While they are typically considered the domain of companies and individuals, press releases can be extremely helpful for nonprofit organizations.
By spreading the word about community services, charity events, and more, a press release can serve to boost attention and increase attendance for a charitable event.
If you’ve ever wondered how to write a press release for a nonprofit, here’s your complete guide!
How to Write a Press Release for a Nonprofit: 5 Key Components of a Successful PR
Knowing how to write a press release for a nonprofit, and being successful at it in getting the word out and publicizing your organization or event successfully, stems around five key components.
Since a press release is a very professional document, there’s not much wiggle room in the formatting standards. Journalists and other organizations expect to see a particular layout, and it’s in your best interest to abide by this. With that in mind, here’s a brief breakdown of how your nonprofit press release should be formatted:
1. The headline
The headline is the first and most visible portion of your press release. It should be centered across the top of your company’s letterhead and should contain information including the city of origin for your press release, the state of origin, and the date of publication.
The next piece of the headline should be a two-sentence paragraph that offers a brief overview of the press release content, and why it matters to readers. It should be exciting and intriguing to the audience.
2. The intro
The intro is a few-sentence paragraph that offers relevant background information regarding your nonprofit’s program or event.
It should be written to a general audience and should be as succinct and targeted as possible. This is not the place to go into the “why” or “how” of the event. Instead, it’s just the place to offer some background information surrounding the event and your nonprofit.
3. The body of the press release
The body of the press release should be 2-3 paragraphs in which you explain the purpose of your nonprofit’s events and compel your readers to want to learn more about it. Here is where you provide relevant details regarding the time, place, name, and sponsors of the event. Again, write this section of the press release to a general audience and give your readers a reason to get excited.
4. Boilerplate information
Boilerplate information is an official bio that offers detail about your nonprofit. It’s a common practice in press releases for nonprofits and is the content that a journalist will likely pick up to introduce your organization to readers should he or she decide to publicize your press release. The boilerplate should be a paragraph long and should offer some brief background and relevant information about your nonprofit organization.
5. Contact information
The final component of the press release is your contact information. This allows journalists and other interested parties to contact your organization for details, and is a critical part of the media release. For best results, include your current phone number, website URL, and mailing address. You may also choose to include links to two or three relevant social media profiles.
6 Things to do When Writing a Press Release for a Nonprofit
While 50% of writing a nonprofit press release is nailing the formatting, another 50% is making it interesting and compelling for readers. Here are six things you need to do every time you create a press release for your organization:
1. Hook the reader in the first sentence.
While a “hook” is commonly written off as the stuff of novels, it’s critical in a press release, as well. To grab the reader and keep him or her there, you’re going to need to provide a reason for them to stay. This is where your hook comes in.
For best results, make your first 1-3 sentences catchy and compelling, and arranged so that they inspire curiosity in your audience. This will enhance the likelihood of your readers staying with you all the way to the end.
2. Structure your press release like an inverted triangle.
An inverted triangle is widest at the top, and narrowest at the bottom and your press release should follow suit. Keep people interested by top-loading the body of your press release with the most relevant information, and narrowing down to the least valuable information as you conclude the body paragraph. This will ensure readers don’t miss your most critical points and will help people stay attached to your press releases.
3. Tell the story of your nonprofit.
It’s easy to get dry and dull when you start talking about your nonprofit. Instead, seek to tell a story that keeps readers interested. For best results, start with the “why” of your nonprofit – why it does what it does and where that mission came from – then branch out to the how and the where. This will help people make an emotional connection with your organization and will increase the likelihood that the media will pick up your press release.
4. Stay brief and focused.
A press release is not a place to ramble on and on, and you’ll lose your readers if you do. For best results, keep your press release focused and succinct. This will help readers stay on-topic and will allow the most important components of your press release to shine, instead of being bogged down by unnecessary information.
5. Keep it realistic.
A press release is a document designed to be picked up by the media, so it’s critical that everything in it be news-worthy. This means that exaggerating and using hyperbole are both strictly prohibited. In addition to harming your organization’s credibility, this will just reflect poorly on the writer if the press release does get picked up by the media.
6. Optimize for SEO.
Optimizing a press release for SEO will improve its chances of succeeding. With this in mind, add relevant keywords and target phrases throughout the body content of your press release. It will help your press release rank more efficiently and increase its likelihood that the document will appear in the search results.
The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Press Release for a Nonprofit
To make your press releases as successful as possible, follow these dos and don’ts:
- Write your press release to a general audience
- Give readers a reason to get excited about your press release
- Provide some background information about your organization
- Give readers the specifics (where, when, why, and how) of your event
- Be targeted and precise in your language
- Top-load the body content of your press release with the most important details
- Be realistic with your language
- Use storytelling language to draw readers into the story of your nonprofit
- Optimize your press release for SEO
- Ramble through your press release – only offer what is relevant to your readers
- Forget to include the current contact information for your organization
- Target PR syndication for your press release. This is an ineffective method of distribution (which is why the team at Express Writers doesn’t do it anymore), and you’ll be much better off reaching out to local news agencies instead.
- Forget to put the most relevant details in the top of the press release
A Better Press Release, Made Simple
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to write a press release for a nonprofit, now is your chance. From publicizing an upcoming event to showcasing the unique offerings of your organization, press releases provide many benefits for nonprofit organizations. By becoming familiar with the standard format, layout, and content of a nonprofit press release, you can write compelling and exciting press releases that help further the mission of your organization.
Not sure you can nail all of these (many) aspects of writing a great press release? Let our PR writing pros help!