Whether you’re looking to promote a fundraising initiative, programming, or general news about your organization, having a good relationship with the media can be very beneficial. Getting your nonprofit organization picked up by a journalist isn’t as difficult as it seems, but it does take persistence and hard work.
So, how do you go about pitching your nonprofit to journalists? And how do you get them to pick up and publish your story? We have 8 tips for media pitch success.
How to Get Media Coverage For Your Nonprofit
1. Decide What You’ll Pitch
Before you do anything, you need to know what you will pitch to the media. Will it be a fundraiser? An event your organization is holding? Defining what you want to promote will help you decide which media outlets and journalists would be most likely to pick it up.
2. Find the Right Outlets and Journalists
Once you know what you’re pitching, you can begin searching for media outlets, journalists, and even bloggers that would be most likely to pick up your story. This is when you’ll decide if you want to pitch to national, local, or hyper-local outlets. Most nonprofits will do well pitching to local or hyper-local publications.
Look for writers who have reported on similar topics in the past, or who cover adjacent stories. For example, a journalist who writes about education would be a great fit for a nonprofit that donates books to after-school programs or a food writer might be a great person for a food bank to pitch to.
Don’t stop at one or two writers, compile a list of several! You don’t have to send pitches to them all, but you can never have too many names on your list.
3. Do Your Research
While you did research in the previous step, you’ll be doing different research at this point. When you find journalists or media outlets you’d like to pitch to, you’ll need to get their contact information. Sometimes this will be easy, but sometimes you’ll have to do some digging. If their information isn’t available on the website of the publication they write for, try searching their name and publication with the phrase “email address.” You can also try looking them up on LinkedIn or even calling the publication they work for, introducing yourself, and asking who your best point of contact would be. When you get contact information, compile it in a spreadsheet so it will be easy to find when it’s time to send your pitches.
Don’t send pitches to generic email addresses like editor@ or ideas@. The likelihood of your pitch getting to the person that you want it to get to is small. Always know who you’re sending your pitches to.
4. Reach Out to Your List Beforehand
Before writing and sending your list, it’s a good idea to contact the people on your list beforehand. You can send a quick email introducing yourself and giving a written version of your elevator pitch or even schedule a quick phone call, if schedules allow.
Establishing this connection and having a quick conversation increases the chance that they’ll remember you when your pitch lands in their inbox.
5. Write Pitches for Each Journalist
Don’t feel like you have to follow the traditional press release formula. In your pitch, tell your organization’s story and answer the “who” and “why.” Who are you? Who benefits from your nonprofit’s efforts? Why does your organization do the work that they do? Make them care about the work that you do. Include photos or videos, if you have them.
While it would save time to send the same pitch to each journalist, it won’t be nearly as effective as crafting a pitch for each writer on your list. You don’t have to create an entirely new pitch for every person, but personalizing each one will go a long way. Show them that you’ve done your research and you know what they write about. You may even comment on a piece they’ve recently written. Two education writers may be passionate about different aspects of education. Play to their interests and show them how your nonprofit fits into their ideology.
When writing your pitches, it would be easy to make the subject line an afterthought, but it’s one of the most important parts of your pitch. The subject line of your email can dictate whether it gets opened or instantly deleted. Create a captivating, but never sensationalized subject line for your pitches. Avoid vague, hyperbolic lines like, “How We Made Our Biggest Donation Ever!” Instead, you might try something like, “How We Raised $1,000 For Smith Elementary School in Just One Afternoon.”
6. Send Your Pitches
When you’ve written and personalized your pitches, proofread them. Check for the following:
- Did you spell the journalist’s name correctly? Is their title accurate?
- Are there any typos, misspellings, or punctuation/grammar mistakes?
- Is your contact information visible?
After you’ve read it, it’s a good idea to ask a colleague to proofread it, too. Typos or misspellings could be the death of even the most compelling pitch.
7. Follow-up in a Few Days
Journalists are busy. While you’re eager to hear a response, it may be a day or two before they’re able to read your pitch. Wait 2-3 business days before you send a gentle follow-up email.
Keep track of any follow-up emails and responses in your contact spreadsheet. This will help you keep track of correspondence and avoid sending multiple follow-up emails to the same person.
8. Try Again in the Future
There are multiple reasons you may not hear from a journalist or writer following a pitch: they may have a full schedule, your initiative may not align with their angle, they may have had something arise unexpectedly, the list goes on. It never hurts to try pitching them again in the future!