Brief the news media on your cause

The news media may all but ignore the charitable world, but you can help them understand your cause.

In addition to building relationships with individual news outlets, your nonprofit or foundation can partner with other charities to hold news briefings for reporters, editors, editorial writers, news producers, bloggers and other news representatives.

The idea is to help news people understand community needs, their cause and impact, and private and public strategies and partnerships that are showing success in addressing those problems.

Talk to other nonprofits, foundations, government agencies and educational institutions that address those problems, and see if they would like to team up on a news briefing.

You don’t want to overwhelm reporters with too many talking heads from too many organizations, but pick a three or four.

Then decide on the message you want to deliver, identify who will speak for your organizations, and prepare some simple handouts to help media representatives better understand the problem.

At the briefing, focus on the issues and solutions, not your organizations, although you should make it clear the role your organizations play.

And make the session an interactive conversation, not a news conference.

You might ask a community leader who understands the issues to moderate the session and to make sure that media people ask questions. If they don’t ask questions, the moderator or panelists can help get a conversation moving by address questions to the media people: What resources, for example, would the media people need to help them report on your issues?

Make it clear that your organizations are available as sources to help the media report on the issue.

And consider holding the briefings once or twice a year, or even once a quarter.

The media may not know your nonprofit exists, but that should not stop you from keeping your cause in front of them.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

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