4 Steps to Getting Local Media Coverage: Nonprofit PR

4 Steps to Getting Local Media Coverage: Nonprofit PR

Local media coverage is one of the best ways to tell your story and boost your visibility. Whether you are raising awareness for a social cause, achieving a major step towards your mission, or hosting an event, you want everyone to know about it. But how do you go about getting news coverage? As PR experts, getting news coverage is what we do. Below is our step-by-step plan on how to get your organization the attention it deserves.

Step 1: Have a Story

The key to media coverage is having an interesting story to tell. In addition to your organization’s mission and work, you need to make your story timely.  Some possible topics include:

  • Anniversaries and milestones
  • Tie-ins with current events
  • Upcoming events
  • Tips and top 10 lists
  • Human interest stories
  • Being an expert in your field
  • Research study results

Create talking points that highlight essential information. This will help with writing a media pitch and, if your story gets picked up, for fielding questions.  

Step 2: Do the Groundwork

Once you have a story you want to share with the world, your next step is laying the groundwork. 

  • Craft a news release: A news release details key information for a reporter. What happened or will be happening? 
  • Make a list of local media outlets: Put together a reference list for where to send your news release. 
  • Identify your media contacts: Search websites and past coverage for individuals who seem more likely to cover your story. Find their email address or other contact information and add them to your media list.
  • Increase your visibility in the community: Participate in local community events and activities to build recognition. Feed the fridge, a D.C. based non-profit that feeds the homeless, utilizes local restaurants to feed the local homeless population. They receive lots of local media attention, especially for special community events like providing meals to the elderly and military families at Thanksgiving. Nonprofits can apply their bigger goals to the local community, if they don’t already have a local focus.

Step 3: Create A Pitch

Now that you have your list together, we need to pitch your story. While a news release goes into detail about the story, your pitch needs to explain why the story should be covered and persuade the journalist to cover it. There area few rules to follow when making a pitch to a reporter or other form of media host:

  • Customize your pitch: This is where you need to do research about what the journalist topics the journalist likes to cover. Read other stories the reporter has covered and highlight why they specifically would be interested in your story.
  • Keep it short: Give them just enough information about the topic to get the general idea. You have already outlined all the details in your press release. 250 to 300 words is ideal, 500 words max.
  • Be attention-grabbing: Say the big story right in your headline to make them open the email to read more.
  • Provide background info, visuals, and other content to make it easy on the reporter. Words aren’t always the best way to grab attention so provide other forms of visuals to attract their eye.

After you have written and made edits to your pitch, read it yourself and ask “Would I read this in my spare time?” Your answer determines whether or not you need to make more changes. Once your answer is yes, it is time to send it out!

Step 4: Follow Up

You may hear back right away –  or, more likely, you won’t. Don’t worry, this is part of the process. Think of your first email as a brief introduction. You will need a follow-up phone call or email to reignite the idea and build more of a relationship. Follow ups are best done during the workday at a time neither party is rushed. Treat follow-ups and pitches as building a business relationship – the better your interactions with them, the more likely they will cover your stories.

For expert help getting media coverage and more for your nonprofit organization, contact On the Marc Media.

Marc Silverstein is Co-Founder, President & CEO of On The Marc Media

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