Planning for 2020: What Non-Profit Communicators Should Know


Amanda ReCupido, Vice President, Public Communications Inc.

As communicators plan their earned media strategies for 2020, be sure to keep these tips in mind to achieve share of voice in an ever-increasingly noisy media landscape.

Start with strategy

The foundation of good communications is planning. Setting aside dedicated time at the start of the year to identify your organization’s business and communications goals, key audiences and the messages that will resonate with them, and the strategies and tactics to achieve your desired outcomes, will ultimately save you time down the road by ensuring team alignment and keep you from chasing dead ends. Make sure you set objectives that are measurable and then actually measure them. Analyze your progress on a regular basis in a cadence that makes sense for you, whether that’s monthly, quarterly or something else entirely, and adjust your plan accordingly to stay on track.

Get your house in order

Non-profit communicators report to many stakeholders, whether it’s part of an overall marketing team, the Executive Director, board, partner organizations, and more. But it’s not just communicating up – sharing your strategic direction and messaging from the volunteer level to leadership ensures internal alignment on external campaigns and overall stronger organizations. Without this, it may lead to declining organizational culture which can creep into external initiatives such as program launches, media and fundraising campaigns.

Timing is everything

Once you’re ready to share your campaign with the public, be aware of timing. What other awareness events or news cycles are happening around the time of your launch? Do they help or hurt your overall goals? Be wary of sharing news when attentions are pulled elsewhere. Similarly, it’s important to avoid being opportunistic by “news-jacking.” Oftentimes, entering a conversation without strategy and forethought could backfire and result in a decreased reputation for your organization.

Play nice in the sandbox

As full-time journalist positions continue to shrink industry-wide, communicators must think beyond traditional media. It’s all about the PESO model – paid, earned, shared and owned channels – and digital continues to be one of the most effective ways to amplify campaigns. Internally, make allies with your organization’s social media and marketing teams so campaigns are aligned across your website, e-marketing, text messaging and other communications avenues.

Beyond your organization, think about what strategic partnerships make sense. Other organizations don’t have to be viewed as competitors, but as opportunities for growth. Combine and share resources for maximum impact and the return will be beneficial for all involved.

Keep it human

The reason people are engaged with your organization in the first place, and the reason you yourself work where you do, is because of its non-profit mission. Sharing your story – whether from an organizational standpoint, to beneficiaries of your services, longtime donors, volunteers and employees – is the best way to let your actions speak for themselves. Real people and their experiences are your best endorsements. Especially as more organizations look to the next generation of donors and audiences, it’s this authenticity that will connect and ensure the future of your organization for years to come.

About the Author: Amanda ReCupido is a public relations professional with a background in writing, media relations and social media. As vice president, Amanda manages accounts and oversees communications strategy and execution for nonprofit, cultural and government clients. She has experience training groups on media messaging and counseling clients on a range of crises from employee incidents to data breaches. Her clients at PCI have ranged across the arts, education, philanthropy, social services and advocacy, Park Districts, conservation, and medical associations and providers

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