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Archive for the ‘public relations’ Category

The NFP industry requires charities and non-profits to be transparent in their actions. This transparency puts a large amount of focus on trust, confidence and the reputation of the charity as a whole. Often the donor requests and fundraising successes rest wholeheartedly on the reputation of the charity, and there is a lot of competition in the industry to garner support, especially from the larger organisations.

NFPs that tend to be successful in their charitable efforts can not only demonstrate their best practice governance but also communicate it effectively. All NFPs and even for-profit businesses need to manage their reputation on a regular basis. It is critical to the successful operation of the non-profit and to develop positive connections with stakeholders, donors, members, government bodies and the general public.

What exactly is reputation management?

Reputation management covers the building up and the monitoring of your brand through your efforts in media promotion and marketing. A health check enables you to look at your marketing efforts and responses to understand where your vulnerabilities lie and where you can further develop your promotional opportunities.

Auditing for risk is something that every business should do on a regular basis. It is better to create forward plans rather than panic when an issue occurs, and your organisation is forced into crisis mode. Draft out some scenarios and work out some helpful strategies that will enable you to be able to control the outcome more closely.

From a social media perspective, while it is easier to communicate directly with donors and supporters, it is also easier for NFPs to be targeted with negative comments, whether fair or irrational. Knowing this is half the battle.

How do people perceive your business?

How do stakeholders view your NFP? How does the general public see your business? Are you different from other charities working in a similar field? If you are not able to answer these questions, then you may be missing value opportunities for your NFP to safeguard and develop your brand. Talk to your donors and sponsor to get real insights on your efforts to help you develop more effective strategies and marketing efforts for the long-term. Your ability to not be able to effectively understand your competitors can also affect you negatively. Know where your strengths are to be able you to stand out from the crowd and gain the confidence of the general public.

How can you manage your online reputation?

Here are some tips to help you manage your online reputation.

  • Be objective when it comes to your website. Consider whether it is easy to navigate or find relevant information. Are the contact details up to date and accessible?
  • Review your social media and online strategies. Let employees and volunteers know what they can and cannot do on social media.
  • How is your organisation represented on third party websites? Do a search and see where you can improve your profiles and online representations.
  • Allow plenty of opportunities for members, interested stakeholders, volunteers and employees to give you regular feedback.
  • Set up alerts to monitor the internet for organisational content so you can keep on top of who might be saying what.

Once you understand how your NFP is seen, you can then make steps to direct the chatter. Be proactive with your efforts so you can ensure your organisation can fulfill its mission and ultimately increase support and contributions from others.

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Accountability can mean different things to many people. While the dictionary meaning denotes responsibility, being accountable means understanding the need to be open and honest to the volunteers, the staff and the general public. So how can you ensure this occurs within your NFP?

Deal with things as they occur

There is no truer test of an organisation than when trouble occurs. And the strength comes from being able to face any issue head on without fear or compromise. This will demonstrate your total commitment to identifying and solving potential problems whatever they happen to be.

Maintain a positive public perception

As board members are the public persona of the company, they need to be held accountable at all times. They should be measured to the highest standard of conduct and reprimanded when they do not meet these levels. There are no favourites when it comes to poor conduct within the board of directors or other staff members.

Share NFP finances openly

What do you have to hide? Audited financial statements should be shared among the board members and made available online to comply with best practices. Investors will be particularly keen to see that the non-profit is open about the way they do business and follow action plans to a “T”.

Set clear guidelines and adhere to them

NFPs must stick to a set of clearly laid out guidelines to ensure that they are operating within the rules. If the rules are not specified in detail, then it is hard to determine whether the charity is working fully within its parameters. Clarify your guidelines for ease now to avoid problems in the future.

Donors, individuals and volunteers want to see the integrity of your NFP. When they notice the self-policing that goes on within the internal structure of your charity to meet the above issues, then they are more likely to trust you. Trust and commitment are paramount when it comes to forming relationships with potential donors and gaining their long-term attention.

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thank-you-2011012_640When it comes to receiving donations, saying thank you should be high on your priority list. In an interesting study carried out by Parachute Digital Marketing last year, they discovered that most charities were not taking the time to say thank you.

