Operations Manual: Public relations and communications

ALL THE BASICS

  • Facebook is, by far, the No. 1 social media platform. And it’s free. If you run your Facebook page well, you probably don’t need a website. Here’s how to create a Facebook page for your nonprofit.
  • Post at least three times a week but no more than three times a day.
  • Visuals such as photos and videos (including Facebook Live videos) get the most attention on Facebook. Think visually!
  • Be sure your image sizes correctly display on Facebook — especially logos and any image bearing words. These must adhere to proper sizes in order to display correctly. Here is a recent guide to social media image sizes.
  • Facebook Live is easy to do from a smart phone and has value beyond just live viewers. It can be seen long after it has gone live. (Most viewers of our Facebook Live videos watch the videos after they have been broadcast live.) HubSpot has an excellent article on everything you need to know about Facebook live here. What it does not mention is that your videos will look more professional if you broadcast in “landscape mode” or horizontally. Just make sure that you have the phone horizontal before you hit “go live.”

Creating fundraisers as an individual or as a page is easy. Also, at least for now, Facebook takes nothing in fees or percentages from the funds raised for your nonprofit. That’s hard to beat. Learn more about Facebook fundraisers here.

Twitter has little value and produces very little actionable opportunities — such as directing people to a fundraising page. We suggest having a Twitter page but not spending much time on it. We also suggest using an app like this that automatically takes your Facebook page posts and puts them on Twitter.

Owned by Facebook, Instagram likely will provide you more engagement with photos you post there than on Twitter, but it also lacks actionability. Consider it an awareness tool alone. Here are some Instagram best practices, courtesy of SproutSocial.

We suggest having a LinkedIn page, mainly so that people can see you are a legitimate operation, but it’s not useful for regular engagement with the community. However, we strongly suggest having a professional-looking personal Linked In page because people are more likely to be examining individuals rather than companies on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or you have a poorly developed one, it reflects poorly and can damage the impression one has of you and your organization.

We use Constant Contact at headquarters for our large list. However, we suggest MailChimp for covenant partners. MailChimp is free to use for an email list of up to 2,000 contacts and only $9.99/month for up to 50,000 contacts — not counting a 15% discount they advertise for nonprofits. Constant Contact or MailChimp are both credible mass-email platforms.

You can do virtually anything you would do from your own website on your social media outlets — raise money, advertise events, share news, etc. And social media outlets are free. You also have a covenant partner webpage at FullerCenter.org/locations where your contact information and basic notes are available. However, if you are determined to have your own website — and are certain you will be able to maintain it for years to come (a dead or non-updated website is a terrible reflection on your organization), here are tips for launching a website simply and hosting it economically.

If you choose to produce a brochure, we suggest keeping it a simple three-panel brochure (folded from 8.5-x-11). Companies such as PSPrint offer quality work at very reasonable prices for such products. If you have someone who can do the design for you in a program such as Adobe InDesign, that is definitely the way to get the best quality product and control the content. We have a basic, customizable three-panel brochure that you can download here and update as needed. However, Word is very limited in design capabilities. PSPrint also offers some design templates and such that you can create and customize through their website.

Newspapers

While the newspaper business has severely contracted, many small towns still have thriving local papers, even if they are short-staffed. One way to help these papers spread word about your work is to do the work for them. Instead of simply asking them to come out to cover a project or event, share high-quality photos and text with them that they may be able to use. Also, be understanding and polite whether or not they can publicize an event. You may need their support later on.

One way to get good attention in a newspaper is to submit a Letter to the Editor thanking people. Newspapers desperately need such contributions, and it’s free.

Television

Obviously, this is for medium and large markets — or those very near them. If you don’t have contacts at a station, simply peruse their website and look for the “Contact Us” section. Find a “news director” or similar position to email or call. TV News stations often plan things late or may even call just minutes before your event and tell you they are coming. Be flexible. Contact them via email about a week before an event, and follow up with a phone call a couple days before the event if you haven’t gotten a response.

Radio

Many radio stations will help you record a short PSA at no cost. It can’t hurt to ask them. Also make yourself available for interviews and local talk shows (same goes for local TV).

With all journalists …

Journalists are always looking for an interesting or emotional angle. “Nonprofit home builder builds home” might not catch their attention. But “Woman climbs from homelessness to community leader” might capture more attention — even if he story is essentially the same. Help direct their attention to the most interesting angle first.

This is your most direct opportunity to engage potential volunteers and supporters. Be energetic, optimistic and inspiring. A long, wordy PowerPoint may not do the trick, so know your material. The last thing anyone wants you to do is read along with them to a PowerPoint presentation. We do have a PowerPoint you can use for the overall story of The Fuller Center — one with mostly photos and very little text so that you can engage directly with the audience instead of looking at the slides. It’s more of a visual slideshow to reinforce and complement your conversation … not replace it.

Make yourself available to churches (and groups within the church such as senior and youth groups), civic groups and schools.

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