Social media has forever changed how nonprofits and journalists distribute and consume news stories, yet the format of nonprofit press releases has not evolved at all. Almost every communication medium out there has been impacted by the rise of social and mobile media, but not press releases. I think that enterprising nonprofits would be eager to try something new to help your nonprofit stand out from the hundreds of traditional press releases that journalists and media outlets are bombarded with on a weekly or even daily basis. I have no proof these tips will help your nonprofit get more media coverage, but at the very least they will help your nonprofit’s press release get more exposure on the Social Web.
1) Include your nonprofit’s Twitter username.
Print, broadcast and digital media outlets have embraced Twitter, but I’ve yet to see a nonprofit press release that includes a Twitter username in the contact section of a press release.
2) On the day of the press release, Tweet about the content of the press release throughout the day.
If you are going to let journalists know your Twitter username, then be sure to tweet about the subject matter of the press release on the day its released. Provide links to back-up information, quotes from executive staff, and make it known to journalists that you are available to answer their inquiries on Twitter.
3) Include a photo on your press release.
Press releases rarely get shared, retweeted, liked or +1′d and that’s likely due to the fact that the traditional format of press releases do not include photos. People on social networks ignore links that do not pull up thumbnails and are heavily text-based. It can only help your nonprofit if your fans and followers share your press release. Also, if you have share functionality built into your website and your Like, Share or +1 count is low or non-existent, a journalist may think that is because there is no public interest in the story.
4) Add a link to your Flickr account where journalists can download high resolution images related to the press release.
If a print journalist wants to do a story on your nonprofit, they are going to need high resolution photos. Make it easy for them and compile a slideshow on Flickr in advance of the press release. That said, digital journalists will likely appreciate a selection of photos to choose from as well.
5) Add a link to a video about the campaign discussed in the press release.
If you have a video that is directly related to the pitch in the press release, then feature the video on your YouTube channel on the day of the press release and include a link to your YouTube channel in the press release.
6) Post your press release on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc. and be available to answer questions.
Twitter is the powerhouse when it comes to #BreakingNews, but you should also post your press release on other social networks and be available throughout the day to address comments and answer questions.
7) Use your Facebook Page as your nonprofit and “Like” the pages of the media outlets that you are trying to reach.
Go to your nonprofit’s Facebook Page > Edit Page > Use Facebook As “Your Nonprofit’s Page Name” and then search and like the media outlets that your nonprofit is hoping to get news coverage from and then post your press release on their page.
8) If your press release is related to breaking news, tap into the power of #hashtags.
Journalists use hashtags and so should your nonprofit when tweeting and talking about your press release – especially if it is related to breaking news. Journalists are looking for thought leaders and quotes for their news stories and if your nonprofit is active on a hashtag, then there’s greater chance that your press release will get noticed.
9) Increase the font size.
Individuals are becoming overwhelmed online and text-heavy small font press releases are challenging to digest. Many press releases are 10 point font. Try increasing to 12 or 14 to make the information easier to read.
10) Make your press releases mobile compatible.
Journalists are often on the go and check their email and social networks on their smartphones. A press release format optimized for desktop viewing is impossible to read on a 2-inch smartphone screen. Prioritize responsive design.
11) Include social networking icons on your press release.
Journalists may want to browse past content that you’ve posted on social networking sites. Be sure to prominently place social networking icons on your website/press release that link to your online communities.