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Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies

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Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies

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  1. Getting the Word Out! Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies Jennifer Hefti, Director of Communications & Community Outreach Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy Phone: 801-832-3272 E-mail:

  2. Learning Objectives Strategic Communications Plan Branding and Planning Communications Research Audience and Segmentation Communications Toolkit Media Relations Social Media Measurable Outcomes Your Personal Brand

  3. Strategic Communications Plan Your organization’s mission is the starting point for developing your strategic communications plan. Mission

  4. Strategic Communications Plan What is your communications budget? How much staff time are you willing to devote to communications? If you cannot afford a staff person, does anyone on your board have communications, marketing or media relations expertise? Who will do the work—are they comfortable with and knowledgeable about marketing/communications? What has your organization been publishing in print and online over the past two years? How powerful and consistent is your brand? Assess your Communications Infrastructure

  5. Strategic Communications Plan Time Frame 90-day plan Tools List all the tools in your marketing toolkit Priorities Identify 3 priorities in the next 90 days Action Steps Goal Key Message Toolkit Review Future Priorities 1-Page “Street Smart” Communications Plan

  6. Branding and Planning Definitions Behavioral Branding Branding is how your organization behaves. Alignment Communications Confronts your branding problems, not just on a strategic level, but every day, with every email you send and every brochure or newsletter you publish. Alignment Gaps Identify and state your problem State your audience State your message Choose your communication tool Get it done

  7. Branding and Planning To manage the organization, programs, and services effectively To raise awareness & inspire engagement To sustain and increase support To raise funds To tell your story, to touch hearts and minds Establish your Communications Goals

  8. Branding and Planning Specific Measurable Attainable & agreed-upon Realistic Time-specific SMART Communication Goals

  9. Branding and Planning Make a good e-connection Interruption vs. interaction Phone first… then e-mail The wonder of spellchecking Your tone Your signature block (email) Thank you Your voicemail message Speakerphone Easy steps you can take today

  10. Communications Research Communications Research is vital to support your branding, fundraising, and organization’s awareness.

  11. Communications Research Primary Research is research you conduct and create yourself. Online Surveys Quick and easy to assemble Anonymous Most often free Provide immediate feedback Offer a wealth of information that can be useful in reports Primary Research

  12. Communications Research Focus Groups Focus Groups are meetings, a means to gather verbal information from your stakeholders. Help you do a better job. Help assess client satisfaction with your programs and services. Help you launch a new program or service. Help you understand people’s preferences for receiving information online vs. in the mail (for example) Primary Research

  13. Communications Research Secondary Research is research that others have already published (free publically available research). Internet Search Engines (e.g. Google) Public or University Libraries Blogs Online Bookmarking Service (e.g. Delicious) Professional Nonprofit Associations Utah Nonprofits Association ( Society for Nonprofit Organizations ( National Council of Nonprofits ( Secondary Research

  14. Audience and Segmentation There is no “General Public” Reach out to a specific subset of the “general public” Start with three imaginary friends of your organization: People who have had an international experience (e.g. travel, business, trade, etc.) People who speak a foreign language People who have studied International Relations Develop your communications strategy for these three people (80-20 rule). Three Imaginary Friends

  15. Communications Toolkit Direct mailing: letters, postcards E-newsletters Annual Report Website E-mails Brochures Displays at events Posters, fliers, tablecloth, table tents PowerPoint presentations to local groups Partnerships with other agencies or businesses Online social networks [list your tool] What’s your core toolkit?

  16. Communications Toolkit E-Newsletter Benefits: Third-party e-mail marketing services (e.g. provides you with user-friendly templates Gives you immediate feedback on how many people open your e-newsletter and how many people click through Average opening rate: 15% - 27% Trend: According to the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (2009), more people are using alternative forms of communication (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to get their information

  17. Communications Toolkit E-Newsletter How to get people to open and read your e-newsletter From: General – Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy Specific – Laura Dupuy, Executive Director Subject line: Descriptive – “Rebuilding Diplomatic Capacity” – A Lecture by Ambassador Lyman, March 17, 3pm Proactive – You are invited to… Support… Include a link to click if the e-newsletter is not viewable Use graphics, but in moderation Use corporate colors to reinforce branding Focus intensely on the top part of your e-newsletter Timing (10:00 a.m./mid-week)

  18. Communications Toolkit E-Newsletter

  19. Media Relations Nonprofit organizations are newsmakers. You are your own “media.” Build your own “media outlet.” Traditional Media Outlets Newspapers, radio, and TV Online Media Outlets Online newspapers, forums, blogs Grassroots Media Outlets Inserts, fliers, school papers What is the media?

