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Getting the Word Out!. Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies. Jennifer Hefti, Director of Communications & Community Outreach Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy Phone: 801-832-3272 E-mail: Learning Objectives. Strategic Communications Plan

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Tips for successful nonprofit communications strategies

Getting the Word Out!

Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies

Jennifer Hefti, Director of Communications & Community Outreach

Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy

Phone: 801-832-3272


Learning objectives
Learning Objectives

Strategic Communications Plan

Branding and Planning

Communications Research

Audience and Segmentation

Communications Toolkit

Media Relations

Social Media

Measurable Outcomes

Your Personal Brand

Strategic communications plan
Strategic Communications Plan

Your organization’s mission is the starting point for developing your strategic communications plan.


Strategic communications plan1
Strategic Communications Plan

What is your communications budget? How much staff time are you willing to devote to communications?

If you cannot afford a staff person, does anyone on your board have communications, marketing or media relations expertise?

Who will do the work—are they comfortable with and knowledgeable about marketing/communications?

What has your organization been publishing in print and online over the past two years?

How powerful and consistent is your brand?

Assess your Communications Infrastructure

Strategic communications plan2
Strategic Communications Plan

Time Frame

90-day plan


List all the tools in your marketing toolkit


Identify 3 priorities in the next 90 days

Action Steps


Key Message



Future Priorities

1-Page “Street Smart” Communications Plan

Branding and planning
Branding and Planning


Behavioral Branding

Branding is how your organization behaves.

Alignment Communications

Confronts your branding problems, not just on a strategic level, but every day, with every email you send and every brochure or newsletter you publish.

Alignment Gaps

Identify and state your problem

State your audience

State your message

Choose your communication tool

Get it done

Branding and planning1
Branding and Planning

To manage the organization, programs, and services effectively

To raise awareness & inspire engagement

To sustain and increase support

To raise funds

To tell your story, to touch hearts and minds

Establish your Communications Goals

Branding and planning2
Branding and Planning



Attainable & agreed-upon



SMART Communication Goals

Branding and planning3
Branding and Planning

Make a good e-connection

Interruption vs. interaction

Phone first… then e-mail

The wonder of spellchecking

Your tone

Your signature block (email)

Thank you

Your voicemail message


Easy steps you can take today

Communications research
Communications Research

Communications Research is vital to support your branding, fundraising, and organization’s awareness.

Communications research1
Communications Research

Primary Research is research you conduct and create yourself.

Online Surveys

Quick and easy to assemble


Most often free

Provide immediate feedback

Offer a wealth of information that can be useful in reports

Primary Research

Communications research2
Communications Research

Focus Groups

Focus Groups are meetings, a means to gather verbal information from your stakeholders.

Help you do a better job.

Help assess client satisfaction with your programs and services.

Help you launch a new program or service.

Help you understand people’s preferences for receiving information online vs. in the mail (for example)

Primary Research

Communications research3
Communications Research

Secondary Research is research that others have already published (free publically available research).

Internet Search Engines (e.g. Google)

Public or University Libraries


Online Bookmarking Service (e.g. Delicious)

Professional Nonprofit Associations

Utah Nonprofits Association (

Society for Nonprofit Organizations (

National Council of Nonprofits (

Secondary Research

Audience and segmentation
Audience and Segmentation

There is no “General Public”

Reach out to a specific subset of the “general public”

Start with three imaginary friends of your organization:

People who have had an international experience (e.g. travel, business, trade, etc.)

People who speak a foreign language

People who have studied International Relations

Develop your communications strategy for these three people (80-20 rule).

Three Imaginary Friends

Communications toolkit
Communications Toolkit

Direct mailing: letters, postcards


Annual Report




Displays at events

Posters, fliers, tablecloth, table tents

PowerPoint presentations to local groups

Partnerships with other agencies or businesses

Online social networks

[list your tool]

What’s your core toolkit?

Communications toolkit1
Communications Toolkit



Third-party e-mail marketing services (e.g. provides you with user-friendly templates

Gives you immediate feedback on how many people open your e-newsletter and how many people click through

Average opening rate: 15% - 27%


According to the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (2009), more people are using alternative forms of communication (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to get their information

Communications toolkit2
Communications Toolkit


How to get people to open and read your e-newsletter


General – Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy

Specific – Laura Dupuy, Executive Director

Subject line:

Descriptive – “Rebuilding Diplomatic Capacity” – A Lecture by Ambassador Lyman, March 17, 3pm

Proactive – You are invited to… Support…

Include a link to click if the e-newsletter is not viewable

Use graphics, but in moderation

Use corporate colors to reinforce branding

Focus intensely on the top part of your e-newsletter

Timing (10:00 a.m./mid-week)

Media relations
Media Relations

Nonprofit organizations are newsmakers. You are your own “media.” Build your own “media outlet.”

Traditional Media Outlets

Newspapers, radio, and TV

Online Media Outlets

Online newspapers, forums, blogs

Grassroots Media Outlets

Inserts, fliers, school papers

What is the media?

Media relations1
Media Relations

Letters, e-mails, and phone calls

Visit the newsroom

Send editors, reports, and journalists a press kit

Hold a “brown-bag lunch” once a year

Keep regular contact

Build media RELATIONS

Media relations2
Media Relations

If you cannot influence the media DIRECTLY, who do you need by your side to get the word out?

