Friday, January 9, 2009

Your Nonprofit Library Fourth Shelf – Handling Press Releases, Working With the Media and Social Media

Do you have a Media Plan? An Advertising and Marketing Plan? Are you looking at branding your organization? May staff use social media in work? Do you have a media guide as part of or an adjunct to your business plan and personnel policies to help the organization share the Good News of the agency. The media guide also sets standards for staff about press releases, talking to the press/media and use of other communication opportunities. As with all other activity, it takes planning by an organization to utilize assistance from the press/media appropriately.

See Top 10 Reasons for Creating a Communications Plan by W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Jan 8, 2009

Is it clear to staff, volunteers and board who may speak to the press/media? How does your organization respond to a cold call from a reporter? How does the organization respond to a disastrous headline in “today’s” newspaper or on TV? How will you handle the appearance of your newest employee in a suggestive or naked photo on YouTube?

You need written policies, procedures, and recordkeeping about how the organization relates to the media.

A staff-training event about the press/media can be very helpful. Newspapers and other local media may welcome a chance to discuss how best to contact and utilize them for information publication? Develop alone or with other agencies media training or workshop by a local editor or television newscaster, news blogger, or communications professor.

But what if newspapers are doomed as hinted in this article by James Surowiecki a staff writer for the New Yorker recently. The causes of the decline in newspaper are:

  • Fewer readers
  • Decline in advertising
  • The Weak economy
  • Free access to news on the internet including the news in newspapers
But Surowiecki does not think newspapers are doomed. There are other types of futures including the possibility they may become nonprofit organizations. For the full article, see:

Print media will remain on paper or on the web. New forms of communication are developing and this paper will help you consider those as well. I am no expert here. I have however found many articles and blogs by experts for your use and study.


Why Optimization of Press Releases for Search Engines Is Essential

Over 27 million people use Google News and Yahoo News every month to find pertinent information. When doing a news search, the results often display relevant press releases and articles from the many thousands of different news sources. Neilsen/NetRatings reports the unique audiences of Yahoo News and Google News currently rival the online audiences of other current events and global news destinations such as CNN and BBC News and others. If the marketing strategy of your business includes the Internet, each and every one of your press releases should be optimized and distributed to the major news search engines.

The Facts on Journalists:

  • 98% of journalists go online daily
  • 92% go online for article research
  • 81% go online to do searching
  • 76% go online to find new sources, experts
  • 73% go online find press releases
The Facts on The Average American:

  • 68 million American adults go online daily
  • 30% use a search engine to find information
  • 27% receive news online
Sources: Middleberg/Ross Survey and Pew Internet and American Life Project

When preparing a press release, consider carefully what the headline will be - tell the story in that headline or the opening sentence.

Always remember that the reporter may not have the same view of events and activities that you have. No reporter will give you the privilege to review the article before printing. If you are thinking about talking to a reporter "off the record", you need to be sure both of you understand what you mean; there is no common definition of that phrase and it is not a sacred bond.
Whatever you say to a journalist, assume it is on the record. If you ask to be off the record be prepared to be told “no”.

It can be helpful either alone or with other nonprofit groups to set up a meeting with the editor of the local press to talk about coverage of nonprofit groups. I have found editors very willing to have such meetings and to offer opportunities for op-ed pieces to be written by nonprofit leaders.

With technology available to your NPO, resist using it for everything you want to say in a press release. Bombarding the press and media by fax and e-mail will not endear you to them and it will result in no coverage when you really want it.

There are new ways of communicating through social media, blogs, e-mail, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Grouply, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Podcasting, LiveJournal, Delicious (social bookmarking), Technorati, Flickr, RSS feeds and so many others. The nonprofit leader must sort through them, assess what will work best for the mission and staff of the organization and begin using them. But the task becomes so daunting at times because there is a new one developed almost every week it seems. How will you distinguish between them? This article offers you guidance from some of the brightest and best social media giants with their passion for nonprofits.

The savvy nonprofit leader will also subscribe to at least one free service to keep informed when she/he and the organization are mentioned on the web. You will find many free services in this article, How to track media mentions of your org with RSS -
Advertising, promotion, marketing, public relations, publicity, sales, fundraising, and e-commerce -- what are they? How are they done? -

Please add to this list through the comment section below.

  • Preparing a Press Release
  • Writing and Op-Ed Piece
  • Press Release Writing Style and Grammar
  • Formatting and Proofreading a Press release
  • Timing a Press Release
  • Using Photos
  • Writing Newsletters
  • Using Quotations in a Press Release
  • Lists of radio. TV and newspapers locally and nationally
  • Social Media
  • Web Sites That Offer Marketing and Branding Material
  • Activism
  • Annual Reports
  • Subscribe to Media-Related Newsletters and Blogs
  • Books - A Short List

Preparing a Press Release

Press Release Content Basics -

Avoiding the Most Common Traps of Writing a Press Release

10 Tips for Writing a Feature Press Release -

11 Strategies for Being a Great Business Writer - (Free membership required)

12 Tips for Writing Great Press Releases

Knight Communication online guide, News Release Workshop -

Ten Immutable Laws of Storytelling -

What Makes a Press Release Newsworthy? -

Ten Commandments for Being the Company Spokesperson Quotations

Use Press Releases Effectively During The Holiday Season -

Pitching Nonprofit Stories to the Media: Make it Timely, Newsworthy and Relevant -

Sample press releases -

Press release template -

Reaching the Right Audience

Creating An Online Press Room and Extending The Life Of Your Press Release -

Robert Wood Johnson free material on press releases and communications from its Quarterly Capacity-Building Audio Seminars for Grantees Communications Strategies in Addiction Prevention and Treatment Grantmaking -

Writing an Op-Ed Piece (An op-ed piece is an article that appears in a newspaper on the page opposite the editorial page.)

