Gaining media coverage for a non-profit fundraising event can be difficult but, if done properly, the payoff can be big.
Broadcasted exposure reaches thousands of people and strengthens your nonprofit’s image. Below are some tips you can use to make sure you’re getting all you can out of the media coverage you receive before, during, and after an event.
Before the Event
Building a strong relationship with the media over time takes dedication and professionalism. Over time, they will come to know you as a professional who provides them with relevant stories they’ll want to share on their programs.
Create a list of local media contacts at each outlet—newspapers, magazines, bloggers, and TV stations—and find out who reviews story pitches. Look for the right people who cover stories like yours, get familiar with them, and develop a solid working relationship. They will be the most likely to get your message out there. Follow them on social media so you’ll always know what they are interested in at the moment. Use your professional and personal networks to strike up friendships to connect with them further.
Press Release Series
Send out clear, concise, candid press releases whenever you have the opportunity to speak about your event. Look at each stage of your planning and execution and ask yourself what’s newsworthy enough to share. An example of this would be announcing your guest speaker. Include links, express how important the topic is, emphasize your nonprofit’s community ties, and illustrate the benefits of the hard work being done.
During the Event
A fundraising event is a hectic time for event planners, but you don’t want to overlook the value that good media attention will bring your organization in the long term. Good exposure during a fundraiser can work for you throughout the entire year, as you build on that attention toward your next event.
Anticipate the Media’s Needs
When the media comes to your event they are there to do an important job, so treat them like V.I.P’s. Do they need access to electricity, WiFi, etc.? Make sure the venue is ready for their equipment and alert them early if there is something they’ve requested that won’t be available. Is there a special type of background they’ll want to film in front of or a quiet room for audio needs? At what period of time would they like to film? Perhaps they would like to film during a recognition ceremony or conduct an interview with a key person prior to the start of the event.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it before you step up to the microphone. Take several opportunities to rehearse. You only get one chance to get your message out there and you’ll want to make sure you’re saying everything you need to in a clearly understood way. Make your points early and often and always stay on message. Know your facts and speak with the passion of someone who fully believes in the mission.
Be direct. Don’t run-on, or around, the answer. Reporters are looking for short, pointed answers that will allow them to continue onto the next question, so speak clearly and slowly in fifteen-second sound bites. Whether or not you are asked by the reporter, always make sure to end the interview by answering the question “Is there anything I haven’t been asked that I’d like to add?” Above all, sound natural. Nobody will be interested in what you have to say if project a feeling of inauthenticity.
After the Event
After the event follow-up with an email or phone call thanking the reporter for bringing attention to your event and offer more information. Mention how much their attention helped get a big crowd interested in giving and offer images they can use for their social media. Follow your contacts and their employers on social media and their website to see what updates they provide and share the stories and images they post so they’ll know it is a reciprocal relationship. This is also the perfect way to alert them to your next big event. Ask them if you can email them the details as you develop them and put each person involved on next year’s guest list to make sure they get an invite.