I’m only three weeks into my new position at Prichard, but I have already had the opportunity to exercise my media relations skill set.

Coming from nearly three years of working with for-profit consumer brands, I was curious to see how nonprofit media relations differed.

Turns out, for-profit or nonprofit, the approach is much the same!

Here are five tried and true ways to master media relations:

  1. Put the news hook front and center. This seems like a no-brainer, but oftentimes the news hook can get buried in information overload. When aiming to secure a larger feature story around a smaller piece of news–maybe it’s a new study that supports your nonprofit work–it’s important to build out your ideas around this piece of news. Ask yourself: Why does this new study make your organization’s work especially relevant and important right now?
  2. Research your contacts. Still important as ever is understanding your target and tailoring your message to the reporter’s interests. Read their Twitter feeds, research past articles, or, if it’s a local reporter you intend to stay in contact with long-term, take them to coffee to find out exactly what they’re looking for. Check out Mac’s six tips to making a reporter happy from last fall.
  3. Break it down. Oftentimes we have so much to say that you can overwhelm reporters with too much information. Keep your email or phone conversation focused, brief and in simple language. If sharing a news release, write a brief intro recapping headlines in two to three sentences (see Jennie’s trusted resources for writing well). Be active in engaging them, but use your judgment to gauge how interested they are before diving deeper.
  4. No response? Be patient and persistent. Just because it didn’t work out this time doesn’t mean media contacts won’t be valuable targets in the future. Track stories, engage with them on social media and even shoot them an email if you enjoyed one of their stories. Relationships develop over time and they could deliver results in the future.
  5. Be a resource. Just like you, reporters are looking to build their networks. With your specialized knowledge and contacts, you could be a resource to reporters seeking experts on a particular topic. Offer to connect them with others, even if it’s not relevant to your own organization at this time. This grows the relationship and keeps your organization top of mind.

These are five essential tools that I’ve seen success with. Share your tips and experiences below!