[VIDEO] Digital PR Basics for Nonprofits

In this webinar, Julia Campbell outlines public relations techniques that nonprofits can implement to build movements and connect with supporters, in an authentic and ethical way.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Julia. My watch just struck 1:00 here on the East Coast. So is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Julia: Yes, yes, do it.

Steven: All right, let’s do it. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast, and good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Digital PR Basics for Nonprofits: How to Get Visibility for Your Cause.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here, I just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. So if you have to leave early or maybe need to make a meeting or you want to just review the content later on, you’ll be able to do that. I will get you the recording this afternoon as well as the slides if you didn’t already get those. So hang tight. I’ll get you all that good stuff here later on today.

And most importantly, I know a lot of you have already done this, and that is use the chat box right there on your webinar screen. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A. So do not be shy with your questions and comments. I’ll be keeping an eye on those. And we’d love to answer your questions live and make it as interactive as possible. So don’t sit on those hands.

You can also send us some tweets if you’d rather send in your questions and comments there. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Twitter feed as well. And one last thing, if you have any problems with the audio through your computer speakers, we find that the audio by phone is usually a lot better. So if you have a phone nearby and you don’t mind dialing in, try that before you totally give up on us. Usually, it’s a little bit better than via computer audio. And if you want to do that, there is a phone number in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour or so ago with a phone number that you can use.

If this is your first webinar with Bloomerang, I just want to say an extra-special welcome to you, folks. We do these webinars every single week, usually on Thursdays, so we’ve got a special two-day session today, of course, which is great. We love it. My favorite thing I do here at Bloomerang, we bring on great guests for really expert content.

And if you want to watch any of our previous webinars, you can definitely do that on your own time. But if you’ve never heard of boomerang besides our webinars, we offer donor management software, so just to add some context there. And if you are interested in learning more about what we do, you can check out our website. Don’t do that now. Please wait for an hour from now to learn more about us because we have a great, great speaker here today. Making her webinar debut, it’s my friend, Julia Campbell.

Julia: Finally.

Steven: Hey, Julia, how is it going? I know. I feel so bad. We were talking before. I followed you on Twitter for years. You did our video podcast a few years back, and I have no idea why . . .

Julia: I did.

Steven: . . . I did not extend you an invitation earlier. So I apologize on behalf of everyone who is attending the webinar because you guys are in for a treat. I can personally vouch for Julia’s content. She got an awesome, awesome blog and Twitter account. That’s the Twitter follow that you should do immediately. In fact, her blog is really highly regarded. It’s on a lot of top lists. I can definitely vouch for the advice there. But she is a lifelong nonprofiteer. She’s been a development director, a marketing director at a small shop.

So she has been in your shoes. She’s not just some someone spouting the advice. She has done all these things for nonprofits. So you guys are really in for a treat. Julia, I’ve already taken up way too much of your time. So tell us all about digital PR, my friend. Take it away.

Julia: All right. Thank you. Thanks, Steven. I’m really excited to be here with you today. I’m happy to take questions. I’m happy to talk about anything regarding PR nonprofit. Like Steven mentioned, I do come from the sector, and I’ve been in your shoes, and I completely understand, wearing multiple hats, putting out multiple fires. I understand that you are all very busy. So thanks for being here with me today.

So what we’re going to talk about today, we’re going to talk about digital PR, why it’s more than simply just getting on social media, how to start a plan for your nonprofit. And I know that most of you are probably in very small shops. And then some tried and true techniques, some real-world examples, and some tools that you can use to make your job easier and to get more visibility for your organization.

So why do we talk about digital PR? Why do we talk about social media? Why do we talk about digital engagement? The point is, and the reality, is that it is an incredibly cluttered landscape out there. And I don’t need to tell you that. You know that. So this is what happens in an internet minute. I am sure that all of you have several browsers open, you’re on your phone, you might have 40 different monitors, you might even be watching “Westworld” while you are watching this webinar. That’s completely fine.

So the whole point of a digital PR plan is to figure out how to grab attention and pique some interest in your followers. So just a little bit about the social media landscape and the digital landscape, before we start, because I do get questions all the time, “Is social media dead? Are people really using social media? Are people quitting Facebook?” And I have to say a resounding no.

So if you go to Pew Research Center, they have a social media use in 2018 report. It is fantastic. It will give you the usage statistics and the demographics for all the major social media channels. And you might be surprised by what you find. Older Americans are getting on social media, more younger Americans. It’s only measuring, the Pew Internet research report only measures American adult internet usage. I should say that. So if you have an international audience, it doesn’t measure that.

Young people are still on it. They’re using YouTube. They’re using Snapchat. They’re using Instagram. We’re going to talk about video, because your strategy needs to be focused around video, especially if you’re trying to target younger people. People are using social media even more than ever before. They’re on their phones. They’re on these channels. They’re on these platforms. They’re on these apps. It’s not declining.

I do want to point out that Instagram should be a key part of your nonprofit digital PR strategy. We’re going to talk a lot about Instagram. I’m actually going to show you some examples of nonprofits using Instagram. It is absolutely exploding. It’s even overtaking Snapchat amongst 18 to 24-year-olds and teenagers, and the potential and the power of the platform is just growing.

So what is digital PR? It sounds like a really fancy term. Basically, it just means we’re not going to just spray out press releases anymore. We’re not faxing or emailing or attaching PDF emails, or just sending out press releases to a mass email list. Digital PR is a combination of traditional PR practices, which are really important. We’ll talk about them, media relations, talking to journalists, working with bloggers and influencers. But also mixed with content marketing, social media, and search strategies.