  20. Media Relations Letters, e-mails, and phone calls Visit the newsroom Send editors, reports, and journalists a press kit Hold a “brown-bag lunch” once a year Keep regular contact Build media RELATIONS

  21. Media Relations If you cannot influence the media DIRECTLY, who do you need by your side to get the word out? Your Board Members or Board of Directors/Trustees Your Members Your Volunteers Your Donors and Sponsors Organizations that have similar interests – PARTNER It’s important to remember that the news media can only cover your organization periodically. Perspective

  22. Media Relations Read, listen, watch! Make a list of your local media outlets Print and online newspapers (e.g. Salt Lake Tribune) Blogs ( Radio (e.g. KCPW – Utah NPR Affiliate) TV (e.g. KUED – Channel 7 – PBS Affiliate) Create a media contacts database Name Title Department/Beat Contact Information Create a Media Database

  23. Media Relations Describe the story in a way that resonates with your mission, the values and needs of your audience(s), and is also interesting to journalists, or “newsworthy.” Contact information Who? What? When? Where? WHY? About your organization Frame your Story & Craft your Message

  24. Media Relations Call reporters and alert them to your news Pitch via e-mail and then follow-up by phone Include support materials (e.g. logo, relevant pictures with proper credits, etc.) Tip: Upload your images to an online service, like, and then include the link in your press release. Submit stories/events to: Online community calendars Public Service Announcement (PSA) Facebook Twitter Send in the mail or fax Distribute Your Message

  25. Media Relations “Spray and Pray” You blast out a press release and hope for the best (e.g. calendar listings) Pitch calls You want to interest the reporter in a specific story. Get the right person for the story you are pitching. Exclusive or advanced pitches You call a media outlet to offer them something no one else will get. Plan & Pitch

  26. Media Relations Op-ed Articles The opinion page, opposite the editorial page in most newspapers, is commonly overlooked as PR tool. This space has the potential to provide your nonprofit organization with four to six publicity articles each year (under 700 words). Deliver Your Message

  27. Media Relations Online News Rooms To develop good relations with the media, you want to make information easy for them to access. One way to do this is through an online news room. On your website, include a link for “Media” or “News Room.” Archived Press Releases Photos Organizational background information Organizational facts Story Starters Published Stories Deliver Your Message

  28. Media Relations Public Service Announcements (PSAs) A nonprofit TV or radio Public Service Announcement is free to your organization and can be customized with your logo. Online Community Calendars Community Boards Libraries Coffee Shops Retail shops and businesses Deliver Your Message

  29. Media Relations Photo first, then headline, then story A picture is worth a thousand words. “What picture would tell this story?” Your headline positions the story in the reporters mind as either important or not. Focus on content. Press Release

  30. Media Relations Put the RIGHT face on your story Show you are at the center of a solution Consumers respond much more favorably to stories that portray a solution-oriented “difference maker” than stories about someone’s suffering. Tip: Choose stories of individual people changing for the better as a result of your organization’s efforts. Press Release

  31. Media Relations Frequency How often should you contact reporters? As often as you have a legitimate reason to do so. Proximity “The Trend is Your Friend.” Watch your local, regional, and national news, and let reporters know how your organization is addressing the issue in your community. Press Release

  32. Social Media Social Media Marketing Plan Choose your social media priorities Google Blog YouTube Facebook Twitter Wikipedia Determine your policies Prioritize the tools you choose and master them Social Media Marketing Plan

  33. Social Media Your website should focus more on visitors than on your organization. “What three questions would visitors want answered when visiting your site?” “What three actions do people want to take by visiting your site?” Your website is only useful if people can find it. Use the right key words How many other sites link to you? Track your web traffic Your Website

  34. Measurable Outcomes Website Virtual host statistics – Usage statistics Insert real-time stats on your website (e.g. Google Analytics,, etc.) E-mail: Open Rate Request a read receipt E-mail marketing reports (e.g. Constant Contact) Google Alerts “Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy” “UCCD” “Citizen Diplomacy” Online News Room Archive media exposure Track and Evaluate

  35. Your Personal Brand “Be the model every day of what your nonprofit stands for, both on paper and in person.” - Steve Cebalt, Nonprofit Consultant YOU can affect the way your organization is perceived. YOU can affect the message. Think about your personality and voice – your personal brand. Always say “Thank You” Grow Your Credibility

  36. Your Personal Brand Constant Contact Learning Center Marketing Profs Jacob Nielsen Public Relations Society of America Greater Salt Lake Chapter - Nonprofit Marketing Guide (Kivi’s Blog) Nonprofit PR Forum Keep Learning

  37. Get the Word Out! “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” Jim Rohn, American author & motivational speaker Effective Communication Starts With You

  38. Get the Word Out! Steve Cebalt. The Communications Handbook for Nonprofits and Foundations, Kivi Leroux Miller. The First 100 Days in Your New Nonprofit Marketing Job, 2010. 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, 2009. M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network. 2010 Nonprofit Social Media Benchmarks Study, 2010. M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network. Bibliography

  39. Getting the Word Out! Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies Jennifer Hefti, Director of Communications & Community Outreach Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy Phone: 801-832-3272 E-mail: