The Ten Commandments for Winning Media Coverage for Your Nonprofit Organization
AmFund's Founders, Barbara and Wade West worked as news anchors and reporters for over 30 years. Throughout careers, they were frequently asked to emcee charity events to raise money for worthy missions. Having attended these fundraising events, they noticed that worthy nonprofits were leaving money on the table by not making the most of their captive donor audience. Using their experience and knowledge, they made it their life mission to form the 501(c)(3) nonprofit fundraising organization, the American Fundraising Foundation-AmFund with the mission of raising money for worthy nonprofits across the United States. Drawing from their careers in the news, they want to share these 10 Commandments with nonprofit organizations on how to gain media attention and tell their nonprofit's story.
1. Understand the Definition of News.
News is what's new, different, and unusual.
All news is about people or events/issues and how they affect people.
It's important to touch viewers/listeners/readers emotionally. We often personalize stories subliminally thinking "that could be me or my loved ones!" Be ready to show why others should care even if they are not affected directly.
2. Identify Your Story.
What's so unusual about what you do?
Why do people need your services?
How many people fall through the cracks in your area?
How many people are lined up at the door of your services?
Why is this happening when there is government funding?
What happens if someone desperately needs your services and you are full are they out of luck, or do they receive the care they need in extraordinary circumstances?
3. Understand the Elements of a Good Story.
For TV: It's video, video, video! Combine this with good sound, real setting with real action, real patients with compelling stories combined with facts and content (you provide facts and content in writing answering who, what, when, where, why and how plus statistics to illustrate the need for your work.
For Radio: Provide great sound and content, compelling stories told by you, doctors, or patients themselves.
For Print: Bring the story alive through quotes, facts and good story-telling.
4. Look for "News Hooks" for Your Story.
Using the example of a free clinic in Florida: If Congress is considering eliminating the Affordable Healthcare Act insurance mandate, how might that affect the number of people who will need your clinic's services in the future? Will it mean fewer people will bother to get insurance and therefore if they get very sick or have a terrible accident they will not be covered and will need your help? If so, why should the average reader/listener/viewer who has insurance care?
· How is the flood of immigrants/refugees into Florida affecting your clinic?
· Because of the opioid epidemic, are you seeing more people battling addiction?
· What's your perspective on how we can cut health care costs?
5. Understand the Elements of Great Story-Telling.
Connect through emotion.
Provide real patients.
Look the part: doctors wearing lab coats and scrubs create instant recognition.
Help the reporter find intriguing visuals.
Let real action unfold.
Hold the interview on the scene.
6. Learn Seven Secrets of a Great Interview.
1. Prepare the reporter (Bring a fact sheet. Suggest the main elements of the story. Tell them you know they are rushed for time, so you thought you would provide them with some background and factual support. Never tell them that you have written their story for them.)
2. YOU are the expert
3. Avoid official/technical jargon
4. Structure the setting
5. During the interview, incorporate the question and benefit in your answer.
6. You’ve got 10 seconds to make a lasting good impression.
7. Look the part… remember it’s “television”
7. Remember to Always Ask Yourself, W W O M P B I ?
Why would one million people be interested in my story?
8. Never Use the Word "Feature" in Pitching Your Story.
"Feature" is a dirty word to reporters. They are looking for "hard" news.
9. Invite Reporters to Attend Your Event.
Ask them to be host or emcee so they have the opportunity to get up on stage. See if their TV, radio station or newspaper would sponsor a table. Suggest they can promote your event/cause in their social media. Encourage them to talk about your event during cross-talk on the air before and after your event.
10. Thank the Media for Attending Your Event.
Do not send them gifts. They are not supposed to accept gifts and it conveys you have money to waste on unnecessary things.
If you would like to be considered for AmFund's Fundraising Sponsorship, or if you would simply like to speak with a Development Director to troubleshoot your current fundraising, contact us!