How to elevate your charity PR campaign

If you find yourself wondering how can a PR strategy help charities amplify their cause.

There are some key tactics that should be implemented as part of an overarching strategy to help bring the cause to life, ensuring your charity campaign stands out.

Users of social media will remember Cancer Research’s #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign that erupted across various digital channels several years ago, engaging audiences all over the UK, resulting in a staggering £8 million being raised for the cause. The campaign also delivered blanket press coverage across a wide range of media.

This particular charity drive was such a success that even many years later, industry insiders still use it as an example of ‘how to do it right’.

So with this in mind, we look at how to create a PR plan for your charity, and the tactics you need to employ in order to achieve valuable column inches, and ultimately effective fundraising for your charity.

Setting clear objectives from the outset

Do you have a crystal clear view of what your charity is trying to gain through PR?

It is vital and important you make sure you have a set of objectives in place. Prior to planning ask the following questions:

  • Which of our forthcoming marketing activity or appeals will benefit the most from PR support?
  • What demographic are we trying to target and engage with?
  • Are we trying to increase awareness of the charity itself, or is fundraising for a particular cause more important?
  • Which publications do we see ourselves in, and where can we create the most impact and reach our chosen demographic?
  • Would this specific activity be more suited to a fully integrated campaign, or social media alone?

By identifying key objectives, messages and audiences right at the start, measuring success becomes part of the whole campaign journey, ensuring simple and precise post-activity evaluation.

Making the most of data and research

Charities that have access to their own databases of research, statistical analysis, and year-on-year trend reports, should use these to create stories and set the news agenda, without the need to spend additional budget on research.

New statistics and trend-led stories are a great way to engage the media, and achieve some of the more hard-hitting pieces of coverage for your campaign. By taking a detailed look at your internal resource, you can see what can be utilised as part of your ongoing awareness campaign and pinpoint these as a pool of potential stories to be used in the future.

Our work with palliative, neurological and bereavement charity Sue Ryder, saw us utilise a series of charity PR tactics including commissioning research to challenge topics of death and bereavement to the forefront of the news agenda.

Provide great case studies

While some issues can be sensitive and require a degree of discretion, sharing a personal experience is an extremely powerful way to encourage donations and engagement. Beneficiaries of a charity are in many cases keen on the opportunity to share their experience if of course handled sensitively. They want to raise awareness and encourage others to donate money to the cause– particularly if the charity has changed their lives for the better.

Case studies such as these can convey important and meaningful key messages and calls to action to readers and potential donors such as how the charity works, what the fundraising or appeal is ultimately setting out to do, or how to donate or take part in volunteering.

An example of this is our work with the charity Genetic Disorders UK driving sign-ups for Jeans for Genes Day, the charity’s annual fundraising campaign, that encourages the nation to wear jeans and donate to Genetic Disorders UK.

As part of our charity PR strategy, we enlisted the support of relevant celebrities and influencers to amplify reach and engagement around a limited edition T-shirt that had been specifically released for the campaign.

Through our work we managed to place over 110+ case studies in the media for the campaign.

Fully integrate your social media activity

The media climate is rapidly becoming more digitally focused day-by-day. A social media presence is no longer a luxury and rather a necessity.

This is no different to when it comes to creating your PR plan, your social media activity should be fully integrated throughout your PR and marketing along with campaigning, and fundraising activity right from the start.

It goes without saying that integrated PR and communications is far more impactful than standalone campaigns that target only one type of media or audience.

Consider which outlets are the most suited to you; perhaps a blog that features guest posts from experts, or an Instagram or Twitter account which keeps people informed with relevant and interesting content (such as fundraising events and volunteering opportunities) to establish trust and reciprocal respect, can ensure you stand out in the digital arena.

Using powerful images to tell your story

Using genuine images, whether that’s encouraging people to take interesting ‘selfies’ on social media with a creative #hashtag, or creating something more thought-provoking, is one of the most effective communications methods for connecting with people emotionally and encouraging people to take action.

However, more often than not an image alone is not enough for this to gain effective PR traction. But with careful and detailed planning successful results can be achieved; consider factors such as who your target audience is, the primary call to action, and the response to the images you want your audience to have.

Charity and celebrity

When it comes to charity PR, celebrity endorsement is an extremely powerful and useful tool when the objective is around raising awareness of a charity campaign and increasing the scope for fundraising opportunities. If your charity has a celebrity patron or affiliation, making the most of these relationships can really help give your cause a boost in terms of achieving press coverage and awareness.

Charities should consider teaming up with celebrities who have a genuine connection to the cause. Or alternatively reach out to celebrities to see if they can donate signed items or photos to be auctioned off as part of the campaign.

This can also be a great way to engage a completely different audience and raise money at the same time.

As an example of this is our work with Dementia UK. Prior to the pandemic the charity challenged us with elevating awareness of their annual fundraising initiative, Time for a Cuppa.

The annual campaign encourages people to host a tea party with friends and family, whilst raising money for people impacted by dementia.

To create some buzz and excitement around the initiative, we decided to launch a light-hearted celebrity-led photo stunt, which involved recreating some of the most iconic tea-drinking moments in movie-history.

As part of our activity we enlisted the help of five celebrities who had been personally touched by dementia. This included Emma Barton, Phyllis Logan, Naughty Boy, Jess Wright and Natalya Wright. We were able to create a series of fun and eye-catching images, and deliver coverage in titles such as the METRO, as well as TV appearances on Lorraine and Good Morning Britain.

Effective lobbying

One of the golden rules of effective lobbying is thorough research.

When presented to MPs in the Commons a charity needs to be able to support its claims with hard evidence and statistics. This can make it a lot easier for the politician to take on the case. Additionally, working directly with constituency MPs to identify issues or concerns of constituents that are aligned with the charity’s goals, can help to ensure the charity’s voice is heard within parliament.

If you would like to discuss your next Charity PR campaign with our experts or how to create a PR plan for your a charity, get in touch to find out more information.

Get in touch with the team