How to Build an Incredible and Holistic Public Relations Strategy for an Arts Program or Nonprofit Client
An all-inclusive public relations program accomplishes one primary goal: telling a client’s story. To complete this objective, a communications professional must identify the client’s message and distribute it to the right media sources in order to reach their target audience. In today’s digital age, the term “media” now includes freelancers, bloggers, and influencers. In return, communications professionals now have a plethora of opportunities to increase the reach of a client’s message. Whether the public relations program supports a nonprofit client or an art institute, there are basic media relations techniques that can apply to any outreach.
The Solid Foundation of Any Media Relations Program
With any media relations program, there are basic tools that every communications professional uses. The most common and essential tool is the press release, an official statement on behalf of an organization which is distributed to the media. Elements of a press release include the date, title, subheading, dateline, body paragraphs, images, quotes, boilerplates, and contact information. Once the release is completed, you can draft a pitch email that provides a short and catchy description of the release. The release should be listed under the email pitch to the reporter.
Another useful tool to announce events is a media advisory. The format of the media advisory is unique in that it lists the key information in sections, including the what, who, when, where, and contact information. The difference between a media advisory and a press release is that the advisory is a one-page description to announce an event and a press release is for storytelling, providing facts, and sharing quotes. To represent the conclusion of all media materials, add ### to the bottom center of the page.
Building a media list is also an important media material for any media relations program. The list should include the name of the reporter, title, company, and phone number. Identify the correct reporters that would be interested in what you have to say. Finding the right reporter could mean searching for similar articles to your story or searching a reporter’s social media platform to see what their interests are. Collecting notes on the reporter’s perspectives on the industry could help you craft an appropriate email pitch to them. It is important to understand what they know and how your client contributes to the overall message they are trying to convey.
In today’s digital age, many media programs now include social media plans. A social media strategy is the first step to creating a solid social media plan. The strategy will help guide your actions by identifying the business objective, social media goal, and metrics. Learn all you can about your target audience and discover who can potentially follow and engage with your social media posts. Gather data and facts about your audience. Nielsen is an excellent resource that provides global measurement and data analytics about consumers and markets worldwide. The research you find also identifies which social media platforms will help you reach your target audience. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are some of the most popular social media websites today. In addition, understanding your competition and observing what they are doing right can help guide your social media plan.
The social media content calendar supports your overall social media plan with a schedule of what you plan to post. Posting consistently is key to increasing engagement and awareness of your social pages. Editing your content will prevent publishing typographical errors and will ensure a professional look. Stay relevant by sharing information about trending topics. Also, track what works and stick with it.
The Ins and Outs of Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media
Organizations can publish social media content and press releases through paid, owned and earned media opportunities, while social media followers can repost your content, producing shared opportunities. Earned media is when you have secured an opportunity to share information about an organization without having to pay for it. In other words, content that organically travels across the web is earned media. Having a quote in a story or being interviewed on television are great examples of earned media. When an organization is mentioned in editorial content, social media, blogs, and broadcast, it is considered earned media as well. Additionally, earned media has been used to encourage media outlets to write about an organization and to reach target markets. Earned media can help build your company’s credibility since people are more likely to trust a company that they read or hear about. Studies have shown that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations while only 24% trust advertisements.
Unlike earned media, paid media is anything you pay for to get your message across. It involves external marketing efforts such as display ads, branded content, and advertising. When starting a paid media campaign, it is important to set a budget and identify how long you want your advertisements to run. There are a variety of digital and social platforms that are available for paid campaigns. For instance, creating a Google ads account can help you increase brand awareness because the website receives a lot of traffic. Another paid opportunity is sponsored social media posts. Research shows that millennials are receptive to sponsored content rather than traditional advertising. To measure the effectiveness of your sponsored post, you can look at the number of people you have reached, the number of impressions, the engagement rate, website clicks, and page likes.
Shared media is the interactions consumers have with your social media posts. An example of shared media is any content you post that gets shared on the social media platform. It is noteworthy to choose a social media platform that reaches your target audience.
Owned media is content that you control and generate much like a website, blog, or email campaign. Owned media can be the foundation for controlling how a company is being portrayed and reaching a specific group of people. Additionally, a nonprofit and art program can leverage all four types of media opportunities.
