I was pleased with the coverage my survey of nonprofits received these last couple of weeks. Articles appeared in Newsday and Long Island Business News, and my ugly mug was even flashed on the Hofstra home page. The survey put numbers to what we already knew: when nonprofit organizations run PR campaigns, they mostly limp along using few resources, staff or training. This is further proven by how nonprofits, in increasing numbers, seek out pro bono help from college students through internships and volunteerism. I get a dozen requests from nonprofits every semester to work with Hofstra’s PR Campaigns classes in which students take on real world nonprofit clients and create campaigns.Given these organizations’ quiet desperation, public relations professionals should step up, too. I believe it’s the obligation of every experienced (and not-as-experienced) PR practitioner to share his or her skills with a nonprofit organization that’s struggling to effectively communicate with its publics.
Isn’t this what PR is supposed to be about? Look again at PRSA’s new definition of PR: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” It’s accurate and functional, right? Add more depth to it, and its second half becomes “…builds mutually beneficial relationships and connects resources with needs between organizations and their publics.” Maybe it’s not as tidy, but you get the point. Experienced PR pros have the resources. They must take the time to create mutually beneficial relationships with nonprofit organizations who, quite obviously, can use all the help they can get. Your thoughts?
P.S. Register today for the Hofstra PRSSA chapter’s Back to Basics, a regional conference March 30-April 1. Every student planning a career in PR and communications should be there. The conference’s panel discussions will be an exploration and re-examination of the fundamentals of effective public relations, while not losing sight of the PR tools of the future. There will be expert guest speakers, helpful workshops and excellent networking opportunities. You’ll also have the opportunity to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway. Join us for the best PR event ever put together by Hofstra’s terrific public relations students!