Improving media relations and earning news coverage for your organization is critical to raising awareness of your mission. Media coverage of your organization’s work and leadership helps establish your credibility in the community, attracts allies, and sways public opinion. Your issue and work can grow from something that only a small staff and board discuss regularly to something that families, other boards, and community leaders begin to address.
Working with the media is an integral part of accomplishing an organization’s mission by informing the public and influencing public policy. Good publicity can bolster your organization’s membership or volunteer efforts.
Getting good media coverage is often seen as a daunting task, but with some preparation and practice it can be a highly rewarding endeavor. A few keys to success are:
1. Develop a message or a short set of messages that you constantly refer to. Those messages serve as your guide to answering questions from media, prospective donors, legislators, or anyone interested in your organization, its cause and its programs.
2. Identify one key spokesperson to speak for your organization (usually the president, board chair, or communications director). Having one media liaison makes it easier for the media to contact your organization (thus more likely to do so) and helps avoid sending mixed messages.
3. Remember, with a few exceptions, the media are not “out to get you.” They are people trying to do their job and report the facts on topics about which they are often not experts. They depend on people who are experts on topics to give them the information they need to compile their stories.
4. Don’t forget to celebrate your successes. When you do get good media coverage, keep a copy for your files, share it with your board, if relevant, show it to your donors, clients or legislators. Good media can work for you.
5. Reporters and nonprofits hold a special responsibility to the public to voice opinions and act responsibly based on credible information. The role of the nonprofit sector and the free press sustain free and open dialogue which is vital to sustaining a strong democracy.