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Five times five = a lot more media coverage

27 August 2010

Joe Saxton, driver of ideas at nfpSynergy, offers some tips for smaller charities to punch above their weight

How do small charities stay competitive in a big charity world? Quite frankly I wish I knew the answer to this question. With the vast majority of charities being on the small side, it’s an important one. What I can answer is: how can a small charity punch above its weight in terms of media coverage?

Here are my five easy things to do to get more media coverage. As you’ll see, five is a bit of a theme!

1. Know where you want coverage

It sounds so obvious but the first thing to do to get more media coverage is to know where you would like to get coverage. Is it in the local newspaper, on the radio, in a blog or a mention in a particular column? As a first step, identify the five places you want media coverage.

2. Know which journalists you want to snuggle up to

Behind every piece of media coverage is a person who writes, edits or moderates it. Who are those people? What are their names and their email addresses? Which five journalists can help you get more coverage? Identify them and make a list.

3. Read and read and read again

Read everything you can that has been written by the journalists who you want to cover your stories. What do they write about? What stories interest them? As you read, work out five ideal kinds of stories you would like to have told about your organisation. Flattery and mimicry are two of the most important human skills – flatter journalists by telling them you have read their work and mimic those organisations who appear to get the kind of coverage you would like.

4. Know your own great stories

The sad truth is that too many charities have too many boring stories that they would like to get covered: cheque presentations, new staff arriving, AGMs and so on. The weird thing is that most of us as consumers wouldn’t read them – but we still hope the media will cover them. So have an office brainstorm and work out the five most exciting stories that you have. And remember to look at what people like to read: human stories, real people, personalities, controversies, love, heroes and so on.

5. Do your own coverage

My final five is to make your own coverage. Find those places in newspapers and on radio stations and increasingly on the internet where you can add your comment. Which phone-in can you contact? Which internet story can you add a comment to? Which editor can you write a letter to.

Joe Saxton

driver of ideas, nfpSynergy

Joe Saxton is driver of ideas at nfpSynergy, and is the founder and Chair of CharityComms. Joe works on a range of specific projects particularly those looking at impact, communications or trusteeship. He also works on the overall direction and development of nfpSynergy.