TELL ME A STORY How to Get Media To Write About Your Nonprofit Judy Crawford, President Crawford Communicates
What’s the story? Timing is everything Get outside your organization Find a unique angle Relate to your audience Use a memorable character or group Grab attention with the lead Raise visibility with high-profile spokesperson(s)
Generate ideas Start a file of favorite stories, columns, blogs, video, podcasts, etc. featuring nonprofits Ask questions within your organization to identify stories with a news or human interest “hook” Think of story ideas to piggyback on timely events already being covered Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm with co- workers, family and friends
Success stories Stephen Colbert challenges Jimmy Fallon to raise $26,000 for DonorsChoose.org Harlem’s ‘Gospel for Teens’ grabs 60 Minutes spotlight Channel 3 finds prom magic in ‘The Cinderella Affair’ for Tempe girls ‘A Guy Like Jerry’ captures hearts in Laurie Roberts column Newspapers statewide follow Mongolian scientists on Arizona tour
Media nightmares 60 Minutes exposes half-truths of Three Cups of Tea author and philanthropist Greg Mortenson National columnist reveals that Candie’s Foundation pays spokesperson Bristol Palin eight times what it donates to teen pregnancy charities The New York Times reports that Madonna ousts board of her Raising Malawi charity due to mismanagement
Crisis communications 101 Anticipate negative media coverage Prepare a written statement immediately Alert your director and board members Respond to ALL media requests Don’t avoid the media – they will find you Develop talking points for your spokesperson Refer the media to authorities when appropriate NEVER lie to a reporter!
The News Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact information and Website URL Headline (sometimes with subhead) Dateline (location and date) Body of release “Boilerplate” information about organization ### How to access images and/or video (B-roll)
The 5 W’s (and an H) Put the who, what, when, where, why and how in your lead paragraph Use the “inverted pyramid” writing style Study well-written articles and mimic their style: Associated Press & Reuters for news items Feature stories/columnists for human-interest stories Refer to the AP Stylebook for guidance
Get their attention Start with short greeting that offers to arrange interviews and includes Website link Write a strong, captivating lead Embellish the story with images, charts, video (B-roll) Add a short, bulleted fact sheet Avoid e-blasts, address individually Consider paid wire distribution when a major story
Build relationships with media Get to know the media most likely to cover you Learn the names of reporters who cover beats most significant to you Read/watch/listen to their stories Arrange a short meeting to introduce yourself Find ways to meet again (with your director) Send your publications, invitations and other items of interest to reporters
Build relationships with media Follow personnel changes at media outlets Develop a “virtual” media kit on your Website Capitalize on breaking news to promote your organization Make yourself available to media 24/7 Thank a reporter for his/her coverage (never nitpick over minor inaccuracies)
Pitch perfect – do’s Start with an e-mail and personal greeting Keep your pitch tight and focused on how the story might interest this particular reporter Make your first sentence count Limit your pitch to 3-4 sentences Offer to arrange an interview with a key source Get OK from source and find out his/her availability in advance
Pitch perfect – do’s Include cell number to “reach me anytime” Close by saying you will follow up by phone Know the facts of the story – be ready! Be confident you are providing news the media outlet will want Wait a couple of days and follow up by phone Refer to your e-mail as an opener
Pitch perfect – don’ts Call when a reporter is on deadline Simply ask if he/she received your e-mail Say the reporter will “miss out” by not covering your event Act like the journalist “owes you” for any reason Treat the journalist like a buddy – be professional!
Pitch perfect – don’ts Pitch several reporters at the same media outlet about the same story If your first choice isn’t interested, ask who else you might call Make a weak pitch because your director or board member has asked you to