Practicing PR for a non-profit is not entirely different than doing so for a for-profit brand. Your goals are to raise awareness, protect the organization’s reputation, develop positive sentiment, and inspire action. But non-profit organizations face some unique challenges. They usually have smaller budgets, there’s a lot of competition for attention, and changing conditions can make adhering to a long-term strategy difficult. If you are doing non-profit work, here are a few best practices to ensure smooth sailing and better results.
1 - Set specific goals
For your own sanity and security, set specific goals for what PR is to accomplish at your non-profit. These should be outcome based goals that further the mission of the organization. Avoid output based goals like press releases, monthly reports, and mentions. Instead focus on results like increased website traffic, more social media followers, and increased engagement.
2 – Craft a compelling story
Storytelling is more important for non-profit PR pros than it is even for their peers. Why? Because with a non-profit, the story is the product. What problem are you trying to solve? Who is impacted by it? How will your work change the situation? Where are your efforts focused? All of this must come together to create a compelling message that inspires people to give or become involved.
3 – Identify and train spokespeople
Think broadly about who would be good representatives for your organization. Ideally, spokespeople would include executives, volunteers, and donors. If applicable, you should also include individuals or members of the community helped by your work. Once you’ve identified the best spokespeople, provide media training and make sure they can all articulate your story and weave in the themes you want the public to hear.
4 – Leverage social media
Social media is an outstanding outlet for spreading the message for non-profits. People love to share their involvement with charitable organizations. With the right hook, your campaign might catch fire. The “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which raised more than $115 million for the ALS Association is an excellent example.
5 – Target media carefully
If you want your non-profit to get the most possible earned media, it is essential to have a highly targeted list of media contacts who might take note. Much time and thought should go into crafting a pitch that explains exactly why the journalist’s audience will care. Don’t just bombard the media contact with story pitches. Read their work, follow them on social media, join the online conversations they are having, and learn exactly what type of stories and content will appeal to them.
6 – Monitor the news
Non-profit work is often directly impacted by stories in the news and cultural trends. Be sure to monitor the media landscape carefully, looking for opportunities to leverage what is happening in the community to give greater context to your story. Look for ways that your organization can help.
The most important thing about non-profit PR work is the story. The rest is all about ways of telling it that will get journalists and the public to take action. If you are able to do that, you will meet your goals and advance your mission.