Get the Right Story to the Right Journalist: Media Relations Success

So many organizations I follow or work with have become strong and savvy communicators. It’s thrilling to see nonprofits like yours put communications to work effectively despite time, talent, and budget constraints.  

However, there’s one communications method that remains poorly utilized by most organizations—media relations. That’s a significant gap because organizations that do work skillfully with reporters, editors, and opinion makers are more visible, advocate for their missions more effectively, and raise more money to support their work.

Now—thanks to the practical guidance in Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits—you can close this gap. Authors Peter Panepento and Antionette Kerr, both former journalists, provide a set of concrete, doable steps for media relations success based on this clear definition of today’s broad-ranging media landscape

  • Media platforms from traditional print, online, and broadcast media to social media, blogs, and podcasts
  • Media content creators from trained professionals to citizen journalists 
  • Media relations tools from press releases and op-eds to online pitch services such as ProfNet and HARO, RSS feeds, and video.

Facing this kind of complexity feels daunting, especially as we know all three aspects of media relations will continue to evolve. Push forward to master your media relations impact with these two proven strategies from Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits.

Build Responsive Relationships
Many communicators assume their organization will be covered well and regularly once they build relationships with reporters. In fact, building these relationships is just the on ramp to media coverage.

Panepento and Kerr urge you to ensure your organization is as fully responsive as possible so you can“capitalize on breaking news and handle potential crises.” That means doing the groundwork now to develop resources and practices that enable your organization to answer questions and respond to media requests quickly, accurately, and in a way that adds value to the story.

Try these tested techniques:

  • Create a rapid-response protocol so you’re ready to go: Identify your organization’s spokespeople, key issues (not everything you focus on), top media targets, process for releasing information, and required resources (i.e. can you handle responding to breaking news or crises in-house, or do you need a consultant or agency)?
  • Make your event media-friendly by connecting it to a current news topic or providing insider access to a speaker. Develop an online newsroom for the event and an event-specific page on your website inviting visitors to “join the conversation” via links to your social media sites. Finally, follow up with a thank you and offer to provide any additional information needed.
  • Coach your team for interviews or meetings with the media, including what to do when “off the air,” or the reporter shuts her notebook or smartphone. 

Target Your Outreach
Rather than blasting your story out to everyone—a.k.a. the “spray and pray” approach—and praying that it’s picked up, do the work to identify and cultivate relationships with the right journalists and editors for each story “type” you have. The right media are the ones read, watched, or listened to by your target audiences—the people whose help you need most to meet your mission. Identify the journalists behind stories about your issue or topic in those media and get to know them.

Build relationships with these journalists and editors by becoming a valued resource (i.e. making their lives easier):

  • Learn what they cover and want: Pitch stories that are a good fit, and nothing else. Otherwise, you’ll alienate these valuable contacts.
  • Help them do their jobs: Share story ideas, data, tips, and access to interviews even if not related to a right-now story about your organization. 
  • Stay close between your asks: Just as a fundraiser who asks for a donation in every conversation will alienate that donor or prospect, you’ll alienate your media contacts if you reach out only when pitching a story or sending a release. For example, follow their work and acknowledge stories you find compelling or surprising. They’re human too.

Get your copy of Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits today to start implementing these techniques and many others that will lead you to media relations success. I can’t wait to hear how you do.

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Nancy Schwartz in Media Relations and Press | 0 comments
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