Articles by Month: February 2018
As President and COO, it may seem like writing blog posts would not be included in my job description. But I know better than that, especially with Prosper’s upside down servant leadership model. Our executive team empties the trash and makes coffee just like everyone else. So, here I sit, following through on my promise to write a blog post on agency operations in the midst of running Prosper for Purpose.
Which brings me to my topic of delivering your promise. In other words, how to take your word and make it come true for your clients.
You probably know the drill: You sit across from a prospective client and tell them about your mission and vision. You passionately describe how you help your clients and the world and how you want to help them too. They drink the Kool-Aid and now you’ve gotta make good on your word. Well, you can’t do it alone. So how do you take goals and make them a reality for your clients?
It happens through a combination of process and empowering your team with the tools to help your agency deliver both stellar client care and expert deliverables. [IDEA Download your PR Self Set-up Quicksheet (I/we could probably create a checklist out of this post really quickly. ]
Set Up Your Agency and Your Clients for Success
Success starts with solid systems and clear expectations. Clearly communicate the scope and terms with your new client, and make sure you establish points and frequency of contact between your organization and theirs. Behind the scenes, set up your project management tools to track progress and deliverables.
We did extensive research and testing to select and implement an integrated set of platforms. Together, these tools handle the management of stakeholder relationships, agency operations, client and internal projects, and implementation.
Here’s an overview of our best of class picks and the way we utilize each platform.
PR Agency Management Tools
Let’s back up for just a second and address a frequently misunderstood term. What IS public relations? Public relations (PR) is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
That said, managing those relationships with our own clients is of the utmost importance so we do everything in our power to create a smooth process that ensures mutual benefit. Here are the tools we use to do so:
- LiquidPlanner: Project and task management, time tracking, resource and timeline management
- GSuite: Gmail, Calendar and Drive for business
- Hubspot: Website, inbound marketing, sales, email and content marketing, social media management and analytics
- Intuit/Quickbooks Online: Bookkeeping
Deliver on Your Promise, Delight Your Clients
Once your client’s account and projects are setup, there are five steps you can take to make certain that your team is in sync and your clients are happy. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of best practices based on experience and successful applications.
Step 1: Discovery
Review and assess what your client has and what they need. We do this through a proprietary process we call the Prosper Road Map. The first rule of communications is know your audience, so start your research by tapping into the client’s understanding of who they are trying to reach and how they can help that particular group. During this discovery, take the time to nail down measurable objectives with your client so you can track success throughout the project.
Step 2: Insights
Once we’ve tapped into our client’s knowledge of their organization and audiences, we then add to our research with outside sources. From reviewing social and web analytics, analyzing industry trends or conducting interviews, this upfront effort reveals your client’s areas of opportunity.
Whenever possible, we learn from direct conversations with our client’s stakeholders, such as internal staff, customers, vendors and prospects.
Step 3: Planning
Every project needs a plan. Whether we’re developing a brand, a fundraising campaign or a media relations strategy, we compile our research and insights into one organized plan.
A solid plan details your goals, measurable objectives, audiences, key messages and strategies. For each deliverable to the client, map out the necessary tactics to reach your objective.
Tasks within each category (media, advertising, social, etc.) are assigned to team members and placed in a timeline. Beyond that, all the nitty-gritty details are entered into our project management system.
Step 4: Implementation
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Let creative sparks fly while the system runs like a well-oiled machine. With the right tools and planning, you’ll have a smoother ride. Time to enjoy the process of meeting deadlines and delighting clients!
Step 5: Tracking
Data should inform each successive step of your client projects. Have your tools and platforms collect data in the background and set regular checkpoints for analysis. If the data shows that one of your tactics is working exceptionally well, dig deeper to learn which factors are driving its success. When something isn’t working, remain flexible and open to adjustments. Try tweaking one element at a time to isolate and identify the problem.
Every step of the way, keep the lines of communication with your clients and coworkers open. At Prosper for Purpose we value honesty and maintain transparency with our clients and team alike. In business, as in our personal lives, remember that “your honest word is one of your most precious and powerful possessions.”
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What Social Media Can Do for Nonprofits
Nonprofit social media campaigns are an important part of any marketing strategy. Research shows Americans spend more time on social media than any other major internet activity, including email. And an impressive 81% of Americans have a profile on a social networking site. Simply put, social media is a huge part of our lives and the importance of utilizing it is ever increasing.
There are many reasons why nonprofits should incorporate social media into their strategies. Believe it or not, 43% of millennials are most inspired to give by social media compared with any other channel. In addition, more than half of social media users say they would “take the time to learn more about a charity if they see a friend post about it.”
With the right social media strategy, you can…
- Increase brand/campaign awareness
- Generate prospects
- Expand your audience
- Increase website traffic and search ranking
- Grow loyalty and delight donors
- Produce audience insights
- Boost donations
- Increase community participation
- Cross-promote with other organizations
For nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike, social media success begins with a comprehensive strategy. From when you post and how to engage with audiences, to converting followers into donors, all aspects are equally important and must be included in your strategy.
