By Stephen Taylor
The non-profit industry is full of selfless people. Some common attributes in non-profit workers are passion, kindness and activism. The goal of non-profit companies is for the benefit of society. As a public relations major, I can contribute to this goal through storytelling.
Storytelling humanizes a brand. By giving your company personality, you make it easier for people to connect with you emotionally.
A story is a combination of facts and emotions. Companies tend to focus on factual elements to be effective storytellers in the business sense, but you must also find a way to weave emotion into the narrative and bring your story to life. Any goal where the right message and content might make a difference is an opportunity for storytelling.
Storytelling is an extremely important basis for any company, but especially for non-profits. Non-profit organizations can evoke large amounts of empathy from their target audiences because of the nature of their work yet they may have very limited resources.
According to a public relations website, Wild Apricot, “In the U.S., just over 2% of non-profits account for 90% of all revenue in the sector.”
Not having the funds to run large marketing campaigns is largely due to poor storytelling. This leads to lower engagement and lower donor rates. An important way to combat this is to develop a storytelling strategy that aligns with the values of your brand.
“Any goal where the right message and content might make a difference is an opportunity for storytelling.”
The first step to developing a storytelling strategy is creating guidelines to determine the story you want to tell. It is important to use language that describes what you want your company to be known for.
Are you a loving and tender non-profit that helps save the bees?
Are you a stern and progressive non-profit that fights to save the bees?
Both of these address the issue of saving the bees, but the language used is entirely different. This is an opportunity to separate yourself from other companies.
The next step is building your brand identity statement. This is a company’s agreed upon way of how they present itself across all platforms. At its core, a brand guideline will outline what colors and fonts to use, as well as when to use assets such as logos or other art. An example is Asana, who fit their entire brand guide on one webpage.
A great brand guideline will outline how the company talks about itself. Think of it as the key message that will be woven into your storytelling piece. An example here is Urban Outfitters, who crafted a brand book detailing their mission and exemplifying their brand.
After you have your key messages and brand cemented, getting your mission out to your target audiences is the next step. It is important to utilize the press. For newsworthy events or releases, having a good relationship with your local news stations can only benefit you.
Prepare a pitch of what your company stands for so journalists get clear facts and information. Demonstrate a vision of how your organization benefits the public, and why it is important enough to be covered. Passion begets passion. If you are able to convince the journalist you are contacting to care about your cause, then you can develop a lasting relationship.
There are many opportunities to bolster your relationship with the media. Small actions such as sending a calendar of events or meeting for a meal can be mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Once you establish a strong relationship, it becomes much easier to generate visibility for your organization.
The non-profit industry needs more public relations assistance. Helping to connect passionate people to great stories is a public service. I hope to use storytelling and the public relations skills I have developed at Chico State to help heal the earth.