Public relations (PR, for short) is an important part of any business, whether it be for profit or non-profit. After all, PR is how companies maintain a favorable public image (and I think we can all agree that that’s important).
But unfortunately, PR is often one of the first items to get cut when resources (time, money, staff, etc.) run low. Or, even if resources aren’t low, a lot of companies and organizations still keep PR on the backburner because they don’t necessarily know what to do with it – or how to do it.
But that’s where we come in. In this post, we’ll explain how to take your association’s public relations up a notch, even if you are working with limited resources. Take a look!
1. Publish press releases on a fairly regular basis
If you’re familiar with PR (even just the basics), you’re probably familiar with press releases. They’re a formal way to announce news and disseminate information (for example, your new board of directors, your end-of-year fundraising numbers, your new event or partnership, etc.) Press releases are good for a number of reasons. First, they get the word out about your association – what you’re up to and how you’re performing. And if that word is good enough (or better yet, newsworthy), a local news station might pick it up and write about it – spreading the word of your association even farther.
But let’s say a news station doesn’t pick it up. Is it still worth having? You betcha! See, when people (potential members, donors, etc.) go to your website, if you have a healthy supply of press releases, they’ll be able to see what your organization has been up to, and that might be one of the deciding factors as to whether or not they get involved.
Not sure how to write a press release? Check out our post, How to Write a Press Release for Your Association.
2. Build relationships with local news contacts and/or industry leaders
This may take some time, but having good contacts can make all the difference when it comes to having an effective public relations strategy. Let’s go back to the press releases, for example. Let’s say you have a good contact at one of your local news stations. If you can pitch your press release to them, since they know you, they may be more inclined to cover it. And how great would that be? Good, free publicity for your association? You can’t beat that!
Same goes with industry leaders. Industry leaders are influential. They have a following. That said, if you can befriend them and encourage them to share news and information about your association, they’re more likely to reach a larger audience than you would (or could) reach on your own. Relationships take the work you’re already doing (e.g. writing press releases) and multiply the impact – so why not take advantage?
3. Establish a strong online presence (via social media, blogs, etc.)
Last but not least, a fairly easy way to take your association’s PR up a notch is to establish a strong online presence. You probably already have a website, but in addition to that, are you using social media – regularly? Do you have a blog with fresh, valuable content? If not, you absolutely should. Not only are these good ways to engage your members and potential members, but they help you create an image. Remember, PR is all about creating and maintaining a favorable public image, and if people go to your organization’s Facebook page and/or blog and see pictures of your happy members or a successful fundraising event, they’re more likely to have a favorable opinion of your association. On the flip side, if they go to your Facebook page and see that nothing’s been posted in two years, they’ll think your association hasn’t been up to much, which clearly isn’t true. So use social media to your advantage and to help build the image you want your association to have.
Need a little help to getting started with social media? Check out our Small-Staff Guide to Social Media below! It’s filled with best practices for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more!