NonPRofits "do" PR

It was fun being back on the air!

At the invitation of Ron Gold, president of Marketing Works and host of LI News Radio’s weekly program, “The Nonprofit Voice,” I sat in the interviewer’s chair this past Saturday. I’ve studied nonprofits for the past several years, having conducted three surveys which confirmed that nonprofit organizations have few resources to handle public relations activities.

On the air with Glenn Vickers II of the East Hampton YMCA

On the air with Glenn Vickers II of the East Hampton YMCA

The show’s first guest, Glenn Vickers II, executive director of the East Hampton YMCA, noted that while his facility’s communication efforts are supported by the larger YMCA infrastructure, he’s enlisted volunteers, members and supporters to “talk” about his Y on social media. Given his organization’s location, its mix of seasonal and year-round clientele, and its diverse membership, traditional media and advertising don’t provide the targeted outreach the East Hampton YMCA can achieve through the Internet. Vickers believes it’s word-of-mouth and individual testimonials which bring the most credibility and connection to the programs the Y offers.

This point was shared by my second guest, founder and director of the Museum of Public Relations, Shelley Zuckerman Spector. Until her collection of PR memorabilia, media artifacts, video, literature, and research found a home at the Baruch College library in Manhattan, the museum was virtual. Spector uses the museum’s website as a repository for historical information, and takes to social media for publicity and PR. And with the public relations industry experiencing unprecedented growth worldwide, outreach has become international, with more than half of the museum’s Facebook followers coming from outside the United States. On Twitter, tweets are sent in English, French, Spanish, and German, written by interns who speak the languages. With no real resources for a larger communications effort, social media is a godsend to the museum because of its low cost and relative ease of use.

Through the Internet, nonprofits become their own media and can creatively use its platforms for self-promotion. Now, only the Museum of Public Relations and PR veterans like me can answer the question, “How did nonprofits ‘do’ PR before the Internet?” Your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “NonPRofits "do" PR

  1. torisucci

    I agree with Mollie, I think that word-of-mouth was non-profits best tool. I think that word-of-mouth can be used to show how the deeply rooted some non-profits are in their audiences. Some of them have been around for a very long time and it was up to oral testimonies to publicize how great one’s non-profit was so that they could get to donate or join their cause.

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  2. molliealexandra

    Undoubtedly, because there are so many different types of organizations and non-profits out there, getting one’s own organization to be recognized by the surrounding communities can be challenging. Prior to the Internet and the creation of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and so on, word-of-mouth was a non-profit’s single most important PR tool. With the addition of these sites, however, smaller organizations are finally able to grow and get their name out there, as there are now new tools to help them do so.

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  3. savetheanimalsxo1MEREDITH O'CONNOR

    THANKS FOR THE FOCUS ON NON-PROFITS. HARD FOR ME TO IMAGINE HOW NON-PROFITS GOT ALONG WITHOUT THE INTERNET. IT WAS PROBABLY NECESSARY TO GET DONATED ADVERTISING SPACE. BTW, I HAD A SWIM MEET AT THE EASTHAMPTON YMCA– THERE IS ANOTHER PUBLIC RELATIONS AVENUE–SWIM TEAMS!

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