Tuesday, November 04, 2008

6 Steps to Free Publicity for Non-Profits

Everyone wants free public relations; how do you find ways to do this? Below, is a list of the best ways to get your name and objectives out there, so that you can start bolstering your company’s funding initiatives.

1. Fundraiser Events: In your nonprofit, everything practically qualifies as a “fundraising event”, but more specifically, plan an event that offers the community something in return for their time and money. Offer an inclusion entry fee as a minimal to make the event more attractive to the public. For example, if you operate an animal rescue agency, offer a walk your dog event, in which people can bring their dogs, pay a nominal fee to support an upcoming worthwhile project, and meanwhile be introduced to all that your agency offers.

2. Free Seminars and Learning Programs: Especially if your nonprofit is new to the area, offer a free in-house seminar or learning program in which you offer a valuable free lesson on one of your company’s missions. Again, for example in the case of a nonprofit animal rescue agency, you could offer a free train your dog weekend. This way, you receive tonnes of valuable contacts and potential financial supporters visiting your agency. Introductions such as this are priceless when it comes to your nonprofit’s short and long term publicity goals.

3. Online Articles and Press Releases: Even if you are relatively new to the world of the internet and internet marketing, creating free articles, taking part in forums, and drafting online press releases could be key to getting your name and mission out there. There are thousands of online article sites in which you can introduce your nonprofit’s expertise and mission and provide a link back to your company website for free. Press release sites come just as varied online. If you have a new program or product you are introducing, do a quick search for online press release sites, and post a quick description about it-highlighting your business name and contact. Create a free blog and link to your company website-outlining on a regular basis industry news, program initiatives, etc. Take part in online forums: again, this is free, and will help you communicate the importance of your company to not only your local community, but also, the world at large.

4. Use the Media as your vehicle: A properly developed story targeted according to that which the public yearns to learn or more of or that which is a burning subject of interest is a great opportunity for your organization to leverage. Have your PR consultant or your staff brainstorm on how your cause fits into the debate and provide comment. Doing this over a consistent period of time will build solid relationships with journalists that will build recognition and awareness. However, beware! Some PR consultants may claim “personal media contacts” are the key to successful PR. Exercising these media contacts may involve them charging meals and drinks to your account. Don’t entertain this notion. Good PR is about developing a sound professional relationship with journalists - that means providing them with the information and opportunities they need to interest their readers. Understand what your editors want. Look at samples of key journals, web sites and other outlets on your target list. What is the mix of commissioned articles, features, releases and advertorials? What is the typical copy length, style, and tone of voice? Aim to match these criteria.

5. Develop an newsletter and reach out to your key targets: Newsletters are tricky things - here are a few tips and thought starters. Go back to the beginning. What is the objective of the newsletter? Define clearly what you want to achieve in developing your newsletter. Be specific so that you can monitor outcomes and fine tune to improve success. Describe the typical reader. Think what interests and information needs they have. Are all readers similar? If not, matching content to their interests could be a problem. How do they prefer to receive information - print or by e-mail? Above all, make certain visitors to your website have a clear means of subscribing to your newsletter vi the first page of your website.

6. Leverage the power of social media site such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.: Online social networks used to be just gathering places for friends and long-lost acquaintances. Then the marketers arrived, followed by politicians and job recruiters, all looking to tap into a growing mass of young people who are spending much of their time on the Web. Now, non-profit organizations are testing ways to raise money through these networks, betting that the Internet's viral nature will open fresh avenues for fundraising and marketing. It's a big change for non-profits as they shift from direct-mail campaigns and relying on the checkbooks of older givers to the unpredictable whims of Web popularity. Though the transition is nascent, charities see potential in recruiting young activists who already use online networks to broadcast their identities and make connections.

Have some other tips or ideas that have helped your nonprofit to grow and succeed. By all means, add your thoughts and experience by leaving your comments.
Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Strategic Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultancy for non-profits and associations. Make sure to contact him for advice on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. Drop him a line if you are looking for help in developing a public relations campaign. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.


Claire Joly said...

These are excellent tips!

Being a PR professional now running a non profit, I don't remember seeing that many useful marketing /publicity tips delivered in one single, concise article. I am impressed!

No doubt they will be very helpful for all the non profits out there. The article certainly reminded me of practices I had neglected over time.

Claire Joly
Executive Director
Quebec Taxpayers League

Mark Buzan said...

Thanks Claire! Was there something in particular you liked most? Let me know how or if you used any of the ideas.