One of the most powerful tools you have for doing that is the good old-fashioned media release. Unfortunately, animal organizations are competing for media attention with larger, better-funded non-profits as well as high-powered PR agencies and corporate communications departments. To stand out from the crowd, they need to do two things: Be the same, and be different.
“Animal organizations have a ‘secret weapon’ that other non-profits and most businesses would give their CEO’s right arm for,” Keith says. “Cute pets. Lots of them. And we don’t have to figure out how to work them into our story; they are our story.”
At the same time, says Keith, the format, length, and style of the release should not be so different from those issued by those other organizations and companies that they appear unprofessional.
“Media releases need to be written in a way that subliminally sends the message that you know what you’re talking about,” Keith says. “If they are too long, or in a non-standard format, or for any other reason come across as unprofessional, they stand a good chance of being ignored.”
Her advice? Check out the media pages of large non-profits such as the American Red Cross or other national non-profits, as well as those of media-savvy animal organizations like the Nevada Humane Society, and use them as templates when you start out. That approach will keep reporters and editors in their comfort zone, and increase the chance your release will spark their interest.
Another way animal organizations need to be like the big guys is accessibility. “Be sure your media contact person is available as soon as the release goes out,” Keith cautions. “In today’s digital world, you don’t have 24 hours to respond to a reporter’s follow-up. You may not even have 10 minutes.”
Get more tips from Keith on writing media releases that work on the Maddie’s Fund website.