Public relations can be defined in many ways, but what it always comes down to is getting attention. Every organization, whether a nonprofit or for-profit, wants target audiences to know they exist, and more so, what they do. Hence, the public relations/marketing campaign.
This is perhaps most true in the world of nonprofits. A nonprofit exists to do good, and all do, in their own way. But it isn’t enough to be well meaning and good intentioned. Not if you want to be recognized.
The media are all about telling stories and showing pictures. Regardless of the good work a nonprofit does, a reporter needs something tangible to report about.
The challenge is for a nonprofit to follow its mission while at the same time do activities and events that will draw media attention. Sometimes a mission does not call for a newsworthy event or activity. That doesn’t make it any less worthy, but it usually means it is more difficult to attract the media.
All nonprofits that want recognition need to find ways to do things that are interesting, visual, exciting, unusual and more. Leadership needs to think about what they watch on CNN, YouTube and Facebook and understand that if they are drawn to that type of story, others will be as well.
This is not to say it’s easy or it always works. But that’s where experienced PR counsel comes in. PR professionals know what will draw the media and what won’t. It is not something that comes naturally. It is something that comes with experience, trial and error, and understanding what media are looking for.
That’s how you get the media’s attention.