What is public relations? Isn’t it just about spin-doctors and hype?
Well, you could argue that voluntary and community groups are public relations experts. After all, projects are often set up by the community for the community with a whole range of contacts and opportunities for getting their message heard.
PR or Public Relations is all about communicating. But not just communicating for the sake of it, you are aiming to get your “message” across. E.g. this could be to campaign on an important local issue, improve your image to funders or celebrate the impact of your project.
A clear message, spend some time working out 3 key messages. If you need help, ask other volunteers/ staff/ board members why they are involved with your organisation and see what they come up with – you could even ask to use their quotes.
Plan and prepare, be clear who you want to communicate with, why and how.
Have a goal, it’s easy to get sidetracked and accept any offer to get your message across. With a goal in mind, you’ll only accept what really helps you and your plan.
It costs nothing to – ask to give a 10-minute presentation at an event or meeting you were going to anyway, persuade other organisations to let you write a short article for their newsletters or magazines or collect comments from your project users and ask them if you can quote them in publicity inc. press releases. Just being enthusiastic about your group and cause is a great start, and doesn’t need a budget!
Even on a low budget you can – make use of press releases to send out powerful case studies (changing names and getting permission, of course) or attend events and have a display or stand with information about your group. Blogs are usually free to set up and just need a passionate cause and an investment of time to keep them running.
Add your costs to funding bids (where allowed) – it might cost more than you think to: publish a newsletter (and keep it going), maintain a website and keep it current, print an annual report, get business cards and cater for a launch event, so plan ahead, get quotes and shop around.