Nonprofit organizations like yours can leverage public relations (PR) publicity and marketing efforts for a variety of reasons outside of fundraising, whether it’s raising awareness about your mission, sharing a story, or promoting a community event or human interest piece.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for small nonprofits to maintain the kind of public relations machine that a national charity employs.
Here are five simple tips to help your small shop get on the road to public relations mastery without the need for an expensive agency or dedicated staff person to start:
1. Create A Strategy and Target Audience
You can save yourself a lot of work in the long run by taking the time to create an initial PR and marketing strategy. Start by creating a list of journalists and media outlets to target for your PR efforts — whether online or print. Try to think outside the box when defining your list and don’t limit yourself to the traditional or go-to media contacts. You should also define your target audience for marketing and PR materials, and every piece of external communication should be geared with that audience in mind. Your strategy should be able to answer the question: What do you hope your audience will give you, and how will you move them toward doing so?
2. Maximize Content Marketing and Social Media
If you haven’t already, start a blog. One of the best ways to raise awareness about your nonprofit and its story is to blog regularly — and then promote those posts across your social media channels. Show your nonprofit as a thought leader in your industry, report on community or local events, and promote your own programming, events, or touching human interest stories through the power of content marketing. Find that unique story, perspective, or approach that makes your nonprofit stand out from others, and hone in on that in your communications. Attract your target audience to your nonprofit and build your reputation in the process. Remember, blogs and social media are both free tools you can maximize.
3. Know How to Frame, Target, and Promote Your Press Releases
The two most important things to remember when you start writing your press release are to keep your audience and target list of media contacts in mind, and make the story inform them, not sell them. Make your press release easily consumable and promotable. Write your nonprofit press release both for news outlets, and for online media. Be sure to target the appropriate media for that particular press release. If you’re talking about a new program, it may not make as much sense to reach out to the event contact you have on hand. However, you could use relationships you already have established with media contacts to ask for input on who to reach out to, or for an email introduction to other people in the field to contact.
If you’re initiating a campaign to try to raise funds, include information on the press release of where someone can make a donation or learn more information. Promote your press release on your website, in a blog post, and on social media as much as you can. Use the same URL for that particular press release or promotion to track results from all channels.
And, of course, don’t forget to think about other ways to get your nonprofit press release to stand out for a better impact.
Need help getting started with your press release? DOWNLOAD THIS SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE TEMPLATE for a starting point.
4. Be Persistent and Build Loyalty
The best way to enhance the reach of your marketing and PR efforts is to build loyalty with your donors, volunteers, and supporters. These people can become your brand advocates. Reach out to your loyal supporters and use their testimonies in the stories and materials you share, or have them increase the reach of your message by sharing on their social media channels.
Persistence goes hand-in-hand with building loyalty and rapport. Don’t be afraid to follow up with journalists, send reminders, or make contact across multiple platforms, like email, phone, social media, etc. When sending emails, play with and test your subject lines to see what they’ll click on and respond to the most.
At the end of the day, it’s important to just spend time building up relationships with people who can help your nonprofit’s promotion efforts, whether a loyal supporter or local journalist.
5. Monitor and Measure Your Efforts
A big part of marketing and PR is measurement. But on the flip side, it’s important to keep in mind that what’s meaningful sometimes isn’t measurable. Use your strategy time to figure out what metrics and outcomes are meaningful for your nonprofit’s unique needs. Once those goals have been set, whether monthly, quarterly, or annually, then you can define your process for monitoring your efforts. An example of this on the PR side is to set a goal for number of media placements, and then measure them against website visits, form fills, the number of volunteer inquiries and donations, and etc. By cross referencing these numbers during the appropriate time period, you can see how your promotion efforts correlate with the desired outcomes you set.
Pro tip: An easy way to track results is by simply creating a unique URL or landing page for each promotion. There are free tracking tools like Google Analytics that can help.
At the end of the day, the best thing to do is to think of your PR and marketing efforts as an ongoing activity, rather than a one-off task. Give your PR and marketing efforts some initial thought and strategy and then set up a simple execution plan. Maintaining these efforts are doable if you’ve done your due diligence in the beginning with planning. Build out your media lists, define goals, and utilize free platforms and resources at your disposal.
Implementing these tips can help you have a simple, but full-circle approach to your public relations and marketing efforts.
What other tips would you include to help your nonprofit be its own marketing or public relations specialist? Let me know in the comments below!