Their longitudinal study also showed that less than 20% of thank you pages were personalised with the donor’s names and 10% of NFPs were still manually processing payments and sending out the receipts via the postal system.

Thank you may be just two words, but it can make the difference between how someon views your charity. These two little words are what stands between your one-time donors become repeat donors. Spend a little time crafting your thank you so it comes from the heart, yet remains on a professional level to reflect your charity. Show your gratitude to demonstrate how much you truly value your donors and their contributions. Explain how the money will be used clearly and concisely.

With a non-profit, your gratitude should go above and beyond a simple thank you. Acknowledge their kindness and caring nature and thank them for taking action to support your cause. While the majority of your donors may only give once, many will have it in the back of their mind to give in the future. Nonprofit Hub claims that 13% of donors stop giving to a non-profit purely on the fact that they did not say thank you. It may only be 13%, but every donation is important.

Your website should be set up to immediately thank the donors for giving. Following the donation, an email should be sent to acknowledge the donor’s kind nature. It might be prudent to send out a secondary email part way through the project to demonstrate the progress or a series of emails depending on the length of the project. It is this attention to detail that will entice them to give again in the future. You can also go so far as to thank them on your website or your social media pages. It is actions like these that will encourage others to follow suit.

There are many ways you can say thank you. If you feel like mixing it up, you might want to consider recording a custom made video message or sending a greeting card or personalised postcard.

Showing your gratitude is one of the most important things your NFP can do. Whether it is coming from a volunteer or the board, always remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” Wise words to live by!

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business-card-contact-business-cards-business-42260I have visited quite a few contact us pages in my time, and I always find them lacking somehow. They should, in reality, be more than just a name, address and a contact form. But somehow it seems to be the one page that gets thrown together at the last minute before the site gets published. Or at least it comes across that way.

Shouldn’t the contact page be the icing on the cake; that last page that they see before they effectively sign up or decide to take the next step and contact you? Then in my mind, it should be more than a form – rather a wonderful continuation of the rest of the website.

So, what can you add to make your contact us page more effective?

An Introduction

It sounds so easy, yet surprisingly this is the one thing that seems to be left off the page. Add a couple of sentences to show them how much you cherish their business and would appreciate the opportunity to connect with them. Simple words can do wonders.

Full Business Name and Postal Address

To assist in clarity, your full business name and address aids in allowing people to contact you via the postal system (yes, it is still used on the odd occasion) and can assist your business when it comes to appearing in Google local searches.

Business Phone Number

Make sure your contact number is clear and legible. If you have various phone numbers, then specify for each department to avoid confusion.

Email Address

If you do intend to add your email address alongside your contact form, then it is best to replace the “.com.au” with “dot com dot au” to avoid it being used for spam purposes.

Opening Hours

If you don’t want to be contacted at all hours of the day or night or only respond to emails during certain hours, then let people know all the facts. This will ensure your soon-to-be clients that you will respond to their queries as soon as you possibly can.

Google Map

If you operate from a brick and mortar address, then Google makes it easy to add your address to your website. Clients can check the maps for directions and not bother you with questions about how to find your business.

Contact Form

Contact pages are a necessity and makes connecting with other companies a breeze. Keep it as simple as possible with as few fields as necessary: name, email address and message should generally suffice in the first instance.

For more information on this topic, read Ingrid Cliff’s post on “How To Write A Contact Us Page That Gets Results”. She is a valuable resource on this subject and her business contact us page is a testament to her knowledge.

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pexels-photo-191830The media is your best friend when it comes to spreading the word about your charity – and in today’s NFP world, the power of public relations is often underestimated. It comes as an afterthought rather than a focused strategy to forge the charity ahead.

This is such a shame as public relations has a fundamental role in the success of your marketing and fundraising.

You have something important to say or a message to spread so what’s stopping you from contacting them directly? Pitching a story can be difficult for those who have yet to do it. However, once you have mastered the pitching strategy, then it does become easier and even enjoyable if your story breaks. A good PR pitch can do wonders for your fundraising capabilities as well.

