Comms Squad Webinars Episode Three


Public relations (PR) is the backbone for nonprofits for amplifying their impact, garnering support, and enhancing their reach. The Public Relations Society of America describes PR as “the strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 

Women Communicators of Austin (WCA) launched its free CommSquad webinar series to help resource-strapped organizations take the first steps toward tackling their communications challenges. The webinars provide education and advice that nonprofits and small communications organizations can use in developing their communications plans. In each episode of our webinar series, we talk with communications and marketing experts about how to tackle the most challenging aspects of building and implementing an effective communications plan. 

In this episode, Christie Sievert and Fabiana Meléndez Ruiz discuss the best strategies for developing and implementing a public relations plan. They were able to boil it down to eight pillars to consider when crafting your nonprofit’s public relations strategy:

  1. Message Refinement and Alignment
    The foundation of effective PR for nonprofits begins with a compelling message or pitch. It’s vital to reassess and realign the organization’s mission, vision, and narrative. Ensuring that everyone within the organization, from the executive board to employees, adheres to this messaging is paramount.


  1. Transparency and Addressing Past Issues

Nonprofits should embrace transparency, acknowledging any historical challenges or controversies openly. Creating an action plan to address past concerns demonstrates commitment and integrity, building trust with stakeholders.

  1. Crafting Compelling Stories
    PR isn’t solely about showcasing activities—it also requires crafting narratives that resonate. Nonprofits must articulate their initiatives in story form, aligning with the interests of their audience and media outlets.
  2. Selecting the Right Spokespeople

Relatable spokespeople—volunteers, clients, or community members—humanize the cause. These individuals should comfortably represent the organization’s values and goals.

  1. Polishing Personal Branding

Elevating the profile of spokespeople involves refining their online presence, ensuring a media-friendly persona that aligns with the organization’s messaging.

  1. Media Training and Preparation

Equipping spokespeople with media training is vital. They must effectively convey the organization’s message across various platforms.

  1. Strategic Media Engagement

Use a targeted approach when building relationships with journalists and media outlets. Craft tailored pitches that align with the interests of specific reporters or outlets to foster connections, especially if they see that you’re respectful of workload, timeliness, and relevance. 

  1. Follow-up and Repurposing Content

Engaging journalists doesn’t end with sending pitches. It involves timely follow-ups, respecting their focus, and leveraging relevant events without capitalizing on tragedies or crises.

Navigating these pillars involves strategic planning and the right tools:

  • Media monitoring tools like Cision or Meltwater can offer valuable insights.
  • Media lists crafted by observing competitors and aligning pitches with what journalists are covering.
  • Email tracking systems like MixMax optimize communication and response rates.

Success in nonprofit PR hinges on maintaining authenticity, consistent storytelling, and a commitment to the cause:

  • Nonprofits hold a unique position in captivating media attention due to their community-centric missions.
  • Emphasis should be on strategic planning akin to an organizational strategic plan.
  • Remaining engaged with current affairs empowers nonprofits to contribute meaningfully to timely societal conversations.

In essence, the eight pillars serve as a roadmap, guiding nonprofits toward effective PR strategies that amplify their impact, build relationships, and drive support for their noble causes. By aligning internal messaging, honing storytelling skills, and nurturing relationships with the media, you can significantly expand your nonprofit’s reach and influence.

Watch the episode to hear more advice from Christie and Fabiana about how nonprofits can make the most of their PR efforts. Then come back and check out the other CommSquad webinars.

Kara Myers