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Posts Tagged ‘public relations’

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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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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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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Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisations need to promote their business in order to continuously attract new members, volunteers, funding and recognition to the cause. But what low cost options are there available to NFP organisations?

Firstly look at the talent already operating within your organisation from your board members through to your staff and volunteers. Is there anyone who could assist with your marketing efforts either from their own perspective or through their networking connections? Some of them may be connected with local businesses that could help with your fundraising promotions either indirectly by offering their support or directly by giving money to your cause.

When advertising it is important to look at all forms including media promotion, online advertising and direct meetings with the public. When you are sourcing advertising options, do not be afraid to negotiate the price. Also try writing your own media releases and send them directly to media outlets to gain free promotional coverage. Make sure the articles are written from a newsworthy perspective and worth publishing. Posting press releases online will also enable information to circulate free of charge possibly gaining more print promotion possibilities.

Join online media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and link back to your press releases. By setting up your own profile pages and promoting your stories and achievements, you will gain followers thus creating new promotional possibilities.

Face to face networking however is still equally important. Look around to see what community expos and events are operating in your area. You can, for a small cost, set up a table or booth in order to pass out information about your organisation and how people can best assist you. Ask that current volunteers and donors also attend as positive experiences and word of mouth are the best free advertising methods your organisation can tap into.

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Bil and RoryAs well as jumping against the glass doors Bil also loved balancing on her hind legs, particularly when she was excited. When the potential for food was involved she combined her ability to stand on her hind legs with a clapping hands/paws action. It wasn’t something we taught her and we never managed to relate the skill to a trick on command but this ability drew much attention to herself because we found it very entertaining. Naturally it resulted in her scoring treats as we attempted to convert the skill into a trick on command. She won the hearts of many a visitor with this ability too. 

In business, the ability to draw attention to your business is marketing and public relations. Those in business who are able to draw attention to the product or service they offer will succeed beyond those who hide their light under a bushel. My son recently gave me Richard Branson’s autobiography for my birthday. To not know who Richard Branson is you would have to be living in a monastery. He and his businesses being so well known and successful is testimony to the importance he places on drawing attention to his cause. He says in his book that he recognised early on how important it was for his activities to draw attention to the Virgin cause.

 

Although she wasn’t educated in marketing and public relations, Bil won many hearts with her activities and was very good at drawing attention to herself. A good lesson for all of us in business and also for community organisations.  A good resource for community organisations is the book Media on a Shoestring (Media Tactics for Community Organisations) by Annie O’Rourke from Media Team Australia. It is a book full of practical information that will enable community organisations to use their limited resources wisely and attract the media attention their organisation or issue deserves. Well worth a look if you can get your hands on a copy.
 

 Here’s to volunteer treasurers.. 

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