Many nonprofit organizations with remarkable missions and heartwarming stories struggle to get their message heard and break through the noise. They may have a cause totally worth getting behind, but something prevents them from standing out. Perhaps they lack the internal manpower to execute a full-blown campaign. Maybe they (oftentimes mistakenly) believe hiring an outside communications firm is too costly or complicated. The reality is, we live in a hypercompetitive business environment where it is crucial for nonprofits to take on more of the characteristics of publicly-held/private companies if they want to be seen and heard.
Seventy-nine (79) percent of nonprofit professionals say fundraising is the number one goal of their outreach efforts, with brand awareness coming in second and engagement third. The best way to build name recognition and trust – ultimately leading to more donors, volunteers, and supporters – is through the execution of a comprehensive public relations effort. Strategic tactics ranging from media relations to social media and content management all combine to form a PR strategy that will propel you toward your nonprofit goals.
Whether you’re executing initiatives on your own or you have some help while you’re out saving the causes of the world, here’s a gut check for your organization’s PR strategy:
- Are you positioning yourself as an expert? Establishing yourself as the go-to resource on an issue or cause will keep you top of mind as a thought leader to the public and the media.
- Do you have a credible spokesperson? To actively and consistently engage with media, major donors and influencers, identify spokespeople with expertise and comfort with a variety of relevant topics. Conduct professional media and presentation training for all spokespeople to sharpen the messages and ensure consistency within your brand.
- How focused are your PR efforts on online fundraising? U.S. charitable giving is predicted to grow by 4.8 percent this year, and another 4.9 percent in 2016, making it more important than ever to tailor your communications efforts to the digital arena. Creating and executing digital giving campaigns and competitions through public relations will help fortify your online presence in a modern fundraising world.
- Is your social media engaging and inspiring? Social media is a great way to use modern technology to deliver the tailored messages you’re already creating for PR purposes. Your social media content should reflect your goals of building more donors, volunteers and supporters by informing and inspiring your audience. According to a study from the Case Foundation and Social Media for Nonprofits, based on a survey of almost 500 nonprofits, only 53 percent follow the best practice of posting issue-centric content to establish thought leadership in their nonprofit’s area(s) of focus.
Public relations is an essential tool in building a cohesive strategy and structure around each and every message you push out. It is the key to building the brand awareness that is so important in today’s digital age, and with a successful approach, benefiting your nonprofit’s bottom line.