Public Relations Tips for a Nonprofit or Art Program
Public relations professionals can support nonprofit organizations and art programs with media relations, social media, email campaigns, messaging, and newsletters. Media relations can get your nonprofit or art program in the news, helping gain more memberships and funders. While newsletters, emails, and online seminars keep members up to date with what the organization has to offer, media relations places the organization in front of potential new members or donors. Small, large, national, and local organizations need public relations services to help them share their mission to a broader audience.
An effective way to get the media interested in your nonprofit or art program is to identify an angle to your story. Nonprofits can connect what they are doing to an upcoming holiday, like Thanksgiving or National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. An art program can also be associated with a holiday and a season. For example, many publications run stories about things to do in the summer. An art program offering classes or free tickets to a museum would be a great story for that occasion. Furthermore, the story angle you choose will be the core of your organization’s press release that will be distributed to local media. Reporters appreciate receiving photos of the community and action shots that go along with the release. Always follow up with the reporters to see if they are interested in covering your story. The reporter will learn to trust you if you respond to them in a timely matter and if you provide quality media materials. If your organization has an event, you can submit the event to local calendar listings online. PSA’s may also be available for you to share a quick announcement about your nonprofit on radio stations. You should never turn down a media opportunity so try to find a way to make it happen. Once you have an interview, you can share the published content on your social media pages and website.
There are multiple ways organizations can attract more social media followers. On Facebook, you can tell captivating stories of people who have been personally affected by your cause. Twitter would be the most effective in sharing quick updates, while Instagram and Snapchat are great tools for releasing photos and short videos. If one of your followers messages your organization directly or comments on a post, make sure to respond to them as soon as possible. Tagging companies and fans that support your organization will make them feel acknowledged. An organization’s profile banners and photos are the first items that are seen. Make sure that the photos effectively represent what your organization stands for and highlight the great work you are doing. Paying for advertisements on social can help increase your followers and build more link clicks to your website. Showing a sense of humor through memes can bring a sense of humanity to your nonprofit or art program.
Showing the Client What Can be Done
The Hoyt Organization (THO) has made a tangible difference for hundreds of start-ups, public and private companies, nonprofits and art programs across the nation. For over five years, THO has supported Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation (Rainbow), a nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for residents of rental housing communities, with strategic public relations campaigns. Each year, THO provided Rainbow with media coverage that increased awareness of Rainbow’s national status. Just last year, THO secured 22 editorial placements in national and local media outlets, including GlobeSt.com, Senior Housing Business, Western Real Estate Business, Los Alamos Daily Post, and Utah Business. To garner this coverage, THO created and distributed press releases to key markets for Rainbow, such as Salt Lake City and Brooklyn, and submitted thought leadership pieces from Rainbow’s top executives.
ACE Mentor Los Angeles/Orange County is another nonprofit organization that THO has supported. ACE brings high school students into the architecture, construction, and engineering world. THO continues to deliver ACE’s mission through a digital environment, primarily on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, from 2016 to the present. In a six-month period in 2018, THO increased the organization’s LinkedIn company page followers by 46 percent and increased their Instagram followers by more than 29 percent. THO also implemented a monthly e-blast program that was released mid-month, directing viewers to the most important recent posts and urging them to follow the company’s LinkedIn page. Additionally, THO has created and shared “how-to” guides with Anne Ettley for dissemination to ACE leadership, offering step-by-step instructions on how to share posts, use appropriate hashtags and more. With an average open rate of more than 200 percent above the industry average, the monthly e-blasts have been highly successful, leading to an increase in traffic to the ACE Mentor L.A./O.C. social media pages
For several years, THO has supported the Palos Verdes Ballet with media relations outreach for The Nutcracker. Each year, THO develops and distributes press releases and submits and secures calendar listings across local media that include the Los Angeles Times, The Grunion, Palos Verdes Patch, The Beach Reporter, South Bay by Jackie, Eye Spy LA, Discover LA, Arts Council for Long Beach, and Easy Reader News.
As for social media, THO has generated unique content and graphics daily to multiple posts, across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the leading advocate, and resource for rental housing providers throughout Southern California. Since the initiation of the program, THO has generated more than 300 posts, taking into account sponsored posts, stories, ads and the utilization of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. THO has been able to grow each platform exponentially throughout the course of the campaign. On Oct. 1, 2019, prior to AAGLA and THO’s partnership, the Facebook page had 1,194 page followers. As of January 24, 2020, the page has 1,502 followers.