A well-cultivated relationship with the local media is one of the most powerful tools in a nonprofit’s belt. It can help with spreading awareness for your mission, furthering your local presence, and making connections through media exposure. These perks don’t come without solid effort on your part though. You can follow these tips to help grow a better relationship with the media and better your nonprofit’s community standing
The first step to establish a media relationship is to familiarize yourself with the media organizations in your area. Who oversees the news? Who runs the local magazines? Are there any video production or photography companies near you? Learn the answers to these questions, then take it a step further. Begin researching more about the organization and their personnel. Is the organization writing on topics that connect back to your mission or are about a similar organization to yours? Who is coverin
Don’t be afraid to make contact first. After all, the local media may not be familiar with your group. It’s a good rule of thumb to send an email, make a phone call, and stop by in person to discuss your organization, mission, and meet the people you’ve researched. This is the first step in creating a relationship with the media, so come prepared and have questions ready to display interest.
Be careful here not to come in with a list of “asks” that can help your organization. Build the relationship first. It may take time and a few meetings before you even ask one thing of the media! Just like any other relationship in your personal or professional life, it takes time and work to grow. Be patient and open.
Now that you’re on a first name basis, you can further establish your connection by reaching out with material. Remind them of your prior meeting, reiterate your interest in their company, and give them material to work with. Do you have a special event coming up? Maybe they would like to write a story, take photos, or get video footage. What battles are your nonprofit fighting? Your team is attempting to make a difference and support your community. Local media groups will be interested in your story and current developments.
Take it a step further – offer them completed material. If you had a successful event yesterday, shoot them an email containing a story and photographs or videos. Providing them with good material upfront will make it easier to pull together a story. They will have less work to do when it comes to publishing about your nonprofit, and this means more exposure for your company. After you send the material in, follow up with a phone call to solidify your rapport.
You’ve given them your contact and organization information. Now, you need to stay on top of any attempted communications. If they call, be sure to answer. If you can’t answer, make sure to follow up in a timely manner. Do you have a newsletter? An organization calendar? Remember those 2 points of contact you identified earlier; they should be receiving regular, personal copies of these materials. Don’t put them on a blast list, but rather take the time to compose a thoughtful email with the attachments.
If all else fails, try hiring a consultant. A nonprofit consulting group will help you understand the areas of growth for your organization. After they identify the areas that require the most improvement, they will help you strategize and sets goals for implementing your plans. If your attempts to connect with the local media are fruitless, a nonprofit consulting group, like KM Clark Consulting, can provide a fresh perspective and new methods that will hopefully engage the media.
Remember: exposure helps your organization! An easy way to grow your organization while harboring unique local media connections is fighting to stay engaged. Connecting with the media on a regular basis will keep you at the forefront of coverage!