How to Give a Top Dollar Sheen to Pro Bono Efforts

Janel Patti, executive VP and creative director of The Marcus Group, offers tips on how to biggest bang for your buck with your pro bono efforts.

  • Audit materials. Without a deep understanding of the client’s resources, it’s difficult to suggest changes that will help them in the long run. Have a clear understanding of the organization, its structure, resources and programs/services.

  • Offer consistent support in the client’s marketing efforts. A lot of nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers, but that’s limited and can make it hard to meet deadlines.

  • Train and strategize. Train existing staff and volunteers, including the client’s, in your strategies as necessary. The client needs to be integrated with your own staff and resources.

  • Be aware of costs. Always keep your own budgets and resource limitations in mind.

  • Always be available to speak with the press. 

  • Keep the momentum going. Know the client’s schedule, and remain in constant contact. Create public event opportunities. Establish and maintain regular e-mail communications. Share press clips and upcoming event and program information.

  • Emphasize speed. “Part of the success story [with Gilda’s Club] is that we were able to turn things around in such a short period of time,” says Patti.

  • Take advantage of social media. Inexpensive platforms are great for communicating with various audiences and promoting the organization’s programs/services and events. 

  • Identify a strong spokesperson. “For Gilda’s Club, we positioned board president Ruth Dugan as the voice of the organization to speak to cancer-related topics, and issues affecting nonprofit organizations via news stories and op-eds,” says Patti.

  • Push hard for publicity. Pitch success/feature stories, personnel announcements, fundraising events and calendar listings.

  • Prioritize objectives and tactics. Everything cannot happen at once, so create a realistic plan for implementation. 

  • Outline expectations and responsibilities. Setting these up front will prevent a frayed relationship between the organization and agency.

PR News subscribers can read more about The Marcus Groups' efforts to rescue Gilda's Club in the the case study—Laughing Matters: Comedy and Event PR Come to the Rescue of Gilda's Club of Northern New Jersey.