To fulfill their missions, many nonprofits depend on grants, campaigns, partnerships and positive exposure. One of the easiest ways to get positive exposure and raise awareness about your nonprofit is to direct what journalists and news sites say about you and when they say it. The first step to doing this: writing a press release.
Creating your nonprofit press release is easy, but optimizing it is the trick. Here are a few things you can include in your press release to make it more shareable and to help it stand out in a sea of press releases.
1. Capture Attention with a Humanizing Lead
Why should people care that your nonprofit has been awarded a grant, or that you have a big community event coming up? People generally scan press releases for the meat in the headline and the first paragraph. This means that your opportunity to grab potential donors’ and media attention is right at the beginning. The best way to do that is to humanize your story and engage readers in your first paragraph. Don’t be afraid to get personal and candid. Include quotes from people your organization has helped, or validate your statement with numbers.
2. Effectively Answer the 5 Ws, and Don’t Forget the One H
The standard press release formula follows the five Ws: the who, what, where, when and why of your story. Use this formula as an outline as you start writing. You might also include the one H (the how) to give your story more depth, to cover all your bases, and to help it stand out more. Complete the formula to show how your nonprofit is the right or only one addressing a particular need. Find and include your unique value into the formula. What makes your nonprofit different from others like it?
3. Include these Pitching Practices
Do your research ahead of time and try to connect with the staff member who typically covers nonprofits or community events. You can easily become a nonprofit media relations expert and build out your list of good journalists for each local media hub. Remember the 5 W’s, but spend the most time on the “why” when you’re writing your piece. As an added bonus, you should follow up with journalists who run your story with a thank-you note (much like you would be doing for first-time donors). By including that simple step, you build and add rapport with that journalist and increase the likelihood that future press releases will also be run.
4. Enhance your Message Through Social Media
You have to add contact information to your press release anyways, so you may as well include your organization’s Twitter handle. Not only will this make your piece shareable, it will also make it stand out more. If you don’t have a Twitter account for your nonprofit, this is a good time to think about why you don’t. Pro tip: on the day the press release goes out, Tweet the content from it throughout the day. If your press release is promoting an event, make sure your social media posts about the event stand out and match the messaging in your press release.
5. Add Some Pizzazz
Once you’re done writing, look back through the piece and find ways to break things up with a bit of color. Maybe that’s adding a relevant quote or two into the piece, or including an image to enhance the story and break up the text. Show your mission in action by including an image, video, or infographic that enhances your written story, and make relevant image or quotes part of the story and the “why” that you’re trying to tell. Pro tip: text-heavy press releases with small font are hard to digest. Trying increasing your font size to 12 or 14 points.
Don’t forget, your job isn’t over once the press release is picked up and released. Promote it on your nonprofit’s website and social media accounts to try and give it more legs. A compelling press release can be a powerful way to share your nonprofit’s story.
Need help getting started with your press release? DOWNLOAD THIS SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE TEMPLATE for a starting point.
What other tips would you include to get your nonprofit’s press release to stand out? Let me know in the comments below!