Public Relations for Nonprofits: Making a Difference with Marketing


Marketing planning cardsAlmost every kind of company there is needs a good public relations department. From entertainment to finance, possibly the most important element of success is knowing how to appeal to the public and how to get their business. But for nonprofit organizations and causes, good PR is even more essential. It makes sense – supporting a nonprofit is different than buying a product or service. A good PR person is there to inspire people to care, and to donate time or money to a cause, usually without getting much back for it. Nonprofit PR means recruiting volunteers, fundraising, and getting the word out, and it helps if you’re working for an organization you’re truly passionate about. These are the steps a nonprofit PR consultant takes to be great at their job.

1. Communicate Your Plan

In public relations, the most important thing you can do is have a plan for how you’re going to communicate the organization’s mission statement to the public. Once you have a clear approach, you should make sure everyone in the organization knows what you’re doing and what the benefit will be. Nonprofit organizations usually operate on a tight budget, so they want to know that hiring a PR person will be worth it. As long as they’re good at their job, it is absolutely vital.

2. Use All Forms of Media

Public relations consultants spend a lot of time building media contacts in their local community. That can mean getting time on local television or radio stations, as well as taking out print ads in local papers. But the chance for visibility has skyrocketed with the advent of the internet and social media. These days, a lot of public relations is done through Facebook and Twitter, where it is easy to deliver information to large groups of people at once, get them involved, and inspire them to spread the word to their friends and followers.

3. Develop Your Resources

One of the best resources for public relations is a good staff of volunteers who are passionate, ready to work, and not afraid to speak out and connect to people about why they support your cause. But a public relations consultant for nonprofit will also devote a large chunk of their time to writing press releases, public service announcements, and newsletters. Part of a solid public relations campaign is knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it, so you are always ready with press material when the opportunity to get the word out in the media arises.

4. Pay Attention to what Works

If you are trying to get attendants for a fundraising event and it becomes a great success, remember the PR methods you used and think about why they got people to respond. Public relations is different than advertising, but it is about knowing what motivates people to action. You can adjust your marketing plan when you find out what gets you donations and what doesn’t, and you should make sure the leaders of the organization recognize when your work is paying off.

Good PR can lend a nonprofit organization much-needed credibility, and it can help to set their message apart in a unique and inspiring way. Even though you aren’t out to make a profit, every element of a nonprofit needs to be approached like a business – from organization, to management, to marketing. Everyone needs to be clear on what they’re working for and why, so you can do the most good by being good at what you do.

Jamie Smith is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide with a focus on online education opportunities. Several schools offer online degrees, including University of San Francisco and Northwestern University.

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