So there’s no line anymore between PR and digital marketing. I don’t think there’s any lines anymore between marketing, and digital marketing, and traditional marketing. Everything needs to have some digital component to it.

There’s also no silos. So I don’t want you to say this is not part of my job. It’s part of everyone’s job at the organization to understand the brand voice and to work towards of publishing the mission and engaging with your community of the organization. It’s up to everybody. It might not be in a job description, but it is up to everybody.

So, really, what are we talking about? We’re talking about cutting through the clutter and creating buzz. And, of course, that’s what we want to do. And that’s what good digital PR does. And I’m going to show you some campaigns that do that very, very effectively, and why, you know, why they are effective.

So I always say the digital PR is a bit like Tinder. I’ve never used Tinder, okay. I have been married for 13 years. I’ve never been on a dating app, thank God. But it’s a bit like that first date, okay. It’s a bit like introducing yourself to somebody. So you’re going to grab that attention, pique that interest from someone, but then it’s up to you to turn all of that attention and awareness into a long-term committed donor relationship, a long-term committed volunteer relationship, a board member. Whatever it is, that that’s your nonprofit goal for doing digital PR.

Okay, so what is required? Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. What’s required for digital PR success? Really, you need to be using video. I’m not going to be showing specific video examples, because sometimes it buffers, and people’s connections are crazy, and sometimes the sound doesn’t work. But I do want to emphasize that video needs to be pretty much the main components of any digital PR strategy. And I’m not necessarily talking about professionally-created, 10-minute-long, beautiful videos that cost $20,000. I’m talking about having a strategy to capture those mission moments, those testimonials, those behind-the-scenes experiences that help put a human face to your organization.

So video works really well for several reasons that are pretty obvious. It moves. If you upload a video natively to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, it will automatically play. So movement catches the eye. Color catches the eye. And all of your content that you’re creating should be thumb-stopping. That’s from Mari [inaudible 00:10:11] expert and guru. Her name is M-A-R-I Smith. Everyone should follow her. She’s amazing. She knows everything about Facebook. But she said that content should be thumb-stopping. Because we’re all looking at it on her phone, right? You cannot get away from using videos and visuals.

When we talk about grabbing attention . . . Oh, thank you, marismith.com. So when we talk about grabbing attention, this is where nonprofits fail a lot. So I pretty much . . . I look at nonprofit social media. I read emails. I go on websites. I read blogs. I do a lot of research every single day, and there’s just not a lot of interesting, unexpected, timely, relevant, urgent information out there. So you have to think about what is unexpected. You have to think like a journalist.

So I studied journalism in the late ’90s. I thought I was going to be . . . I thought I was going to work for “Rolling Stone” and travel around the world interviewing rock stars. And I do find that that training has really prepared me for this kind of work because it’s all about the hook. It’s all about getting the story to your editor, getting the editor to even pay attention to your idea for a story. Then you have to get it on the front page, or get it above the fold, or get it in the front page of your section. You have to be interesting.

So think about what would happen if you close your doors tomorrow. Like, think about telling that story. Tell us something that’s unexpected. Keep me interested. Pique my interest. This is a fantastic video campaign for World Down Syndrome Day. It’s called Dear Future Mom. All these videos are incredible. I really encourage you to watch these videos.

It’s videos of children that have Down syndrome, and they’re older, and they’re talking to moms who’ve recently found out that their child, like, they are carrying a child with Down syndrome. And they’re personal stories, and they’re talking about, you know, don’t be scared. It’s not that bad. It’s going to be great. It’s personal stories. It’s amazing. It’s completely unexpected. And it’s testimonials directly from the people that are advocating for World Down Syndrome Day.

If you haven’t seen . . . Okay, I don’t know if I can swear on this. But I’m sure we can show all adults here, this is water.org. They did a campaign called Give a Shit. That was their campaign. So first of all, I just got your attention. Secondly, they got so much publicity for this campaign. I’m not saying you have to swear, but I am saying you might want to be a little more provocative and a little more attention-grabbing than what you’re doing. So clearly that campaign got a lot of media attention, a lot of retweets, a lot of shares, a lot of interest because of the provocative nature. It’s just a great example of how to use social media.

Virtual reality, also. This might be out of the budget of a lot of organizations, but virtual reality is not necessarily to the future. I mean, it really is the present. And I encourage you, if you are responsible for the digital marketing at your organization, to look at some of these virtual reality videos. I know UNICEF has quite a few.

Pencils for Promise has this amazing virtual reality experience video. It’s bringing people physically into . . . well, not physically, but practically physically, into the shoes of your clients into your program, into the fieldwork, into what you are doing. And it creates a sense of [inaudible 00:14:01], understanding. There’s nothing like it. It’s also really new right now, pretty trendy. A lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon. I suggest checking it out, seeing how it might work for your organization. Just something unexpected.

I really encourage all of you. You need to be innovative. You need to embrace technology. And most importantly, you need to recognize yourselves and also convince your board and convince your higher-ups that these kinds of technologies, they’re not trendy, okay. A revolution is here. Social media and digital marketing tools have completely changed the way that human beings communicate with each other, changed the way we consume information, changed the way we do research, really changed human culture and interaction.

So the next time somebody says, “Twitter is just a trend.” Feel free to tell them, “It’s actually not . . . I mean, it’s a completely revolution. It is a complete change in how humans consume information and get information, and especially, interact with causes that they care about.”

