Imagine that you own a restaurant. But it is not a normal restaurant. When people order food, they don’t get to eat it. It doesn’t even show up at their table. They still must pay the bill, but the food goes to someone else. Do you think you would have many customers?
If you can appreciate how challenging it would be to make that kind of restaurant succeed, then you understand the challenge that nonprofit organizations face. Nonprofits rely on donors who pay the bill for a product or service that someone else receives. Finding those donors and convincing them to provide generous, regular support is extremely challenging. Nonprofits that do it well often rely on public relations campaigns to spread their message, connect with their target audience, and fuel fundraising.
Nonprofit organizations use PR to build their reputations
One of the key challenges that nonprofits face is educating the public on the issues that they are addressing. Consequently, one of the main goals of nonprofit public relations is building awareness. The more aware the public is of the problem and the impact it has on the community, the more they will appreciate the work that the nonprofit is doing to address the problem.
When a nonprofit is focused on treating addiction, for example, its PR efforts will involve making the public aware of troubling trends involving drug use and the ways in which they are affecting the community. In this way, they help potential donors to understand that their support serves not just addicts, but themselves as members of the community.
Public relations for nonprofits create spokespeople for issues
As nonprofits seek to build awareness, they leverage public relations strategies that help them to become spokespeople for the issue. With for-profit businesses, this approach is sometimes referred to as becoming a thought leader. They both have the same goal of positioning a principal at the organization as the media’s go to person on an issue.
When this nonprofit public relations strategy is carried out effectively, it generates considerable media momentum for an organization. Media outlets are always looking for reliable and engaging sources who have an interest in contributing to the public discussion on key issues. By becoming known as a spokesperson who speaks with authority on a key topic, nonprofits may find themselves being sought out regularly to contribute to articles appearing in a wide range of media sources.
Publicists for nonprofit organizations help to build their reputations
When nonprofit organizations are able to leverage PR strategies to become frequent contributors to media reports, they subsequently build a positive reputation for their organization in their community. Every time the name of a nonprofit appears in the media in a positive light, either as a source of important information or as an example of one who is contributing to a solution, it boosts its reputation further.
Often, nonprofits can find themselves in competition against other nonprofits for new donors. Sometimes the competing nonprofits do not even address the same issues. For those looking to give to charity, the mission of the charity sometimes is considered less important than its reputation. For that reason, nonprofits need to ensure that they regularly appear in the media in a way that shows them to be trusted and appreciated for doing good work in the community.
One important element of public relations for nonprofits is regular press releases promoting accomplishments. Nonprofits that want to build a positive reputation in the community must show that they are making an impact. Larger nonprofits often issue quarterly reports that reveal the impact they are making in their areas of focus. When these reports come out, press releases are issued to highlight the key areas in which they are making a difference. Smaller nonprofits that do not issue reports with regularly can still issue press releases to report on significant achievements.
Making sure that press releases have a maximum impact is a speciality of public relations professionals. Because of the relationships that they cultivate with media outlets, a PR agency can make sure that press releases get into the right hands at the right time and that they are prepared in a way that will attract media attention.
Here are some resources for nonprofits that want to reach more people with their press releases:
- How To Write a Press Release Boilerplate With Examples – A boilerplate is an important part of your press release that gives media outlets what they need to properly promote your organization. They have common elements, but they are not one size fits all. It is important to tailor them to your organization to make sure they have maximum impact.
- Where To Submit a Press Release – Developing a great press is the first step. Submitting it to media outlets is the next step. The best strategies will streamline the process by utilizing available tools to get your press release in front of as many people as possible with minimum effort.
- 27 Free Guest Post Press Release Sites – There are sites that distribute press releases for organizations, but they can often be pricey. If your PR budget is small, there are sites where you can share your release with the media for free.
- Best Media Kit Examples for 2022 – Once media outlets start responding to your press releases, media kits become a valuable tool for making sure the coverage you get is comprehensive and professional.
Nonprofits use PR efforts to share stories
Just like any business, nonprofits must provide a quality product or service that solves a problem for their target market. What makes nonprofits different from most other businesses is that their financial support comes from people who do not use their product. How do they convince donors to give to programs that don’t serve them? They share great stories that show the impact. PR is a powerful tool for ensuring that those stories reach new audiences.
Nonprofits use PR for crisis management
Because of the nature of the nonprofit world, nonprofit organizations can find themselves facing reputational crisis through no fault of their own. For example, when cultural or political opinions on an issue change, nonprofits can find themselves the target of negative attention simply because of the field they work in and not because of any particular work they have done. Those working in the areas of reproductive rights or immigration provide a current example of this.
Nonprofits should have a crisis communications plan in place that allows them to respond when these issues arise. This will allow them to preserve the good reputation they have built and possibly even attract new donors. (For more information on developing a crisis communications plan, see this blog post on Crisis Communications Tactics for 2022.)
Nonprofits need PR professionals to boost their impact
Overall, effective public relations for nonprofits requires an understanding of how the nonprofit’s mission relates to the community at large. How is the work they are doing relevant to the community? What is the best approach for sharing stories? When is the best time? Who are the media representatives who are most likely to serve as advocates?
Public relations professionals bring to their nonprofit clients an expertise that allows them to know what, how, and when to pitch stories, as well as having media connections that ensure pitches get to the right people. Nonprofits who are able to leverage those resources dramatically increase their capability to create and maintain a good reputation and to find new donors.