Communication efforts in the nonprofit sector are very dynamic. Nonprofit communicators are experts at doing a lot with a little. Despite common battles with budget limitations and short staffing, nonprofit public relations is at the core of maintaining good relationships with donors, legislators, the community and the people they serve. The diverse publics that a nonprofit caters to requires strategic thought and planning on how to best reach and communicate with them. For example, donors and legislators might require full press kits heavy on data and numbers, while reaching community members might be done more casually through social media or ad campaigns. Nonprofits may also produce external communication documents like feature stories, letters-to-the-editor, PSAs, brochures, backgrounders and more. In trying to bolster support for your organization, tailoring communication to each of your target publics is essential.
The Narrative Paradigm communication theory suggests that people want to feel like actors on a stage that play valuable roles in a story. Creating messages that tell a story, are inspirational, feature key spokespeople, and allow others to act or get involved in some way are the best methods to get your organization’s “plot” to resonate with an audience. Highlight success stories, quotes, and the social change mission of your organization to appeal to rhetorical devices like ethos, logos and especially pathos. Additional persuasive literary techniques that can be useful in nonprofit communications include anaphora (the deliberate repetition of parts of a sentence for artistic effect), ideographs (symbolic words that carry emotional weight), and syllogism (referencing something general to draw conclusions about something more specific).
Perhaps the most important things to remember in nonprofit public relations are sticking to a comprehensive communication plan and continually servicing your organization’s mission. PRNewser presents five of the best practices for nonprofit PR to help “build bridges with new audiences, widen spheres of influence, and enhance reputations”:
- Use strategy to drive success.
- Differentiate with a compelling message-driven story.
- Identify and message-train spokespersons.
- Map out all communications activity.
- Use social media to engage and inspire.
Many nonprofit public relations professionals have the responsibility to know the ins and outs of all facets of communication because their organizations are so grassroots. Whatever the size or scope of your organization, being well versed in many facets of communication will always be beneficial. Expertise in these areas will strengthen your overall nonprofit communication approach.