A very important facet of success in digital PR in any kind of marketing and fundraising is to know and embrace your audience, okay. You need to love your audience. Who do you have in your audience? Look at your insights, look at your database, do some research, do some focus groups. You might want a certain audience. You might be saying, “I really want to reach women millennials, age 32, with one child.” Okay, great. Why? You know, use the audience that you have. Embrace them. Give them what they want. And hopefully, they will share your message with their friends and their family.

So you have to be very strategic. You have to know who do you want to reach, why do you want to reach them, what do you want them to know, what do you want them to feel, and what do you need them to do. Every piece of content that you create should have . . . you should, at least in the back of your mind, know the answer to all of those questions.

So the example that I always give, because I love it, is my client, Road Scholar. They were formerly Elderhostel. They really wanted to streamline and focus their digital PR efforts. They felt like they were all over the place. They were posting on one channel and then . . . They didn’t really have a voice. They didn’t know who they were talking to.

So we focused a lot on their persona. Who are they talking to on social media? They did a lot of research in their insights. We conducted focus groups. We talked to their donors. And we came up with this persona of the funky grandma. You can see her, and don’t tell me you cannot see her in your brain right now. You can see her. She’s feisty. She’s concerned about women’s issues. She’s certainly not going to let you tell her that she can’t climb Mt. Everest, or she can’t take a trip to Thailand. She loves to learn. She loves to have new adventures and new experiences. She has opinions. I mean, you can just see her in your brain.

So every piece of content that Road Scholar puts out now is targeted to the funky grandma. And I can’t even tell you how their engagement and their, you know, their mailing list, their database, their media hits, all of it has just increased exponentially since they figured out who they were targeting and who they were talking to. A couple of examples, they like to share a lot of content from news sites, from other sites. They share a ton of video. They ask a lot of questions. They get a lot of interaction from their funky grandmas.

And, of course, not every single person that likes their Facebook page is in that persona, but the majority are. And it just really helps to have that idea in your mind of who you’re talking to, who you’re creating content for.

Okay, so we’re going to talk about the three pillars of digital PR. And I want you to go into this with the mentality of no excuses. So I know it’s in the questions. I can already tell. I haven’t looked at the Questions box because it distracts me. But I know. A lot of you have issues. You think you’re nonprofit can’t do this. You think, I don’t have a sexy cause. I don’t have kittens. I don’t have children. I don’t have a huge budget. I don’t have this. I don’t have that. Well, we’re going to figure that out together. I’m going to give you some ideas of how to create your plan for your specific organization. But I want you to know that digital PR, really, and social media, and any kind of marketing, it is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s absolutely determined by how much focus and effort you put into it.

So if I just, you know, went to the gym for 15 minutes every other day or every week and kind of, like, threw some weights around, obviously, I’m not going to get the results that I would get if I went to the gym half an hour every day and focus. So, you know, I know we know that, but I just wanted to say that.

Okay, so what are the three pillars of an effective digital PR plan? Media, like media relations, digital, and content. And we’re going to talk about all three of those. We’ll go in-depth into those. So who are your media partners? Make a list of potential media partners. We’re going to talk about who should be on your list and how to approach them. But some people that you might want to work with to help spread the word about your campaign, help spread the word about a new initiative. Bloggers, online influencers, celebrities, media outlets, podcasts I think are very overlooked in the sector.

There are a lot of great nonprofit podcasts out there that you could reach out to you. There’s Beth Brodovsky’s “Driving Participation.” I was going to make a list for you, and I forgot, but I’m happy to send anyone the links afterwards. There’s Joan Garry, “Nonprofits are Messy.” They’re always having nonprofit guests on their show. And if you’re doing something new and innovative, that’s interesting, approach them. They’re very, very approachable. Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. Those are all places that you can showcase your expertise and reach a new audience.

Webinars are also fantastic. Not just consultants do these webinars, guys. So you can be out there doing a free webinar about something cool that you’re doing. Or partner with a consultant, partner with an agency, get out there and do some free webinars or even some paid webinars. But these are all different places that you need to be looking.

You also need to think about places that have your audience. So it wouldn’t make any sense for me to do a free webinar with somebody that targets, like, real estate agent, because that’s not my market. I don’t work with real estate agents because that wouldn’t really make any sense. But, of course, Bloomerang is a natural fit and makes a lot of sense. Think about who has the audience that you want to reach, who has, like, your funky grandma, like who’s talking to her. Then you can think more strategically and prioritize.

So it’s true and it’s so bad, local news, we know this, is completely decimated. Local news reporters are not able to respond to every single phone call, every single press release. You have can make it stand out because they’re probably working part-time, they’re probably working full-time, getting paid for 10 hours a week, and they have, you know, 7,000 more cities to cover than they had before. So you have to make it count, especially when you’re talking to local news outlets. It’s not like before where if you had a gala or an event, it just automatically got covered in the paper. And I remember those days, trust me, and those were amazing. It’s not like that anymore.

So how do you get your pitch deleted immediately? This is just from my experience, you know, working in newsroom, but this is from a lot of work that I’ve done with reporters and with bloggers. If you have a really boring subject line or a boring pitch, it’s immediately going to get deleted. You have to start out with that hook and with that angle, and hopefully, start out maybe with a story, something that’s going to grab them. You can’t say, you know, “Beverly Bootstraps,” and this is not an actual example, because I love Beverly Bootstraps, “Beverly Bootstraps Food Pantry is holding their 75th annual gala on Tuesday. Thank you to sponsor . . . ” No. No, you can’t do that. The reporters already deleted your email. It has to be interesting.

