5 Unconventional PR Tactics for Nonprofits
You may have crafted the perfect story for your nonprofit, but it won’t matter if no one hears it. The trick is to make sure your story reaches the public. Tapping media resources and getting your story out to the public can give your organization a big promotional boost.
Pitching a story is not always easy though, and many organizations are left with a stale PR strategy that’s less than successful. Below are five tactics that can refresh your approach and help you win some media attention.
1. Target the Right Media Outlets
Pitching a story can be a lot like applying for a new job. Before sending in your job application, you would do some solid research on the company and position, and then personalize your resume and cover letter to fit the company’s ideals. Reaching out to media outlets shouldn’t be much different.
Do some digging on the journalists and reporters you want to contact. First, make sure you’re contacting the right person for your story. Does your topic fall into that person’s editorial guidelines? Find out what else they’ve written on your subject. This will help you understand the reporter’s viewpoint on the topic, allowing you to better personalize your pitch for their tastes.
2. Use Compelling Visuals to Stand Out
Nonprofit marketers know that visual content engages the public. So do media outlets. According to a recent survey of North American journalists and media professionals, 80 percent of journalists believe photos, infographics, and videos are key ingredients of effective content.
Instead of limiting your press release to just text, make it stand out by including quality visuals that transport readers to the front lines. Also make sure to assemble and deliver these assets so that they’re easy to access. According to the survey, 80 percent of reporters are frustrated with having to spend more than 30 minutes gathering content. Increase your chances of PR success by making it easy for reporters to get all your content in order.
For example, rather than attaching photos or video to your email, send them via a Dropbox link in your email. This way you can avoid any restrictions on file size attachments for emails.
3. Crowdsource Your Content With User-Submitted Videos
In your search for awesome content to send media outlets, cast your eyes to the very people you’re trying to reach in the first place. Your donors and fundraisers might have some of the most compelling stories that fit into your organization’s overarching narrative. Because they’ve already supported your mission and engaged with your organization, they can speak to the value of your work and why they personally find it meaningful.
Come up with a question that relates to your mission, such as:
- “Why should every child get an education?”
- “How can you help end world hunger?”
- “Why is global access to clean water important?”
Ask donors and fundraisers to submit their answers. Since video is an especially compelling medium, have your supporters film themselves. Crowdsourcing these clips can help you create one amazing video for your PR efforts.
4. Start Your Own “Pay It Forward” Campaign
Raise awareness by using social media to your advantage. Consider starting a “pay it forward” initiative, where you ask supporters to perform an act of kindness for someone, and the recipient is then passed the torch to do the same thing for someone else. Choose an act of kindness that relates to your mission statement. If you’re an environmental nonprofit that aims to end pollution, you might start a campaign that encourages supporters to carpool to work or school. The person given a ride would then be passed the torch to drive someone else.
Ask supporters to record and post about their participation on social media. Be sure to create a hashtag for your initiative, and ask supporters to include it in their posts. Generating buzz around your brand through campaigns like these can show media outlets that people are engaged with your cause.
5. Ride a Trend
A popular marketing tactic is to capitalize on pop culture and current trends, so it’s a good idea for your nonprofit to adopt this strategy too. In the same way brands create funny commercials or tweets referencing trends or events, your nonprofit can also use a circulating hashtag to reach a bigger audience.
On top of that, you can also approach media outlets to show how your nonprofit is connected to a popular trend. Pitch a story to a reporter or company that covers a specific holiday, event, or topic, and demonstrate how your organization relates to a certain trend. For example, if you were having a Thanksgiving lunch for needy families, you could pitch it to a reporter who covers holidays and local events. If you were fundraising for a team or camp, you could seek reporters who focus on local sports.
Keep in mind, however, that it should be a direct connection. If your story is too much of a stretch, your efforts will not only fall flat, they may hurt any future attempts of pitching a story.
Revamp your approach to public relations. By adding these strategies to your arsenal of marketing and PR tactics, you can raise brand awareness and make it easier for reporters and media outlets to highlight your organization.
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