Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

Press releaseYou may have heard that one of the least expensive ways to get publicity for your nonprofit organization is to send out press releases. This can definitely be true, but if you’re not doing it correctly, you are simply wasting your time, as well as that of editors that you want to pay attention to you. Obviously, the goal of a press release is to get the “press” interested enough in what you’re doing to actually devote a story to it in their publication.

A lot of nonprofit organizations misuse the press release and are then disappointed when they don’t get the results they wanted. You can avoid this frustration by following some guidelines.

  • Make sure your idea is newsworthy. Many organizations will send out press releases on anything and everything in hopes that someone “out there” will pick it up and run with it. In reality, though, not everything that goes on in your organization is newsworthy. Adding someone to your staff, for example, is probably not enough to pique the interest of the local newspaper. If, however, that person is well known in the community, that may be an angle that gets it noticed and used.
  • Target your press releases. Editors are inundated with press releases, and a large percentage of them are not relevant to their publication. If your nonprofit works with the homeless, for example, it would probably be inappropriate to send a press release to a magazine directed at luxury home buyers. That may seem far-fetched, but it happens all the time, and it annoys editors to no end. In fact, some of them actively create lists of organizations that “spam” them and won’t even consider future press releases.
  • Expand your thinking. In the example of the new hire, you may realize that a press release to the local paper is unwarranted. On the other hand, the alumni newspaper at your new employee’s alma mater might be thrilled to do a piece on their alum’s success.
  • Online press release services – yea or nay? Paying an online service to disseminate your press release may seem like an easy option, but it definitely has its drawbacks, namely, that they don’t consider the things mentioned above. On the other hand, some organizations choose this route because the releases are published online and can help drive some traffic to their websites. It’s a tricky proposition, as you don’t want to hurt your reputation by having your press releases sent to places that just aren’t a good fit.
To give your press releases the best chance of becoming full-fledged print stories, be sure to format them correctly, and remember that brevity is key. Hit on the main points so that the editor recognizes the value of what you’re doing, but don’t go into so much detail that they don’t read to the end of the page. In addition, take the time to ensure that you’re sending your press release to the right editor in the right department. Sending multiple PRs to the same publication is frowned upon.
Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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