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How to Get Wildly Successful Media for Nonprofits: Tips on How to Write a Press Release

By Holly Rustick

Writing a press release is just what it sounds like. . . to get press. What is press? It is spreading awareness about an event or something that is newsworthy about your nonprofit or the nonprofits you work with.

As a grant freelancer or nonprofit freelancer, writing press releases can be another stream of income or expanded portfolio that you provide your clients. A great press release to write is when one of your clients wins a grant! Woo-hoo! Send that out to the local press.

Today I will discuss what a press release is, what the reasons are for a nonprofit to write a press release, overall tips for writing an eye-catching press release, and how to write a successful press release.


What is a Press Release?

A press release is information giving to the press to bend their ear, so they write about your newsworthy event. Let me stress the last part of that newsworthy event. It is not just to let them know about your organization that has nothing new to say. Now if you get a grant, that is newsworthy and may interest them enough to write a story about your nonprofit. I mean, if someone is giving you money for something it must be exciting, right?

Other newsworthy events can be:

  • Upcoming fundraisers
  • New projects
  • New board members
  • A unique outcome (such as your beneficiaries doing amazing things!)

Newsworthy should not be outdated. Make sure you submit press releases in a timely manner otherwise ‘old news is no news’.

What are the Reasons for a Nonprofit to Release a Press Release?

Even if a journalist sees your press release but doesn’t have time to write an article or to put together a video interview, they may use it to fill some room in their newspaper, magazine, or television segment. In that case the number one reason for nonprofits to send a press release about a newsworthy event is to spread awareness about the event.

Another outcome can be that you attract donors, sponsors, or partners. If you have a fundraiser coming up, you may need to sell tickets or get sponsors. A press release gets the word out and can help your nonprofit earn funding.

A further outcome is to satisfy your sponsors or donors. Maybe the Cat Foundation just gave your nonprofit a $100,000 grant and you want to share it with the community, which builds credibility about your organization, while also giving thanks to your grant sponsor. Or maybe you had a major sponsor come aboard to fund a project. It is important to demonstrate the partnership. In some cases, this may even be a part of a sponsors incentives under their sponsor contract with your nonprofit: to be included on the press release.

Overall Tips for Writing an Eye-Catching Press Release

  • Keep it simple
  • No more than one page
  • Make sure it’s Newsworthy (see above)       

How should you Write a Press Release?

Format

Put on Nonprofit’s Letterhead

Include contact information at the top to include:

The Name and Role of the Contact Person

The Contact Person’s Email and Phone Number

The Date for Release (You can Include: For Immediate Release)

A Headline Including a Short Tagline to Grab Attention of the Reader

An example is:

Point of Contact: Ali Cat, Executive Director

Phone #: (XXX) XXX-XXXX

Email: alicat@catnonprofit.com

 

For Immediate Release

 

Introductory Paragraph

Include an Introductory paragraph to include the following:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • Mission of Nonprofit

As an example is:

 

PRESS RELEASE for the 1st Annual Cat Ball

Be the Belle of the Ball & Win a Free Trip to Cat Island, Japan

 

Catalopis, Maine (June 17, 2019):The Cat Nonprofit, an IRS tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is pleased to announce the 1st Annual Cat Ball starting at 6 p.m. on January 1st, 2020 at the Fancy Hotel. The Cat Nonprofit was established by a dedicated cadre of cat enthusiasts in 2015 as an IRS tax-exempt nonprofit organization, with a mission to “Improve Cat Health.” The dress code at the Cat Ball is ‘come as your favorite cat character’ and the top costume winner will win two round-trip tickets to Cat Island, Japan!

 

Body Paragraph/Need

According to the 2017 Cat Census, there are approximately 3,780 stray cats in Catalopis in 2016, with an increase of 5% each year since 2010 (Cheshire, 2017). Of those cats, “Nearly 90% of all stray cats in Cheshire are not spayed or neutered, causing an epidemic of the stray cat population and leading to malnourished cats” (Hello Kitty, 2019). Therefore, the Cat Nonprofit has a leading cause to secure $5,000 to combat malnourished cats and to spay and neuter 100 stray cats by June 2020. “To run our animal clinic, each cat spayed or neutered costs $500,” stated Executive Director Ali Cat. “We are excited to launch our 1st annual costume ball in collaboration with Japan Cat airlines where the top contestant wins two free tickets to Cat Island Japan!”


Closing Paragraph Call to Action

Sponsor packets are now being circulated throughout the business, government, and private sectors. Tickets are available for $75 each or $125 for two at www.catnonprofit.com. For more information please contact Ali Cat at alicat@catnonprofit.com or at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

Closing

Add three hashtags at the end to demonstrate the end of the press release.

If you are not on the Advanced Reader Team yet, please join now! I had to pause the revised grant writing book over the spring but am now working on some revisions and should have the book out for Advanced Readers by the end of the summer. What is an Advanced Reader Team? Well, you get a free e-copy of the revised grant writing book before it is released in exchange for providing a testimonial and any feedback! Just send me an email at holly@grantwritingandfunding.com and say “I’m in!” and I’ll add you to the list!

Alright, I’ll see you next week!
 


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