Getting the word out about your charity's work is a critical task that can attract support & drive meaningful action. Here's a quick guide on how to do this for free using Google News to help you:
In this step, your mission is to think of key terms, phrases, or specific organizations related to your cause (like similar charities or mission-aligned brands).
You are doing this so that you can later search for existing PR coverage about these topics. This is because you will reach out to the journalists already talking about things related to you - with the logic that these journalists may be interested in also talking about your charity's work given their pre-existing interest in the topics.
For example: Pretend you help the charity Thrive Pavillion (TP). TP helps older adults suffering from isolation and loneliness connect through virtual reality. In this case, relevant keywords could be phrases like "older adult isolation", to "vr loneliness". You could also look to include charities or commercial brands and organizations similar to you in this list of key terms. For instance, if you are an animal rights charity, then a commercial brand that is heavily involved in animal rights campaigning may be a good search term to monitor
A tip for finding relevant keywords quickly: If you're unsure what keywords to search for, you can use ChatGPT to create these keywords by scanning your website, social media, and annual reports. This can be done with the "Webpilot" extension on ChatGPT or via Bing or Bard.
Once you have found some of these related search terms you can move on to step 2.
Enter your key terms into Google and navigate to the "News" tab. Once you do this you will find thousands of journalists and publications related to your cause.
Google Alerts Tip: So you don't have to do this every day, you can set up Google Alerts with these search terms. This means that you will get an email anytime new News content is released related to those terms. This is a great way to keep up to date on new media opportunities. If you have a dedicated PR inbox you can connect the alerts to this.
After identifying relevant articles, research the writer to see if they are a good fit to tell your story. Take your time to understand each journalist's interests, their usual topics, and their writing style to help you evaluate if they're a good fit for your story. Take this time to understand how you can best position your story for the angle or style of content that the journalist usually uses.
Be selective, don't just aim to email as many journalists as possible.
Once you've identified potential journalists, the next task is to find their contact information. This could be on their profile page for the publication, on their Twitter bio, their personal website, or on LinkedIn. Tools like RocketReach can be especially helpful in finding email addresses if they're not readily available.
Before you start contacting anyone you should make sure you have a robust way to track your outreach. This way you can avoid contacting the same writer twice, and other social faux pas. When building a CRM for future outreach you can use tools like AirTable, HubSpot, or Notion. Using tools like this you can archive and track your pitching efforts, as well as obtaining full analytics, tracking, and automation for your efforts. This way you can spot patterns like what types of outreach work best, to also things like building a filterable CRM for future outreach.
When reaching out to a journalist, ensure your communication is tailored, genuine, and respectful. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every week with people looking to promote themselves. So, take a humble, honest approach and explain why you contacted them specifically. Explain why your story would be of interest to them and their readers. If you don't hear back within a week or two, a polite follow-up email is appropriate. If they're not interested after that, accept their decision gracefully and move on to the next potential contact.
Remember, PR is a marathon, not a sprint - be patient, persistent, and always be respectful.