Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Nonprofit PR – Where Passion Trumps Money

Working for a nonprofit may be a rewarding experience, especially if the organization is aligned with your personal beliefs. Public relations professionals who work in the nonprofit sector often consider themselves lucky that they can use their skills to fight for a cause that they truly believe in. However, working for a nonprofit isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Due to shoe-string budgets and a focus on maximizing resources, often one person is tasked with doing the same amount of work that would be shared among many in the for-profit world.

Friday Five LogoIn this week’s Friday Five – an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we share five public relations stories from the nonprofit world. We’ll discuss a Brooklyn PR firm’s unique way giving back to nonprofit organizations, a popular nonprofit on the receiving end of a Twitter diss, how the ALS Association will use the ice bucket challenge money being donated and how Facebook’s recent changes impact nonprofits. We’ll also take a look at a defense of “slacktivism”.

Brooklyn Firm Works for Free to Attract Top Talent (PRNewser)

While public relations can be a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations, due to budgetary constraints, few often have the funds to devote to agency help. Praytell Strategies, a PR agency in Brooklyn, wants to help nonprofits and has put a program in place to do so. This week Praytell announced its Passion Project, an initiative in which the firm will provide up to $30,000 in services to nonprofit applicants each quarter.

Andy Pray, founder and CEO of Praytell Strategies, told Patrick Coffee of PR Newser that the project has helped with the notoriously PR turnover rate. Pray also explained that his company being a small start-up itself has helped. He said, “It’s the beauty of being young and nimble. We didn’t have to create 15 subcommittees; we got everyone on board, we built the website and now here we go. That’s the great thing about having our own shop. A lot of the good firms do pro-bono programs, and this is our slightly unique way of doing it.”

Read more about the Passion Project on PRNewser.

Why CSIS’ Twitter faux pas was worse than that time the Red Cross got slizzerd (Washington Post)

Amnesty International, a group which fights human rights abuse globally, recently dispatched workers to Ferguson, Mo. where protests and unrest continues after the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18 year old. Amnesty International took to Twitter to voice its concern. What it got in response was the following tweet from another nonprofit organization.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was responsible for the offending tweet, which was sent by an intern tasked with monitoring social media for the organization. Andrew Schwartz, senior vice president of external relations at CSIS, said, “He meant to send something reflecting his personal views from his personal Twitter account.” CSIS has since apologized to Amnesty International.

Visit the Washington Post to view the full article.

A different #icebucketchallenge: How will the ALS Association spend all that money? (Fortune)

Even if you casually participate in social media, you most certainly have noticed the far reaching effects of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This grassroots social media campaign has captured America’s attention and has had far-reaching awareness and fundraising results.

With millions of dollars raised, Forbes author Clare Zillman asks: “what is ALSA (ALS Association) going to do with all that money?” Because the association did not start the Ice Bucket Challenge and the donations aren’t earmarked for anything specific, they have many options; however, with groups like Charity Navigator watching, they must carefully allocate the money from a public relations perspective.

Read the full article on Forbes to learn more about their plan and also a cautionary tale about the Red Cross after 9/11.

Facebook’s New Policy Is Damaging Nonprofits  (Nonprofit Quarterly)

Social media has allowed nonprofit organizations to speak directly to target audiences and publish content with minimal cost. To take advantage of that opportunity, many organizations have put time and effort into developing Facebook pages over the past several years. Now, however, with Facebook’s new algorthim, many “followers” are not receiving some nonprofits messages in their news feeds.

Author Anie Creedon explains why this is devastating: “Nonprofit organizations are now seeing the same decrease in reach as any brand, plummeting to 1-2 percent of all followers. This means nonprofits are suffering just as much as Target and Coca Cola—only these wealthy companies can afford to pump as much money into promoting posts and increasing visibility as they so desire.”

View the full article via Nonprofit Quarterly.

Fuhrman-Kestler: The case for slacktivism (PRWeek)

While videos of friends and family completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are common, so are criticisms of the challenge and its participants. You’ve seen them in your news feed. “Most of these people don’t even know what ALS is” or “You should stop dumping water on your head and just make a donation” are common quips. The new term “slacktivism” refers to “slacking” activists who simply take to social media for a particular cause.

Jennifer Fuhrman-Kestler explains why slacktivism is helpful: “Using your social reach to stand up for a cause is productive. It will not directly produce a cure for ALS, but it produces awareness and dialogue. Eventually, this craze will pass. Few people not directly affected by ALS will continue discussing it. But, this campaign was effective beyond awareness-raising. It significantly increased donations, taking in $31.5 million to date, compared with $1.9 million raised last year. More than 600,000 donors are new donors.”

Read Fuhrman-Kestler’s full piece on PRWeek.

Rosanne Mottola is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America.

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