Many nonprofit communicators feel their efforts never get any respect or recognition. They often believe their marketing and communications initiatives never measure up to the work done by their counterparts in corporate communications or public relations firms. It’s the front-page newspaper story, the magazine cover or the Super Bowl exposure that captures the attention of executive directors and governing boards.
Those two groups often become too focused on the numbers of media impressions. It places unnecessary and ill-conceived pressure on communications and marketing professionals. They often place unrealistic expectations on communicators whose time can be better spent on other initiatives.
A story in the February McKinsey Quarterly affirmed this belief. It praised nonprofit communicators for successes in social media.
The power of storytelling: What nonprofits can teach the private sector about social media shows how nonprofits are doing a better job than their for-profit counterparts in harnessing the power of social media. The article contains an excerpt from The Dragonfly Effect, by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, and includes an interview with the authors. (It also includes an audio file for downloading or streaming.)
One area that Andy Smith emphasizes in the article is for organizations to keep focusing on goals. In the end, if you didn’t raise enough money to meet your operating budget, failed to provide services or programs for your members or clients, or stumbled in recruiting and engaging enough volunteers to fulfill your mission, it really doesn’t matter how many people follow you on Twitter or Facebook.
Many nonprofit communicators underestimate the value of the stories they have to tell. People who work in education, ministry or social services are so busy and consumed with their missions that they fail to make sure their best stories are told. This is where executive directors and board members can help in marketing or communications. It’s so simple for an executive director or a board member to start or use their Twitter or Facebook account to share short success stories.
Nonprofit communications efforts can be small, slow and steady and win the race.
My counterparts in corporate communications and public relations often told me they would love to be telling a story of human compassion or triumph instead of, well, pet food, soft drinks or beer.