December 22, 2014


Leveraging press releases for media coverage

Stacy Jones

Stacy Jones

Let's say for the sake of argument that you follow the best practices in media relations.

You have utilized a great press kit, developed relationships with journalists, have a newsworthy story and have sent your release to targeted media contacts.

What should you do now? 

If your answer is to cross your fingers and hope your release is published, you aren't unlike many in the nonprofit world. 

The truth is there is more you can do.

Follow up. It's best when following up by phone to make sure the journalist you are calling is not on deadline and has the time to speak to you. Ask this first and get it out of the way. 

Provided they have time to speak to you, don't ask if they received your press release and if they plan to run the story. 

Call instead and reference the release you sent, offer up additional information not provided in the release or another potential angle to the story.

Create dialogue and listen to what the reporter tells you they might need to run your story and why if they don't plan on running it.

Be courteous and gracious if your story is rejected and know that you can find more newsworthy items to send at another time.  

Remember to prepare in advance of the call and know what you plan to say.

Find another angle. Maybe you find a few media outlets rejected your initial release. If it's not time sensitive, take the time to rework the release and see what other newsworthy items you can find within the same story. 

A traditional news release might not be the answer. Utilizing the same idea, rework the content to make it a longer feature article or see if the information might be a local angle to a broader national story. 

Keeping your information newsworthy is one of the most important keys in gaining media coverage.

Send the release to staff. This is a great way highlight your work and increases the morale and good feelings of your staff. Keeping your whole organization engaged and involved is a critical marketing tool. They are the organization's most valued ambassadors and should be kept "in the loop" on happenings at the organization.

Post it to your website and blog. Hopefully, you already have a section on your website for current news. Make sure, whether you are published in traditional media or not, that you publish your releases on your website.

Direct people to the news page rather than the home page so they don't have to "dig" to read the article. Links to other sources where the release has been published are also a good idea. 

Even if you post this to your website, post it to your blog.  Your blog is a great place to provide more details not already in the release and post photos if available.

Use social networking. Utilize social-networking tools to spread the word about your current news.

From Facebook to Linked In and Twitter, you can provide links back to your organizational website's news page or directly to the media where your release has been published. This is a great marketing tool to highlight your organization and your news.

Don't just send your release and hope for news coverage.  Follow a few simple steps to ensure that your news remains front and center with your valued audiences.

Stacy Jones is a nonprofit marketing consultant based in Troy, N.Y., and a Shoestring Creative Group Network Affiliate. Stacy can be reached at affiliates@shoestringgroup.com or 1-888-835-6236.


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