Nonprofit PR 101

There are many different career sectors in the world of public relations. As college PR students, it is important to understand which career path would be most suitable for us individually. Arguably the most rewarding path, and perhaps the easiest to break into, is nonprofit PR work. If you are interested in dedicating your skills and energy to social change, then working with a nonprofit organization may be the right line of work for you.

According to Liz Cies, a public relations coordinator at Association Headquarters, Inc., public relations professionals in the nonprofit field aim to fulfill the communication needs of their clients. These needs include promotion, media relations, crisis communications, social media management and membership communications.

Temple University Junior, Samantha Srolis, is currently employed by a nonprofit organization in the community relations department at The Rock School for Dance Education. During an interview, I asked Srolis to describe her typical duties. She agreed with Cies on many of the tasks and added, “It’s a day-to-day thing. Besides those things, I really don’t think there’s anything set in stone.” Srolis emphasized the need to be creative in this area of the industry because funding, among other resources, is limited. However, thinking creatively has allowed her to become an overall better PR person. “The things I’ve learned working for a nonprofit, like how to be resourceful and economical, will make me more successful in a corporate setting.”

Working in nonprofit public relations gives professionals a chance to further their experience in the field and let their skills flourish in a philanthropic environment. One of the most important skills in the nonprofit sector is the ability to cultivate long-term relationships. Nonprofit public relations rely heavily on the ability to build and mend relationships in order to raise awareness, obtain feedback, recognize support and more. According to PR pro Tiffany Gallicano, relationships are built with media professionals, clients, potential business sponsors, volunteers and donors, with special emphasis on the last two. I asked Srolis whom her most important relationships are with. Her most valuable relationship is with the director of the community relations department because, “aside from her years of experience, she also has a million contacts. If I need something or need to get in touch with someone, she knows who to go to and how to get it.” Working for a nonprofit organization in an entry-level position allows you to network with professionals who know all about the industry.

Aside from increasing your business card collection, when working with a nonprofit organization you also are presented with the opportunity to work with passionate volunteers aiming to make a beneficial impact on society. Srolis admits, “It’s really rewarding. Being a part of the Philadelphia community, forming relationships and knowing that you’re making a difference, even if it’s in the smallest way, is really rewarding when you’re working with a nonprofit.”

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Samantha Miller.

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