Breaking news: press releases are a gold mine.
You already know that your events make a difference in your community, but through press releases, that impact can be magnified.
Press releases help your nonprofit reach a wider audience and showcase your mission and great work. You should use these to garner publicity in advance of your events, as well as coverage on gameday.
Write to the Unknown
The first goal of a press release is to let the public know about your event. Make sure all of the important details are included: what, when, where, why and contact information. If someone can’t figure out where to go to cover the event, then no one benefits from the press release.
When you are telling about your organization, always assume that the reader of your press release knows nothing about your mission and work. At the end of each press release, include a biography and history about your organization, including your mission statement and overview of your services.
Also, be sure to include some basics in a press release. For example, “For Immediate Release” should be included or a different line if you want the information embargoed. Include a dateline in the first part of your story, i.e. “BOSTON – ” and put -30- at the bottom to indicate the end of the story.
Tell Your Story
The facts about the event are necessary to include in your press release, but don’t just stop there. This is your chance to promote your mission and the great work, so do it in a way that is engaging and captures the essence of those you reach.
Share any inspirational stories that provide more of a human interest aspect than just the event itself. Know of a 6-year-old who overcame cancer and trained for several months for your fun run? Or maybe of a grandmother who baked cakes for a week for a dessert walk? Those may seem like extreme examples, but add a human element to your releases. You can simply share the story of a person who has been positively impacted by the services your nonprofit provides.
Be sure to also provide direct quotes from the people in charge or from the people whose stories you are telling. Providing quotes makes it easier to start the news story and provide a little more gravitas to the story.
Incorporate Social Media
Don’t just settle for a flier and press release for getting the word out there. Reach out through social media to people in your community and have them help promote your event. By making your press release available online, it will allows people to share it and spread the word. You can even make a Facebook event and invite others to view the release.
You should also include your social media contacts on your press release. It is just as important as including your address, email and phone number.
Cast a Wide Net
Coming up with a good list of people to send your press release to is almost as important as writing the release. Send your release to newspapers (both traditional and alt weeklies) radio stations, television stations, local websites and blogs plus anyone that might have a megaphone to the community. The more outlets you send it to the more likelihood of success increases.
The only word of caution is to find a balance between promoting your event and flooding media outlets with the happenings of your organization. Work them into your overall advertising plan and you’ll find great success.
Here is an example of a press release we wrote earlier this year. Feel free to use it as a guideline when you’re writing your release.