Nine Tips for Writing Op-Eds That Get Published

Tips for Getting a Charity's Views Into a Newspaper's Editorial Pages. Read the “Dos” and “Don'ts” here –

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Editorial Style Guide -

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey League Editorial Style -

Press Release Writing Style and Grammar

The leader on media coverage and news reporting is the AP Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law - and

See article about Media Strategy To Go with Your Business Plan

Journalists Tool Notebook (Great links to resources) -

Getting a Grip on Grammar

Writing Style Guide (Given to all journalists at The Economist) -

Formatting and Proofreading a Press Release

Press Release Formatting 101 -

Suggestions for formatting a press release -

Ten Invaluable Tips For Proofreading Your Press Releases

Proofreader's Marks -

Timing a Press Release

How often should you have a press release?

As a general rule of thumb, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday early to midmorning are the best times and days of the week to distribute a press release -

Public Relations Strategies and Media Relations: Tips for Nonprofits and Advocacy Campaigns -

Using Photos

Should You Send Photos with Your Press Releases?

General Releases for Photos, Videos -

Writing Newsletters

Tips for Perfecting the Email Newsletter

Writing e-Newsletters - Tricks of the Trade

Writing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Friendly E-newsletters Develop Digital Newsletters that Get Great Circulation -

Writing Great ALT Tags (for images) for Your E-Newsletter, by Kivi Leroux Miller -

Using Quotations in a Press Release

Use Famous Quotes to Spice up your Press Release - -

The Quotations Archive -

Famous - - -

Reference Desk for Facts and More -

Four Types of Interviews for Getting Powerful Quotes in Press Releases -

Lists of radio, TV and newspapers locally and nationally

NewsLink for Media and Press -

U.S. Newspaper List -

International Telephone Directories -

Newseum, displays certain daily newspaper front pages in their original, unedited form -

All the Top Nonprofit News -

Social Media

Civic Engagement on the Move: How Mobile Media Can Serve the Public Good -

Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media A place to capture and share ideas, experiment with and exchange links and resources about the adoption challenges, strategy, and ROI of nonprofits and social media -

12 Tips for Nonprofits On Getting Started With Social Media: Social Networking Is Investment in the Future by Joanne Fritz, -

9 Steps to Prioritize Nonprofit Social Media Training and Experimentation by Britt Bravo -

What Can Social Networking Do for Your Organization? Tips and tools to help your nonprofit get the most out of online networks -

Looking for training Net2ThinkTank: Key Questions about Social Media Training -

Here is the story of one NPO using Second Life. is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to educating potential dog owners on dog selection and care and supporting the efforts of rescue groups. They believe that by assisting with good dog-owner matches, they’ll give each family the best opportunity for a life-long relationship with their new dog and help to keep dogs out of shelters. Second Life and Nonprofits - My Take

Video About Nonprofits and Second Life -

How to raise the profile of your nonprofit in 2009 -

50 Steps to Establishing a Consistent Social Media Practice, July 27, 2008

Beware: Your 'tweet' on Twitter could be trouble: Latest networking craze carries many legal risks.

Feedback From Users Of Twitter As A Training Tool -

Social Media Outreach: Non-Profits are the Key posted by Rezwan –

Nonprofit Organizations and Online Social Networking: Advice and Commentary -

Social Media Tool Box created by the WeAreMedia community -

Resource Kit for Creative Community Engagement -

Understanding the Legal Issues for Social Networking Sites and Their Users -

Web Sites That Offer Marketing and Branding Material

All About Marketing -

Branding Your Nonprofit Through Your Website -

Smart Chart; Helping Nonprofits Make Smart Communication Choices -

Media Strategies for NGO Sustainability! -

Fact Sheet: Marketing for Charitable Nonprofit Organizations -

Essential Fundraising News Release -

New Rules in Public Relations -

CHIP and Children’s Medicaid Campaign Graphic Identity and Branding Style Guide -

Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog -

See What Your E-Newsletter Looks Like in Different Email Programs -


Tools for Citizen Journalists -

American Opportunity: A Communications Toolkit

Smart Chart: A Tool to Help Nonprofits Make Smart Communications Choices

Affordable New Tools and Strategies for Online Activism -

From Business Week, The Chart of Social Media Behavior in the U.S. -

A Triumph of Trust: Five Principles of Nonprofit Social Media Strategy by Michael Gilbert -

The Media and the Law - A handbook for community journalists (From South Africa)

Five Ways to Save Money Using Online Conferencing Tools -

Evaluating Online Activities -

Annual Reports

What Must Be in an Annual Report? -

Tips for Creating a Good Annual Report -

Ten Tips for Writing a Great Annual Report -

Subscribe to Media-Related Newsletters and Blogs

Getting Attention is a free e-newsletter, published bi-monthly by Nancy Schwartz & Company -

PRW Newsletter is a free e-newsletter from -

Beth Kantor’s Blog -

Books – A Short List

Publicity for Nonprofit: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions by Sandra L. Beckwith

Strategic Communications for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide to Working with the Media by Kathy Bonk, Emily Tynes, Henry Griggs, and Phil Sparks

The Associated Press Stylebook by Associated Press

Attracting the Attention Your Cause Deserves by Joseph Barbato

The Copyeditor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn

Please add to this list through the comment section below.

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