You may be a seasoned pro attuned to the media landscape, or a nonprofit communications newcomer just getting your sea legs in the world of media relations. Regardless, there are always new opportunities for your nonprofit to earn media recognition for the work that you and your organization do. We recently shared tips on laying out a strategic media plan and building a solid media list, but how do actually you conduct the outreach?
A strong media pitch is essential to sharing your news or announcement with reporters in a way that resonates with them. A well-designed email to a reporter can spark a conversation that may lead to a news story about your organization, and even better, a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with that reporter.
The challenge is that reporters are flooded daily with pitches from marketers, sometimes hundreds of pitches a day! To cut through the noise and get your nonprofit noticed, follow these rules for writing a strong media pitch:
Tailor your email to each target
The most common reason I’ve heard from journalists that your pitch won’t get read or responded to is that it is too generic. Tailor each email to each reporter, asking yourself, “Why should this person care?” Make sure you research the reporter to understand his or her beat, so you can tailor your email pitch to their interests.
Make it personable
Consider the “buzzwords” of your industry…and avoid them. Introduce your organization, model or piece of news in a conversational, jargon-less tone. If a reporter is confused by your email pitch, they will simply delete it.
Cut to the chase
Position your ask in the very first paragraph of the email, explaining why they should care about this topic. For example, if you aim to target the New York Times Fixes column, which reports on solutions to social problems, state your “why” in the very first paragraph.
You might say, “I noticed your story last week reporting on healthy produce programs for impoverished communities. I think this new initiative, which will connect vulnerable families in Portland, Oregon, to local farmer’s markets, would be a good fit for your Fixes column.”
Recycle language from your press release, but don’t attach it
If you’ve already crafted a press release for your news or announcement, then you’ve already crafted carefully focused messages. It’s completely ok to recycle those messages in your email pitch to communicate your message in a clear and concise manner. Even more, it’s a smart idea to paste the copy of your press release below your email pitch, or link to it on your website, in order to offer more background. However, avoid attaching a document, PDF or image to your initial email communication with a reporter. This simply heightens the risk that your email will get caught in their spam filters.
Be a resource
Your email pitch should be short and sweet to maximize the chance that it will be read, so recognize that not all of your information will be included. At the close of your email pitch, offer to provide more information, a follow-up phone conversation, or an interview with your spokesperson or executive director. Consider all the elements of a good news story that any reporter seeks—a unique focus, third-party support, and a visual element such as an image or video—and be a resource to help them secure those elements.
Consider how wonderful it is when someone makes YOUR job easier. Make a reporter’s job easier by following these tips to sharing a relevant media pitch, and you’ll be well on your way to successful media coverage.
What other ways have you seen success landing media coverage?