Journalists write on tight deadlines. They write at night, early in the morning, or whenever the mood strikes them.
Public-relations offices aren’t always open and available to answer the phone at two o’clock in the morning (and chances are most nonprofit organizations don’t really have “public-relations offices” in the first place).
You may not have public-relations staff available at midnight, or any staff at all. But, you do have one resource that a journalist can always access – your nonprofit’s website. The question is – is it ready to assist them?
Here is a check list to make sure your nonprofit organization’s website is media-friendly.
Does your website have a page or section devoted to news and information for the media? If it doesn’t, boy are you missing out. Stop reading this article and set up a staff meeting on the subject right now.
A link to information for the media should be easy to find from your website’s homepage. This should be named “news,” “media room,” or “press room.” Do not make journalists (or any website visitor) search around your website to find the news page.
Contacts front and center?
Once a journalist clicks through to the page intended for them, is there contact information immediately available on that page?
A name, title, email address and phone number is preferred. At the very least, your website should list an email specifically for media inquiries, as well as a phone number.
But, make it personal if you can. Most importantly – the person listed as the contact, or the person handling it on your end, must be available and not on an extended vacation.
Always make sure there is a contact person available for the media. If no one is available, they will move on to the next resource.
Every single page of your online “press room” (including every release) should list contact information. Unless your organization is inundated with media inquiries, there is no reason to use a form for media inquiries. Give them the digits.
News is current?
If the most recent press release listed on your website is several months old (or even older), you may as well just take down your website all together.
The most recent news release should be listed first, and the oldest last. Don’t clutter your news page with every release about every event. Event listings from the past don’t need to stay on your news page.
News is actually news?
In the “press room” section of your nonprofit’s website, make sure the news listed is actually news. You may include interesting tidbits in an employee or donor newsletter, but not everything needs to be added to your news section. When in doubt, leave it out.
In the news?
Has your nonprofit organization received great coverage in the past? If so, create an “in the news” section within your online press room.
Use this to highlight past coverage and increase the legitimacy of your organization by proving it is newsworthy.
Does your organization have “experts” on particular topics? If you are a nonprofit organization doing meaningful work, chances are you do.
List your available experts for media interviews in your online news room. Include a short bio and instructions for how a journalist can request an interview.
There are many other things an online newsroom can provide to the media, such as a downloadable image gallery, and fact sheets on topics related to an organization’s mission.
But, the basics need to be taken care of first. There is nothing more frustrating to a journalist on a deadline than going to an organization’s website and not easily finding contact information. (Making them fill out a form can also be a turn off.)
This checklist will help ensure your website is not only media friendly, but has news and information presented for all audiences, including funders, potential partners, referral agencies, and that new public-relations manager you are hoping will accept your job offer.
Written by Hannah B. Gregory. (LinkedIn)
Hannah B. Gregory is a nonprofit marketing expert, PR strategist and founder of SHOESTRING (the nonprofit’s agency). As an expert in the field, she and has been interviewed by Marketplace on NPR, NBC News and others. A trained and experienced journalist, she has a passion for helping nonprofits tell their stories and working with the news media to produce meaningful coverage. Hannah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-835-6236. Follow her on Twitter at @NonprofitHannah.