Public Relations Strategies for Non-Profits

October 4, 2012 Public Relations 1 comment

SHINE Youth Festival 2012
Photo opportunities are good ways to grab media attention (from SHINE Youth Festival)

How can trade associations, societies and NGOs leverage on Public Relations (PR) to get the word out there? What strategies can they apply to “build buzz”?

As Vice Chairman of the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA), one of my jobs is to increase the visibility of the association and establish it as an industry leader. Thanks to an invitation from MCI Singapore, I learned a few new tricks relevant to my association while refreshing my knowledge of the discipline.
Conducted by Buzz Communications’ Surendren Apparoo, the talk defined building buzz as identifying stories and providing attractive news angles that appeal to the media. In my view, this applies equally to “media” on social tools like blogs, social networks, microblogs and forums. To do so, non-profits can consider applying the following:

1) Look for superlatives, ie the biggest, fastest, first, smallest, latest, heaviest and so on.

2) Capitalise on the unusual, eg a Chinese architect designing a new Hindu temple or a teenager who is a big fan of Chinese opera.

3) Engineer “eye-candy” visuals, ie photo and video opportunities that capture the attention.  Sex usually works here (eg Big Boyz Toyz use of bikini babes with sports cars) as do anything that is visually exciting (a fireworks display).

4) Distil emotional heartfelt stories that can generate human interest beyond the ordinary. An example would be a 7-year old girl giving her savings for charity.

5) Create unique “buzzworthy” events that can excite the media. For example, organising a $1 hair cut at a shopping mall with a pledge by the organisers to contribute $99 to a charity for every dollar raised.

6) Ride on the prevailing issues of the time, and offer an insight, service or product that is relevant. For example, during the SARS epidemic, several pharmaceutical firms were quick to launch medical equipment and products that help “combat SARS”.

7) Establish thought leadership through reports and studies that offer a fresh perspective. For example, the Food and Hotel Asia built a prototype of “The hotel of the future” using leading edge technology.

8) Competitions are always useful, especially if they involve doing something wacky or unusual such as a grape-stomping competition for a wine event.

9) Finally, ensure that your publicity reaches out to the right channels where your targeted audience is. There is little point in generating buzz if it doesn’t add to what your organisation is doing.

As a seasoned PR practitioner, most of the above points seemed quite apparent to me. Perhaps the most important lesson, however, was the need to establish thought leadership – a role which associations, societies and NGOs are well-placed to do.

Now let me see what tricks we can pull out of our bag to grab some of that limelight!

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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