The first session began with PR 101 – distinguished panelists include Karen Ryan, APR, Eileyn Sobeck Bador, APR, Julia Babair, APR, CPRC and our chapter president Ginny Cooper. After a brief introduction by Cindy Burgess and a welcome from Greg Gardiner of United Way — he thanked the PR community for reaching out — the panelists got started.
Ginny presented the Media Guide and Media Directory, announcing the $50 non-member price and order form availability. She presented What PR is NOT — not marketing, not publicity, not fund raising. Must first make the distinction between PR and other functions of the organization. In some organizations, the same person handles PR and marketing – causing confusion. We sometimes add to the confusion by saying we handle marketing and public relations, integrated marketing without distinguishing the differences. In reality, marketing and PR are separate management functions with different but overlapping goals. PR is the management function that establishes mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. Marketing is more transaction-oriented, exchanges something of value. PR manages the relationships.
In non profits, PR defines organization mission, builds and maintains public policy, communicates through various channels, builds relationships with key publics. Tactics differ greatly to accomplish all of these.
Don’t give into temptation of not doing research — check your assumptions about your publics, figuring out who you want to reach, what you want them to do. What messages to you want to convey? Apply the info to your bottom line — you need to raise money.
Julia Babair — discussed PR planning that deals with communications, behaviors, opinions and evaluations. That’s how PR plays a part in overall business plan. It’s important to know what your organization trying to achieve. What is the overall goal?
The PR plan doesn’t guarantee your success, but provides your strategic plan that is a road map toward success. As a PR professional, what does the management and Board expect? Enhance competitive edge, expects us to protect two assets: name and reputation.
Understand situation, target audiences, key publics, goals and objectives. You need strategic thinking to develop long term goals. How does the process begin? With research. You need to understand your situational analysis. Effective PR begins with listening and getting feedback. Many people just want to jump in or they are intimidated by research but it doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. You can do a communication audit to get feedback, conversations with employees or audiences. You can do surveys or focus groups — there are many ways to accomplish that.
You need to identify your target audiences — employees, shareholders, donors, the media. Develop your key messages. What facts do people need to know?
Now you’re ready to set objectives — realistic but they should stretch you. Should be very specific about knowledge and the outcomes you expect. Identify qualitative objectives — specific and measurable.
Objectives provide direction and give you a plan to follow. You will be prepared. Need to evaluate criteria.
Strategic planning will result in positive programming. Increased management and Board of Director support.
Must understand who your audience is. Your audiences are board of directors, general public, clients whom you help. You need to come up with strategies and tactics for each of those publics. Before you create your message, figure out your best way to communicate with them. We want to be positive and keep going. Be targeted and strategic. Showed examples to illustrate her company being environmentally friendly — her company has been green for 30 to 40 years — shopping bag decorated with a frog “Plastic makes me croak.” Also a flyer and device to cover CF lightbulbs. Demonstrating strategy and tactic when she presents info on her company. Explained there are newer methods and newer tactics but she still uses “old school” tactics to accomplish some of her objectives. With our pursestrings being so tight we have to be careful, be very targeted. Welcomes calls for additional help.
Discussed evaluation — can be scary. Compared to making pudding — research recipe, want to impress your mother in law (target audience), have to set objectives like how much pudding are you making, when does it have to be ready. Decide the right ingredients, how you are going to prepare and what is it going to look like. Evaluation — shows proof in the pudding. It has to be successful to impress your mother in law. Need to think about it early — how you are going to measure it. Need to plan this in advance so that you are measuring the right things. Was there enough? Did the people like it? Did they ask for your recipe? When you’re thinking about evaluation, think about Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com)and developing the questions in advance. You can also do written surveys to part of your audience, or one on one interviews. Make sure you have an evaluation plan in place. Gather data as you go along so when you get to the end, it is already compiled. We keep a box at my office and put everything needed for evaluation into that box so it is all there at the end.
Went back to research component. Discussed Google alerts, google.com, set up alerts to know what is being said out in the online world. You can do this personally, for your organization, for your event. One way of doing research – free and very easy.
Asked for questions:
Comment that she uses email address for Google alerts.
Five things that non profits gain include to inform and motivate your key audiences to dedicate themselves and work productively in support of your mission.
Question about survey after event, would you recommend exit survey or public survey through email? Karen answered that if done at an event, you can explore further, ask follow up questions. Related her experience with exit surveys.
Ginny: when you mention your sponsors, you should be able to come back and say here’s what we did for your money and show them the value, three times the value of their dollars. You can prove what you did for them.
Karen: Exit survey can be tricky especially if there’s an open bar – sometimes the data you get back is not reliable!
Question: Is it just being associated with the event that sponsors want to be remembered? Don’t you have to know what the sponsor really wants out of it?
Karen answered that you have to know target audience, creating your objectives and having tactics that match those objectives. Her organization looks at their objectives for participating before they sponsor. Sometimes it is “the right thing to do.”
Question: There are so many events, would challenge someone to guess who Downtown Diva wrote about last week.
Eileyn suggested that we need to be thoughtful and set our objectives carefully — not just to be doing event or series of tactics, but to have reason behind that.
She answered that FPRA has helped her become who she is today, helped her professionally and with ethics.
Karen — always keep your organizational goal in mind.
Question — what are some other ways besides press releases to meet your goals?
Eileyn — explained that she asked residents why they were moving out of her community. Based on answers, she understood the economic reason and gave her tools for outreach — as a result, she had 10 move ins. She projected five in two months and got 10 in one month.
Second part of question – if we have a supervisor who is press release/event reliant, how do we suggest what worked elsewhere? Case studies?
Julia — FPRA can provide you with those tools — resources to ask questions, networking with people and find out what has been done, what worked, what hasn’t worked.
Karen — if you can get over the first hurdle of having a plan with good results, you will make them a believer. Talked about Twitter, referenced someone who has been incredibly successful with it — Wall St. Journal story, video. Karen took those results to her CEO and now that door is open. Case studies are great for showing results.
Ginny — discussed HARO – Help a Reporter Out, free service to get included in queries.
Karen – gathering the data as you go along allows you to make mid-course corrections. Mid course corrections are fine.