Ronn Torossian, Founder of 5W Public Realtions on PR for Non-Profits


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According to PR executive Ronn Torossian, PR does achieve greater visibility for an organization. To develop a PR plan that works, every nonprofit, irrespective of their size, should have clarity about who it is trying to reach. After a nonprofit has identified the people who comprise its target market, the next step would be to determine what they want the target market to do. This is where goal setting comes in, as it is very important to be specific. Without a goal, there will be no way of measuring failure or success and no knowledge of what adjustments are needed for the plan. Given below are effective steps and components of a PR plan for nonprofits.

Identifying the target market

Supporters of a PR are engaged in fulfilling a significant mission. A nonprofit often faces hurdles in getting their messages heard. With fewer resources compared to for-profit sectors, they need to find creative ways to have their message heard. The better they know the people they are trying to reach, the better they will be able to reach them. Research should be carried out to find out more about the people in the target markets. Demographics such as age, educational level, profession, marital status, annual income and others should be considered. It is important to shape the message to appeal to the people a nonprofit is trying to reach. This world is not a one-size-fits-all world. People these days expect their message to be customized to meet their unique needs. A thorough knowledge of the target market is important. For coverage in digital and print media, it is important to understand what the media need and packaging its message properly can get an organization the support it deserves.

Torossian On Setting Goals

As Ronn Torossian, who founded 5WPR notes, needs and goals of an organization can vary greatly. Setting goals requires introspection and interdepartmental communication. Whatever the goals may be, the need for an organization is to achieve heightened visibility and name recognition.. A nonprofit also needs to foster increased public involvement and support fundraising. For one nonprofit the goal may be to save lives, for another it may be to get feature articles placed in the media. Setting a goal comes with a lot of benefits. They give the organization areas of focus. For setting a goal it is also important to assess how an organization is doing in terms of donors, volunteers, and its mission. Is the current action of an organization aligned with its purpose? The goals should focus on where the organization wants to be.

The message

If a nonprofit does not have a clear message about its objectives,then the message will not be successfully communicated. There should be clarity about key message points. The message should answer certain questions. What makes an organization special? What makes it significant? The concise message of a nonprofit should be widely distributed throughout the organization and included in all its literature and media outreach efforts. People who are involved in any form of communication on behalf of the organization should be aware of the key message.

Goals statement

Once the goals have been set, a statement of goals can be created. A statement of goals lays out what an organization intends to do. It lets supporters know what to expect. It is a cohesive statement that describes what an organization does and why it exists. One potential risk of stating specific goals is someone who disagrees with the specific goals of an organization may be hesitant to support it. A lot of thought is needed to be given to crafting the goal statement. Stating a few important goals is often helpful. It is also important to ensure that the goals do not become dated. With time, some goals may have become less compelling and some may even have been accomplished. Goals need to be reassessed and reviewed regularly that they remain relevant to an organization’s mission.

Preparing the PR plan

A good PR plan makes all the difference between an effective PR plan and an ineffective one. The first step will be to consider the organization’s mission. The long-range and short-term goals need to be met. The next step would be to consider the options that would best reach the target audience with the message of the organization. The available media outlets should be considered and a media list should be prepared. They could be websites, magazines, television outlets, radio stations, and newspapers with the biggest reach. They could also be smaller and relevant media outlets. A PR plan also needs a deadline. Specific dates should be attached to each task. Specific individuals within each media outlet should be targeted.

Develop PR tools

To deliver information to the media, there are several options available today. They could be billboard announcements, news releases, letters to the editor, chatter sheets, features, or promos. A good website is an important PR tool for any organization. Social media platforms also follow similar principles as traditional news releases but it provides some extra tools such as video, audio, and links. There should also be a plan for using the available PR tools. The plan should ensure that an organization can communicate often and everywhere. While communicating with the world at large, the internal audience of an organization consisting of members and staff should not be neglected. Content like blog posts and press releases can be amplified. Many nonprofits have social media accounts just to interact with journalists and post news.

Ronn Torossians tips for managing the PR budget

When it comes to a PR budget, there can be a wide range of differences in resources among different organizations. National-level nonprofits will have more money to spend than smaller nonprofits. There will also be a difference in the size of staff. The staff of smaller organizations take whatever time they can from other operations to deal with PR. Organizations that do not understand the importance of PR are often unwilling to allocate funds for PR. The pandemic has also forced nonprofits to make difficult budget decisions. There should be funds for donation appeals and outreach to lapsed supporters. Some non-profits do not have full-time PR people on staff. The average budget nonprofits have for marketing and PR is approximately 5% – 15% of their operating budget.

Selecting the right spokesperson

Nonprofits often carry out different complex projects and offer a range of services in different ways. To effectively communicate the importance of an organization, it is crucial to establish an identity in the minds of the public. The identity should help the organization to stand out from the crowd. The spokesperson of the organization should become a living embodiment of all that an organization does. The spokesperson doesn’t have to be the highest ranking individual in the nonprofit, the person should be someone who has some level of authority in the organization. They should be able to tie the mission statement of the nonprofit into interviews and believe in what they are saying. An adult who has been helped by a nonprofit can also be the embodiment of the organization. A celebrity spokesperson can also create instant name recognition for an organization. The celebrity has to be a good fit for the organization, a person who the target audience will trust and admire.

News releases by email

Torossian adds most news releases should travel by email. As news releases or press releases are sent by email, the subject line is of prime importance. The subject line should be engaging, brief, and provocative if necessary. Reporters receive a lot of information every day and an email has to stand out to attract their attention. An attachment should not be sent with the mail unless someone specifically asks for one. Most people are afraid of downloading a virus and so they do not open attachments. Messages should also be brief because no one has the time to read a lot of copy. The initial email should be followed up with another email. The usual rule is that if a journalist doesn’t get back after three mails, the silence should be taken as a ‘no’.

Crafting the news release

The news release or press release should not be an all-purpose release. Individual releases for each type of media outlet might require a lot of effort but will be well worth the time spent. An organization should be familiar with the interests and style requirements of each media outlet before sending press releases to them. The different types of releases crafted should fit in with each publication. If the press release is being sent to a local publication, it has to focus on the local angle that is of interest to the community. For instance, if an organization is reaching out to a bird-watching society , the story can focus on a local bird watching destination. The press release should also be worth reading. It has to contain something that a journalist believes will interest their readers. The release should contain familiar words as it does not aim to impress the reader with intricate words and complex sentence structures.