Is Your Story Newsworthy? Six Elements to Help You Spot One, or Create One

NewspapersThis is the second of a 3-part blog series to help funders leverage relationships with traditional media. Our thanks to Patti Giglio of PSG Communications, LLC, for her contributions to our new media toolkit for Exponent Philanthropy members, the basis for this blog series.

See “Engaging With Members of the Media,” the first post in our 3-part series

Journalists of all stripes are always looking for stories. The stress of ever-shrinking newsrooms and the constant pressure to publish on social media create an insatiable demand for story ideas. Philanthropists who can provide reporters with editorially viable story ideas will quickly become trusted sources.

What makes something newsworthy—or editorially viable—follows a time-tested formula. Six simple elements create the framework for how journalists gauge the merit of a news story. Understanding these elements can help you identify when you have a good story or how to create one.

1. Statistics. Statistics are the single most important thing reporters need. When you are considering statistics, look for the “-EST” factor: biggest, fastest growing, or even lowest or smallest, which can represent a challenge you face.

Consider doing an original survey, or partnering with others to commission a study. Identify academic researchers studying the issues you care about and perhaps fund new research, or a survey or analysis of existing data. Also consider your own organizational data or that of your grantees. Look for data that is counterintuitive and illustrates something particularly relevant to the work you are doing.

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Engaging With Members of the Media

newspaper-402033_1280This is the first of a 3-part series to help funders leverage relationships with traditional media, following the launch of A Funder’s Guide to Engaging With Members of the Media for Exponent Philanthropy members and the webinar Leveraging Media to Advance Your Philanthropic Goals (recording available for members), and leading up to a seminar on communications at our CONNECT Conference next week. 

Over the past 10 years, nonprofits and funders have come to increasingly respect the role media plays in their strategies for social change. From positioning to coalition-building to educating, targeted media efforts are helping funders construct meaningful relationships with key audiences and showcase and elevate their causes, their grantees, and the power of philanthropy.

In this blog series—and in our new media toolkit for Exponent Philanthropy members—we focus on traditional media: print, digital, and broadcast. Although funders now have the opportunity to communicate directly with audiences via social media, traditional media remains a powerful vehicle with established audiences, often in the millions.

How can relationships with media strengthen your philanthropy?

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Using Media to Share Your Story

By Barry Sturgeon, Davenport Trust Fund

The Davenport Trust Fund was established in Bath, ME, in 1927 and reached its 85th year on February 8. More than $13 million has been awarded in grants.

I have been a trustee for 19 years and collect history about our founder and the previous trustees. Twice in the past 5 years, we have used different media to inform the public.

For our 80th anniversary in 2007, we produced an 8-page insert in a free local weekly newspaper, focusing on our history, what we do, the trustees, and to educate the public about philanthropy. We primarily did this due to the milestone being reached but also because we felt there was a lack of understanding in the community about our work. Continue reading