PRo bono

      6 Comments on PRo bono

Jeff Morosoff, Asst. Professor of Public Relations, Hofstra University

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!

6 thoughts on “PRo bono

  1. Samantha Bancroft

    I think it is the responsibility of being a member in a community to help your surroundings in any way that your learned skills allow you to, public relations or not. Whatever you can bring to the table to benefit others should be offered, and this is directly where PR comes in. I have to admit, before PR 107 and my internship this semester, I was never interested in non-profit PR, but now I truly love it, and see how helpful and hands-on it can be. I hope to own a PR firm one day, and after the experience I have taken with me from interning with a disaster recovery relief agency within the departments of fundraising and awareness, I know non-profit will remain an important clientele for me to work with. As the definition states, PR’s job is to create mutual beneficial relationships, and the most rewarding way to do that is to begin with a non-profit.

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  2. juliachappell

    “Quiet desperation” aptly describes the situation of the nonprofit organizations. I am glad the nonprofits reach out to college students. Working on their campaigns is mutually beneficial for the student and the organization alike. I also think that it is the of the PR practitioners to help these organizations. If we know our services can be extremely beneficial, why would we not want to lend a helping hand?

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  3. Jenn Picard

    I think this post just goes back to a basic understanding of PR; Lets face it, when asked what I study in college people are usually confused as to what PR actually is. That’s true with many non-profits; they think they PR isn’t important, or it’s unnecessary for a company’s success. That’s why so many organizations turn to “free help” from students who are eager to learn more about the business. It’s difficult to learn about the business at a company that doesn’t practice it. I agree that PR professionals need to help non-profits out, or non-profits need to add another department for PR, social media, marketing, brand targeting, etc. It’s important, and sooner or later will consume society.

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  4. Lindsey Dodge

    Reading your article once over I disagreed with helping these organizations free of charge because that’s giving away a free service and after working so hard to get where you are in the “biz” it didn’t make sense to me why people would to that. Reading everything through a second time however, I now agree with what you’re saying about lending a helping hand to non-profit organizations because the relationship can be mutually beneficial for the PR representative and the company or organization. I was thinking, the first time “what’s in it for me?” Then I went back to the new definition on public relations and found my answer.

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  5. Rachel Tallon

    I think it is definitely a PR person’s obligation to help out nonprofits. Just working with a nonprofit now and seeing how little they know about getting their message out to the public makes me want to do all I can to help and share with them skills they can take with them after this campaign ends.

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  6. Abby Littleton

    I agree that it is very important to help out nonprofits as much as possible. I also agree that they need as much help as they can get and there is nothing better to help get their names out than good PR.

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