Social media is certainly a critical part of any business’, nonprofit or otherwise, communication plans but in the race to up follower counts and views, it’s important to remember the value of traditional media platforms. Many of our constituents still see this as a primary source of information and nonprofits can do more to best position themselves for media coverage on more traditional media platforms. Check out the following eight tips your nonprofit should be doing today.
- Develop a relationship with the journalist who is assigned to your issue area before you need them. This is a much more effective way to share news when it comes up than using the general tip line where stories can get lost and time sensitivities are more difficult to manage. Importantly, it opens a line of communication between you and the journalist. It will also establish you and your organization as an authority on issue areas that they can turn to when they generate stories themselves.
- Don’t dismiss local news. While many may think that national media coverage can remedy any fundraising shortfalls, often the most compelling pieces are featured on local news where they are given more time and a fairer portrayal. Most critically though, is that your local community is more likely to respond to a community highlighted need than something that seems distant or unfamiliar.
- Offer a variety of media story types. Traditional media operates within categories and needs to fill designated slots. This may include opinions, letters to the editor, more factual or scientific driven pieces, or most naturally for nonprofits, human interest pieces. Shift your written content between these angles to offer a variety of content and keep a freshness to your cause for journalists sourcing materials.
- Always provide a media contact. Journalists are an increasingly limited resource and their bandwidth to research is more finite than ever. For every media piece and communication, be sure to offer a clear media contact who is available to expand, connect them with experts for quotes, or provide other media assets. Doing this will make it as easy as possible for the journalist to include your organization accurately while still meeting deadlines.
- Keep a password protected area of your website or file storing site with your media assets. This includes your logo in different sizes and formats and any key images such as campaign graphics or pre-approved client images that can be shared seamlessly when asked. This will ensure that your current and desired images are used and maintains a professional look. Be sure to also use captions and alternate text fields to fill in the details as needed.
- Think carefully before criticizing other organizations or agencies publicly. Most nonprofits operate within large systems of funding and program delivery, with informal and structured partnerships funneling upstream and downstream needs and services as a part of the larger social sector ecosystem. Often bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or leadership vacuums can occur frustrating your organization’s work. But before you air your grievances, be mindful of how the information may be utilized and whether or not it is in service of the larger relationship and your organization’s ultimate mission and landscape.
- Repurpose content in different digestible formats so that journalists can easily incorporate your organization across their platforms. When you have content that you think may be ripe for valuable media coverage, give it legs.For example, if you are offering a long form OpEd piece, pull out thought-provoking quotes that can be used to tease your article on social platforms.
- Know when to decline coverage. Even the best intended executive can get the organization into hot water when they provide a quote for an unfamiliar or unflattering piece. While critical coverage is important in the sector and transparency from the nonprofits is the minimum expectation, not all coverage should be welcome. Consider having a clear media policy with input and guidance from Board members to determine what falls within acceptable interaction.
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