Sunday, April 15, 2012

How I Found My PR Way: Tree House Books

When I registered for my US Society Gen-Ed class, Education in the Global City, my last expectation of the class was to find the field of PR that I wanted to work in. As a requirement of our class, we needed 1 hour per week of fieldwork in an urban education setting and I decided to start tutoring at Tree House Books.

A non-profit, fully functional bookstore and tutoring center just a block off of Temple’s campus, Tree House Books opened my eyes to what I could be doing with my current studies and I quickly began thinking about everything in a public relations perspective! I was on a mission for Tree House to get the attention that it deserved and the money it needed.

As the secretary of Young Friends of Tree House Books, a student organization dedicated to keeping Tree House open, I quickly outlined the important PR tips that we needed, to make the correct contacts and get necessary donations.

Personalization- A donation request letter is not a cut and dry template used universally, rather, it is a personal letter to an organization so you can show why you truly need this donation and set yourself apart from others that may also need a donation. Address your letter “Dear friends at…” and make sure to include how their company’s donation will help not only you, but also how it will benefit the company. By working with local company’s and organizations, we are not only promoting Tree House but we are also promoting the company that made a donation, it is a mutually beneficial relationship that cannot start with a “to whom it may concern”.

Follow up, do not lose that relationship! People are busy, we all know this, so do not fret when a company does not get back to you, but follow up to make sure they have not forgotten. Be persistent, not annoying and make sure to re-iterate the importance of the donation as well as how the company will benefit, not just your non-profit. Also, if you do receive a donation, keep the company posted on how you are using it, whether it is money, gift cards, etc., by sending a hand written thank you card and if possible, include a photo that can show their donation in use. In the case of Tree House Books, many local companies made donations for a raffle basket, so in our thank you cards, we will include a photo of the basket as well as posting it via social media and linking it to the company’s sites. An extension of this is each year, we send out our annual report to all of our donors, to show them our year summed up in order to keep our relationship and our donors informed.

Social Media- Social media in non-profit public relations is pivotal, because not only is it a way to get information out to many publics, it is simple and FREE! Keeping up with social media sites are a great way to reach out to potential donors as well as keeping them updated and interested in everything going on. Reaching out is different then harassing companies on social media, so make sure you are including them in a conversational way and not just pushing your posts and events! Remember, they are helping you!

Have you ever worked with a non-profit? Any other tips that have worked? Let us know!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Brianna Rooney.

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