First Ten PR Secrets for Non-profits: #7 Go Deep

When you engage in public relations as a non-profit organization, every move must be strategic and thoughtful. The road to visibility can be long and arduous, and there is nothing more important than your integrity and your reputation. For more than three decades, we have been providing counsel and service to organizations and public figures in the Christian and non-profit sectors. We’ll unfold ten things we’ve learned.

#7 Go Deep

What I’m about to say will seem obvious to many people. But evidently it isn’t obvious to enough people who want to make their mark in the public arena.

Before you attempt to make an impression in the marketplace of idea and impact, become a deeper person or organization or group than you probably are now. Do your thinking and planning, serious study and scholarship, and have a body of research before you make a splash. Establish your expertise, not by saying you are the experts, but by have the background and the writing, case studies, experiences—to demonstrate your expertise.

We’ve had more than one organization—although I’m thinking of one in particular right now—that have announced that it was the best in the field and that it was going to change “the space” and dominate it. The group seemed to have at least initial funding and the ability to throw up a reasonably attractive website and some flashy graphics.

They just don’t have any expertise in the topics—the space– they intended to dominate. There wasn’t any significant content on their site (or to be found), and what they were beginning to say publicly was at times clever and helpful, and at other times it exposed how thin they were in the gray matter.

Clearly, we have tried to gently provide the counsel to “go deep” and to help them figure out how to do that.

Potential clients often say they want their visibility (and by that they usually mean the ability to raise funds) to go to “the next level.” I can’t tell you how many times over the decade I have heard those exact words.

You do succeed at “the next level” if you begin establishing your credentials without credentials. Public relations work is meant to help the public appreciate the good work you are already doing, and your credentials to do more.

• Become an expert in the one area you want to promote and work

• Do the work. Begin small if you have to, but have something to show.

• Don’t stay at twitter or facebook level. Clever updates don’t establish your expertise, but they can point to it.

• Don’t stay at news release level. A news release can get you an inquiry. Your substance is demonstrated by how you answer the inquiry.

• Put valuable information on your website. The platform should showcase good content.

• Establish a blog and write frequently.

• Don’t just quote others—which is what a lot of blogs do. That makes you a good network, but not an expert.

• Write articles; give speeches.

• Write a book

Young people are blogging less; heck, they’re writing less, thinking less, stopping less, etc. But don’t target those who live by the tweet and the text.
Decisions are still going to be made by those who stop and think and read. Go deep.

–Jim Jewell

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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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