In a sector where public confidence and engagement are at an all-time low, find out how an external team of experts can support and enhance your charity’s internally-led PR strategy…
Your charity is likely to be doing fantastic work, but if you don’t know how to tell people about it then how do you continue to make the right noises around your charity’s cause? A charity needs to utilise every advantage it can when looking to raise its profile and subsequently raise additional funds. It’s vital to avoid underestimating the emphasis that should be placed on not only promoting but protecting your reputation and an agency can help create focus and a strategy in both areas.
Competition within the charity sector is fierce, with organisations working harder than ever before to ensure that their cause is front of mind. As every charity CEO knows, keeping awareness levels high and driving donations is paramount.
To thrive in the current climate, charities need to be smart when it comes to your PR strategy; planning and executing activity which is guaranteed to make an impact within a crowded market place.
The presence of a dedicated agency can add credibility to your organisation, bring impetus to your media campaigns and offer an invaluable safety net in case of unexpected and potentially damaging media fallout.
1) Set objectives
Having a crystal-clear view of what your charity is trying to gain through PR is vital and it’s important to make sure you have a set of objectives in place. Prior to planning, ask the following questions:
- Which of our forthcoming marketing activity or appeals will benefit the most from PR support?
- Which demographic(s) are we trying to target and engage with?
- Are we trying to increase awareness of the charity itself, or is fundraising for a specific cause more important?
- Which publications do we see ourselves in, and where can we create the most impact and reach our chosen demographic?
- Would this specific activity be more suited to a fully integrated campaign?
By identifying key objectives, messages and audiences right at the start, measuring success becomes part of the whole campaign journey, ensuring simple and precise post-activity evaluation.
2) Social media
An important factor to consider when planning a creative PR campaign is how to maximise your appeal across social media. Consider the most popular creative campaigns of recent times – Movember, the #nomakeupselfie, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - a common factor is the huge impact they all had/have online. Socially led campaigns allow charities and brands to be creative in a completely different way and, if executed well, can elevate your cause to the next level.
The goal should be to create an integrated campaign which combines elements of traditional PR with socially focussed activity. This ‘360 approach’ allows your organisation to speak to as wide an audience as possible with all elements of activity complementing each other.
3) Awareness Days
From wearing jeans for Genetic Disorders UK or pink for Breast Cancer Care, to sporting a ‘Bad Hair Day’ for Great Ormond Street Hospital, experiential and immersive activities can be hugely successful when it comes to engaging the public. Whilst capturing a sense of togetherness, these activities give people a charitable reason to do something fun and at the same time, raise funds and awareness for a fantastic cause.
However, to be impactful, these activities must be carefully planned and executed. Aside from the mechanics, most importantly they must reinforce an important charity message which reminds people of why they are doing the activity in the first place.
4) Mass participation events
Public participation events around awareness days, weeks and months, can capture a sense of community and engage the public year on year. The London marathon epitomises charity-based challenges, but many charities hold their own annual events on a smaller scale. These events are not only about testing yourself to raise funds, they are about uniting for a specific cause and raising awareness.
5) Case studies
Case studies are an invaluable way of humanising your campaign, showcasing the work your charity carries out and bringing your awareness day messaging to life. Having a bank of powerful, real life testimonies ready for journalists is key and particularly, a range of individual stories that can be pitched to different areas of the press: TV, radio, magazines, national press etc.
From promoting emotive case studies to organising high-end celebrity afternoon tea parties, a PR agency can help you raise awareness for your cause.
Charities need to adapt to the changing times we live in, and PR can build a bespoke communication strategy using both digital and traditional media depending on your needs. Their wide network of contacts within the journalism industry means that your campaign will appear in the right publications for your audience for an optimised reach.
Shelley Frosdick is Divisional Managing Director at the PHA Group