Whether your organization’s roots are reminiscent of a “Once upon a time…” fairytale or your future is destined for “happily ever after” every nonprofit has a great story to tell. Compelling nonprofit PR programs are built around great stories that clearly communicate need and impact. As you work to maximize the effectiveness of your nonprofit public relations program, keep these tried and true storytelling best practices top-of-mind.
Set the stage
Great stories draw the reader in. They help the reader to envision themselves woven into the cast of characters and embedded in executing the plot. Similarly, a great nonprofit PR story is relatable, impactful and inspires readers to take action. As you craft your nonprofit press releases and pitches, focus on putting your story into context and helping the reader to understand its importance.
Focus on (a) central character(s)
Whether it’s a heroine or a beast, put your characters at the forefront of your nonprofit public relations stories. From a media perspective, this provides a point of connection for viewers and readers, and, for donors, it helps to tie donations to outcomes.
Make the plot crystal clear
Pervasive social problems are complex, as are their solutions. Issues like the opportunity gap, poverty, hunger and domestic abuse, among others, are decades if not centuries old and their trajectories are long and winding. To build a captivating story, you need to focus your story around a clear and concise plotline that can be easily followed and understood by those who aren’t intimately familiar with the topic at hand. As our agency credo says, make yourself perfectly clear.
Leverage prequels and sequels
How did low income families feed their children during the summer months before you raised funds to establish a food truck to bring free meals into impoverished communities? How did clients access mental health services before recent legislation was passed? How will this change with new legislation in place?
Much like great novels (and epic movie trilogies), prequels and sequels keep audiences engaged and tuned-in to your organization for more compelling content. Remember, it’s much easier to rally support for what’s next with an established and enthusiastic audience already in place.
Involve your audience
Whether it’s donors, staff or volunteers, your audience has stories to share themselves and may well make great “characters” for an upcoming public relations story. When crafting your nonprofit PR strategy, weave in opportunities to involve your audience as storytellers, ambassadors and, of course, readers.
As evidenced by the continued growth of social media marketing platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, a great visual can be a story unto itself. Ensure your nonprofit’s storytellers have visual counterparts on their team to maximize the impact of your nonprofit public relations program.
Harness your reviews
Just as the inside jacket of your favorite novel is home to reader reviews, your website and social media marketing can become home to reviews from your donors, staff, volunteers, clients and the community-at-large. Sometimes reviews are fodder for more stories and in other instances they are a barometer for determining which story angles are most appealing to your target audiences. Your nonprofit PR program should feature stories from multiple facets of your organization so be sure to seize opportunities to leverage program-specific reviews to help drive this forward.
Nonprofit public relations programs are a suite of compelling stories that pull on heartstrings, showcase the power of giving back, pair tragedy with triumph and clearly communicate impact. As you work with your internal team or nonprofit PR agency to craft compelling stories, don’t be afraid to cross into different genres to showcase the true strength and importance of your organization.