In part 3 of this series we talk about methods for distribution.
When you’re done writing your press release, look it over from an outsiders perspective. Does it pique your interest? Would you want to know more about the event or the cause? When you feel confident with the release, you have several options for distributing it to local media outlets.
Press Release Series
We developed this mini-series to guide you through the process of writing effective media releases to promote your charity auction fundraising event.
Part 1: Why Press Releases Are Important
Part 2: How to Write a Press Release
Build Relationships with Media Contacts
One of the best ways to ensure your press release gets picked up is to cultivate relationships with media contacts. Just like with potential donors, spend some time well before the actual solicitation - in this case prior to sending press releases - building a relationship with the right people at the news outlets in your community. Try to identify the editors and reporters who would be most interested in what you have to say.
It starts with a simple phone call or hand written letter – not an email – introducing yourself and the organization you work for. Position yourself as an expert on whatever topic your Nonprofit mission is centered around and simply offer yourself as a resource.
Whether your Nonprofit helps foster children or manages environmental projects, explain your mission and let them know you are always willing to offer a perspective. Follow up with these people every month or two just to check in and see how they’re doing. These days, hand written letters – especially for print media folks who tend to be a little more old school – can go a long way.
During this courtship (yep – that’s what you’re doing!), don’t forget to personally invite them to any events you have, big or small, regardless of whether you are trying to get publicity.
How do you get their contact information? Sometimes all it takes is a name. You can usually find this on an organization’s website or in the publication itself. Once you have a name, you can send letters or call the front desk and talk your way through. Another way to get through is to contact the sales department who can usually point you in the right direction.
Once you’ve identified and started cultivating relationships with the right people, you now have an attentive audience who is far more likely to review your press release. You can send it to them by email or snail mail – or both! Most editors are subject to hundreds - or even thousands – of emails per week, so it can be tough to cut through the noise. After a few days it’s a good idea to follow up with a phone call or second email, but don’t pester them.
Brevity is encouraged and rewarded. It shows you respect the busy schedule of these editors and reporters.
Do not spam editors and reporters. Do not buy email lists. Do not blast your press release to the email address of every editor-in-chief and reporter you find on the Internet. You will not only be ignored – you will be shunned!
“To most of us, spam is a nuisance. To professionals who rely on email for much of their work, spam is a nightmare. Be careful that you send a press release only to those with whom you have an existing relationship.” – Mickie Kennedy, ereleases.com
Paid Distribution Sites
If you are looking for more national distribution or don’t have the time to find and nurture relationships with media contacts, you can always pay to have your release distributed. Paid distribution services, such as PRweb.com or PRNewswire, will post the release to every major news site and search engine on the web and also distribute it to journalists nationwide.
Note: Distribution services like these probably aren’t necessary or appropriate for publicizing a majority of Nonprofit events, but might be a way to showcase a major milestone or project.
For a simple release that gets posted to the web and get a general distribution, it going to cost you anywhere from $100-200 per release. For premium services that will get your release in front of premier news outlets like the New York Times, USA Today, etc., you are going to pay upwards of $350-400 for a single release.
Free Distribution Sites
If you are both short on time and on money, you can use any number of free distribution sites. While these sites won’t have quite the same impact as a paid service or sending personal queries to media contacts yourself, it’s better than nothing. A simple Google search for “free press release distribution” will yield plenty of options for you to choose from.
Do you have any other methods or tips for distributing press releases? We would love to hear them! Leave a comment and let us know what’s worked for you, and what hasn’t.
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About Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.
Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.