5 Things I Learned My First Week in Nonprofit Communications

Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled that Ashley Heinonen joined our team in late November. Ashley joins us from the for-profit marketing world and brings with her a strong background in design and strategic communications. Also, she said she’d dress up on Halloween with us, so we thought her a good fit! Look forward to regular posts from Ashley.

It’s All About The Headline

A good headline can make all the difference in getting someone to click on your article or read an email pitch for your nonprofit communications department. One recent survey said that while 80 percent of people read your headline, only 20 percent read the rest—this really underscores the importance of writing the best headline possible to get people’s attention. Beat the odds by having your headline demonstrate how your article (or pitch) will benefit the reader—otherwise, you’ll never get clicked on.

Casting A Wide Net Isn’t Always The Goal

Having hundreds of blogs and websites publish your press release won’t make any difference if your target demographic isn’t in their audience. Unlike advertising, where people often think in the cost per thousand and getting the most bang for the buck,  nonprofit PR is more focused on key audiences in key locations (geographic or otherwise).

Of course, having The New York Times write up a piece about the good work your nonprofit is doing by sheer happenstance is fantastic for creating general brand or cause awareness, but by focusing on a more specific audience, you can increase your return on investment because you’re giving a specific reader the specific information they’re looking for–and hopefully it will pay off by converting from reading to action.

Collaboration Is Key

Working at a communications agency that specializes in nonprofit and foundation communications can mean working with a variety of people both at the nonprofit itself and sometimes at partner agencies, often across different time zones. Having regularly scheduled conference calls to keep everyone updated is crucial.

It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

I came from the marketing world where our goal was to increase sales in the short-term. In my new role as an assistant account executive working in nonprofit PR at Prichard Communications, my new goal is to create and support communications strategies for the long term. Our team prides itself on creating sustainable communications solutions that nonprofits with limited resources can carry with them long after we’re gone.

Nonprofits and For-Profits Face The Same Challenges

Both nonprofits and for-profits are typically looking for greater sales or funding and want to be top-of-mind when you’re looking to make a purchase or donation. When creating a communications plan, nonprofits and for-profits both need—and can benefit from—the same types of communications strategies focused on supporting overarching business goals.

What differences have you found between for-profit and nonprofit communications? Tell me in the comments.

Ashley Heinonen

Ashley Heinonen is a former assistant account executive at Prichard. A cooking enthusiast and lover of nature, if Ashley isn’t trying out a new recipe or exploring Portland’s culinary scene, she’s most likely wandering a trail in the Columbia River Gorge (weather permitting). With a background in both design and communications, Ashley loves using her creativity when tackling PR strategies for clients.

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