Insight into creating campaigns for non-profit organisations from one of London's leading strategic communications agencies in this sector
Working with non-profit organisations can be some of the most fulfilling work you do within public relations. Debra Sobel, Managing Partner at Verity London, a purpose-driven, strategic communications agency, knows this more than most. Her team has worked with many non-profit organisations and their award-winning campaigns have delivered extraordinary results. In this chat, Debra shares practical tips for creating effective campaigns in the non-profit sector and provides insight into navigating common challenges you may face.
“The thinking component of a campaign is what will set you up for success. Make sure you're always testing, learning and focusing on measurable outcomes"
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more about creative effective campaigns for non-profit organisations. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".
WHAT IS A NON-PROFIT, OR NOT-FOR-PROFIT, ORGANISATION?
Non-profit organisations focus on activities that benefit society. Any profit they generate is reinvested into their mission and activities.
Non-profits extend across many sectors, taking on key societal issues such as women empowerment, gender equality, climate change, sustainability and healthcare issues to name a few.
WHY DO NON-PROFITS REQUIRE PR SUPPORT?
Non-profits usually run on skeleton staff and often don't have the capacity to have a permanent PR consultant or team of PR staff on board. They utilise PR agencies and consultants for many different services depending on their goals and objectives.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KEEP IN MIND WHEN GENERATING A PR CAMPAIGN FOR A NON-PROFIT?
Like any campaign, it should be underpinned by a clear strategy. When creating that strategy, consider the following:
Understand the target audience of the campaign and whether you're taking a broadcast or narrowcast approach, or both.
Determine or develop the messaging of this campaign. Evaluate what the organisation has to say/offer that will be of value to their target audience. Do the messages need to be different for the different segments of their target audience?
Identify what makes the non-profit different from any others with a similar mission. Be clear on their unique selling point.
You need to be able to demonstrate how the non-profit has made an impact in the sector they're in, so it's clear the difference they have made to lives. Do you have case studies you can utilise?
What do their target audiences need to hear from the organisation, to achieve the goals?
What are the goals and objectives?
What does success look like to the organisation?
Who are the spokespeople? As well as the head of the non-profit, will you have access to people who have benefited from the non-profit to use as spokespeople?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON CHALLENGES YOU MAY FACE WITH A NON-PROFIT PR CAMPAIGN?
There may be sensitivities in regards to how you utilise people who have benefited from the non-profit and their services. You will need to assess any risk to that person and whether they will be comfortable with challenging questions. You may need to provide media training to ensure they're comfortable with taking on a media-facing role.
Just like PR for a corporate client, you need to ensure there's newsworthiness to the campaign. There needs to be an element of timeliness and your target audience needs to connect with the messaging. They have to feel the message is of value to them.
Be very aware of the budget and ensure your services are capitalising on the non-profit's resources to deliver measurable results that are in line with their specific campaign and business goals.
You might find a non-profit is hesitant to step outside of their comfort zone when it comes to PR activity and tactics. If you are recommending a strategy that requires a leap of faith, make it clear why this tactic will bring them the results they're after. Reassure them you've evaluated any potential risks and that you're mindful of sensitivities.
HOW CAN YOU CREATE IMPACTFUL CAMPAIGNS ON A MINIMAL BUDGET?
Don't be afraid to be creative. Sometimes having less budget to work with forces you to become more innovative with the execution of a tactic so don't give up on an idea because it appears too costly to execute. See if you can find a way of reimagining that tactic.
REALLY focus on the strategy. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the goals are and ensure all your efforts are focused on delivering measurable results.
Be genuinely passionate for the cause and excited at the prospect of helping them achieve their goals
Put yourself in the shoes of the non-profit and have a firm idea of what they want to achieve. Really embed yourself into their organisation, as much as you can, so you become an extension of them.
Be aware of the market. Take your learnings from the corporate world and apply to non-profits.
If you'd like some more information on creating a PR strategy, take a look at this episode.