More than ever, people care about organizations and brands that are creating positive change —especially reporters. And, issues, rather than products, are attractive topics for journalists. Fortunately, social enterprises are at an advantage because the reason they exist is to solve issues and make an impact. While doing good for the sake of making change should be top priority, don’t lose sight of the opportunity for media coverage as a means to spread the word and engage more people with your cause. Try these marketing and public relations tips to start generating media interest in your social enterprise’s cause.
- Articulate your relevancy: Think about why, more than ever, people need to care about the issues your organization addresses. Why should a reporter care at all? Tell a story that addresses the significance of the work you do and, when possible, provide current statistics and facts to support your claims. Not only will you be relevant in today’s landscape, but reporters love feel-good stories that can add value to their readership/viewership.
- Celebrate, symbolize and visualize: Launch a marketing campaign that celebrates the good work you’re doing in your community; develop a symbolic act or event that signifies its importance (e.g. planting trees in your local community park to symbolize Earth Day); and offer visual elements to your story (e.g. a cooking demo that showcases healthy options for hungry youth). Offering up these components together when pitching media makes for a compelling story. There’s a “why,” a “how,” and a “what.”
- Foster relationships with media: Make sure your organization is following and engaging with reporters and editors on social media. Take 10 minutes before you head to work or before you go to bed to follow the latest news from your local media contacts. Doing so will 1) give you ideas for stories worth pitching to them, 2) help you understand what stories are important to them and 3) build brand awareness by commenting and sharing on their posts. It starts to build trust and awareness of your organization so when you do send a pitch, they have some context from which to draw on. Now, you’re not just a random person looking for coverage, you’re a part of their network of fans who value their work and local community stories.
- Identify your differentiators: There are a lot of social enterprises, nonprofits and mission-driven businesses all dedicated to making a difference in their community. Therefore, it is imperative that you understand what your organization’s unique difference is in the marketplace and articulate that difference in your media pitches. For example, there are hundreds of organizations serving at-risk youth, so what makes yours different? What specifically about helping at-risk youth is important today? Why? What is a new twist or surprising fact about the issue that you can share with media? Finding that unique message or surprising statistic about an issue will increase your chances of generating media interest.
In addition to these tips, a here are some additional important points to remember:
- Media coverage is getting harder and harder to secure for brands looking to increase awareness. The media is not going to write about you just because you’re doing good work. They will cover you because the work you’re doing addresses issues that their readers care about and are affected by. You have to make sure your story fits within a larger one.
- Between hard news, politics and breaking news flooding our media channels, social enterprises (and any business for that matter) are at the mercy of the media and their needs, timelines and deadlines.
- Reporters are ridiculously busy, so respect their time by presenting a “story in a box,” – that is, a pitch idea that addresses the “who, what, when, why and how” of a story, includes visual opportunities, interview opportunities, interview questions the reporter can ask and times interviewees are available to speak.
- While you need to present the full story to media, keep your pitch short and use bullet points when possible. If you have materials and images to attach, use a file sharing system like Dropbox and provide links instead.
- End your pitch with a question like “What works best for your interest and schedule?” or “What is a good time for an interview?” to encourage a response.
- Avoid attachments in your email – attachments can go directly to reporters spam or junk.
- Include any reputable statistics or facts to support your claims (e.g. create a fact sheet or editorial backgrounder of your company to provide the reporter with all the research they need to save them time).
Follow these tips to create a meaningful, purpose-driven story that demonstrates a larger community impact and cultural significance and you’ll increase your chances of generating press coverage.