I. Answer the following questions:
- What percentage of the community you serve knows about your organization?
- What percentage of that community really understands what you do?
- Does the media know about your organization and what it does?
- Do you have a press list for each geographic area you serve?
- Do you regularly prepare press releases about your activities?
- Have you ever invited members of the media to attend an event?
II. Your answers to questions 1 and 2 should be at least 80%, and your answers to questions 3-6 should be yes. If not, work on the following exercises to improve your public relations efforts.
- Create a short (10 words or less) slogan that describes your organization. (The nonprofit world abounds with good examples: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." "Every child a wanted child." "Service above self.") Your slogan should define your organization's character and differentiate you from others. Be sure your organization's name always appears with this slogan after it.
- Put together a list of media representatives from high-visibility publications. Send them press releases regularly. Establish relationships with them so that they think of you as an expert they can call on for information.
- Each of your funding needs has a story behind it: background information, human-interest anecdotes, accomplishments, and dreams about the future. left your press releases and other communications on telling these stories.
- Think visibility by participating in TV auctions, telethons, and other events that get TV coverage. Get involved in local organizations.
- Communicate directly with your key audiences. (These are the groups you identified in step 3.) Be sure you have these people's names, addresses, phone and fax numbers. One good way to communicate with them is with an organizational newsletter. Another technique is to send them press releases. When people get a news release in the mail, they read it - and they are reading it as you wrote it, not as an editor has changed it. (When writing a press release, use the "inverted pyramid" model. First give the essential information, then the important information, and finally the miscellaneous information.)
- Put together a creative task force, made up of the most creative people in your organization. Ask them to meet regularly and concentrate their energies on "putting this place on the map."
- Don't think of public relations as a separate function. Combine PR, advertising, marketing, fundraising, and volunteer activities into a total plan to increase your visibility with your key stakeholders.
WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED:
You have built your organization's reputation and increased its visibility with your donors and potential donors. Such visibility is a key ingredient in raising funds.