5 Tips for Leveraging Positive Press For Your Nonprofit

  • by Shala Graham
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leverage positive press for your nonprofit

If you have been in the world of nonprofit organizations for a while, then you already know how hard it can be to attract the right kinds of attention from major media outlets. In some cases, even a single television news item or feature magazine article can be the result of years and years of promotional work and relationship-building.

Because of that, you don't want to let the progress you have made go to waste. The question, then, is this: Now that you've got a celebrity endorsement or been mentioned in a major magazine, how do you make the most of it?

Even though the best advice for taking advantage of good coverage is situational—that is, it really depends upon what's being said about you, and by whom—there are some quick and easy guidelines you can follow. Here are five tips for leveraging positive press for your nonprofit:

Make sure the information is accurate.

Obviously, you want to be sure that what people are saying about you is truthful. That doesn't just include the basic data, but also things like quotes, job titles, and contact information. The more work you do to ensure that these kinds of items are spot-on in the beginning, the less chance there is you'll have to backtrack or handle confusing phone calls later.

One special note about accuracy should be given to timing. If the event you're celebrating (like an endorsement or gift) hasn't happened yet, then ask for the item to be delayed until things are official.

Issue a press release.

The best time to get some good press for your nonprofit organization is when you already have some to work with. In the best case, sending out a press release to local and national media outlets might spur editors to launch other stories about your nonprofit, or to ask questions for future features and interviews. At worst, there is a chance that the positive news item will be reprinted or linked to in new places. Either way, a good press release is your chance to remind people of what's happening and share your nonprofit’s take on the situation.

Update your website.

No matter where they hear about your good news, the place that donors and interested parties are likely to look first for more information is your website. Updating it with blog posts, articles, press releases, and even new pages devoted to the coverage isn't a bad idea, especially since news can take on its own momentum in cyberspace.

Speaking of which, another good avenue for leveraging positive press attention is your social media profiles. Given how easy it is for others to re-tweet your comments, or "like" you on Facebook, it's hard to do better than social sites for spreading information.

Prepare for success…but don't over prepare.

The right positive press coverage can bring a sudden influx of phone calls, donations, and even interest from other media outlets. With that in mind, it's important that you and your staff (and possibly your website) be prepared for all of this extra activity.

At the same time, the reaction from press coverage—even major press coverage—can be unpredictable. So while you definitely want to be ready to take advantage, make sure not to over commit and devote too much of your budget to a donor rush that never materializes. Experience is the best guide, but try to find the fine line being ready for public interest and not putting too many of your eggs in one basket.

Look for the next big PR break.

As we already mentioned, the best time to look for good press is when you already have some. Bear that in mind and use the situation to expand your network of contacts. Someone who is interested enough in your nonprofit organization to cover it once might do so again, or be able to point you to another contact elsewhere who can make a fresh story from it. There are no guarantees, of course, but it never hurts to keep your eyes and ears open.

Getting some of the right kind of attention from the press can be a wonderful thing for the future of your nonprofit organization. To make the most of it, however, you have to be ready for the occasion. So keep these tips in mind, and best of luck getting your nonprofit seen in all the right places.

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