Nonprofit organizations can effectively increase awareness of their mission by establishing stable relationships with the media. As reporting on newsworthy events evolves, taking on an active role in the work of journalists and their publications is becoming more commonplace among charities. Nonprofits should focus on the impact media relations can have on their goals.
Be available and visible
As the Nonprofit Technology Network iterated, nonprofits must prominently display their expertise on their sector through data and testimonials. Being able to communicate important data collected over time from fundraisers and donor bases is an excellent means for generating a discussion about a cause. Reporters value quality sources and data-driven conclusions about industry trends. Regularly posting statistics compiled based on the charity's own records and surveys is a great first-hand source media specialists will want to utilize.
Nonprofits also have the ability to connect journalists to people who can provide insider knowledge and experience to a story. Constituents and high-profile donors may have expertise they are willing to share with media outlets on behalf of the organization. This can simultaneously give global issues a local context and boost the reputation of the donor. Newspapers or magazines covering topics that affect many people around the world may find that a regional connection gives their story a stronger impact on readers.
Collaboration between a charity and the media can include anything from sending press releases to writers, connecting them to relevant sources for the topics they generally focus on, or inviting them to exclusive events they may want to cover.
Develop a strong media list
As the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits outlined, a media list is a crucial tool to any organization looking to build a rapport with journalists and publications. In a community, there are likely reporters who have focused their career on covering the specific types of stories pertinent to a nonprofit's mission. Finding these journalists and working with them on a regular basis is a great way to improve marketing and awareness.
"A media list is a crucial tool to any organization looking to build a rapport with journalists and publications."
When beginning the process of connecting with media professionals, make sure the nonprofit's entire history, mission, goals and accomplishments are easily accessible on its website. If a publication needs to fact-check the year an organization was established in order to correctly attribute a quote, this information should be available on the site. In addition, list all staff and their titles to ensure names are spelled correctly.
In establishing media relationships, nonprofits should look at a variety of platforms. While one event may be more pertinent to a renowned blogger's article on fundraising, another may fit well on the programming of a local morning television show. It's important to distinguish what the term "newsworthy" means to each of a nonprofit's media contacts.
Building a successful relationship with the media does take a great deal of research. An extensive media list includes as much contact information as possible on all publications and journalists. Try to accrue the following for each media contact:
- Publication name and type
- Contact name
- Contact title
- Contact phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Fax number
- Publication focus
- Contact focus
- Notes on overall relationship
As the Nonprofit Times reminded all organizations, when working with the media, ethics will always play a large role. If a nonprofit is providing a source to a publication, ensure the source is reliable and willing to discuss the topic in question. If passing along information, quotes, photos or video clips to a newspaper or online journal, be sure the primary source is cited. If it's unclear where the information came from, dig deeper to ensure inaccurate facts aren't transmitted. When in doubt, don't give out questionable information.
Nonprofit software can help charities effectively manage their media contacts, maintain quality relationships with these individuals and improve their visibility in the community over time.