By Danielle Veira
With limited resources and a focus on programming over media outreach, it’s often difficult for nonprofits to find the time to devote to a comprehensive communications strategy. However, with the new year fully in swing and many organizations looking to expand their impact, this is the perfect time to take a few simple steps to maximize each opportunity to spread your message.
Here are five key things to remember when developing your nonprofit organization’s communications strategy for 2014.
1) Have a strategy.
This might seem obvious, but it’s a step that many organizations overlook, because so often communications and public relations are the last priority for nonprofits. Developing a communications strategy does not need to be an epic undertaking, but it is important to pinpoint your organization’s goals and outline a timeline for completing each initiative. Your communications strategy is at the heart of how your team and the outside world see your organization and comprehend the work it does. This should incorporate more than just a plan to draft a press release and send it to media outlets.
2) Hone your message.
It’s crucial to start your communications strategy with straightforward messaging, internally and externally. Your team should be crystal clear on your elevator pitch and what repeatable message you want your audience to walk away with. In the end, both your team and your audience should have a true understanding of what your organization does and what its goals are–and they should be able to communicate those things to others.
3) Know your audience.
Speaking of your audience, do you know who they are? Many organizations waste a lot of energy trying to reach everyone when they would be much more effective if they focused on just reaching the audience that would be most likely to help them reach their goals. It’s worthwhile to take a moment and identify your target audience and what you’re hoping to get from them. The message will vary as your audience and your end goal does.
4) Don’t be afraid to play with others.
The nonprofit world is an area where partnership is invaluable. Many people only think of media outreach when they think of communications, but a significant part of spreading your organization’s message lies in the ability to develop strategic partnerships that strengthen your outreach capabilities. The key word here is strategic; your focus must always be on your end goal and how you can reach as many people as possible.
5) Earned media is your friend.
For any nonprofit organization where budget is limited, an earned media strategy is the most logical. Earned media is simply any media coverage that your organization receives outside of paid advertisements. This can be a result of traditional pitching to media outlets or a more complex media event that brings reporters to the scene. The best part of an earned media strategy is that you have the opportunity to truly grow relationships with reporters or outlets that are interested in the work your organization is doing. It may take more time, but an earned media strategy done right will get you the best return on investment that you can imagine.
Best of luck on reaching your communications goals, YNPNdc!
Danielle Veira is a communications associate with Nahigian Strategies, a DC-based veteran strategic communications firm that specializes in earned media campaigns. Follow Danielle on Twitter at @DaniV7101 or learn more about Nahigian Strategies here.