Communications tools come and go. It’s probably been many years since your nonprofit used once common public relations tactics like news conferences, press kits, and radio actualities.
To create a communications programs that produces the results you want, such as new donors, increased attention, or policy change, you need to depend on ideas that never go out of style.
As you set your nonprofit’s goals for next year, here are three important principles you can rely on to make your nonprofit’s communications more effective than ever as you make your New Year’s resolutions in 2015.
Don’t Talk Only About Yourself
Many nonprofits limit their communications to news about their own programs and events. While that content is valuable, you need to appeal to more than your current supporters. One way to reach beyond your base: give your target audiences valuable professional information.
No matter how small your staff, you have tremendous expertise inside your organization. Look for ways to share your knowledge target audiences.
One simple tactic: a weekly newsletter with links to a small number key articles in your field. You could also establish a blog with weekly posts about your area of expertise. Our client Reclaiming Futures, a juvenile justice reform initiative that operates in 18 states, has used these methods to attract a monthly online audience of 18,000, including new partners and investors.
Know Your Audience
You need to be clear about who you want to reach and that requires a clear definition of your target audiences. The general public is not an audience.
Not sure how to identify and define your target audiences? Here’s what we recommend to clients: Work back from the result you want — perhaps a donation, a vote for a new law, or attending an event. When you think about who you want to act, what will persuade and why, you usually find that the universe of people you want to reach is much smaller than you thought.
Another great way to identify these groups: create a persona. Nancy Schwartz outlines how you can do this on her Getting Attention! blog.
Stop Counting Just Clicks
As communicators, we’re often obsessed with numbers. Metrics alone won’t give you a complete picture when you measure the effectiveness of your communications. Yes, you need to pay attention to the numbers you can collect from Google Analytics and other measurement software.
But you need to listen to your audience, too. Invest in focus groups and online surveys when you assess your existing communications programs and want to explore new initiatives. You will get insights from those conservations and responses that you’ll find on a spreadsheet.
How are you thinking about improving your nonprofit’s communications next year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.