Also, sending it to the wrong person. Don’t send it to the music editor if it has nothing to do with music. Make sure you’re sending it to the right person, and make sure it has a local angle. You can’t just send something to, you know, “The Boston Globe” or to “The New York Times” or to “The Washington Post.” Like, make sure that your pitch reaches the right person with the right local angle. And I’m willing to bet that most of you work for local or community-based organizations. And it’s so vital.

So how do you work with media partners? These are just a few ways and a few suggestions. What I do is I do a lot of research beforehand. So I have a Hootsuite account. It’s completely free for up to I think three social media accounts. Monitor hashtags. See who’s talking about hashtags in your industry and around your cause. And monitor local hashtags, especially if you’re a local organization.

Set up a Google Alert account. Monitor news stories. Be very specific in your keywords, though. For example, if you just type in, you know, “childhood cancer,” you’re going to get every single story to do with childhood cancer. You don’t want to do that. You want to be more specific.

Create a Twitter list. And this link, if you go there, will get you to my list. So you can have private lists that are just to yourself, like donor prospects. You could create a Twitter list of donor prospects or major gift prospect. And then you can have public lists, you know, favorite reporters, or breast cancer advocates, or whatever it is that you want to curate that information in a list, put those people in a list so that you can just click on the list, and you’ll see their tweets before anybody else’s tweet in Twitter. Kind of a way to cut through the clutter on Twitter and cut through the fire hose of information.

And, I have to be honest, if someone adds me to a Twitter list, it feels pretty good. It feels really good. So I like it. So I would be willing to bet that other bloggers and reporters, you know, they get a notification, and then you’re going to be on their radar too. Make the pitch absolutely personalized. Why would this person for this media outlet pay attention? Why? You have to give me a reason to pay attention.

Okay, so that is the first pillar. I’m going to take a sip of water here. Okay. Digital presence is pillar Number 2. Excuse me. What I mean by digital presence . . . I’m not going to go through every single social media platform today because that would be a 12-hour-long webinar. I am going to talk about your website and show you some examples. Also, nonprofit blogs, some emails, and social media. So that’s really the core of your digital presence wherever you need to be. Everybody.

If you are focused on getting more media coverage, especially, you need to have a blog. And when I say blog, I’m going to talk more about it, I don’t mean 3,000 words. I mean 300 words and a photo. But we’ll talk more that. And I’ll show you some examples.

So your website is so much more important than anything you do on social media, okay. This is coming from a woman who makes your living doing social media consulting. I will tell you all day long, if you come to me and you want to create content strategy and a digital PR plan and your website is horrible, or it’s not mobile-optimized, or it has 10,000 dropdowns, or it’s really hard to load, I will tell you to work on your website first. It is your absolute hub. You have to think about how people find information now. We all . . . well, I don’t know about all of us, but I know a lot of people I know have Alexa, or they have Google Home, or they have searched in their car, or we use search on our phones. We ask Siri to do some things. If your website is not optimized for search, you are not going to be found. And we all know that we don’t go beyond the second page of Google results.

So you need to focus on getting your website streamlined, getting it optimized for search, making it easy to load, making it mobile-optimized. So much more important than social media. Because social media is rented land. Your website and your email are not rented land. You own them.

Okay, I’m going to share my screen, go to Denver Rescue Mission, which is one of my favorite examples, stories of changed lives. So you see their website, their menu. Stories of changed lives. What I love about this website is how it functions like a blog, because every time I go here, actually, there’s new stories, and there’s new photos, but just look at the visual appeal. This works really nice on a phone. And then you click on it, and these stories are so well-written. They will hook you right in, you know. Sometimes people make mistakes, and they’re telling the story. And that’s really, really great.

So that’s Denver Rescue Mission. I recommend that you all have the functionality on your website for stories. You have to do storytelling across all of these digital platforms. It’s what works best. It’s definitely the most challenging kind of content to create for some of us, but it’s absolutely what works best.

And then one of my favorite places, Boston Medical Center, they do BMC stories. I also liked the way they used their blog here, because they use it for stories but they also use it for helpful information. So, you know, the “Field Guide to Parenting.” That’s very helpful. That’s really targeted at their audience, but it’s useful information. It’s valuable content. And they’re answering questions. What they do is they monitor their frequently asked questions. They monitor Google. They monitor what people are typing in to find them. And then they create blogs, content, and website content around that. So, really cool. Let’s see. I want to go back. See if that works. You know, technology is not always my friend.

So you can use your blogs to help build thought leadership and help reporters find you or help people that are interested in learning more about you and reading about you writing about you, help them find you. Make sure you’re using it for education, diving into the frequently asked questions, just like BMC does, you know. If you could create a field guide to something, what would it be. Ten ways to do something. Ten myths about addiction, you know. Ten stereotypes about domestic violence. Whatever it is, those are the kinds of blog posts that you can create. Mix in some storytelling and you will be golden.

And the best part is you can repurpose all of this across all of your social media channels. And I’ll talk about that when I talk about creating your plan and putting it all together. I really believe storytelling needs to do more to address myths and stereotypes. I think storytelling is hugely powerful for social change and can absolutely change hearts in mind. And, also, your blog can just inspire. It could just be a really great story, a happy story, something inspiring.

Okay, St. Baldrick’s, and we’re going to go back to my screen here. St. Baldrick’s blog, and, of course, they have a huge marketing department, and I’m not going to deny that. They do a fantastic job all across all of their social and their website. But they have a lot of blog posts for their peer-to-peer fundraisers, which if you have any kind of peer-to-peer element in the fundraising that you’re doing, you want that up on your website. Also, they focus on real-life stories, and then they split their blog out into facts, and advocacy, and news around childhood cancer. So there’s sort of something forever everybody, no matter where you are, no matter what you are interested in.

