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Should We Hire a PR Professional?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 24 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Pr Charity Charitable Fundraising Public

Raising awareness is a vital element of any fundraising campaign. That awareness comes in two forms. You want to increase knowledge of the cause for which you are raising money – and, crucially, you want to make sure that you encourage as many donations as possible.

As a charitable or fundraising organisation, you will undoubtedly be considering ways to increase awareness. One of the potential solutions is to hire a PR professional (either a freelancer, a member a staff, or a contracted company) to help you reach out to the public in a more effective way.

Of course, hiring a PR firm will be low on your agenda if you are raising money for an established charity. But if you are trying to build a charitable organisation yourself, or you want to raise awareness of a cause, a PR company might well be the way to go.

Can you afford it?

The first consideration is cost. Charities are, by their very nature, constantly trying to keep their costs down – and hiring a PR firm can seem like an unjustifiable expense. Certainly, entering into a contract with a big PR company can be very expensive; indeed, even taking on a freelancer for a few hours a month can be a significant outlay, particularly if yours is a small organisation.

It is worth remembering, though, that despite its cost, a good PR campaign should help you to bring in more donations; indeed, that is often very much the point. The old adage that you need to spend money to make money does often ring true, even in the charitable sector.

If you do choose to take on a PR company, you should make sure that you understand the costs from the outset. Try to keep the costs as fixed as possible in order to help you maintain the accuracy of your cashflow forecasts.

What do you want to achieve?

You should also make sure that you have a clear idea of exactly what it is that you want to achieve. For example, do you want to reach out to the media in order to position your organisation as a leader in its field? Or do you want to contact the public directly in order to boost your donations? These are key concerns that you should address before you spend any money.

If you do contract with a PR firm, one of their first tasks will be to determine your goals, and formulate a plan that helps you achieve them.

What can you do yourselves?

There are, of course, many PR-related tasks that you can complete yourself; indeed, many charitable organisations choose to take their PR operations ‘in-house’. It is worth remembering, though, that PR is an industry that often survives on contacts. If you are hoping to raise awareness of your cause, particularly in the national media, you may soon find that you need the sorts of personal contacts that only a reputable PR firm can provide.

PR is a vital element of any charitable organisation’s activities. If you want to raise awareness of your cause, or of an individual campaign, you should think carefully about taking on professional help – but make sure you understand and can justify the costs first.

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