Evolution of Strategic Planning for Non-Profit Public Relations

Written by Kaitlyn Langdale, AAE of Ellensburg Downtown Association


As the world has changed, so has the market place and business and the way we interact within them. Where once it took days or even months to communicate from city to city, now you can speak to the globe through a few taps of your fingers.

Even in the last few decades advances in technology have allowed us to take giant leaps in the way we can reach anyone around the world. We can call, text, email, tweet, or message just about anyone nowadays it seems. We are all connected in this way and there is much to be gained by this connection.

To take advantage of this global contact the strategy of non-profit public relations has changed the game when it comes to their plan in achieving their objectives.

In the old days the approach that non-profit communication teams would take to reach their client would be a blanket message to anyone that would listen. Besides that their tactics to reach their audience would be through:

  • New releases
  • Stories about donations
  • Annual galas
  • Announcements

This approach while good in its intentions is not very engaging. The problem with giving one flat message to everyone is that this is nothing special about it for anyone to grasp onto or to root for. Today with all the vast advertisements and media scrolling through our lives if you throw just another generic message into the wind it will get lost in the storm of cat videos and Donald Trump memes.


That is why non-profit communication teams have developed a new strategy to refine their approach and determine the best channels to reach them. Most plans have one or more objective depending on the kind and number of audiences to be reached, but the following are elements every plan should contain:

  1. Objectives – What does the organization want the plan to accomplish?
    • Objectives should be straightforward and clearly stated
  2. Target audiences – Whom must the organization reach or influence to make the program work? 
    • Think of the demographics of the audience you are trying to reach. This could help to communicate the message more effectively to the intended audience.
  3. Key messages – What are the one or two most important ideas the organization wishes to communicate to its audiences?
  4. Strategies – What grand design or overall approach should the organization adopt to reach its target audiences?
  5. Tactics – What tools should the organization employ to carry out its strategies?
  6. Timetable – What is a realistic time period for developing and carrying out the strategies the organization plan to adopt?
  7. Budget – What should the size and scope of the organization’s public relations program be?

With this modern public relations strategy non-profit communication teams can tailor their plans to better reach their audiences and achieve their objectives.

With the help of social media public relations professionals have more ways than ever to reach their audiences. Gone are the days where public relations professionals solely rely on reporters and news releases to promote their organizations. We live in a global network so why not use it.

The world has changed and so have we. So why not adapt and take advantage of the new world we live in.  






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