Pitching to Media for Nonprofits: 3 Ways to Get Noticed

Kat Boogaard
Kat Boogaard

Of course, you want to spread the word about the amazing work and mission of your crowdfunding campaign. And, ideally, you’d love to do that in a way that seems genuine and organic — not forced and “salesy”. So, contacting a journalist in the hopes that they’ll write an article about your campaign seems like a natural choice.

However, you’ve gone down this road before. And, so far, you’re not impressed with the results. Either you’re met with radio silence, or you’re on the receiving end of one of those dreaded “I’ll keep this information on file” emails.

As a freelance writer and journalist myself, my inbox sees a flood of press pitches on a weekly basis. So, believe me when I tell you that there’s definitely a right way — and a wrong way — to pitch a journalist.

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

Curious as to how you can successfully present your campaign or nonprofit to a writer while improving your chances of having them actually write about it? Look no further! I’ve rounded up three sample journalist pitch emails that you can study and replicate.

While you might need to make some minor adjustments to tailor them to your specific purpose, these are sure to increase your likelihood of getting a response — rather than being immediately dumped into journalist’s “trash” folders.

SAMPLE ONE: Establishing A Relationship

Journalist Pitch Email 1

If you don’t have a specific or time-sensitive story topic in mind — instead, you’re just trying to get your nonprofit out in front of a bigger audience — you might consider drafting an introductory email like this one.

Why does it work?

  • It’s short and straightforward. Journalists are busy, and there’s really no point in inundating them with links, attachments, and pleasantries if they simply have no interest in your general mission. Instead, this short and sweet email provides a quick, general overview and leaves it up to the writer to determine if they’re interested.

  • It starts a conversation. Obviously, your big goal is for the journalist to write about your nonprofit. But, something needs to happen before that — they need to respond to you. By asking the writer if they’d like to receive more information, this email directly prompts a response and encourages continued discussion.

SAMPLE TWO: Reconnecting With A Past Media Contact

Journalist Pitch Sample 2

Perhaps you’ve already spoken with a particular journalist about your potential story ideas. Whether you’ve connected in person, via social media, or through previous emails, it never hurts to circle back on a past conversation when the time is right. This sample email does a great job of touching base without being pushy.

Why does it work?

  • It reminds the writer of their interest. This email starts with a brief reminder of not only your existing relationship or connection with them but also their previous interest in the information you’re bringing to the table. Doing this increases your chances of having the writer read through your entire message, rather than immediately hitting “delete”.

  • It includes a link to more information. Instead of cramming all of the nuts and bolts into the body of the email and overwhelming the journalist with a text-heavy mess, this message contains a link that the writer can reference when they’re ready.

  • It offers help. Again, journalists have a lot on their plate at any given time. So, the recognition of their busy schedule and the offer to help with the story is always much appreciated — and will definitely up your chances of getting a response!

SAMPLE THREE: Pitching Something Newsworthy

Journalist Pitch Sample 3Typically, journalists are on the hunt for something that’s engaging and newsworthy. They don’t want you to spit out an overview of your company history. No, they want to hear about the things that are new and exciting — the interesting tidbits that nobody else knows about yet. So, what better way to get their attention than with advanced notice of something fresh you have in the works, just like this sample does?

Why does it work?

  • It references the writer’s previous work. When you’re pitching a journalist — especially one you’ve never met or worked with before — you need to make sure to do your research. Not only does this help you determine if they author the type of content that fits with your story, but it also shows that you’ve been following their work. Trust me, journalists receive an overwhelming amount of blind and generic pitches. Showing that you’re in the know about their writing and interests goes a long way!

  • There’s no unnecessary fluff. This message cuts out all of the pleasantries and conversational fillers. It even begins with the matter of fact statement, “I’ll get straight to the point.” You might feel as if you’re writing like a robot, but remember that journalists are conditioned to only look for the information they need — the who, what, when, where, why, and how. So, make it easy on them and cut out all of the needless small talk.

  • It includes newsworthy information. Along with the brief explanation, this email also includes advanced access to the “hot off the presses” information in the form of a press release. This allows the writer to read the information they need without having to hunt for it, and immediately determine if they think it’s something worth writing about.

There’s no doubt about it, pitching a journalist can be challenging. And, you may not be successful every time. But, if you pull together some of the elements outlined in these email samples, you’re sure to increase your chances of getting a response — and maybe even a story!

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