I asked my colleague, Julie Livingston, President of Livingston PR (livingstonpr.com) to guest blog this month. I wanted you to better understand another piece of the marketing puzzle. She graciously agreed. Thanks Julie!
When I started my public relations consultancy – which serves nonprofits, associations, and business – people would ask, “why do nonprofits and associations need PR?” Nonprofits, like other organizations, must raise visibility for their groups by positioning themselves as leaders in their field. They must consistently and strategically engage key stakeholders, such as donors or sponsors, the media, partners, government groups and others in a way that keeps them top of mind, particularly to fuel their fundraising efforts. A well-executed, strategic public relations program can make the difference in how a nonprofit achieves their goals or falls desperately short due to lack of awareness, positive recognition, and support.
Race to Stand Out
Although it seems odd to talk about the competitiveness of the nonprofit sector – because nonprofits pride themselves on collaboration – the fact is that today nonprofits are competing heavily for media attention, grants, and importantly, donor support. There are thousands of worthy nonprofits, but how will yours get the attention it deserves? These days, nonprofits must think more like for-profit businesses. Identifying their unique selling points, aggressively recognizing and staying abreast of the competition and communicating regularly. As much as we might wish it were less cutthroat, in this world, there are just not enough resources to go around. When implemented properly, public relations are a highly effective marketing tool that emphasizes a nonprofit’s mission, organizational goals and success stories.
Although nonprofit donors may come from a place of wanting to “do good” they also want the halo effect that comes from giving to an organization that is positively portrayed and visible in the public eye. Through PR, organizations can showcase the good things they are doing, and connect to supporters with like-minded missions without being self-serving as in advertising.
Strategy Drives Success
Unfortunately, all too often, nonprofits conduct a series of loosely connected – or unconnected – communications activities to drive immediate goals. Proactively executing an overarching communications strategy that maintains consistent messaging at every touch point is far more effective in achieving long-term objectives and creating a distinctive, enduring reputation for an organization. A coordinated public relations effort will not only help to define and promote a nonprofits’ unique story and value to the communities it serves, it will drive the awareness and financial support it needs to survive and thrive.