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Marrying Social With PR At Your Nonprofit

Social media is an excellent tool for spreading the word about our organizations and causes, but with so many vying for attention the exposure we seek doesn’t just happen organically. We need to catch the attention of the major media outlets that are dedicated squarely on nonprofits to help boost our presence. How? Keep reading.

Marrying Social with PR

Identify Your Pitches

When are you going to need exposure? Always, of course, but most especially when you are doing something innovative or exceptional, like:

  • Attempting to reach a million-dollar goal
  • Transitioning your programs or staff in a major way
  • Highlighting the constituents you serve and whatever makes them unique or interesting

Map out your organization’s major events and timeline for the next year so you know what you’ll need to promote and when.

Know the Players

If you’re going to pitch on social media you need to build strong relationships with the people poised to help you – in this case, websites and blogs that cater to nonprofits. Here are a few to look at:

  • Philanthropy.com – “The news source of the nonprofit world” geared toward executives of tax-exempt organizations in a broad range of fields.
  • The NonProfit Times – Reaching “over 200,000 executives in the nonprofit world.”
  • Nonprofit Quarterly – For those who want to keep up with the latest news and research in the nonprofit sector. “NPQ’s web audience has grown by over 700% since 2009.”
  • Fundraising Success – “Considered by many to be the sector’s leading source of strategic fundraising information” with 28,000 readers of their magazine (published 10 times per year) and 26,000 unique visitors to their website monthly.
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review – Reaching executives at nonprofits, foundations, and socially-responsible businesses with a quarterly print journal circulation of 12,000; weekly e-newsletter circulation of 34,000; and a website averaging 145,000 unique visitors monthly.

Then research the top two or three editors/staff writers of each site and make note of the following:

  • Their areas of expertise
  • The kind of content they are regularly producing
  • What is getting retweeted or otherwise shared, and by whom

Make a list of these key players and start engaging in their online conversations so you’re building a relationship for when you need to share something. If they become familiar with your name and messaging you’ll have a much better chance of them helping you.

Plan for Visibility

In addition to following and engaging major nonprofit media outlets, you want to be planning for visibility in other ways. For example:

  • Watch for lists like “30 Under 30” etc. Mark your calendar so you know when nominations open, then nominate someone from your organization so you’re visible come voting time
  • Offer to guest post or submit articles to outlets you want promoting your endeavors down the road
  • Collaborate with other organizations whose values and goals align with yours – do something unique and worth sharing which will benefit you both

These behaviors should be part of your overall marketing, PR and communications strategy. But remember that social media doesn’t exist in a silo, so don’t leave it or other online strategies out of the equation. Incorporate them and watch your reach amplify.

Start Now

Cultivating the type of connections that will result in the exposure you want won’t happen overnight – in fact it may take six months to a year to break through in some cases. So don’t wait until you have a major story that you want published – start now by:

  • Sharing news and successes regularly (daily or weekly)
  • Responding to/retweeting what those on your key players list are sharing
  • Setting aside at least 30 minutes per week to attend solely to social media duties – interaction, content curation, etc.

Creating a presence for your organization online is a crucial part of your job, so don’t neglect it. Make use of anything at your disposal, such as scheduled posts on Facebook, automation platforms– whatever keeps you organized and able to engage on social media regularly.

By thinking ahead and doing a little bit of work now, you’ll set yourself up with powerful PR resources ready when you need them.

Have any nonprofit media outlets or tips for engaging not mentioned here? We’d love to hear them!

Ritu Sharma Ritu Sharma

The preceding is a cross-post of the Social Media for Nonprofits August 26, 2014 blog post of the same title. Ritu Sharma is the CEO and Co-Founder of Social Media for Nonprofits, an organization committed to bringing social media education to nonprofits worldwide. She convenes thought-leaders and leading practitioners in the social media space in the unique TED meet Twitter style conferences in 14 cities in three countries. She speaks frequently around the world on a variety of topics in the nonprofit and social media spheres with a passion for effecting social change through social technologies. She writes a blog at the Huffington Post on the intersection of social media, social change and leadership. Follow Ritu at LinkedIn or on Twitter @ritusharma1

Topics: Communications