Why Your Non-Profit Should Work Year ‘Round with Traditional Media

You’re a non-profit. You have a limited communications budget. One month out of every year is set aside as Your Cause Month (YCM) across the country. You want to take advantage of that month to seek publicity that will raise the profile of your organization and the issues it exists to address.

That’s a good thing, right? Well, yes and no.

It is good to take advantage of that one month a year to do a publicity campaign, but you want people to think about your cause year-round. The best way to achieve that is with ongoing publicity work.

But you do social media work year ‘round. Doesn’t that make year ‘round traditional media work redundant? No, and if you’ve read my January 3 post, you’ll know why.

But you can’t afford to do both social media and traditional media work all the time, you say. I get it. The thing is, it only takes a little print or broadcast media work every month to lay the foundation for more intensive work during YCM.

Let’s say you are currently hiring a contractor for 100 hours to conduct the YCM campaign. You can’t afford more than 100 hours, but when you’re only doing traditional media work once a year, that’s what it takes to get the coverage you want.

Have you considered paying that contractor to do five hours per month for 11 months and 45 hours during YCM? You might think that would spread resources too thinly but, actually, it’s the opposite—each approach increases the impact of the other.

If you’re doing broadcast and print media work all the time, you’re building relationships with reporters, commentators, editors, on-air personalities, news directors, and broadcast producers. Month by month, you’re establishing credibility with the people who make story decisions—showing them that, when you leave a voice mail, they should return your call, because you understand their needs.

They need well-thought-out stories that fit their markets. If they know you can provide those stories, then when YCM comes around, it will take fewer hours for you to get the same number of stories published or broadcast than if you start from scratch every year and invest 100 hours.

Why would you have to start from scratch after making all those contacts the previous year? You may remember all the people you contacted, but they might not remember you, because:

  1. They receive so many media releases and voice mails in a day that yours didn’t stand out.
  2. Some of them have moved on and you haven’t kept in touch with them in their new jobs.
  3. You haven’t yet made contact with the people who moved into those vacated positions.

In fact, some of the most common reasons journalists remember organizations from year to year are:

  1. You provided them with stories that worked out well.
  2. You provided them with stories that didn’t work out well and wasted their time.
  3. You’ve made ongoing efforts to keep in touch with them.

It’s good to be remembered for the first and third reasons. Avoid the second reason at all costs.

The other important factor in ongoing work with traditional media is the relationships you nurture with the reading/viewing/listening public. When you keep Your Cause in front of them, month to month, they get to know and trust you, and are more likely to pay attention when you share information—and more likely to support Your Cause with their time or money.

That support is the goal of any non-profit publicity campaign. Getting material in print or on air is just a deliverable along the way to lasting benefits. The lasting benefits are not articles or air-time. The lasting benefit is increased awareness of why your readers/viewers/listeners should care about what Your Cause means to them in their daily lives, and why they hope to see it adequately addressed.

So how do you do that month-to-month traditional media work without breaking the bank? Come back next week and I’ll offer some ideas.

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  1. [...] Traditional media is the same. Even if you set aside the bulk of your small media relations budget for your annual Your Cause Month campaign, you need to find opportunities to keep your organization in front of the media year round. This is not only so the reading/viewing/listening public doesn’t forget you, but to help you build relationships with journalists that will make it easier for you to get the attention you want during Your Cause Month. [...]



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