Non-Profit Public Relations: Exciting, Rewarding, and Fun!

Imagine the excitement of an agency: A diverse range of clients, the flurry of deadlines and an opportunity to touch the entire media relations process in one day. Now, combine this with the fulfillment of a non-profit: working with passionate volunteers, progressing toward a common goal and making a positive impact on society.

This combination is the best way to describe my job working at Association Headquarters, Inc., an association management company. With 27 clients, my company serves as the primary staff and headquarters for a wide variety of non-profit medical, trade and business professional associations. As public relations coordinator, I work with a team that fulfills the communication needs of our clients, including membership communications, conference promotion, media relations, crisis communications and social media management.

What does a “typical” day look like for me?

Proactive PR. Through Google Alerts and media monitoring services, my team monitors and helps shape how both the association and the industry it represents are portrayed by the media and perceived by the public. On any given day, I might draft a press release, pitch to the media, respond to interview requests or assemble media kits.

Interview Coordination. One of my favorite aspects of public relations: securing interviews! After the interview is set, I provide media training to the interview subject, draft talking points and provide resourceful information to the reporter.

Conference Promotion. Conferences and conventions are the core of many non-profit associations. To foster greater awareness among potential attendees and to capture the attention of the media, the promotion efforts could include writing copy for marketing materials, creating YouTube videos, securing media partnerships and pitching the conference to trade and local publications.

Social Media Management. Every morning and throughout the day, I log into my clients’ various social networks to check for any activity. I respond to questions and comments, plan a few posts for the day and notify staff members if additional follow up is needed for a particular comment.

Strategy Development. With clients in various stages of their programs, a typical day might include a team brainstorming session to plan for an upcoming project. Both fun and challenging, these brainstorming sessions provide a creative outlet to bounce ideas off one another and collaborate on exciting future initiatives.

How is non-profit public relations different from other disciplines? The ability to quickly adapt, reprioritize and take on new tasks is particularly vital in non-profit public relations. Non-profits operate under limited resources, and many times the team must work together to complete a project — regardless of everyone’s primary job responsibility.

Working in non-profit public relations — particularly with an association management company — has given me the wonderful opportunity as a new professional to broaden my experience and develop a wide variety of skills. With passionate clients and a supportive team of talented professionals, I couldn’t ask for a better entry-level public relations job.

Liz Cies is a public relations coordinator at Association Headquarters, Inc., a southern New Jersey-based association management company. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Cies holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in communications. Cies is a member of the PRSA New Professionals Section and the PRSA Philadelphia Chapter. You can connect with Cies through Twitter and LinkedIn.

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