PR Tips for Non-Profit Organizations

By Sarah Rossetto

Our San Diego staff recently participated in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter’s annual Quality Time with PR Minds event to provide pro bono counsel to local non-profits. Non-profits came ready to learn, and walked away with new public relations tips, perspectives and ideas.

Here are the top public relations tips that we shared:

  • Do your research to identify if there is a problem worth solving.  Research should be used to help identify public relations objectives. To create objectives, ask questions. Was there a decline in donations during a specific time of the year? Is there a need for behavior change? It is significantly easier to develop strategies and tactics once you establish an objective.
  • Conduct smarter media relations.  In order to best make use of limited time and resources, develop specific (and realistic) goals for media outreach. Understanding the best times of day and days of week for pitching will maximize journalists’ time.
  • Partner for promotion.  Establish partnerships with organizations that have complementary missions and/or similar audiences. Partnerships can strengthen your brand, extend your reach and, ideally, create a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Position yourself as a subject matter expert.  Offering experts as spokespersons to the media will establish your organization as a credible source of information. Infographics are one of the most effective ways to communicate scientific information in an easily relatable format.
  • Tailor your tactics to your audiences.  Your audiences are likely to be more specific than “the general public.” Ask questions. Who are you hoping to reach, and how do they obtain information? If you are planning a fundraising event, what types of events would they want to attend?
  • Don’t underestimate the significance of storytelling.  Focus on the human element of your work and the lives you change. Your work is meaningful; always remember to weave that into the stories that you are telling to audiences and media.
  • Go viral.  Not every organization can pull off a viral sensation like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. However, it shouldn’t go unnoticed how much people have loved posting videos of themselves and are willing to endure a little peer pressure to support a good cause. The beauty of these initiatives, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, is that people are holding each other accountable for taking action by publicly calling out each other.

If you are a local non-profit organization looking for pro bono counsel, please visit for more information about the next Quality Time with PR Minds event in October 2014. We hope to see you there!