Guide to writing effective press releases for nonprofits
Boost awareness and educate the public about your nonprofit through successful digital PR campaign
In this article, we will specifically cover how to effectively write press release to support public relations (PR) campaign for nonprofit and charitable organizations to boost awareness and educating the public which directly leads to not only raising donations and signing-up volunteers but also can lead to making a real difference in the community through sustained advocacy.
In our previous post, we described different types of press releases and specifically showed how nonprofit organization such as California for consumer privacy used a PR campaign to advocate on behalf of their position in the Nov 2020 elections about prop 24 campaign.
You need to remember the overall goal of any PR campaign: tell a compelling story that is of interest to the wider community and readership that makes it irresistible for a journalist to cover it.
This goal is quite natural for nonprofits since by most if not all are mission centric and are trying to make a broader community impact.
Also, almost all nonprofits already have an higher engagement with general public and lots of them also have volunteer programs giving you a readymade access to brand ambassadors that you can deploy effectively as PR assets.
How to write a successful press releases for nonprofits
- Explain immediate need for a press release: you should get right away into explaining why you are writing a press release. Highlight your priorities, such as include enlisting support of the broader community behind your cause; getting more volunteers etc. You should mention your unique selling point that makes your mission and your organization different than others in the community and how you are filling a need no one is currently doing.
- Use independent data to support your case: your press release should provide data from independent and trusted third party sources that clearly demonstrates the extent of the problem, or projections on how big the problem might be. We have worked with water conservation groups in California who have successfully supported numerous advocacy campaigns with data from US geological survey and US Environmental protection agency. This not only establishes your credibility but also tells journalists that yours is a opinion backed with facts, making them more inclined in doing a news story on it.
- Give people multiple ways to support you: The best thing a nonprofit can do when getting PR is listing ways ordinary people can show support to your cause. While you should concentrate on most urgent needs, however that should not just restrict people into showing support by giving you donations or signing up as volunteers. Instead, create a bigger tent by telling people into getting involved in the conservation by either telling them to contact their legislators into showing support for your cause, or signing your petition, following your organization on social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.), putting a yard poster or a bumper sticker on a car etc.
- Make it brief: Best press releases in nonprofit category are very brief, the overall goal should be using it as a medium to garner interest from the general public and telling them into contacting you for further details so that you can establish a clear funnel of your followers.
- Never forget the human element: You should always establish the first hand connection between your work and how it affects people’s lives. For example, if your work is in area of highlighting chemical pollutants in the water system; you should day how Donald’s tainted water supply is causing health issues in his family and how the new filters provided by your organization is helping change lives for other people like Donald’s. While this may seem like a contrived example, its not, in face of the Flint, MI lead water crisis and the PFAS water issues that are causing problems for people across the country and where numerous community action groups like Testing for Pease are currently working hard to alleviate suffering and protect their communities from further health damage.
- Spin stories into more interesting angles: You need to provide an interesting spin on boring stories. Imagine that you are writing a new press release for Habitat for Humanity. Their mission is building and renovating homes for disadvantaged people in a community. If you have just wrapped up a new project, than it might not be interesting enough news for journalists to write a story. In this case, your press release can taut aspects about the new project and spin it so that its interesting for a fresh news story. Examples include mentioning that you are using green building materials or an energy saving design which is designed to save electricity and heating bill. Another spin could be a rebranding exercise to call small homes with less than 500 sq. ft made out of shipping containers as “tiny homes”. An important aspect of digital PR is creating content that has the potential of going viral. Video blogs which document each stage of your project, or frequent instagram pictures documenting your activities are a good way to capitalize on earned media. Lots of zoos, animal rights groups etc. post cute videos of baby animals as ways to garner some free press.