And I love New York City Relief. If you’re on Medium, you should follow them. Medium is a free blogging platform that you can use. You could also use, you know, LinkedIn Publishing. But Medium is great because people go to medium to discover new ideas and to share and to learn and to comment. But New York City Relief, they use it in such an amazing way. They really use the visuals in a fantastic way. This is all completely free. You just type in your text and add a photo. You don’t need to know any kind of HTML, any kind of graphic design. They tell a lot of stories in the first person, which is really powerful.

So I really suggest following them. They’re great example of how to use medium. And all of this is helping them create that thought leadership. It’s helping spread the word for the work that they’re doing. And, of course, you can put links in here to your website. You can put links in here to your social media sites, however you want to do that. But it’s a fantastic resource, a free resource, for storytelling.

Okay, so how do you use email. That’s another piece of the digital presence. Sharing stories, then doing them more frequently, and showcasing impact, okay. You want to be sending emails much more frequently than you probably do, okay. All of you, and actually, I should have created a poll, but I didn’t this time. I’m willing to bet that a lot of you only email once a month, which is horrifying to me, because if I delete that email, then I don’t hear from you for maybe two months, maybe three months. And then the fewer emails I receive and open and engage with, the fewer that I will . . . I won’t even remember that I signed up for your list, and then I might just start deleting them, and then maybe I’ll unsubscribe.

You need to be sending shorter emails more frequently that are not fundraising asked. This is going to help you with your digital PR plan because you’re going to stay top of mind and you’re going to help that thought leadership that you’re craving. You’re really going to show people that you are the expert in the space.

So I love this Venn diagram. It was created by a fundraiser called Marky Phillips, and it’s so completely perfect. I think everyone should hang it up and have it, especially for doing any kind of fundraising. But it’s so important for digital PR as well because we are so focused on the left-hand side, things that we want to tell people. This is what we want to tell people when we need to be more focused on what people actually want to hear from us. And that is impact, showcasing impact, accomplishments, achievements, what did you do with my money, did it make a meaningful impact, are you doing meaningful work, are you experts in the field, what is, you know, what are the things I need to be paying attention to around the cause and around helping the clients, you know, achieving the mission that you set out to achieve.

So one of my favorite clients, JFCS, they really had a hard time transitioning into the storytelling emails, but it’s made a huge, huge difference for them. So this is the kind of email that I’m talking about to sort of stay top of mind, to really connect with people, telling a story and making it from a person. Everything that you should be doing in your promotions and marketing strategy should be increasing the human voice and the human side and humanizing the organization.

We don’t want to give to a logo. We don’t want to connect with a logo. We do want to get an email from Meredith Joy because she’s a real person, and she sounds amazing, and she’s telling a great story. So how can you humanize and personalize what you’re doing? Showcasing stories in your email just like this. You know, she almost lost everything. We never lost hope.

Rosie’s Place is also one of my absolute favorite organizations there in Boston. They have a one-person development marketing director, one person doing all of it. You’re not going to believe it when you go and see their communications because they are amazing. But they’re very focused on impact stories. And that’s why I want to just showcase them.

This subject line, “Who Would Come to My Funeral,” is just amazing. So think about subject lines. Think about what is going to grab attention. What is going to grab someone’s attention?

Okay, we’re going to talk about content and social media, and I want to make sure I leave time for questions. So we’ll probably go pretty fast. I like to kind of throw a firehose of information at people. And then we can definitely, you know, review it at the end, a few questions.

The whole point of the content pillar is to get you to stop reinventing the wheel. So repurpose and reimagine everything that you’re doing. So if you have a story, you’ve got one story. So say, you know, the Medium, the blog posts from Medium that I was talking about, “Imagine If You Were Homeless,” that could be a SlideShare presentation. You could guest blog that somewhere. You could even try to create an infographic about some of the topics in it. You could do a Facebook Live video interviewing the person that wrote the blog. I mean, there are millions and millions of ways to repurpose the content that you already have or the content, you know, that you’re going to create in the future.

In terms of content that works on digital and works on social, I mean, Facebook told us. So they told us at their F8 Developer Conference. The head of news feeds said, “This is what it takes to succeed. The information, the posts have to be trusted, informative, local, and they have to inspire conversation.” So I think those could actually be translated across all digital PR channels because that’s what people want to see. But that’s a Facebook told us. So people always ask me, “What does it take to succeed on Facebook?” And I say, “Well, they told us.” So, you know, what are some examples. We’re going to go over that.

Social media content. When we’re talking about social media channels specifically, to cut through the clutter, it has to be entertaining and/or storytelling or helpful, useful, or valuable, also laser-focused on your audience. And your audience is not everybody. It’s definitely not everybody.

Video is completely vital. We know that. What I found interesting as I was reading a report released by Instagram, and they found that, especially their younger audiences, they liked the Instagram stories and the content created by amateurs, amateur content creators and not celebrity. So I thought that was really, really interesting. So we might have an advantage there. They don’t like polished. Like, younger audiences don’t really like 100% polished and perfect and, like, tied in a bow.

