by Leah Wilkinson, co-founder, WilkinsonShein (WS)
When I first conceptualized this blog series to help nonprofits maximize PR, I thought my last post would be about social media tools for nonprofits and how they can be leveraged. However, when I sat down and started to pull together all the tools and a few words about how to use them I realized that I would end up “penning” a post that could potentially never end. Such is the challenge with social media for nonprofits. It is an incredibly impactful, relatively cost-effective, yet ever changing amorphous world of tweets, pins, tags, hashtags, follows, posts, instagrams and much more that I couldn’t ever hope to summarize in a blog post.
So, instead of discussing all the different tools, I decided to use this opportunity to address social media more generically. Why should it be valued? What can it achieve? How should it be used?
Here at WilkinsonShein, we believe social media is most effective in public relations when used as part of a broader strategy that includes other proven PR and publicity methods. In other words, it shouldn’t stand alone. Organizations should also be selective about what social media platforms they choose to use for their organization. There is nothing wrong with starting out with just one or two tools and experimenting with what works best for you to reach your desired audience and get them to act. And, don’t forget about tracking …TRACK, TRACK and TRACK some more to make sure you are getting the most value for your time. Make sure you are growing your base of supporters. In this age of social media “noise” it is important for organizations to do their best to micro-target their base and make sure the message being communicated is the right one. As you build your base and experiment with the social media universe, you’ll get an idea of what is working best for your organization. Focus on those that serve you well, and go ahead and weed out the others. And don’t hesitate to delete the accounts that aren’t being maintained - it is sad to see a defunct account and can cast a bad light on your organization.
It is just as important to micro-target the media and bloggers that are able to influence your base. Take the time (or invest in the tools) to help you identify and track the reporters that are writing about or interested in your issue. Reach out to them with targeted social media content to encourage their attention to your cause and continue that engagement over time. In traditional PR, we build relationships face-to-face and via phone and email over time so the reporters we work with trust us to bring them good story ideas and true experts/resources on the topic. In the digital age, we now can also build those same types of relationships over social media. That isn’t to say that we don’t still maximize face-to-face opportunities, but if we can pitch a story or reinforce an issue or raise awareness of our organization through a “tweet” we aren’t going to miss that opportunity!
Some parting thoughts…PR, including social media, is an incredibly powerful thing and can be a very cost-effective way for organizations to garner attention. Don’t miss the opportunity that PR in the digital age can bring to your communications program and help elevate your cause and organization.
Want to learn more about PR in the Digital Age? Check out this recorded webinar, Easily Get Media Engaged in Your Cause with PR in the Digital Age.
Until next time…