5 Things to Know About Nonprofit PR

Photo Courtesy of chhny.org

When it comes to nonprofit PR, there are so many different things to be covered. So rather than try writing a novel, I’ll boil it down to five of the most important aspects of nonprofit PR, taking those I find most useful from this list of 10 in the Worcester Business Journal. (These are listed in no particular order.)

1) Media Ties For nonprofits, having a good connection with the media is absolutely vital, especially with the obstacle of distrust of nonprofit organizations in the marketplace. A good relationship with varied media outlets and pitching good, interesting and news worthy stories to them will garner good coverage to improve the nonprofit’s position in the minds of their publics. Nonprofit successes, fundraisers that have a visual story or a great achievement always make for a good news story, so pitch those events creatively to the local media.

2) Heart Strings This is one of the aspects of nonprofits that can set one apart from the crowd. People respond very positively to emotional appeals. Anyone ever seen the ASPCA commercials? You know what I’m talking about. Showing personal accounts of those who have benefited from the organization will help to show  publics why the work has value. This is where the nonprofit can begin to connect more deeply with publics and get them involved, whether it be through donation, volunteering, or other ways of support.

3) Proofread Now, the article only discusses this briefly in relation to press releases, but this is of the utmost importance for all documents put out by a nonprofit. Anything that looks half done, has typos and errors, or appears to be something that anyone could create on their own computer is going to send a message that the group is amateur, doesn’t have any money (and is therefore bad at fundraising and communicating the message) and isn’t worth anyone’s time or money. Who really wants to support an orgnaizatoin that cant splel anthing corectlly? It comes off as not only poorly done, but lazy, and that’s the last thing an organization wants to be seen as when trying to garner support.

4) Multimedia There’s nothing that looks more professional than simple, but well-edited multimedia content. When it comes to an organization’s website, Facebook and other social media outlets, videos and photos should be included as often as possible to show, not just tell, the publics what the organization does. While putting together good multimedia may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t take more than a decent video camera (a Flip or iPhone would work), a simple editing software (like iMovie or Windows Moviemaker) and a little bit of finesse to create something informative and emotional to reach an organization’s publics.

5) Get Linked In organizations like nonprofits, publics want more than anything to feel a relationship to the organization, and therefore an association with the good the group is doing. By connecting to people through Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media, an organization can help foster that relationship and improve the group’s retention rate of supporters, donors and volunteers.


6 thoughts on “5 Things to Know About Nonprofit PR

  1. I thought all of these aspects were extremely accurate! I had an internship with a non profit last year, and found all of these things to be very true. Especially “Mutimedia” and “Getting Linked.” I absolutely loved working in non profits, and found it to be very rewarding! Someone with a love of PR can definitely apply that knowledge and help a non profit immensely.

  2. This is great, Rachel. I think you are absolutely right about these things. I really like that you mentioned ‘heart-strings’ because I really do believe that one benefit/advantage of a non-profit is that they really can depend on this. It’s not manipulative at all, because non-profits are all about serving others, giving back, and fighting for a cause.

    I also totally agree with ‘proofreading’. I think a non-profit has to be even more careful because, like you said, it needs to look legit. But also, when you’re giving to any organization, it has to pass your personal skepticism test (or at least for me) because you are always slightly hesitant before you give your money away. Plus, non-profits (especially small/local organizations) sometimes have a bad rep among PR people because they are so short on money.

  3. One of my pet peeves falls under “proofreading”. Nothing tells me that your organization couldn’t care less more than typos and errors. I know how easy it is to run a spell check or to get another person to just look over a draft before you make a million copies. It comes across, as you said, as poorly done and lazy.

    Also, for me, I have a hard time taking a website seriously that is all over the place. If things don’t load, there are typos, it’s severely out-of-date and it just doesn’t flow well it just won’t work for me (hopefully I haven’t become a web snob). I know that non-profits are sometimes limited with resources and individuals who can do this, but all it takes is a clean design. I’ve seen some nice websites done by wix.com and wordpress.com.

    You don’t have to have an astounding website or immaculate printed materials, but I enjoy looking at things that took some time and effort to prepare. At little bit of effort goes a long way in my book.

  4. Media ties, media ties, media ties!!! I worked at a non-profit last year, and it was SO difficult gathering donations in this economy. Most of our funding came from regular donors who had attended our events in the past. Without these connections I really don’t know what we would have done. Luckily, our organization did a lot for the Waco community so that was a huge help.

    Heart strings are another huge impact. Before I started working at the Arthritis Foundation, I had no idea that children suffered from the disease. The more people knew about this, the more people wanted to help. Knowing that your money is going toward a good cause is far more rewarding.

    There is no excuse for not proofreading, especially a document for your organization that is being sent out. Non-profits need to prove that they are just as legit as “regular” companies!

  5. Rachel, this is a very interesting article. These five aspects are definitely vital in the PR world. For me, the ones that really stuck out were “heart strings”, “proofread”, and “multimedia”. When it comes to heart strings…I feel like this is the way to get more help. The “World Vision” commercials about sponsoring a child get me every time. And I don’t know how they wouldn’t catch other peoples attention.

    Proofreading…goodness gracious. The smallest typo could make a HUGE difference in the way another company or client views you or your company.

    And mulitimedia. Last semester I did an internship with Baylor Sustainability. One of my jobs was to take photos and make videos for the Facebook page about what we were doing within the community and on the Baylor campus. I honestly really enjoyed doing this type of work. It is the most fun for me! But it is definitely very important to keep the public updated about what is going on.

  6. Rachel, your post is right on track with non-profit PR. In most articles I have read, media ties has been the number one component stressed for any business doing public relations. Building good relations with the right media outlets is absolutely the best way to gain public attention and build business.

    All five aspects you mentioned go hand in hand. Professionalism is a must in everything that is done. I can’t even stress in words how important proofreading is. One error, and your company is automatically put into a bad category. Taking the time to do things right and in a professional manner will pay off.

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