So what should your strategy be for Facebook? And, of course, each of these channels could be another hour-and-a-half webinar, but I wanted to touch on just a few. I want to give you some a few tips and tricks for, you know, cutting through the clutter, getting more visibility on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

I’ve seen posting less frequently or better as long. As what you’re posting is really, really high quality, starting a Facebook group around a cause or around your mission works really well to help create more engagement. Also, for Facebook, loves the meaningful interactions. Live video, we can’t get away from it. It’s the most powerful engaging type of content that you can share on Facebook. Being helpful, sharing those resources we talked about, that field guide for new parents, that kind of thing, that works really well. And, of course, entertaining work well also.

So some examples, Boston Children’s, I love this because they use emojis, and it looks like a post that a friend of mine would post. So I’m not going to just automatically scroll past it because it looks like a friend of mine could have posted it. And it’s written in this really human language, and it’s also, of course, a really cute picture.

Best Buddies, they frequently share content from their audience. So they’re scanning Instagram. They’re scanning Facebook. And they’re resharing and reposting stories and quotes from their mentors, from their mentees, which really creates a great sense of community. But then it’s also showcasing the impact, but it’s not just their voice. They’re showcasing a lot of different voices and a lot of different people that they work with.

I really liked this campaign for Life is Good because it’s . . . I mean, it’s just got a great visual. It’s around Mother’s Day. You learn a little bit more about the company. It’s humanizing the company. So how can you create a campaign that’s sort of telling an inside story, like a little bit of a behind-the-scenes story.

New York Public Library is one of my favorite things on Facebook, favorite orgs on Facebook. They go live all the time. Pretty much at the drop of a hat they’re going live. And they don’t really go live for very long. This video was 16 minutes. I wouldn’t go live for shorter than maybe 15 because you want people to have an opportunity to join, but, of course, your live video is going to get more traction after the livestream. You’ll get way more viewers after the livestream than you will live. So it’s kind of like this living video that you can then download and embed into a blog post. You can put it everywhere. We’re talking about reusing and repurposing things.

Denver Rescue Mission, again, I like photos with little text overlay. It’s been shown the photos with text overlay get three times the engagement as a regular photo. That’s just a little pro tip there.

How to use Twitter? If you are really committed to connecting with media outlets and connecting with journalists, then you do need to be at least researching Twitter, hopefully being very active there. Because that’s really where people find news, especially breaking news. And also Twitter is a huge search engine. That’s where people are searching for topics and keywords. There’s a million things you could do. You can join tweet chats. You can use periscope. Make sure that your laser-focused on your audience.

So what I would do, if you’re not on Twitter, just look at it for a while, do some research, see who’s on it, maybe follow some people, kind of lurk around for a while. Get the feel, the look and feel for Twitter before you dive in. It’s usually, usually important, though, to a help establish thought leaderships and make connections with journalists and bloggers because they’re all on Twitter.

So the Malala Fund uses it for a lot of storytelling. They use it for quotes. They use it for visuals. And they’re not usually sharing out helpful resources. They’re mostly sharing thoughts and mission moments from the field, which I think is pretty cool. You can also share helpful links from resources. Make sure it’s focused on your audience. You can share quotes like that. I mean, anything really works. I think mix it up on Twitter. It doesn’t all have to be articles and links.

You can tag people. So tagging people works really well. They’ll get a notification. It creates a good karma for you. You could say, you know, “Here are five local nonprofits that you should be following on Twitter,” maybe some of your partners, that kind of thing.

And Instagram, I said before, Instagram is growing across demographics. It’s absolutely exploding. Same kind of principles for Facebook. I think posting less frequently works best. Some people say you have to post once a day. Experiment for what works for you. If you want to use Instagram Live or IGTV, which is their answer to YouTube, then, you know, if that’s something that you want to do with video, there are many, many ways that you can use to increase your presence and enhance your engagement.

And eye-catching photos tend to work best. I think storytelling works best on Instagram as well, especially for nonprofits, unless you have some really super eye-catching . . . if you’re working in some eye-catching landscape. But if not, you want to be showcasing the stories of the people that you serve. You want to be showcasing your impact 100%.

This is Rosie’s Place again. And they usually just share a little bit of a link, and then the longer link, like, in their bio. Amirah New England is one of my favorite organizations on Instagram because they don’t share identifying details or photos of the people they serve, but they have a very consistent look and feel to their Instagram, and they do a great job in terms of storytelling.

This is Susan G. Komen South Florida. This is my friend Josh. And I think he’s on this webinar. He’s a director of mission and communication. And he just did his first Instagram story today, this morning. So you can go to this link and check out the stories. Just click on the Susan G. Komen logo. What I loved about this Instagram story in particular was that it showcase people and their testimonials and quotes about why they were passionate about breast cancer awareness and breast cancer research. And it’s real quotes from real people in real time.

I think Instagram Stories are vastly underutilized by nonprofits because they’re just a great way to take those in-the-moment, like, mission moment videos. And people absolutely love them. I know I go down an Instagram story rabbit hole almost every night and just watch, like, hours of Instagram Stories. I just love the personal nature, the personal human nature.

IGTV, I won’t talk about too much, but I wanted to include the link to the creator handbook. If you want to double down on video and really go in-depth much, more in-depth, and if you are committed to Instagram, you’ve got to think about creating these longer form, a little bit more polished videos on IGTV. So Instagram Stories are those in-the-moment, unpolished kind of raw stories and videos. And Instagram TV, IGTV is a little bit more polished. And that’s what it looks like.

Okay, let’s see. So this is your content, sort of, Venn diagram here. You want to make sure you’re focusing on education, inspiration, entertaining, and connecting. And I gave you a sample, a PR plan, in the next two slides. And, of course, you’re going to get all these materials.