Your Board Members or Board of Directors/Trustees

Your Members

Your Volunteers

Your Donors and Sponsors

Organizations that have similar interests – PARTNER

It’s important to remember that the news media can only cover your organization periodically.


Media relations3
Media Relations

Read, listen, watch!

Make a list of your local media outlets

Print and online newspapers (e.g. Salt Lake Tribune)

Blogs (

Radio (e.g. KCPW – Utah NPR Affiliate)

TV (e.g. KUED – Channel 7 – PBS Affiliate)

Create a media contacts database




Contact Information

Create a Media Database

Media relations4
Media Relations

Describe the story in a way that resonates with your mission, the values and needs of your audience(s), and is also interesting to journalists, or “newsworthy.”

Contact information






About your organization

Frame your Story & Craft your Message

Media relations5
Media Relations

Call reporters and alert them to your news

Pitch via e-mail and then follow-up by phone

Include support materials (e.g. logo, relevant pictures with proper credits, etc.)

Tip: Upload your images to an online service, like, and then include the link in your press release.

Submit stories/events to:

Online community calendars

Public Service Announcement (PSA)



Send in the mail or fax

Distribute Your Message

Media relations6
Media Relations

“Spray and Pray”

You blast out a press release and hope for the best (e.g. calendar listings)

Pitch calls

You want to interest the reporter in a specific story. Get the right person for the story you are pitching.

Exclusive or advanced pitches

You call a media outlet to offer them something no one else will get.

Plan & Pitch

Media relations7
Media Relations

Op-ed Articles

The opinion page, opposite the editorial page in most newspapers, is commonly overlooked as PR tool. This space has the potential to provide your nonprofit organization with four to six publicity articles each year (under 700 words).

Deliver Your Message

Media relations8
Media Relations

Online News Rooms

To develop good relations with the media, you want to make information easy for them to access. One way to do this is through an online news room. On your website, include a link for “Media” or “News Room.”

Archived Press Releases


Organizational background information

Organizational facts

Story Starters

Published Stories

Deliver Your Message

Media relations9
Media Relations

Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

A nonprofit TV or radio Public Service Announcement is free to your organization and can be customized with your logo.

Online Community Calendars

Community Boards


Coffee Shops

Retail shops and businesses

Deliver Your Message

Media relations10
Media Relations

Photo first, then headline, then story

A picture is worth a thousand words.

“What picture would tell this story?”

Your headline positions the story in the reporters mind as either important or not.

Focus on content.

Press Release

Media relations11
Media Relations

Put the RIGHT face on your story

Show you are at the center of a solution

Consumers respond much more favorably to stories that portray a solution-oriented “difference maker” than stories about someone’s suffering.

Tip: Choose stories of individual people changing for the better as a result of your organization’s efforts.

Press Release

Media relations12
Media Relations


How often should you contact reporters?

As often as you have a legitimate reason to do so.


“The Trend is Your Friend.”

Watch your local, regional, and national news, and let reporters know how your organization is addressing the issue in your community.

Press Release

Social media
Social Media

Social Media Marketing Plan

Choose your social media priorities







Determine your policies

Prioritize the tools you choose and master them

Social Media Marketing Plan

Social media1
Social Media

Your website should focus more on visitors than on your organization.

“What three questions would visitors want answered when visiting your site?”

“What three actions do people want to take by visiting your site?”

Your website is only useful if people can find it.

Use the right key words

How many other sites link to you?

Track your web traffic

Your Website

Measurable outcomes
Measurable Outcomes


Virtual host statistics – Usage statistics

Insert real-time stats on your website (e.g. Google Analytics,, etc.)

E-mail: Open Rate

Request a read receipt

E-mail marketing reports (e.g. Constant Contact)

Google Alerts

“Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy”


“Citizen Diplomacy”

Online News Room

Archive media exposure

Track and Evaluate

Your personal brand
Your Personal Brand

“Be the model every day of what your nonprofit stands for, both on paper and in person.”

- Steve Cebalt, Nonprofit Consultant

YOU can affect the way your organization is perceived.

YOU can affect the message.

Think about your personality and voice – your personal brand.

Always say “Thank You”

Grow Your Credibility

Your personal brand1
Your Personal Brand

Constant Contact Learning Center

Marketing Profs

Jacob Nielsen

Public Relations Society of America

Greater Salt Lake Chapter -

Nonprofit Marketing Guide (Kivi’s Blog)

Nonprofit PR Forum

Keep Learning

Get the word out
Get the Word Out!

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

Jim Rohn,

American author & motivational speaker

Effective Communication Starts With You

Get the word out1
Get the Word Out!

Steve Cebalt. The Communications Handbook for Nonprofits and Foundations,

Kivi Leroux Miller. The First 100 Days in Your New Nonprofit Marketing Job, 2010.

2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, 2009. M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network.

2010 Nonprofit Social Media Benchmarks Study, 2010. M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network.


Tips for successful nonprofit communications strategies1

Getting the Word Out!

Tips for Successful Nonprofit Communications Strategies

Jennifer Hefti, Director of Communications & Community Outreach

Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy

Phone: 801-832-3272