How to get media attention: Takeaways from the 2022 Nonprofit Media Summit

Just in time for GAgives on GivingTuesday campaign planning, GCN hosted another Nonprofit Media Summit with WSB-TV Channel 2 and their Family 2 Family program. As in years past, on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent from WSB provided useful insight for pitching nonprofit stories to the mass media successfully, as well as engaging audiences online and gaining the support of corporate partners.

Below, find some of the event’s top-line takeaways for getting media attention. For more insight, check out the updated GAgives Nonprofit Toolkit, as well as GCN’s event schedule, as we count down to November 29, GAgives on GivingTuesday 2022.

Keeping your pitch VERY simple

Condace Pressley, WSB-TV Director of Community and Public Affairs, laid out four elements to keep in mind when crafting your pitch for the media – or anytime you’re looking to tell a story of impact. Those four elements are contained in the acronym VERY:

  • “V” is for Visuals: Visuals show people what is happening in a way words alone can’t – and they’re a must-have if you want your story covered by a televised newscast. Susan Falcon, WSB-TV Manager of Coverage and Content, encouraged nonprofits to take their own video and photos using a cell phone, which can then be used on-air – just remember to hold your phone horizontally (in “landscape” mode) to get visuals that fill up a television screen.

  • “E” is for Experts: If you want your story to have credibility, it needs at least one person who can speak knowledgeably on the issues involved. That can be a leader, a program manager, a partner, or any subject matter expert you’ve developed a relationship with.

  • “R” is for Real people: Experts are necessary, but the best person to communicate the value of your work is someone who has been affected by it. That’s especially true when it comes to telling your story on-camera: “Real people impacted by your work – that’s TV gold,” said Falcon.

  • “Y” is for whY we are telling this story now: What is currently happening in the community, the region, the country, or the world that makes your story timely? Does it tie in with news about the economy or the climate? Does it speak to a particular time of year like the holidays or back-to-school season? Is there an upcoming opportunity for the public to take part in or otherwise contribute to your work?

Bonus tips for your pitch

More ways to make sure your pitch has the best chance of landing your nonprofit on television:

  • Clarity and brevity. Be clear on what your story is, and brief in your explanation. According to Susan Falcon, producers are “always doing about 20 things at once,” so making your pitch easy-to-understand, and limiting it to one page or less, gives you a big advantage.

  • Understand producers’ needs. With some research, you can find out which reporter or producer is most likely to resonate with your particular story or cause area – then make a connection. Similarly, you can figure out which “spot” is the best fit for your story, whether that’s a particular program or recurring segment.

  • Always include contact information. If your pitch involves an event, be sure to include contact information for the lead-up to the event, the day of the event, and the follow-up period after the event.

  • Keep timing in mind. First, be aware of what’s happening in current events: If there’s a big news story underway – such as a natural disaster or an election – you should wait to reach out. (Unless, of course, your work is directly related!) In general, Falcon reports, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on a weekday is a good time to catch someone’s attention.

  • Provide your own coverage. To reiterate: WSB encourages nonprofits to take footage themselves using a phone – just make sure it’s in the horizontal (or “landscape”) position. Newscasts can use both video and photos taken with phones in their reports. This is especially important for weekend events, when it is far more difficult for a news team to mobilize.

Make a reporter your next featured speaker

In addition, WSB-TV Speakers Bureau Coordinator Donna Lampkin was on-hand to discuss the process for booking talent to appear at your events (both virtually and in-person). She recommended reaching out at least three months in advance to secure an appearance using the Speakers Bureau Form found here.

For in-person events, Lampkin asked to keep in mind the logistics for ensuring talent can be on-time and at their best: Provide a reserved parking space, a dedicated on-site guide, and a script (or teleprompter) that uses a large font.

Get ready for November 29!

GAgives on GivingTuesday 2022 is rapidly approaching. If you haven’t already, be sure to register on GAgives.org to make your organization eligible for prizes, then check out GAgives’ updated Nonprofit Toolkit, graphics collection, and video trainings, and make the most of this year’s biggest day of giving statewide.

Marc Schultz is communications editor at GCN.

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