I encourage you to think about your content on a weekly basis. Think about what is your content category. Is it going to be a story? Is it going to be a photo? Is it going to be a Facebook Live? Just so that you’re mixing it up so it’s not stale and so you’re not kind of posting the same thing all the time. But also so that you can see. You can post the same story, and the behind-the-scenes story, you can post it just in a little bit slightly different tweaked format, you can post it across different channels. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. If your blog is a behind-the-scenes story, then your email better be taken from that. And then you can adapt it for Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. So don’t be reinventing the wheel. Don’t be driving yourself crazy.

So just to review the three keys to digital PR success. Consistency, showing up regularly. Communicating, answering questions, making sure you’re showing your human and not a bot. Good content. And then also confidence, just taking risks being yourself, you know, doing what you love to do.

A list of tools to help you. I try to include the nonprofit link. You can apply for a discount. Most of you have probably heard of these. One that I actually really like is HARO, if you haven’t, it’s Help A Reporter Out. This is where reporters will post questions about a story that they’re working on, and you can search via keyword. You can get a daily email. So you can answer these reporters’ questions and connect with them. There’s also a Twitter account for that. So just some helpful tools for you, you can take a look when you get a chance, when you have a little bit more time.

And then I think we’re going to go to questions.

Steven: All right, thank you.

Julia: I think I see them all coming in. I see them all coming in . . .

Steven: Yeah.

Julia: . . . here. Oh, I did want to say one more thing. Hold on. If you want to connect afterwards, of course you can connect with me on any channel. But I posted the link to the free nonprofit Facebook group that actually Josh and I run, and it’s all nonprofit marketing and fundraising professionals just like yourself. So make sure you jump into the group, ask questions, connect with us there. Okay.

Steven: Yes.

Julia: I’m going to take drink of water.

Steven: Please join that group. Yes. Well, while you’re doing that, thank you, Julia. This was really outstanding. Love the examples and the advice. So we owe you a debt of gratitude for taking time out of your day, more than this hour. So we’ve been planning this for a while. But thank you for sharing all your wisdom.

Julia: Okay.

Steven: So you can see Julia on a conference schedule, check out her session, and she does lots of other webinars, too. So I’m sure you’ll see her after this. I’m just going to kind of roll through these questions here, Julia. A lot of people were asking about kind of organization deals with sensitive topics. So maybe domestic violence or sexual abuse, things like that. So I’m sure you get this question all the time, but I know people would benefit from your wisdom. What should they do in terms of the storytelling? Should it be kind of, you know, obscured by maybe stock photos or changing people’s names, you know? How do we tell those stories without kind of breaking confidentiality or maybe protecting the innocent?

Julia: Yes. Well, I was a development director at a domestic violence program in Norfolk, Virginia for about three years. And I when I started there, social media was really exploding in popularity. And everybody was saying, “We have to get a Facebook page. We have to get a Twitter. Let’s do this. Let’s do that.” When I started there, I thought, “Oh my gosh, like, there are going to be such great stories, and it’s going to be so easy to fundraise for this population, because who doesn’t sympathize with abused women and children.” And then I had a huge wake-up call, a huge, huge wake-up call around that issue, that not everyone is especially sympathetic to that population, unfortunately.

So the way that we handled it . . . Oh, and then I also found that, you know, this was southern Virginia, I was coming from Boston, I was young, like, enthusiastic, like I just wanted to barge headfirst in to the support group and start, like, taking videos. Because I, you know, it was my probably second development job, but I was really excited about it. I had to really develop deep relationships with the program officers and that deep trust. And what we started to do first as we started to tell staff stories. So we started out compiling and telling stories of the staff.

And then we talked to a lot of the volunteers, and talked to them about, you know, what it’s like to answer the hotline. And if they could share a story, you know, changing the name and identifying information. And then we started to talk to donors and find out, you know, why they were giving, and often they would tell a story of their sister who died, or their mother, or their friend, or something they experienced.

So I think the key is just to, in the beginning, if you’re not familiar with it, you know, just start telling the stories of people on the front lines. And then maybe alumni or the program officers in your organization are going to be the people that are going to know. You know, you have to develop trust with them. They have to know that you’re not going to be exploitative of, you know, the clients and the stories. And I think that’s important.

The other thing I would recommend is follow Amirah New England, the one of the examples that I gave. They are an organization, and they help . . . they rescue women and children from sex trafficking all across the United States, which happens surprisingly frequently, but the stories they tell are completely anonymous. And they use stock photography, but it’s not cheesy. It’s really beautiful and very stylized. And they use a lot of quote and inspiring wisdom and that kind of thing.

And if they do a video, it’s always with a staff member. It’s never of a person that was actually trafficked. And Plummer, the example of “Who Would Come to My Funeral,” that email example, that’s a client of mine. They’re called Plummer Youth Promise. They’re a foster care agency in Salem. They do the same thing. So they at work with minors. Like, they literally cannot show their faces. And they do a lot of stock photography, a lot of quotes, a lot of staff, and volunteer stories.

Steven: Great. Man, I love the advice of going to the staff and donors for story. I think we sometimes jump through hoops to try to make a service recipient story happen. But there’s people that can’t speak to the mission tips as well. I love that advice. And I shared those orgs from the chat, Julia. Hopefully, I got the right one.

Julia: Oh, great.

Steven: I don’t know if I did.

Julia: Thank you.

Steven: Blogging, you got a lot of people here turning, to starting with blogging. One question here about guest blogging. Would you recommend people write for other people’s blog, not just their own nonprofits blog? And would you also invite guest bloggers? So maybe, when you were talking about influencers, maybe those people could write on your blog, perhaps. Is that something worth going after?

