For the majority of burgeoning public relations professionals, the idea of embarking in a career in the nonprofit sector sets off mental alarms complete with whirling sirens and flashing lights. They conjure up images of spending their days in severely understaffed offices with barely enough funds to pay for that month’s rent, of stretching limited resources to their maximum capacity and of vast undertakings that seems impossible to fulfill. For others who thrive off of opportunities to do good, the endeavor is like waking up and feeling the joy of Christmas morning, every morning, for the rest of their career. If you fall under the second category, consider these habits that will set you apart from the crowd as you work to find your dream career.
Know how to research.
Research will continually persist as the dullest but most essential aspect of effective public relations work. Research is more than simply looking up information. You need to be able to apply the research you learned in a way that is beneficial to the nonprofit. Nonprofits rely on donors for most of their existence and it is challenging to establish lasting relationships without first completing research. Relationship building in public relations is based on researching the publics you aim to develop relationships with.
Be able to effectively communicate.
Successful research leads to effective communication. When communicating on behalf of a nonprofit, it is vital to not only evoke emotion in people but to also urge them to act on their often-fleeting passion by giving their time, resources or money. Know how to create content that is educational about your organization, is relevant to the publics you desire to reach and urges them to act. People are motivated to act by stories that bring a cause to life and as a communicator, you need to be able to convince the public that your organization’s cause is worthy.
Believe in your mission.
If you don’t believe in your organization’s mission, your publics will see right through your content. As a public relations professional for a nonprofit, it is indispensable that you be an authentic advocate for your cause. You are not heading down a glamorous career path. You will not receive recognition for the majority of your enormous efforts. Your bank account will not be softly cushioned. You will work hard but in return your work will have a greater purpose. You will reap your reward by seeing lives change for the better.
Rachel Biddy is a senior Journalism and Mass Communication Major at Samford University. She is concentrating in public relations and minoring in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management.