Written by Sarah Sharp • Published 02nd June 2015
7 key tactics that will elevate your charity PR campaign
When it comes to third sector PR there are some key tactics that can be put in place as part of an overarching strategy to both bring your cause to life, and to ensure your charity campaign stands out in a crowded fundraising space.
Users of social media (and even those who perhaps aren’t) will remember the #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign for Cancer Research that erupted across various digital channels in 2014 , engaging women (including female celebrities) all over the UK, and resulting in a staggering £8 million being raised for the cause, not to mention blanket press coverage across a wide range of media.
This particular charity drive was such a success that it is continually used as an example of ‘how to do it right’ amongst industry insiders, but what are the tactics you need to employ in order to achieve such valuable column inches, and ultimately the goal of effective fundraising for your charity?
Setting clear objectives from the outset
Having a crystal clear view of what your charity is trying to gain through PR is vital and it’s 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
Many charities will have access to their own databases of research, statistical analysis, and year-on-year trend reports that can be used to create stories and set the news agenda, without the need to spend additional budget on research.
New statistics and trend-led stories continue to be a great way to engage the media, and achieve some of the more hard-hitting pieces of coverage for your campaign. Take a thorough look at your internal resource to see what can be utilised as part of your ongoing awareness campaign and pinpoint these as a pool of potential stories.
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.
Fully integrate your social media activity
The media climate is changing day-by-day. No longer just an add-on, 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.
With citizen journalism also on the rise we are now all capable of being ‘social reporters’ with the right digital channels in place. Considering which outlets are the most suited to you; perhaps a blog that features guest posts from experts, or a branded Twitter page 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 as we have seen, 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. Careful and detailed planning is required in order to achieve successful results; 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
Celebrity endorsement is an extremely powerful and useful tool when it comes to 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.
Additionally, teaming up with a celebrity who has a genuine connection to the cause, or asking celebrities to donate signed items or photos to be auctioned off in the name of a campaign can also be a great way to engage a different completely different audience and raise money at the same time.
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 alone 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 which are aligned with the charity’s goals, can help to ensure that charity’s voice is heard within parliament.