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Nonprofit: Effective media relations for nonprofits
Today’s nonprofits are increasingly challenged to do more with less. And those that have an existing, significant media presence may have an advantage over those that do not. This is why it is important to maximize every possible opportunity to promote awareness of your organization and its mission. Enter: effective media relations.Effective media relations can be the difference between making it and breaking it for your nonprofit organization. Strong media relations offer heightened visibility, greater influence, increased financial support and the opportunity to form new partnerships. If you’re looking to improve your media relations, keep reading for some helpful tips.

Spreading your mission through the media
Sharing your organization’s story and the value of its mission is no easy task. But a good relationship with the various media outlets in your area, and the people who run them, is the key to getting your story heard. Here’s how:

  • Build relationships: Get to know the reporters who will most likely pick up your news stories. If possible, arrange a brief meeting where you can introduce yourself and the organization you represent. Leave a folder of printed materials that help tell your organization’s story; a brief history, mission statement and key employee bios are helpful. Attach your business card with a branded Giant Paper Clip for an added impression. And stay in touch throughout the year. Remember, you’re one of many pitching your story to the press, so keep your organization top of mind.
  • Schmooze a little: If you have an upcoming special event or fundraiser, send your reporters a special invite with a personal note that says, “We look forward to seeing you there.” Treat your press members well and don’t forget to include an exclusive, all-access press pass with an imprinted lanyard. Remember, even if they don’t attend, you’ve provided one more touch point to be remembered by.
  • Provide news that’s newsworthy: This may go without saying, but we’ll reiterate nonetheless. News should be, well… newsworthy! And remember, there are no better people to tap for ideas than your front-line employees. Ask staff and volunteers to contribute story ideas you can pitch to the media. Encourage involvement by holding a monthly draw for contributors. Logo’d apparel, such as a polo or sweatshirt, makes a great prize.
  • Make life easy: Make your reporters’ lives a little easier. Find out how each prefers to receive press releases (for example, embedded in an email or as an attachment.) Then, make note of their preferences and be sure to always send them that way. It may also be helpful to develop a virtual media kit that members of the press can access from your website. Its content should include your company’s history, mission, staff bios, recent news releases and your annual report.
  • Give thanks: Always thank a reporter for news coverage of your organization. A simple email will do, but a hand-written thank you note makes a lasting impression.

Remember, a good relationship with the local media is a surefire way to get your story heard. For more information on media relations, check out our Blue Papers®, Dealing with Media.

Schwartz, Nancy. “Media Relations Helps Nonprofits Build Awareness”  Massnonprofit.org N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 12 Dec. 2013.  <>.

Fritz, Joanne. “Top 10 Tips for Local Media Relations” About.com Nonprofit Charitable Orgs. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 12 Dec. 2013.

Hoekstra, Nate. “Top 10 Media Relations Tips for NonprofitsJohnson Center for Philanthropy. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web. Retrieved 12 Dec. 2013.

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