8 Principles For Writing A Nonprofit Press Release

The goal of a nonprofit press release is to help a journalist to write a story on your event, online fundraising campaign, or a breakthrough impact story. This helps you raise awareness in a broad audience.

In addition, when posted online or published to a wire service, a press release can boost your SEO through inbound links.

Read our online guide to publicity for online fundraising here to learn how to identify and pitch journalists your cause’s next fundraising campaign.

Here are eight principles for you to take into account when writing your press release.

Lead with a good hook. Write a 1-3 sentence condensed version of your story that includes all essential information.  It might be the only part of your press release that someone reads, so make it count. It should stick in your reader’s mind: catchiness is key.

Use the “inverted pyramid” technique. The body of your nonprofit press release should lead with the most important information. Continue in descending order, leaving the least noteworthy details for last.

Keep it focused. A press release should spotlight one very specific piece of newsworthy information. It is not the place to list a bunch of different things that you do well. Rather, it should be focused around a singular occasion – like an event or online fundraising campaign launch. Keep your sentences focused as well: don’t be wordy or use flowery language. Journalists want you to stick to the facts. Ideally keep everything under one page.

Tell a story: Show how you are making a difference to real people. This will make your document much more engaging than bullet points of “who, what, when, where, why, how, and how many.” This doesn’t oppose being factual; it’s presenting those facts in an exciting and interesting way through storytelling techniques.

Avoid hyperbole. Stay away from stock phrases like “revolutionary,” “game-changing,” “best-in-breed,” and “next-generation.” These are generic hype words. Instead, show what makes your initiatives original and innovative using specifics, rather than just asserting it with buzzwords.

Target strategically. Send your press release to journalists with whom you have a relationship and who are interested in your subject matter. Write a personalized introduction and offer them a unique opportunity, like a behind the scenes tour or exclusive interview with your star client.

Even though using a wire service will rarely lead to a story, it can improve your SEO. Having your press releases or press kits on your website also makes your news available to a wider audience and can generate buzz as well.

Do some research. It’s always a good idea to look at examples of other organizations’ press releases online. Don’t copy – get inspiration. Make sure you’re following the right guidelines and think of ways to improve existing material.

Structure. Make sure you follow proper structure and formatting for your press release. For more guidelines and examples, take a look at the resources here, and here.

Paying attention to the details – from formatting to grammar and spelling – shows that your organization is professional and on top of your game. Telling an engaging story sets you apart from the crowd and generates curiosity. Use press releases as a fundamental tool for representing your nonprofit to the media and to the world.

Title photo by Rachael Moore