Monday, July 13, 2009

The Power of Partnerships

The following is from Becky Hayden who works for Villing & Company. I've known Becky for awhile as she handles the P.R. for McDonalds which is one of my clients.

Last week at our monthly board of directors meeting for the Advertising Federation, we were talking about this very subject:

Nonprofit + Event Planning x Public Relations = Success

Written by:
Becky Hayden

The under-budgeted world of a nonprofit relies on PR to succeed—or not

Over the past few years, I have served as a volunteer with several well-deserving charitable organizations. I also previously worked for a nonprofit. The same issue always seems to raise its head — how do we create awareness for our organization with little or no dollars available for marketing?

Incorporating public relations into your nonprofit event planning may not solve the entire problem (quite honestly, all nonprofits need to consider properly budgeting in this area that is absolutely critical to the success of its fundraising efforts) but PR can greatly enhance the potential for successful event marketing.

Working with a minimal to zero budget calls for clever and strategic planning. This is where PR can steal the show—literally. Though we don’t like to refer to it as “stealing,” free media coverage can help raise the awareness level considerably.

Forge Media Relationships

To credibly work with the media, however, it’s important to get to know your local print and broadcast media and get to know them well. This is a particularly key step in developing a nonprofit presence within your community. By building relationships with reporters and assignment editors and making them feel connected to your organization, they can become your biggest advocates. Not only will you gain more respect for your organization as a whole, but these media outlets will be more open to using your press releases and producing follow-up features or discussing your events on air. Without an advertising or promotional budget, this opportunity to promote your event is priceless.

Join the Social Media Bandwagon

Could I dare write about public relations today without mentioning social media outlets? Find the time to create a Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn page for your organization. Once you start to build a following on these social media sites, it’s like free advertising. And don’t forget your Web site. Make sure your event information is prominently displayed. Or write a blog explaining the event and its purpose and highlighting the human-interest aspect. To drive visitors to the site, aggressively publicize your URL.

Think E-mail Blasts

Another low-cost way to communicate is through e-mail. Whether it’s an e-newsletter or specific e-mail blast to your organization’s development list, it’s a great way to directly target your known supporters and talk with them personally.

Public relations is an important element in your marketing arsenal that provides a low or no-cost vehicle to communicate information about your organization’s event. If properly handled, it’s also a great way to cost-effectively build your organization’s brand and gain additional supporters in the process.

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