Or are their heads somewhere else?
4 Nonprofit Marketing Tips to Get Their Attention
1) Bottoms Up!
Nonprofit organizations used to have constituents. Now they have customers. And those customers make quick choices whether or not to support you. The younger they are, the less they tend to trust top-down sources of information. Word of mouth is trusted, which is why social engagement sites like Facebook and review websites like Yelp are so popular.
TV talk shows and radio call-in programs still work because viewers can identify with the person being interviewed, IF you know how to do it. Print is still good for policymakers and professionals, but spokespeople are increasingly scrutinized by readers seeking to avoid spin.
2) Opportunity Knocks!
The news hole for your issues is quite small. Notice the fascination with celebrities. Lightweight topics claim a huge portion of space and time in traditional media. Your messages have to be edgy and sharp to break through the clutter and you must respond rapidly so you can be first in line to comment on a news event. Letters to the editor and op-eds go to those who move quickly and speak memorably. Scan the news everyday. Search for stories that you can comment on and then be the first to submit a letter to the editor on that topic. Here’s a good example of a letter to the editor of the New York Times from Carola Bracco, executive director of Neighbors Link in Westchester County, New York.
3) Pounce and Bounce!
The Web is so dense with information that it really is more like a trampoline — tightly woven, interconnected and elastic. Ever notice how funny emails continue to circulate year after year, or the way rumors never seem to die? That’s because communications bounce around cyberspace indefinitely. Your messages can too. Creative use of the Web is what makes the difference between an organization that gets noticed and one that gets forgotten.
It’s not just about your website. It’s about commenting on blogs and leaving links to pertinent content. It’s about starting a fan page on Facebook and being sure that your CEO has a compelling profile on LinkedIn. Write your own blog IF you can keep it current. Consider advertising on topical blogs, sponsoring links on Google, and boosting your best Facebook posts.
4) Be Prepared!
The Girl Scouts are right. The best way to seize opportunity is to prepare in advance.
–Write a few op-eds on key issues and file them away. As soon as one of your topics appears in the news, customize the op-ed with a timely lead paragraph and send it off before noon the same day.
–Create a single sentence that describes how your nonprofit contributes to the larger society. Whenever someone asks what you do, tell them where you work and why it matters. Market the mission, not the minutiae.
–Update your core messages every quarter. Don’t start with what you want to say. Think first about what gets people to listen. Too often, nonprofits are interviewed but not quoted in the final story. If you want to be quoted, say something worth quoting.
–Join with other nonprofits to make greater impact. That’s what youth organizations in New York State did for a campaign to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility. Check out the editorial they got in the Journal News.
–Get periodic message and media training for all senior personnel. The best spokespeople are always learning, no matter how much they know or how long they’ve been on the job.