Nonprofit Public Relations: The Power of Earned Media
Discover how Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) got federal legislation passed through a targeted earned media campaign.
Earned Media Strategy for Nonprofits
When the nonprofit Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was trying to get powerful new legislation passed through Congress, they knew they had to get their story out, make their case, and win over hearts and minds. On The Marc Media (OTMM) conceptualized and executed a media strategy designed to draw attention to their issue and garner public support – ultimately leading to the passage of a law requiring that all new vehicles install impaired driving prevention technology.
So, how did we do it? A combination of op-eds, coverage in traditional news outlets and online media platforms, awards, and social media content and videos, MADD was given far-reaching visibility without spending a dime on advertising. In fact, earned media is more valuable than paid advertising, as people are more likely to trust an outside, credible source.
High-Value Media Hits
OTMM pitched MADD’s story to targeted media outlets, crafting press releases that quickly conveyed key points about why their story was newsworthy. Reporters are always on the lookout for great stories, but they are extremely busy, so you have to make it worth their while. Avoid information overloads that they can’t use. For this campaign, MADD ended up appearing in 1,000 earned media hits, including on major television networks, radio, and in national news publications.
Op-Eds Put a Human Face on Your Cause
To engender public awareness and support for MADD’s proposed legislation, we wrote and pitched op-eds to media outlets in targeted states, with the goal of reaching key members of Congress. Since the op-eds were co-written by family members or survivors who had been directly affected by drunk drivers, their stories were immediately relatable on a human level and emotionally engaging – such as this one, from The Spokesman-Review, a local paper from Spokane, Washington.
Awards and Recognition are Earned Media Too
Awards translate into additional media attention, so OTMM spent time researching awards for key MADD volunteer leaders. The result was recognition of MADD’s work by the Governors Highway Safety Association and National Safety Council, and MADD National President Alex Otte being named the 2021 “Gold” Globee Award Winner in the “Female Achievers: Advocate of the Year Award” category, among others.
Media Training: Make the Most Out of Your Media Appearances
Once your story gets picked up, you need to be prepared. For MADD, On The Marc Media provided volunteer spokespeople with key messages and media training to make sure they stayed on message. You don’t want to accidentally say something that can send the interview off-track. Media training will help you to most effectively get your point across.
Earned media gives you instant credibility and turbocharges your visibility, leading to increased interest and support. Bring your story to life using the tactics outlined above, or partner with a seasoned Public Relations firm that can do the heavy lifting for you.
Want to find out more about MADD’s campaign? Read the full MADD case study here.
Kathy Silverstein is Co-Founder & CMO of On The Marc Media