Last week I visited the Fair Media Council’s headquarters to present “Public Relations on a Shoestring.” An audience of not-for-profit organizations participated in the two-hour workshop to learn how they could boost their PR efforts despite thin budgets. The feedback I got during and after the program confirmed what I already knew: not only do not-for-profits spend very little money on public relations efforts; they also know very little about what PR tools are available to them both online and off.
They understand they need to use social media but they don’t really know how. They want their organizations covered in Newsday but are unaware of the many other media venues they could be pitching. They send press releases when their organizations have “news” (<airquotes here) but don’t ask themselves the question, “Who cares?” before spending time to publicize an event without finding a way to relate it to an audience.
This is anecdotal, of course, so I’m readying research to prove it. This fall a small team of Hofstra students and I will survey more than 1,000 Long Island not-for-profits and ask them how small are their PR budgets, which PR tools they use, and how much PR training their staffs possess. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to spread the word on “doing PR” for very little money through a series of workshops and seminars. The next few months we’ll confirm what we already know: tiny budgets force low priority for PR within the not-for-profit world, yet these organizations crave the benefits of a good public relations campaign. They just need to learn what’s out there for the taking. Your thoughts?