The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause, Kivi Leroux Miller (Wiley 2010).
Miller's experience with hundreds of small nonprofits with one-person-marketing-shops led her to write this instructive basic guide to marketing for people who have to do it all.
This book is so incredibly useful, from building a basic marketing plan to how to use social media effectively on a small budget, that I wish I could simply reprint it all here. Instead, I'll give you a peek at some of Miller's wisdom.
One of the PR strategies that large organizations and institutions use is making key people available to the media as experts on breaking news stories that touch on their expertise.
My experience with universities taught me to check the news first thing each morning to see what the top stories were. The PR staff would then go to work locating faculty members who could add to the national debate on those issues. That was relatively easy at a big university where there was a multitude of experts on thousands of topics.
Nonprofits--even small ones--can, however, do the same thing. All it takes is identifying the subject areas your organization specializes in, such as child abuse, violence against women, or getting clean water to low-income people in developing countries. Once the issues are identified, ask the experts on your staff to be ready and willing to speak about what they know best. Then watch the breaking news and let the media know that you have experts standing by.
Even a Small Nonprofit Can Provide Experts to the Media
Kivi Leroux Miller's book goes into considerably more depth about how to make your small nonprofit's experts the go-to people for a range of media. As an example, here are the five qualities of a good expert source according to Miller:
- Be Accessible This is essential, so persuade your experts that easy accessibility and willingness will help them and the organization. Reporters or editors that have looming deadlines will go to the person who can be reached the most quickly and easily. That means 24/7 too. Evening and weekend availability is crucial. On your organization's website make sure that you have contact information in the form of email and phone numbers. It's surprising how many nonprofits do not do this, and may even have a form that a reporter needs to fill out. Believe me, reporters and bloggers are not going to fill out a form and hope someone gets back to them.
- Be Cooperative Miller suggests that a reporter is looking for the "bingo" moment when talking to an expert. That's when you provide just the thing they are looking for--a great story, surprising statistic, an intriguing quote. She says you can find that "bingo" by listening. Let your caller set the agenda, ask their questions, or give a clue to their angle. Answer their questions (even if they seem dumb), and then steer them to additional insights that they don't know but you do.
- Own a Well-Understood Niche Don't try to know everything about your topic. Pick a slice that you are master of and that is a bit different from what other experts in your field are known for. Let other experts in your field know that you can speak to that particular niche, and understand the niches of other experts. That way, you can redirect a reporter's call to exactly the right person and vice-versa. Reporters and other experts will appreciate your generosity in this way. Help the reporter find what he/she needs to write a good story.
- Build a Solid Track Record You will build credibility as you are quoted more and more, but you can also establish it up front by having an impressive title (Executive Director vs Executive Assistant; or Senior Researcher vs Research Associate). Also, in your bio (that should be on your organization's website), add a tag line such as "Twenty years of experience living and working with the homeless." Other ways of building credibility is by talking intelligently in jargon-free ways about your issue, giving good quotes, returning phone calls and emails promptly, and providing good referrals.
- Be Trustworthy Trustworthy sources are those who do not promote one point of view, are transparent, non-pretentious, honest, and confident. Remember that your nonprofit has a public mission to be objective and to treat opposing views with respect.
To find out more about being a good expert, Miller's book has a wealth of information including "seven strategies to raise your profile as an expert source" and "how to pitch your story to the media.
If you are a one-person-marketing department in a nonprofit, one of your best investments this year would be to purchase Kivi Leroux Miller's book...really!