Media coverage offers many benefits to your nonprofit, such as:

  • encouraging public action on your issues
  • drawing attention to your organization’s accomplishments
  • increasing awareness of how people can donate time or money

However, before you pitch a reporter you need a media relations plan. To get the coverage you want you need to identify the news outlets most interested in your story and effective strategies for working with them. Last week, my colleague Jenna Cerruti took you through the basics of building a media list, one of the most important elements of the media relations plan.

Today, I want to share six additional elements you should think about to make reporters happy and get the kind of coverage you want.

  1. Set Goals

Know what you hope to get from media coverage.  Do you want to encourage people to register for an event? Are you highlighting the success of a program? Or, do you want to share the results of a new study?

The goal you choose will drive which reporters and bloggers you decide to add to your media list, the information that will interest them, and how you share the news you want to promote.

  1. Respect Deadlines

Know the publication and airtimes of the reporters and editors you want to reach. Work back from those dates when planning pitch calls and emails.

Many television and radio shows book guests several weeks in advance. Newspapers and blogs will likely have weekly or daily deadlines. Even the time of day you call a reporter can make a huge difference. Plan and schedule your media outreach accordingly.

  1. Set a News Hook

You need a hook to get the media’s attention. Pick a compelling reason that makes your story timely and newsworthy. It could be a special event like your nonprofit publishing a new report or opening a new office. Try to find an unusual angle for your story idea or tie to a topical event. Don’t be afraid to be provocative.

  1. Write Messages That Work

Prepare a short set of talking points in advance that deliver your most important ideas. Include a call to action, the benefits of doing so, and the role your organization plays.

And, remember to keep your sentences short and snappy, especially for television, radio and online video and audio. The typical sound bite is now nine seconds, down from 48 seconds in 1968.

  1. Offer a “Just Add Water” Story

Most reporters will want different perspectives and several sources for more complex stories. Make the media’s job easier by identifying useful partners in advance and providing their names and contact information. These kinds of just add water stories save reporters time and increase the likelihood they will say yes to your pitch.

  1. Track and Act on Results

Use free media monitoring tools like Talkwalker to find stories that result from your efforts.

Don’t stop there, however. Send reporters a thank you note when appropriate. This will help build working relationships. Also, share media stories on your nonprofit’s blog, newsletter and on social media channels.

Need more ideas for how to make media relations a vital part of your nonprofit’s communications program? Here are five must-dos for working with reporters from my colleague Jenna Cerruti.