How to Create a Nonprofit Social Media Strategy
To help you get started, here’s a simple, practical approach to developing a social media plan for your nonprofit.
1. Establish Goals and Objectives
Goals are overarching and all-encompassing. Common goals are to increase reach or site traffic, generate leads, expand signups and conversions, and raise donations.
Objectives are specific and measurable steps you take to achieve a strategy. Use the following template to set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) social media objectives. Let’s say your goal is to increase traffic to your website from social media. Your S.M.A.R.T. objective might look something like this:
Increase website traffic from social media by 20%, from 100,000 visitors to 120,000 visitors by July 15th, 2018.
It’s important to use specific, realistic numbers to define your goal. Making it time-specific will help your team map out the necessary objectives to reach that goal by the target date.
2. Audit and Benchmark
Next, assess your current social media offerings and ask yourself these important questions:
- What is your current activity and with whom are you connecting?
- How much time do you have to dedicate to social media?
- What is your brand’s voice, tone and style?
- Are your current metrics and goals achievable and, if so, how?
- What are we trying to achieve through social media?
3. Choose Your Channels
Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are all wonderful for storytelling, while Twitter is ideal for conversations. Start by finding out which platforms are preferred by your target audience. It’s important to meet your audience where they are and focus on the platforms where you can achieve the most engagement.
The only way to see which platforms are best for your company and audience is to experiment. Post consistently, track performance, monitor keywords, and listen to your audience so you can make informed adjustments to your tactics along the way.
4. Define Your Tactics
Strategies define how you’re going to do something, while tactics are the action items — what you’ll do to reach your goal, meet the objective and fulfill the strategy.
Goal: Involve more individuals under age 45 in our organization
Strategy: Use social media to reach more individuals with our message
Objective: Grow our social networks by 20% in the under 45 age demographic
- Showcase our current donors and volunteers in the target demographic
- Promote relevant Use images and testimonials
- Adjust the tone and messaging to speak to connect with the under 45 audience
- Ask our community to like and share our content
5. Create a Content Plan
Steven Shattuck at HubSpot explained that nonprofit social media messaging should focus on the “three A’s”:
- Appreciation: Recognize your donors, supporters, volunteers and employees
- Advocacy: Engage with and share the content of others
- Appeals: Solicit donations or help
Use these “three A’s” to map out your content plan. An effective content plan details the pieces of content you will promote and on which channels. Each piece of content should be relevant to your audience and communicate your mission and values.
Additionally, each piece of content should be tied to a goal within one of the “three A’s.” If your goal is to increase awareness, your objective could be to increase shares of your volunteer or donor appreciation posts on Facebook by a certain percentage.
Remember that you can use the same core content across each platform by simply adapting its format and tone. For instance, you might post a paragraph excerpt of a blog post on Facebook, link to the post on Twitter, and share a powerful image and caption on Instagram that directs users to read more on the blog.
6. Implement, Analyze and Adjust
A goal is just a dream if you don’t have a deadline. Create a realistic timeline, analyze successes and failures and adjust your tactics in pursuit of your goal.
As you move forward with your strategy, make sure each activity supports an overarching goal of your organization. Track how much time and money is invested in social media so that you can calculate the return on investment.
For example, if your goal is to increase donations, you would want to find out the lifetime value (LTV) of a donor and measure that against the cost of the social media activity required to convert a follower into a donor. Measure the cost of social media in terms of dollars spent boosting posts and the number of hours per week spent managing social media.
7. Collaborate and Create Communities
It’s not enough to have a great social media strategy and set about implementing it — you also need to collaborate with others, including two important groups: social media partners and social media advocates.
Social media partners are staff or select volunteers who post as your organization, primarily on a set schedule. These people are usually on-site and can post about events and activities.
Social media advocates are individuals who frequently like and share posts as themselves and occasionally post to your organization’s social pages. They also share your stories to their own pages and encourage others to engage.
There are many other straightforward ways to build your online community:
- Discuss and share ideas
- Post polls and other interactive content
- Listen — learn about your audience
- Engage and ask questions — be part of the conversation
- Build relationships with other organizations
- Promote events and seasonal activities
- Share resident and staff profiles
If your results aren’t exactly where you’d like them to be, fear not. Just remember the words of digital media entrepreneur Jay Baer: “Realize that the social media success equation isn’t big moves on the chessboard, it’s little moves made every day that eventually add up to a major shift.”
Every nonprofit is different and your social media strategies should be as well. If you have questions about the best strategy for your organization, let us know in the comment section below or send us a message!
A case for support, sometimes referred to as a case statement, is one of the single most important documents a nonprofit can create. It is a simple plan that becomes the foundation for all other materials your organization produces over the course of a fundraising campaign or extended period of time.
Appealing to a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, your case for support is just that – your reasoning for why people should support your cause.
Through a mix of powerful storytelling and graphics, a case for support allows you to engage and motivate donors in order to raise funds for a pressing need. As you begin an outline to write your case for support, it is important to know which ideas and messages must be included.
