This subject could be a whole other class. To cut to the chase, though, there are a lot of ways to market your cause or organization. Lots of folks will cheerily toss off tons of neat things you can do to get freebie publicity. Like:
Free or low cost billboards
Stunts and gimmicks
Getting yourself inserted into utility bills or bank statements
Local magazine coverage
And you should hit them all. The thing is, though, all these things take horrendous amounts of staff time that you probably don't have to spare. That's why a lot of special events wind up underadvertised and don't make much money.
If you spend a lot of time writing grants to fund your agency, the thing to do is to write money for marketing your programs into all your grants. That's a legitimate expense, but it's one a lot of folks forget. Bury the cost of a PR person in the administrative or indirect cost line of all your grant budgets! You may not even have to hire someone full time if you can find an energetic entrepreneur in the community who is willing to hire out as a consultant when you need him or her. You might even consider working out a deal with several other nonprofits to "share" a PR consultant. Or you could do like everybody around here does and put me on your board so I have to do a bunch of this kind of PR stuff for free. As a result, I was the KTBB volunteer of the day on the radio today and my wife is working two jobs to support me.
Seriously, though, don't overlook getting a chamber of commerce type or somebody in the advertising, public relations or media to be on your board and then put them to work doing what they do best.....
But don't forget -- all these great PR ideas take time. Lot's of time. And that means someone to spend that time working on your publicity and someone who has a lot of gall and the connections to make it work. Here's a good idea of who you're going to need.
...is so energetic she makes everyone tired
...loves to ask people to do stuff
...has no natural sense of shame
...has a cast iron ego
...lives to use the telephone
...knows how to write well
...owns a computer, printer, fax machine, cell phone and pager
...has a sporty little car that gets terrific gas mileage (preferably a hatchback)
...comes from a wealthy family and doesn't need your money
...knows influential people named Tiffany, April and Ed
...has something on half the people in town
...is in the Rotary Club with the other half
...was once the Black-Eyed Pea Queen, her escort or a high school cheerleader
...owns one of those headsets you plug into your cordless phone so you can talk on the phone, type a letter and watch Oprah all at the same time
PR takes a lot more time than you think it does. You can get all sorts of freebie positive attention for your organization, but you probably need somebody to spend at least half of their time working on getting all that freebie advertising. I've been a PR director and I've been a development officer and I've been both at the same time. When I was both, I found that I didn't do very well at either. I wound up having to choose what I would emphasize and the other function faltered. Then of course, many of you in smaller npo's serve as the PR/development/executive director and you can't do even half the stuff in your job description unless you work 80 hours a week.
I've often thought that our lives as nonprofit executives would be better if we were to sponsor an initiative to have the " / " removed from the English language. Then we'd only be able to do one job at a time. Wouldn't that be
lovely. Our slogan could be "Abolish the /". It's probably never been done because no one knows exactly how to pronounce "/" . You could say "slash",
but then you'd upset serial killers and horror movie fans. Oh, well, I suppose we're doomed.
Just one man's opinion.....