Long gone are the days when people received their news from the newspaper that was dropped at their doorstep each morning. Regional newspapers are closing, consolidating and cutting budgets, while there are more and more online publications, blogs and social media outlets springing up.
In this rapidly changing media landscape, it can be particularly tough for nonprofits to keep up with the trends. But not all hope is lost. It is possible to generate coverage for your organization in both traditional and digital outlets with limited time and resources. It just takes some awareness of how the media today operates as well as some planning and creativity. Here are some tips:
Don’t overlook neighborhood papers.
They say “all politics is local,” but news remains local as well. Most communities continue to print weekly newspapers, and residents continue to read them. Why? Because everyone wants to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. Send them news of your programs and staff, as well as photos from events. And check to see if there’s a Patch for your community – you can post local news on the site for free.
Write letters to the editor.
This is a great way to weigh in on local, state and national issues that affect your organization. Be sure to skim your local paper(s) each day to see if your organization’s leadership can provide a brief, additional perspective on relevant news of the day. Remember, though, that you need to work fast – ideally, you should send the letter the day the article appears.
Share your opinion in an Op–Ed.
Local papers regularly print opinion pieces – called Op-Eds –that allow local leaders in business, politics, academia, and nonprofits take a stand on a topical issue and deliver a call to action. Op-Eds are usually between 500 and 700 words, and since many allow for two authors, you can use the piece as an opportunity to align yourself publicly with an appropriate donor, partner or other supporter.
Don’t just sit back and wait for a reporter’s phone call; put your news and opinions out there yourself. Blogging platforms like Medium and Huffington Post are free to use, and they can expose you to a wider audience.
Give an award.
Think about ways you can acknowledge and honor key partners, donors and other supporters, such as elected officials, for their support. In addition to generating news, this a great way to steward these relationships.
Create an issue-related event.
Events can be time consuming to produce, needless to say; however, organizing an event around a specific issue can solidify your position as a leader in the field and cultivate new supporters. While media can’t always attend events due to time constraints, neighborhood papers often print event photos, and you can look for opportunities before and after the event to talk about the issue on local news programs and in Op-Eds.
Serve as an expert resource.
Reporters are busier than ever. They now have much broader “beats” and often have social media responsibilities on top of their writing duties. Make sure they know they can count on you to offer a quote or valuable background information when they’re working on a story – especially on short notice. You can send reporters a list of your organization’s spokespeople and the issues they can address, and then follow up when breaking news happens related to your cause.
Look for niche opportunities.
If your staff is part of a union or your organization is part of an association, there are likely opportunities to get your news published in their newsletters and magazines. Also, be sure to send news on your staff members, donors and volunteers to their university’s alumni publications.
From the series
Truth Be Told: How to flex your marketing chops