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Mission-Driven Marketing Blog

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PR Roundtable: Tactics to Encourage Community Engagement


In April's edition of #TappSocial, we heard from the experts in corporate, nonprofit, and government Public Relations via a roundtable discussion, that included Dan Sanchez - Digital & Social Media Manager for the City of Wilmington, Nina Zucker - Principal of Nina Zucker Associates, and Kent Wissinger M.A, - Vice President of Wilmington Trust

If you weren't able to attend, we didn't want you to miss out. Highlights from the conversation included:

Parting Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Be aware

Think about what you can do that’s going to really make you an "outside of the box" organization, going along with that, it's important to encourage your clients to think creatively as well. For example, a lot of organziations are jumping onto the dating apps and giving offers. By paying attention to new opportunities and technologies around you, you have an opportunity to get creative, and drive attention to your organization.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your colleagues and take advantage of the internet. You need to figure out how to put yourself into what is going on around you and your organization. Public Relations is a combination of old and new tactics. You need to understand people - so read everything you can. If you’re a man, pick up Women's Day, if you’re a woman pick up Popular Mechanic, get out of the stereotypical comfort zones, pick it up and read it because it may help you better understand your audiences and give you fresh ideas for reaching them.

In Public Relations, you never know when something is going to happen that could derail your project, no matter how good your pathway is, you never know when you’ll have to do damage control. Getting on the same level as someone and being able to respond to them in a calm manner is key, and recognize that you will wear many hats. You're a therapist, a mother, a subject matter expert etc. it’s all about working with people and creating the ultimate solutions.

2. Make a lot of friends and connections. The more people you know, the more opportunities will pop up. You can put on a really cool event that doesn’t cost you anything, if you know the right people.

Take advantage of living in Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region! Everybody knows everybody and there is someone who knows the person you want to reach. This is a business based on relationships more than anything else, if you have good relationships you’ll be on the right path.  Working in Wilmington which is a smaller city, means it’s a harder, smaller media market which makes relationships that much more important! Build your network of contacts, it will be the greatest resource for you.

Among those relationships, you've got to find the best support that will serve as a key storyteller. In the nonprofit world, volunteers are tremendous storytellers. Find someone whose life has been affected by whatever your cause is this will enable you to build a bench of storytellers that can go out, share and promote that powerful message.

Celebrities can also play a role in your story. People believe in what those deemed celebrities or true thought leaders within the community are willing to promote. Think about who might be a thought leader or celebrity within your industry.

3. It’s called “social” media, so be SOCIAL on it - don’t just put out what you expect to get back. 

You need to be reachable and you need to communicate out. Depending on how you’re doing it, it can be easy or it can be difficult. It’s not like you put a circular in the paper and you’re going to see an increase in foot traffic.

The problem is that millennials, and other generations, aren’t reading as much as they used to. Literally holding a newspaper. They’re getting their news completely online which completely changes how you market to them, you have to go to them as your next generation of donors. Targeting millennials needs to be done in a way that caters to them.

Provide all the facts in a paragraph or two, tell your audience what they need to know, and move on - give it up front, make it digestible, make a minute long video about it. Everybody has a phone, so use your resources!

For example, podcasts and radio shows - if you’re working in a nonprofit organization, you can find a guest speaker, or a thought leader and create a series of PSA’s. Make a small investment perhaps, $150 - $200 dollars get a good microphone and record it on your MacBook. People will listen!

4. Know your brand and define your voice. Speak through it and to it in everything you do in your messaging. Listen actively to everything around you. You could hear something that might not come into play for years, but connect those dots for yourself and your audiences.

We can’t all be creative all the time! For example, campaigns such as the ice bucket challenge tend to be once in a lifetime things. Type in "best practices" for your industry on Google, there is a wealth of information, build stuff around that, the internet is a wonderful thing when you’re trying to think of the next big project.

The biggest ideas are those that are not transitional, they can evolve over time. Whatever your organization does, think about what you want to come of it, and how that can be incorporated into your brand.

If your mission is to raise awareness about something, that should be your brand. People should know, your organization is about raising awareness and make sure to include that in everything you do. Anything that entails focusing on and defining your brand is money well spent.

If you found this helpful, you might be interested in attending our next #TappSocial:  Don't Fear the Data Tackling the Myths Associated with Data and Fundraising on Tuesday, May 15th from 3:00 - 6:00 pm!

Register Now!

Also, keep an eye out for our 2nd Annual Nonprofit Social Summit on June 19th, 2018 from 1:00 - 7:00 pm! 


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