You probably know we’re big fans of the annual M+R Benchmarks Study released every April analyzing how nonprofits use social media most effectively – if you missed it the first time around, you can check out our take on the 2017 report here

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This year’s M+R  Mediamarks Study on nonprofit traditional media trends was released today. While much of the information is geared to large nonprofits pitching national media outlets, there’s still plenty to apply to smaller local, state and regional organizations.

Who’s Getting Media Attention

Nationally cultural nonprofits attracted the most attention in 2016, followed by international, environmental, health and social service organizations (which are really underrepresented when you consider that culture scores almost 20 times the stories!).

The report shows that groups getting the most media attention have these characteristics:

  • “Broad Scopers”: More projects/campaigns means more opportunities for coverage.
  • “Report Releasers”: Signature reports showing strong connections to timely issues get noticed.
  • “Crisis Responders”: Wildfires, refugee emergencies and other disasters generate stories
  • “Media Advocates”: Those who actively pursued the media made news more often

Where They’re Getting Attention

Newspapers are still the number one media “channel” covering nonprofit organizations. TV, digital and online sources round out most of the other sources. It looks like magazines are on their way out for nonprofit coverage, except for culture-related coverage.

Why Are They Getting Attention

In 2016, awareness was the outcome cited by most nonprofits, followed by fundraising; at just two percent overall, advocacy came last. But awareness is really important – you can’t motivate activism or donations until folks know and care about you do!

Who’s Sharing What Online?

Health groups are using Facebook to share media coverage like a boss – at more than twice the rate of international and environmental groups and almost three times social service groups. Culture and international nonprofits share journalist tweets the most – social service groups seem to avoid Twitter, perhaps because their audience/s aren’t there as much.


So what did the most shared articles across all the sectors have in common?

  • Cute animals: Yeah, it’s true – those puppy, panda and Harambe shares rocked.
  • Trump: Ugh, but you know – outrage!
  • Listicles: People still love ‘em, so feel free to continue to list fun facts.
  • Explainers: Folks click on the “What X means for Y” because so much news, so little time.
  • Corporate investigations: We’re hungry for stories exposing “bad actor” corporations.
  • Good news: Overwhelmed with global catastrophes, we need some sunshine now and again.

The M+R Mediamarks Report shows that nonprofit organizations are still putting a priority on traditional media in their communications toolbox. Pitching media stories is always a good idea to reach those elected officials and other “influentials” who still care about what’s on the front page and on the evening news – and you can also think about it as another source of content for your online communications plan. Read the whole report yourself here.