3 Keys For Getting Media Attention For Your Social Impact Crowdfunding Campaign
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
It is almost axiomatic that media attention is required for serious social impact crowdfunding success. What isn’t so clear is how to get the media to pay attention.
A typical crowdfunding campaign for a nonprofit raises about $7,000, presuming it raises anything at all (some don’t). A small percentage raise about ten times that amount and a tiny fraction of nonprofit campaigns raise 100+ times the average.
Whenever I see a campaign that has raised over $25,000, I can usually find at least one story in the media about it. While some of this coverage comes after the success and is a commentary on it, some, almost as a necessity, arrives in time to help drive the fundraising.
Some campaigns really need no press. If you’re raising $3,000 from your friends to do a service trip in Rwanda, you don’t need CNN to tell the story. A few dozen emails and phone calls should suffice.
Electronic internet web and paper media concept: tablet PC computer, modern black glossy touchscreen smartphone and heap of businees office newspapers with financial news isolated on white background with reflection effect
But, for those campaigns hoping to raise big money, getting media attention must be a formal part of the strategy. Here are three tips to help you focus your strategy.
It seems as if it should be obvious that you need to ask for media coverage, but I think it needs to be said. My inbox is full of story ideas and pitches of all sorts but despite having written extensively about crowdfunding campaigns over the years, very few of the pitches I get hit that mark.
One reason for reluctance to ask may be the assumption that some measure of success will always catch the attention of the media. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are few, if any, journalists prowling crowdfunding sites looking for cause-oriented campaigns to cover. By the time the media notices such a crowdfunding campaign on their own, it is likely to have raised over $1 million. If you want coverage before you don’t need any more money, you need to ask.
You also want to be sure to ask the right people. Look at what the reporter you’re targeting covers by reading past articles or watching their coverage on the news. Most journalists list their contact information on their publication’s website (for instance, you can send me an email by clicking the envelope or email icon just below the title of this article). If you don’t see contact information for the journalist you want to reach on their website, you may be able to connect on Twitter.
2) Ask nicely
When pitching someone in the media, the first thing you must remember is that professional journalists are likely receiving 100 requests for coverage every day. You need to stand out. You don’t need to be doubly clever, you just need to be thoughtful.
Most pitches are not addressed to journalists by name. You can separate yourself from the crowd simply by sending an email that is personally addressed (with their names spelled correctly). That one simple tip likely increases your chances of having your email read tenfold.
Next, you want in the briefest possible terms to make yourself into a reader, fan or customer. By saying honestly that you subscribe to their publication, follow their blog or Twitter account, or otherwise are a regular consumer of their content, you frame the conversation a bit differently. A specific bit of praise about a recent story can go a long way with a journalist, not because flattery is so powerful but because doing your homework is.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to explain succinctly why the story you are pitching would be of interest to the journalist you’re pitching it to. Tell them how your story relates to their past coverage. Give them a juicy fact or two that will pique their interest. Finally, assure them that you’ll make it easy on them to get an interview, photos or b-roll, whatever they may need to tell your story. You need to be willing to work harder than the time and budget-stretched journalists to get your story told.
3) Tell a story about one beneficiary
One key to getting the media’s attention is a story. This is a general challenge for anyone seeking funding for a social venture, nonprofit or program that will help many people. The story that interests readers and therefore the journalists is not likely your program but the benefit to someone you’ll help.
It is imperative, however, in 2018 to have great data about the effectiveness of your program and how many people will benefit from it. That is also the right way to motivate yourself and to think about social problems. Millions or perhaps billions of people may be at risk and solving problems requires scale and efficiency.
Still, journalists are storytellers; they will be looking for a story about one person whose life can be or has been changed by your work. Optimally, the person you profile for the media will cooperate fully and will be representative of the group of people who serve.
One of the great pieces of evidence for this principle is the success of GoFundMe. Most of the campaigns on that site are for one person or family facing a difficulty and the money goes directly to them—not to a nonprofit that serves many people. For nonprofits and social entrepreneurs to capture some of this attention and some of this money, they need to tell highly impactful stories about individuals they serve.
By using these three keys, people looking to use crowdfunding for social impact can indeed have more.
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