For many non-commercial organizations, public relations, whether to recruit volunteers, publicize an event, or commemorate organizational milestones, is a scary, if not foreign, task. In most situations employees at non-commercial organizations know their programmes, the communities they serve, and are knowledgeable about the organization’s target social issues, but do not how to perform public relations.
There has been a push in the non-commercial sector in recent years on developing public relations as a core competency, as evidenced by the increasing number of workshops and conference presentations on the subject. Recent workshop offerings include: “The Nuts and Bolts of Public Relations,” presented at the 2005 Washington Library Association (WLA) Conference in Spokane, Washington; “Media Management: The Value of Relationships,” presented at the 2006 Montana Non-commercial Association Annual Conference in Helena, Montana; and “Branding, Communications, and Public Relations” to be presented at a July 2007 day-long workshop presented by Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS) in Portand, Oregon. Though these three presentations are but a sampling of the myriad of workshops and presentations directed at non-commercial organizations n the Pacific Northwest, it should be emphasized that all three focus on media relations—the composition and distribution of pitch letters, media advisories, press releases, and public service announcements. The truth is, public relations are much more than just press agency. However, with the decreasing emphasis on government funding and increased reliance on independent sources of funding (Frumpkin, 2006), funders want to know that their money will be used wisely, and media clippings are one way to demonstrate this.
Therefore, media relations usually comprise the bulk of non-commercial organizations public relations programs. Many non-commercial organizations are already performing public
relations, though not as strategically or effectively as they could. For example, sending out a monthly or quarterly newsletter to clients, employees, and supporters, or writing or distributing press releases and public service announcements in conjunction with a fundraiser or event most certainly qualify as public relations activities. Some non-commercial organizations even have established and maintained media contacts, and have impressive databases of supporters, donors, clients, and partners in the community. However, these resources may not be utilized to their fullest potential, and the public relations activities that are being done could be done more efficiently, consistently, and effectively. The purpose of this paper is to establish effective public relations programs in organizations that are either establishing a public relations program for the first time, or to increase the capacity and effectiveness of an existing public relations program.
The basic operations of the organization, as dictated by the mission statement, take precedence over public relations, and the organization’s success is measured in quantifiable terms related to service output, not media coverage. Simply put, many non-commercial organizations lack the resources to acquire a full-time public relations practitioner. As a result, many non-commercial organizations hire interns to perform public relations functions, as observed by internship postings on any university’s career services website, a myriad of online intern search websites, and even job search engines that offer an internship search.
At first glance, this seems a viable solution to the resources dilemma many non-commercial organizations face. However, most interns work at the non-commercial organizations during the summer months or for a semester during the year. Interns rarely have the opportunity to meet the person who previously held their position, and as a result, the continuity of the position often suffers. For example, summer interns at an non-commercial organizations might develop a database of media contacts, and distribute press releases accordingly. Interns who take their place in the fall may not know about the database or who was contacted, and thus relationships with gatekeepers may not be fostered.
1.2 Objective of the Study
The objectives of this paper, is divided into two parts: theoretical basis and practical application.
If public relations are to be performed in the non-commercial setting of Guidance Community Development Foundation, the case study of this project, it must take into account the unique climate of non-commercial organizations, not be overly time consuming, and encourage continuity while recognizing that many people in the organization may be
performing public relations functions. Additionally, given the challenges of establishing a public relations program in the non-commercial setting, non-commercials must be convinced it is an endeavor worthy of their time and energy.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were generated for the study:
In the world of integrated marketing, the lines between advertising, communications and public relations have become almost non-existent. Just what role does Public Relations play in the today’s mix?
Reputation can account for a large portion of a company’s market capitalization, and can be its most important long-term asset. It impacts an organization in a myriad of ways, including stock price, and the ability to attract and retain customers and employees.
1.5 Scope of the Study
To enable a complete and broader study of this research work, the scope of this study is arranged as follows;
The theoretical basis section, will explore relevant theoretical foundations and best practices. In the practical application section, it will apply the theoretical foundations and best practices to a guide to establishing public relations programs in non-commercial settings. In the first part of this paper, the emphasis is on public relations in general; in the second part, information from the first part is applied to non-commercial settings, specifically for a non-academic audience. Guidance Community development foundation is used as a case study
“The road to success is not that smooth”, according to an adage. The realization of the ambition to write this particular topic was not without some problems or debates.
These problems are as follows:
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Public Relations (PR) is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc. An earlier definition of public relations, by The first World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, held in Mexico City, in August 1978, was “the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest.”
Non-commercial: Non-commercial (also spelled noncommercial) refers to an activity or entity that does not in some sense involve commerce, at least relative to similar activities that do have a commercial objective or emphasis.
Public: In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individuals, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings.
Nonprofit organization: Nonprofit organization (abbreviated as NPO) is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than to distribute them as profit or dividends.
Public relation Officer: Public relations practitioners provide communication services to organizations by giving advice to management, planning and implementing communication activities and evaluating their effectiveness.