How To…Coordinate Communications Around Nonprofit Efforts in 10 Steps

Nonprofit organizations often face the challenge of a big initiative supported by a small bankroll. While nonprofits come in all shapes and sizes, there is a general procedure for all nonprofit professionals can follow a general procedure that, when considered in the planning stages, can simplify communications strategies. It's just a matter of development, preparation, strategizing and asking for a little help.

With that, consider the following 10 tips for coordinating communications around your nonprofit efforts:

1. Spend time developing the key messages you would like to share with your audiences. It is important to create clear, concise message points that help your target audiences connect with your organization. State points in layman's terms.

2. Prepare for interviews. Don't get caught up in the excitement of an opportunity to speak to the media. Even if the reporter is on a tight deadline take a few moments to review the message points that you would like to get across.

3. Target spokespeople. Identify which individuals will be the spokespersons and provide the necessary coaching to help them properly articulate the organization's message.

4. Channel your favorite politicians. Think about the position of your favorite politicians and how they consistently reiterate the same points but frame them differently each time. Instead of giving the reporter 30 different messages and risk him selecting the least important ones to include, take three important, timely messages and reference them throughout the interview. You'll be surprised at how many ways you can say "We need financial support" even when the question is: "How long has the organization been in existence?"

5. Be proactive. Analyze trends and current events. Find headlines that may tie in with the work of your organization. For example, if unemployment numbers are high and your organization teaches entrepreneurship, perhaps you have noticed a sharp increase in registration for your new business owner workshops. This may be a correlation worth exploring.

6. Be strategic. Every interview is an opportunity to share information about your organization with potential supporters. Work toward developing relationships with the media outlets that are relevant to your target audience. If you are trying to get your name out there, give bold, visual, emotional quotes that the reporter will want to incorporate into his piece. Remember that other sources may also be interviewed and the most interesting source will usually make the cut.

7. The shorter the interview the better. If a reporter is interviewing you for an article and only spends five minutes with you and you've shared your three key message points, congratulations--you have mastered the interview. Good interviews are short because the interviewee is focused and able to communicate the most important messages. Don't be fooled. If you're being interviewed for an article and it lasts an hour, that usually means it took an hour for you to give the reporter something usable. This, of course, does not apply to some on-air live or taped broadcast media opportunities that will often schedule an interview to take place during their allotted running time.

8. Make your Web site a major component of your press office. Create a press room on your website that contains the most current press materials. Date the materials and include contact information so that reporters interested in following up know exactly who to contact.

9. Create a plan. From time to time you may be lucky enough to find the media knocking at your door seeking your expertise for a story or segment. Instead of waiting for that to happen create a plan that allows you to proactively seek out the media attention that would be most beneficial to your organization.

10. Get help. There are many public relations firms and solo practitioners that specialize in public relations for nonprofits and social enterprises. Don't automatically assume that because your organization is new, small or has a conservative budget that there are no resources available to you. Before you begin your search, create a list of goals that you would like help in accomplishing, and define the role of your selected PR partner. PRN


This article was contributed ?by Vanessa Wakeman, CEO of The Wakeman Agency. She can be reached at [email protected].