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Mission-Driven Messaging: Why Nonprofit Public Relations Matters

By Jen Golia

The U.S. nonprofit sector is an incredibly competitive one, and finding a way to break through the clutter to gain visibility for your organization can be a daunting task.

When hiring a PR agency, it’s important to consider a team that has experience in the nonprofit sector and is committed to helping your organization deepen its impact. PR agencies have the ability to cultivate partnerships with organizations and put your organization’s mission at the center of the communications strategy.  

Following are a few best practices in nonprofit public relations to keep in mind when hiring a firm.

Storytelling in Nonprofit PR

Because of their emotional appeal and relatability, stories about the human experience resonate with people. Through various communications channels, you can bring these compelling narratives to another level and put words into action. People may not remember your exact mission statement, but they won’t forget how a nonprofit transformed someone’s life when they needed it most. These real-life stories can also be repurposed for social media with engaging visuals that drive shares and impressions.

Through effective storytelling, your PR agency can help inspire people to become involved with your organization through volunteering, donations or referring someone in need.

Media Relations

By developing tailored pitches and building relationships with media, public relations teams are more likely to secure meaningful coverage that expands an organization’s reach to a wider audience. Feature stories are an important part of nonprofit public relations because they enable organizations to focus on specific initiatives or individuals. Given the high volume of pitches journalists receive every day, finding a strong angle is critical – and a PR agency can help do just that. While you don’t need to pitch every event or program, leverage newsworthy programs and milestones throughout the year to stay top of mind for reporters.

While conducting media outreach, your agency can help you identify representatives and spokespeople that are best suited for speaking with media and offer media training to ensure you prepared. A good public relations team will also develop tailored talking points and hold practice sessions with your media representative to align on messaging and expectations.

Communicating with Stakeholders  

The support of stakeholders and the community is essential to nonprofits’ sustainability. Of course, traditional coverage is necessary but public relations goes beyond earned or organic media. For example, you can share updates with your audience through newsletters to highlight the impact of your work in the community. Such communication helps maintain trust among your supporters from board members and lobbyists to staff and families.

A holistic PR agency that offers a full suite of services can offer stakeholder engagement services, creative services to develop your marketing collateral, and more.

Thought Leadership

Before contributing to a nonprofit, people want to make sure their efforts go toward a reputable organization that’s actively participating in the broader conversation. As the face behind the organization, it’s critical for nonprofit executives to establish third-party credibility through thought leadership opportunities. A PR agency that specializes in thought leadership work will research relevant award lists, identify conferences and speaking opportunities, craft blog posts and op-eds, and deliver other opportunities for executives to discuss their experience and amplify the organization’s name. By elevating your voice, PR teams can position you as an expert in your field, raise awareness and increase your following.

Success in public relations is not linear but you won’t know where it can take you without the first step. When looking for a PR agency, be sure to consider what area you would like to focus efforts on and look for an agency with experience in developing strategic plans in that space.

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