There are more than 180,000 charities in England and Wales, all competing for new donors, all trying to source new funds, both inside and outside the world of fundraising, rather than competing for the attention of the same donors. Their collective secret weapon of course is brand awareness. Those brands that can attract and engage donors in a meaningful way will win the battle. So how do brands that don’t run a planned PR programme manage to raise awareness or funds. Herein lies the conundrum. The majority of charities in Britain are small and lack the resources to bring in specialist communications support.
One UK organisation is stepping in to help with Speedmatching. Run by the Media Trust, this is a free networking event where representatives from not-for-profit organisations get to meet face-to-face with media professionals. The Media Trust work across the UK to help empower charities to be heard in the media, and by offering these free events, they hope to support those at the heart of the sector striving to gain a voice in such a competitive environment.
With our passion and experience working within the charity sector, we were invited to attend the North West Speedmatching event, recently. Held at the Manchester Evening News’ head office in Oldham, the event played host to seven local not-for-profit organisations, who used the day to glean as much knowledge as possible to help raise their profile, pick up quick tips, understand the media processes and how to create a media ‘hook’.
We were extremely touched by the passion and commitment that these individuals had for their chosen charity focus and felt compelled to share as much advice as we could. One particular charity that struck a chord was the Collaborative Women UK, based in Stretford. The team works hard to support women experiencing and fleeing domestic violence, drug abuse and in some cases a criminal background. The joint director’s experience in social housing has allowed an insight to develop a pathway from crisis to independent living, working locally with housing providers, counsellors and addiction support provision.
Picture: Manchester Evening News
But perhaps the most prevalent take away from the event is that while investment is needed, with a little advice and support from those that understand how to deliver effective public relations, success can still be achieved on a small budget.
So, you may be wondering how you can take your drive, passion and knowledge of your charity and turn it in to something newsworthy, in a ‘noisy’ media environment, on a bustling platform with a reduced pot of funding support and diminishing charitable offerings?
Here are a few handy PR tips to help take your brand forward:
Bigger is not always better: In fact, being a smaller charity can actually have its advantages; if you have a flatter structure than the bigger charities, then use it your advantage to make quicker decisions. If you’re quick, you can piggyback on breaking news (known as media hijacking). Have numbers, email addresses and Twitter handles for relevant journalists ready and contact them if you can add a unique angle to a news story.
Planning – less is more: By mapping out your campaign activity and paying attention to holidays, awareness weeks and special events, you can create a news and content plan. Choose a small number of topics to campaign on, spread across the year. It’s always better to do a few things well, rather than many things badly.
People buy people: Two great assets will be the profile stories of your beneficiaries and staff – your experts. Journalists like to hear the human story behind an organisation.
If you feel you could benefit from some PR advice, maybe developing a profile for your organisation, or some social media training then please get in touch for a no obligation chat over a coffee: [email protected] T: 07974 161127