What to Include When Writing a Case for Support
1. An Emotional Introduction
Many people make the mistake of beginning case statements with the history of the organization. A better option is to tell a story that appeals to both the head and heart. By using storytelling to state your specific need, nonprofits can create a personal connection with readers which will make them feel emotionally invested.
Captivate your audience with an opening that grabs their attention and compels them to keep reading. New and potential donors will decide whether or not your case for support is worth reading based on the first paragraph or two.
2. History of the Organization
Let people know how it all began. Provide a brief summary of the founding of your nonprofit and its accomplishments thus far. Illustrate that you are credible — describe the key values and beliefs that propel your organization to fulfill its purpose. Donors with similar values and beliefs will feel a connection and be drawn to learn more.
3. Mission & Impact
Answer the question, “Why does your organization exist?” Give readers a detailed account of the programs and services you are currently running and why they are important. By illustrating your mission, you are explaining what you are doing for the betterment of individuals, your community and society.
4. Vision & Objectives
Outline your big goal for the future. When you describe your organization’s vision, you are really telling people where you are going and allowing donors and prospective donors to come along with you. Tell people why they should care about your organization and consider making a donation.
5. Financial Needs
How much money does your organization need to raise to extend its impact? Donors want specific explanations of how their money will be utilized and why you need to raise funds now. Use statistics, charts and testimonials to prove that what you are doing is worthwhile and deserving of donations. By telling donors why funding is necessary and what results will be achieved, you are inviting them to make a difference with you.
6. Call to Action
Provide donors with a list of different ways they can support your efforts. Monetary donations are great, but so are corporate sponsorships, gifts of stock, and planned gifts such as bequests and charitable annuities.
Do you have a mentoring program? Let donors know the various ways they can volunteer with your organization, whether it be chairing a committee or attending a sponsored event. Reiterate your overall goal and let donors know how they can help you reach it.
Create a Captivating Case
There is no one formula for writing a case for support. Some organizations may feel the need to add additional information and that’s okay. What’s important is that these six criteria are included in a coherent and compelling manner.
Need help creating a vision so appealing that donors are motivated to become part of your mission? Give us a call!
Learning to write an effective press release is an essential skill for public relations practitioners, whether you’re writing for your clients or your own company. This task may be daunting at first, but with a strategic set of guidelines your press release will stand out among the competition.
8 Steps to Writing an Effective Press Release
1. Write From a Newsworthy Angle
You may not have the option to choose the topic you write about. But you do have the option to select the most newsworthy angle for your press release. Before you begin writing, ask yourself if there is anything new, unusual or interesting that would pique the interest of your target audience.
2. Know Your Audience
Research your audience to better understand what interests them and how you could personalize the story to make it relevant. You may want to create slightly different versions of your press release that speak to various types of readers and/or outlets. For example, you may not have the same call-to-action for a media release that you do for one targeted to nonprofits. Keep the general story the same but use personalization to reach your readers.
3. Lead With a Catchy Headline
The human attention span is only eight seconds, meaning it is vital to catch and keep your reader’s attention at first glance. Your headline gives readers a snapshot of what your press release will include and elicits immediate emotions. When writing your headline, think of what phrases will intrigue your audience to captivate their attention and motivate them to act on your call to action.
4. Get to the Point
Journalists, news publications and media outlets are constantly inundated with press releases. Unless the first sentence of your release grabs their attention, they probably won’t finish reading it. Treat your opening paragraph as a news story lead written in an active voice that summarizes the most important aspects — who, what, when, where, why and how. This gives your readers the most important information upfront in a clear, concise manner.
5. Incorporate Quotes to Provide Insight
Use quotes when writing your press release to provide personal insight rather than additional information. When quotes are used correctly, they evoke imagery, inspire action, and provide a glimpse into an organization’s personality. Make sure the quotes are appropriate and provide purpose. Keep in mind that quotes usually fit best toward the end of a release.
6. Include a Clear Call-to-Action & Contact Information
A call-to-action is vital for your press release as it gives readers a clear set of next steps. Make sure your release includes your agency’s or client’s contact information and the suggested next steps. For example, link to your website, online pressroom, a landing page, or your fundraising site to increase traffic from your target audience.
7. Check Your Grammar
Grammar mistakes in your press release can be detrimental to your story and brand. After you complete the first draft of your press release, have a colleague check for any grammar, punctuation or spelling errors. Another good tactic is to print out your press release for review. If you have any questions along the way, be sure to reference the Associated Press Stylebook — an essential tool for PR practitioners.
8. Follow up With Key Contacts
Reach out to key contacts you think would be most likely to share or engage with your content. Send the release to them personally along with a note about why you think they would be interested in your release. A personal email goes a long way when it comes to reaching out to key media influencers and organizations.
To get the best results from press releases, follow this clear and actionable checklist and share it with your team. For more PR tips, read Lorraine Schuchart’s top five PR lessons learned while running Prosper for Purpose.