The Key to a Successful PR Campaign in Philanthropy? Strategic Variety

It doesn’t take an expert to know that a successful communications plan means something different for everyone - whether you’re working in fintech, education or philanthropy. Successful PR results will come from a specialized, bespoke plan that is designed to meet your individual business needs. 

Defining the Goals of PR

When we first start with a client or at the beginning of a large project, we meet with the extended team to discuss the overarching goals and the desired results of a project. Many people think the goal of PR is “to get as much media as possible.” In reality, you need to define why you want to get media in the first place. Let’s take this a step deeper.

The goal of PR could be anything –  increasing awareness of your mission or cause, educating an untapped audience, creating a dialogue with key stakeholders or elevating the credibility and current standing of your organization. Ultimately, the goal should directly correlate with impacting your organization’s business objectives.

Setting the Strategy

Once we have an idea of what your specific goals are and what success looks like to you, we build out detailed strategies to achieve these. While being in the news certainly brings brand awareness, “get as much media as possible” isn’t a strategy. To reach key audiences such as foundation leaders, project managers, and board members as well as the general public, a strategy could be something more along the line of implementing a multi-pronged media relations campaign to increase reach to specific stakeholders.

Identifying the Tactics for Executing

 What’s the best way to reach each specific stakeholder group through the media? The message you want to convey to the public will undoubtedly be different (e.g. more general or less in the “jargony" weeds) than that to a foundation’s board. For this, you’ll want to look at different publications to reach each with the right message, and this is where the multi-pronged approach comes in.

Don’t Overlook the Trades – We regularly work with trade media and often find ourselves explaining the value of pursuing these opportunities. It’s simple - trade publications are important because they drive thought leadership and brand awareness, build credibility within the industry and national media reads them. Working with trades gives you the opportunity to delve deeper into a subject matter than you would with a mainstream media outlet because their audience has a strong understanding of the philanthropic sector. Trades also often have opportunities for bylines or op-eds. Smart, timely op-eds are another tactic for sharing insightful POV while also taking the opportunity to delve deeper into a subject than an interview with a journalist would.

Mainstream, Millennial Story - In order to maximize exposure beyond the trade publications or through various influencers, it’s beneficial to focus on a mainstream or Millennial outlet that focuses on a larger and sometimes younger audience. An ideal group to target would be a young entrepreneurial and business focused audience that is looking for insight into the latest innovations, practices, ideas and people. While it’s important to tell your story to the trade audience for credibility, it’s equally as important to tap into a larger more mainstream audience for broader awareness.

Influencing an Influencer  – There are a handful of journalists who act more as an influencer than a beat reporter. Someone who follows the most inspirational and innovative works happening in the space and stays on the cutting age of what’s happening in the philanthropic sector – everything from wealth management and philanthropic giving to politics and international relations. It’s beneficial for a brand or company to be on the radar of influencers in the space because they have a built-in audience of followers that trust their opinions and regularly turn to their work for industry knowledge as well as people and trends they should be aware of. This is a great way to amplify your company or brand message.

Utilizing an academic outlet is a great way to validate findings and results. Academic outlets are widely-respected publications within the community and being published in one adds to the overall credibility of your work. It tells readers, who are often the most well versed audience, that the work you’re doing is something innovative and ground breaking in the industry. The other great thing about academic outlets is most other media outlets and journalists don’t view them as direct competitors. If anything, they too turn to their academic journals or magazines as a trusted source for research and data.

There isn’t a perfect equation for successful communications results, but ensuring that you are talking to a combination of media across a variety of publications is your best bet to reach a broader audience and come across as a leader in your industry.