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8 principles of effective public relations

by The NonProfit Times - March 15, 2013

Getting good press coverage used to be referred to as “good ink.” That saying seems a little quaint now, with even major magazines like Newsweek going online only. But, having a good public relations strategy for the media is still important for nonprofits.

David Fenton and Lisa Chen, two executives at New York City-based Fenton, wrote in the book “Nonprofit Management 101” that the basics of getting attention for your cause are the same even though people get a lot of their news online. Those eight principles are:

  • Principle #1 – Tell Unforgettable Stories: Make your story “sticky,” that is, make it something people want to read. That means it needs to include distinct characters.
  • Principle #2 – Meet People Where They Are – Then Bring Them Along: Before you can take people where you want them to go on your issue, you have to find common ground with them.
  • Principle #3 – Repeat Yourself: You must design scenarios that repeat the story many times in many different venues.
  • Principle #4 – Build Relationships of Trust with Reporters: As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews once put it, “It’s not who you know. It’s who you get to know.”
  • Principle #5 – Simplify Your Issue: “Simple” does not mean dumbing down – just the opposite. Simple is smart because it means more people will understand why your cause is so important and be inspired to act.
  • Principle #6 – Harness Influential Messengers: Sometimes the messenger is as important as the message.
  • Principle #7 – Use Advertising to Make News: With the right combination of bold strategy and media outreach, it’s possible to parlay a modest ad buy into millions in free, “earned media.”
  • Principle #8 – Don’t Let the Opposition Control the Conversation: Hunkering down and hoping that negative publicity will simply go away is never a good PR strategy.


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