Flickr Creative Commons photo by Steve Bustin.
The pursuit of meaningful media coverage is often a frustrating one for nonprofits.
The local business journal might, for instance, post short items whenever you make a new appointment to your board. But it has no interest in running a feature about your work.
TV stations never show up when you invite them cover your annual dinner.
Often, I hear nonprofit communicators complain that the media is ignoring them.
But when I dig deeper, it’s clear that they would fare better if they mixed things up and tried a different approach.
If your regular media outreach efforts aren’t getting the results you hoped for, it’s time to try some new tactics.
Reporters want to tell great stories. The nonprofits that succeed in getting their stories told are the ones who make it easy for reporters to recognize those stories.
Here are five tactics you can use to help make that happen:
1. Mine Your Data
One surefire way to get attention for your work is to publish the results of new research.
While this might sound like requires commissioning a study or survey, sometimes it is as simple as mining what you already have.
For example, if your nonprofit collects data on the outcomes of its work or the progress it is making toward its mission, chances are you have an interesting story to tell with that information.
Think about packaging that story into a short report and releasing it to the media.
New research is red meat for smart reporters who are looking to turn around a quick story.
It’s also content that you can use and promote through your owned media channels, such as your website, email newsletter, and social media accounts.
2. Set a Bold New Goal
Your organization likely does life-changing work.
Without a hook, however, it’s often difficult to get a reporter to see why that work matters — or even to understand what you do.
Sometimes, you can create that hook based off of a milestone — such as serving your millionth meal or helping your 5,000th child learn to read.
But you can also create a hook by looking ahead and setting an audacious goal.
The nonprofit Share Our Strength set a bold target — ending childhood hunger in the U.S. — and generated a wave of media coverage in doing so.
Your nonprofit might not feel comfortable claiming that it can bring an end to hunger. But, chances are, there is something else you can do that will capture the attention of the media and the imagination of your donors.
3. Host a Briefing
For some nonprofits, the path to media coverage is paved with expertise.
Your organization might, for instance, understand the barriers facing economically disadvantaged students as they head back to school or have a unique perspective on health and wellness.
You can leverage that expertise by putting it on display.
To do that, consider hosting a briefing in which you provide information about a timely issue and then make your experts available for interviews.
For a nonprofit that works in education, consider a back-to-school briefing in August.
If you work on a health issue, consider a briefing ahead of a key awareness month.
These events can help you get an immediate bump in coverage — and they can sometimes lead to follow-up calls when reporters need experts at other times of the year.
4. Express Your Opinion
Getting a reporter to cover a story isn’t your only way to generate media coverage.
Sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands.
By writing and placing an op-ed, your nonprofit can call attention to an important issue or change minds about a controversial topic.
Unlike reported news stories, op-eds are opinion pieces that are written by those who aren’t on the staff of a newspaper, magazine or website. They offer outside voices the opportunity to express opinions and share ideas in their own words.
If your nonprofit tackles controversial issues — or if you’re looking to provide a different perspective on a familiar topic — consider working with a key leader in your organization to develop an opinion piece.
Here’s a free e-book we created to help you learn how to do it.
You don’t always have to wait to create your own newsmaking opportunities. Often, those opportunities happen for you. You just need to be on the lookoutand be ready to act quickly.
‘Newsjacking’ is the practice of using a hot item in the news to help generate media coverage for your organization.
If employed well, newsjacking can be a highly successful tactic for nonprofits that are looking to draw attention to their cause or point of view.
Here’s my primer on Newsjacking for Nonprofits. And if you’re a Nonprofit Marketing Guide All-Access Pass Holder, you can access a recent webinar from Antionette Kerr on how to employ newsjacking for good.