Some of the steps you need to know in order to be successful include:

  • Know your objectives
  • Compile a list of relevant media
  • Search for a story
  • Prepare a killer media release
  • Get your story to the media
  • Work with the journalist to finalise the story

But how do you know you have a good media or press release? Check it first for conciseness and avoid rambling. Start with the news and add some relevant quotes with accurate attribution. Of course, it needs to be interesting too as well as topical. If you have managed to cover those without too much trouble, then you are well on the way.

Here is a great example. If your NFP supports a children’s sports team and the media is currently full of childhood obesity stories, you can build on those and angle your story to catch the attention of the same journalists.

One thing that stops many NFPs in their tracks is the cost of public relations. But don’t panic – there are some low-cost options available. And if all else fails, negotiating the final price can help.

However, what happens when things don’t work out in your favour, and you develop some bad press? Initially, try to identify the impact of the negative publicity and be open and honest about the situation. Remaining in denial or looking like it does not affect you at all, can make the situation worse.

Are you still a bit afraid about where to start – why not try contacting your local newspaper to see what they can do for you? Create a relationship with your local reporter and learn the PR ropes from the inside out. Start small and build up your promotions and stories as your confidence grows. As always, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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media pitchThe media has the power to spread your message far and wide but to tap into that power, you need to catch their attention.

One of the ways to do that is to pitch a story to them, and there’s more to that than simply shooting off an email.

If your NFP wants to harness the power of the media, take a look at these tips on how to create an attention grabbing media pitch.

  1. Think about your message or story.  Will it appeal to the general public?  If the answer is no, don’t bother making the pitch.  Journalists are only interested in newsworthy stories.
  2. Which section of the general public will be interested in what you have to say?  The more specific you can be, the better picture you will have regarding the TV programs they watch or the magazines they read.  Immediately you know which journalists or editors you need to pitch to.
  3. Be topical.  If your story is strong it will stand on its own.  If it is not, try to tie it in with a story which is currently grabbing media attention.  For example, if your NFP supports a children’s sports team and the media is currently full of childhood obesity stories, you can build on those and angle your story to catch the attention of the same journalists.
  4. Now you have your angle, back it up with the real stories of your people.  Case studies, true tales and comments “from the field” all add real weight to your pitch.  Remember that the journalist will be looking for an interesting story to share.  Give it to her.

By putting some thought and effort into your media pitch. you give yourself a better chance of achieving the results you want.

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When you are running any type of organisation, bad publicity can have a significant impact.  As a not for profit organisation where a large portion of funds may come from government grants or donations, bad publicity can even threaten the viability of the organisation.  As a not for profit organisation, bad publicity can come in many forms such as, for example, the result of fraud,  poor treatment of employees, the organisation wasting funds or donations not being used for the purpose they were raised.  As such, how would your organisation deal with bad publicity?

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong and the impact it has had on the Livestrong charity he established, here are some tips that may help your organisation deal with bad publicity.

  • Initially try to identify the impact of the bad publicity.  For example, does it relate to a minor issue such as, for example, delays in providing a service or of a more serious nature such as fraud or misappropriation of donations?
  • Try to assess how the publicity may be communicated such as by word of mouth or via the media.  If the media is involved try to avoid making no comments as this implies you are trying to avoid something.
  • Be open and honest about the issue and tell the truth right from the start because if there are lies they are likely to come back and get you eventually.  Don’t do what Lance Armstrong did by denying and living with the lie for so long.
  • If there is strong negative publicity don’t hide from the issue hoping it will go away.  Get on the front foot and face the public or the media without delay.  This may include the release of a press release or a meeting with relevant people such as those who have been impacted or have raised the issue.
  • If needed, issue an apology and outline ways to address the issue and why it won’t occur again in the future.
  • If there is inaccurate information used then counter this and provide accurate information and evidence.

Once the issue has been dealt with or under control the board or committee of management must undertake a review to identify how and why the issue occurred.  As part of the review a strategy or plan should also be prepared that will allow the organisation to recover from the bad publicity and rebuild the reputation.

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