Nonprofits rely on press releases to promote events, communicate new fundraising campaigns and report any new research relevant to their cause.
Primarily written for journalists and members of the news media, press releases tend to follow a standard structure. The typical press release is written in 'pyramid-style' (the most important information first) and tends to be quite straightforward and to the point.
Though most press releases take on a similar structure, there are ways to make yours stand out from the rest. Here are five easy ways to make your press release pop:
1. Target a Niche Audience
The goal of a press release is often to get your message to the largest possible audience, so it may seem counter-intuitive that the best way of doing this is to narrow your scope. However, targeting too broad an audience usually means nobody hears your message at all.
Instead, direct your press release to a niche audience. Ask yourself, 'who is this information for?' and write it for them. Don't just list the facts and figures, but explain why it matters to that niche group. Give community journalists and bloggers a reason to believe the information is specifically relevant to their readers.
You'll likely find that the information serves more than one niche audience. In this case, write a separate press release for each group. For example, if you're promoting a music concert fundraiser for an environmental nonprofit, write a press release targeting potential concert-goers (music fans, the music media, etc.), but also write a press release targeting the eco-conscious community (environmental bloggers/journalists).
2. Add a Human Interest Element
As a nonprofit, the driving force behind your organization is the community you serve. To help your press release resonate with its audience, humanize the cause with a story about the person or people who stand to benefit from your efforts.
For example, if you're promoting a charity event, don't just mention the amount of money you hope to raise for 'research' or 'to fund new programs'. Write about a specific individual or group of individuals that will benefit from the event, including quotes and images.
3. Incorporate Social Media
Ideally your press release will have a ripple effect across the web. To achieve this, integrate your social media campaign into the text. Let readers know how they can get involved through your various social channels.
For example, link to a Facebook giveaway you're running in relation to the topic, include a hashtag in the headline or encourage readers to follow your Instagram account to see real-time images from the event.
4. Include an Image, Video, Widget or Infographic
Quality content is the currency of the web. You can 'pay' journalists and bloggers for their service by including an engaging image, video, widget or infographic in your press release. The cooler the content, the more likely they are to share it with their readers.
Most reputable online press release distributors give you the option to submit multimedia releases, with images or videos embedded directly into the text. You may also choose to simply provide a link to the visual content within the press release. This can be a great way to drive people to your website.
5. Write a Catchy Headline
While it may seem absurd to spend 80 percent of your time writing a 10-word headline, the title of your press release definitely deserves the majority of your time. A well-composed headline is what catches a journalist's eye - it's what drives the decision to click and read, rather than keep on scrolling. An excellent headline is:
- Not overly-promotional - Something like 'Amazing Concert Set To Be the Best Music Event of the Year' isn't going to convince anyone. Flowery, promotional language reduces the credibility of a press release and isn't likely to get picked up by journalists.
- Jargon-free - Avoid industry buzzwords and headlines like 'Action-Driven Fundraising Framework Proves Successful With Charity Stakeholders'.
- Informative - Pinpoint the central message of your press release and make that your headline. For example, something like 'Lady GooGoo to Headline Seattle's First Carbon Neutral Concert July 25' manages to get the essential information across in just 11 words.
Press releases are an age-old method of getting the word out, and it can be tempting to rely on them too much. In today's busy media landscape, it's best to use a multi-channel approach - so try not to throw all of your eggs into one press release basket. Still, as part of a wider PR strategy, a well-written press release can be very effective.
Any tips for nonprofit press releases? How do you make sure your press release gets picked up? Let me know in the comments!