Nonprofit public relations and marketing

Is it possible to attract media coverage for a nonprofit fundraiser event? I ask the question because every nonprofit holds fundraisers, whether in-person or online, and everybody wants media coverage.

The harsh reality is that media turnout in a large market like Los Angeles for an evening fundraising event is difficult unless it has one or more critical elements. Foremost, nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles need to understand that the city is showbiz oriented. For the media to send a crew, or a reporter and photographer, they want to show pictures that will catch their readers’ attention — and in L.A. that usually means A-list actors.

As a PR firm that has managed dozens of events for nonprofits, we speak from experience. We also believe that every nonprofit does great work. So while promoting the work of a nonprofit is admirable and what we do, that alone is not what will make the media come out.

There simply are too many nonprofits holding too many events for them all to be covered. And this is especially true in the post-pandemic era.

So if your event can’t turn out Brad Pitt, there are other ways to get media attention by creating a strategy that ties your work to current events in the news. Also, don’t forget post-event coverage. While media may not spend the money to send out a crew (yes it costs a station money to cover events) sending them video and photos after the event, which costs them nothing to run is something to consider.

And there are other techniques. Working with a firm that has put on numerous events, that comes with a fresh perspective and creative ideas, can be invaluable.

When is a crisis a crisis?

Crisis public relations firms are often retained to do two things. Either keep their client out of the news, or help their client respond to negative allegations.

The key to an effective crisis PR strategy is timing. If an organization believes there is a threat to their reputation, they want to be ready. We’ve all heard the phrase, “get ahead of the story.” But in reality, many impending crises never happen.

So it becomes a bit of a dilemma. Do you go out there are defend yourself before anything happens, or do you wait? Talking too quickly can put you in the position of creating a story that hasn’t — and perhaps won’t occur. Obviously, nobody wants that.

Having a solid PR strategy that takes all scenarios into account is step one. Finding the right balance of being ready and moving forward when the need becomes apparent is the best strategy unless a legal case has been filed and you know for certain it will blow up.

That’s what PR firms do. Bring a clear perspective and vision to a situation and formulate the right PR strategy that protects their clients’ reputations while not inadvertently creating a crisis that never would have happened.