PR is crucial to increase awareness about a charity. The pressure on charities to use as much of their funds as possible on the cause they represent leaves them disinclined to invest in advertising. They rely on word of mouth to promote their brand. The best promoters are those who are highly respected and listened to. What might be called the independent influencers.
Falling firmly into this definition are journalists and bloggers, who not only provide a route to market, but are also listened to, read and believed. Moreover, they don’t charge advertising fees.
Using PR is, therefore, a very effective way of increasing awareness of a charity and what it does. But how should a charity go about setting its PR strategy? There are four key actions to take.
1. Identifying the right journalists
Firstly ‘Identify your target list’ of commentators. This can be a local list, or a generic sector list, depending in whether you want to appeal to a local or national audience. Choose a small group who you think may have a particular interest based on what they have covered in the past, and make direct contact with them. Invite them to events, and get to know them so that they will take your call, and cover your news.
Developing relationships takes time but it is worth it. Once you know a journalist or a commentator, the process to get your stories covered is much easier. Spending a little bit of time researching who is relevant for you is one of the keys.
2. Storytelling: the PR secret ingredient
Secondly ‘Perfect the story’. Journalists will write what they expect people will want to read. So focus on the interest that your news is likely to create. It could be a case study of someone who has benefitted from the charity’s work, in which case the more ‘human’ the underlying story, the better the likelihood of pick up. It could be an event, but if it is, make sure you highlight the parts that people will be interested in reading about.
If you talk to some journalists or bloggers, you will often hear that they like to know the story behind the product or the service. They like to base their articles on the human factor. As a charity, it's even truer, so don't hesitate to tell the story about yourself, the reasons why the charity has been created or anything that will support the 'human angle' of the news.
3. Always add an image to your press release
Thirdly, add an image, ideally with your branding discretely included in the background, every time you send out some news. Journalists will often cover a story because of the captivating image.
Think carefully about which image you want to send with the press release. In the case of a charity, prioritise people. A picture of the founders, one of the people that you helped. Portraits, for instance, are often impacting and will empower your news story. Remember to always send a high-resolution image or journalists will simply ignore your story.
4. Get your timing right
Fourthly and finally, get your timing right. If there is something in the news that relates to your charity, make the most of this news traction and align your story to it. Journalists will often look for quotes and case studies for articles they are already writing, and this is a great time to ensure that your charity gets coverage.
For instance, if your charity comes to the aid of people suffering from a particular disease or illness and there is an important piece of research going out about this particular disease, it's a perfect timing to comment on it and get your charity talked about.
Increasing the awareness of your charity through PR is essential, especially for charities that haven't an important budget to spend on promotion. Public relations is an easy and economical way to grow your charity and make it known. Make profit of any occasion you've got to make the news such as events raising funds, progress or research related to your cause or case studies.
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JournoLink is a PR platform enabling you to send press releases to over 6000 journalists, bloggers and broadcasters, to receive editorial requests and to access a business calendar with key dates and events you could comment on. Find out more here.
Written by: Peter Ibbetson, Company Director
As one of the co-founders of JournoLink PR, Peter is passionate about giving small businesses a voice in the press by providing them with the support and advice to do just that.