It is not easy for non-profit organizations to receive news coverage. And this is especially true during the Coronavirus plague.
As the news industry changes, fewer journalists cover nonprofits as part of their media routine – and in the days of the Corona, the majority were assigned to report the plague.
In addition, the newsrooms are smaller than they were a month ago, due to layoffs or vacancies. And everyone adapts to the need to report a large portion of the stories virtually.
But just because it’s harder to get exposure, does not mean there is nothing to do.
To be honest, there are some great opportunities to get attention if you are aware of what reporters are looking for – and willing to be flexible.
So here are four ways to stand out:
1. Present positive stories with human faces
We’re all looking for good news right now – and people are longing for uplifting anecdotes and half-full glasses. If you can offer an angle of hope or a unique way forward, you have a good chance of catching attention.
But, it’s not enough to give a positive angle. Many nonprofits make the mistake of turning their organization into the center of the story, even though the real power in positive stories is a strong emotional “hook”. And it usually comes through personal stories.
Instead of offering a story about the number of meals you serve, think of an inspiring volunteer who helps prepare or deliver those meals – or a family that was helped by those meals.
You may not be the subject of the story, but your chances of coverage are much greater – and you will still be a part of the story at the end.
2. Offer local expertise in national trends
If your non-profit is region-focused, use that to your advantage by presenting your leaders as experts in national trends that connect to the organizational mission.
Your non-profit can probably help put a local face to the fact that various arts organizations have been shut down, provide a local perspective on the impact of social distancing or talk about the challenges facing distance learning students.
If your goal is to try to gain visibility through the media, think about how you can leverage your knowledge to provide a local connection.
3. Adopt “Zoom”, Skype and FaceTime
For any offer or press release, make it clear that you have experts available for an interview via Facetime Skype, or Zoom. This can be a huge difference because reporters work in virtual environments.
4. Submit an opinion column
Columns remain a particularly smart option right now for organizations looking for news coverage. Even if they are not published, you can use them on your channels (website, social networks) to sharpen your message.
Of course, even the best columns will be melted down if they are not delivered to the right people – and wisely. In my work with nonprofits, I have found greater success when I have been able to deliver columns to reporters in person.
So instead of “thresholding” newsrooms with press releases, I recommend taking a more focused approach. For the reasons mentioned above, this is especially important now – but it’s also a bigger challenge.
Here are three tips:
A. Email should be your main channel
This is true all the time, but it is especially true now. Like all of us, journalists face unconventional pressure. Now is not the time to call them or try to get excited with excessive emailing or social media. Stay up to date with email – and keep messages short.
B. Do the research
A newsroom is a dynamic area – especially now. Before you move, check out what that journalist has been surveying in recent weeks to see if he is still the right person for your offer.
C. Be patient
As noted above, journalists are drowning, so it may take them longer than usual to respond. Do not be afraid to send a Follow-Up message after a few days if you have not heard from them. But, set your expectations in advance and avoid being snoozy.
These are challenging days – and the media can play an important role in helping your organization advance its mission.
There is no sure way to ensure that the media covers your organization, but it is a critical time to raise your voice and try to draw attention to the issues that are most important to you.