Include the website link to your organization. Does last year’s annual report include information that would help a reporter get a sense of your organization? Attach a PDF of that too.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away…or at all. Chances are a news team will consider whatever you send them to be “soft news,” or news that is good when they have space to fill when breaking news isn’t happening. News teams often keep lists of good soft news contenders and have reporters reach out when it seems time for a feel-good story or when they’re temporarily out of story ideas. You may never hear back from a pitch you’ve sent. That’s OK. You can send a pitch to more than one news organization, and you can continue to send out information every so often when your nonprofit has something new to share.
And good luck! It can be very rewarding to get news media interest and watch it lead into a story and expand your nonprofit’s reach.