Julia: Yeah. Well, there’s two prongs to that question. So I started out building my audience by guest blogging. Because when I started my blog, about nine years ago, I didn’t have any audience and was starting from zero. So I found the people that had my audience. I actually guest-blogged for John Hayden. I guest-blogged for their Axelrod. I guest-blogged for, like, Wild Apricot. I guest-blogged for CauseVox and Classy. I mean, any number of places. But I did that because I wanted to get exposure to their audience.

So if you know, like, who your audience is, who are you trying to target, and you know what you want them to do, then you can start researching potential guest blogs that would make sense. So I need to be very careful about my audience. And my audience, you guys are my audience, you know. The small shop, digital marketing people for nonprofits. That’s who I write for on my blog. So if your blog fits that, if it’s something that would be of interest to my audience, then I’d be happy to look at it. But I really hold that very close to me, you know. I really take that very seriously. So I think just approaching someone where it makes sense, where it’s a win-win for them, you know. It’s good content for them, and you are going to get exposure to their audience as well.

Steven: I really like what you said about local news. It seems like maybe that could be a guest-blogging opportunity, right, because they’re [inaudible 00:55:56], like you said.

Julia: They’re looking.

Steven: Yeah, they’re looking for the content.

Julia: They’re looking for stuff. Yeah, they’re really, they’re looking. I mean, what I would do maybe try to start a newsletter at your library featuring local nonprofits. And you can all take a turn, you know, once a month or once a week writing an op-ed about what’s going on in the nonprofit sector in your town.

I just think there needs to be more collaboration, actually, and that’s another probably add-along webinar. But more collaboration, especially amongst local nonprofits, to be pushing each other stuff out, you know, sharing each other’s social media posts, retweeting each other, sharing blogs, like, sharing each other’s videos. Because we’re all trying to make this, you know, community-based. You’re all trying to make the community a better place. And I just think there needs to be more collaboration that way. But local news, they’re hungry for stories. So, I mean, they might be hard to get on the phone, but it’s worth approaching. It’s worth approaching them.

Steven: I love it. Well, we’re coming up on 2:00, and I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, especially if they hadn’t had a bite to eat. So maybe one way to end on a question is you said, we get . . . this is kind of a small nonprofit community here at Bloomerang, and I know you swim of those waters too. What’s the one piece of advice you would say to maybe a one-person shop who wants to get started in all of this but doesn’t know quite where to dip their toes into the water? Where do you think one-person shop should start, Julia?

Julia: It’s a hard question. I believe that storytelling is at the heart of all marketing communications. So I would really start to develop relationships with the program officers and everyone else at the organization, sit on the front lines, and think like a reporter. Try to be collecting and crafting these stories, and then wait till maybe you have a few that you can share out. And then choose the channel second.

So focus on telling the story of your organization first. And then, like, don’t get hung up on, “Oh my God, we’re not an Instagram. Oh my gosh, we’re not on Twitter. We got to be on LinkedIn.” Don’t let up on the tools, you know. Get hung up on creating that, you know, getting those stories that are going to compel people to give, that are going to compel people to pay attention. And I think just crafting, cultivating those first.

Then seeing, you know, then creating a plan of, “Okay, I have an hour a day for social media, maybe I’ll start with Facebook.” So don’t try to be everywhere at once, you know. You know, how do you eat an elephant, you know. You eat it in small bites, right? Is that the quote? You don’t eat all at once.

Steven: Yeah. I love it. Getting stories, everything goes from there. This is awesome, Julia. Thank you for being here. And I know you we didn’t get to all . . .

Julia: Thank you. Thanks so much, Steven.

Steven: Yeah. We didn’t get to all the questions. Let’s talk about that. There’s some really good ones in there. But do join Julia’s Facebook group. I think that’s the best way to get your questions answered, because she’s going to chime in. There’s a lot of other people in your shoes in that group as well, and you’re going to get some tidbits from them because they’re going through the same thing. So do join that group. Follow Julia on Twitter. You won’t regret it. I promise. Subscribe to her blog.

Julia: Thank you.

Steven: And good luck with all the PR. So that’s it for now.

Julia: Yeah, yeah.

Steven: Thanks for being here, all of you. I know it’s a busy time of year. Maybe you’re doing a new fiscal year-end stuff. So thanks for being here. We’ve gotten them great resources on our web site, of course, you can check out. And some great webinars coming up every Thursday. Awesome guests coming up. We got Jay Wilkinson this Thursday, two days from today. He’s awesome. He has started a nonprofit. He works with nonprofits. He is a kind of a tech visionary. He’s going to get you caught up on some of the new trends that are coming down the pipeline. So check that one out. You won’t regret it. We got some other really awesome webinars coming up. Check out the schedule.

We’ve got Andrea Kihlstedt, Lori Jacobwith, Amy Eisenstein, Rachel Muir, Tom Ahern, great guests coming up the pipeline. Totally free, totally educational. Be here. Be here for the next webinar. If you can’t come to the next one, hopefully, I’ll see you again on some other Thursday. So we’ll call it a day there. Thanks again. We’ll get you the recording. We’ll give you the slide. And hopefully we will talk to you again on the next webinar. So have a good rest of your Tuesday. Hope you have a safe and fruitful week. And we will talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Coordinator at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Coordinator at Bloomerang. She serves as Chairperson on the Blog & Social Media Committee for PRSA’s Hoosier chapter.
Kristen Hay
By | 2018-07-29T19:33:52+00:00 July 30th, 2018|Webinars|

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