Non-profit organisations and youth organisations are putting into practice projects and initiatives that are challenging the status quo in our everyday society. Unfortunately, sometimes these efforts are just not visible enough. Even though the process of making a change in the community takes lots of work, some additional efforts should be made in the field of promotion and outreach. For example, the Global NGO Technology Report shows that 44% of non-profit organisations in Europe have a social media strategy, 87% still think that their website is the most effective communication channel and 51% of organisations use Instagram to reach their target groups. These numbers show that much more can be done to promote the actions and programmes that organisations are implementing.
When we talk about promotion and outreach, we can closely connect them with two disciplines: communication and marketing.
Communication, in the broad sense, can be connected with public relations, as they both include the need to ensure quality communication with different stakeholders and target groups. This includes managing communication in order to have a productive relationship and understanding between the organisation and the public (either internal or external). (PR Academy, 2018) Generally speaking, public relations can be defined as:
So, from this definition, you can already see what communication entails:
On the other hand, organisations also use marketing to promote what they are doing. One of the most renowned academics in the field of marketing, Phililp Kotler, says that marketing is the “science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.” (Kotler Marketing Group) So, from this definition it can be understood that marketing essentially entails researching the needs and wishes of people in order to sell them a product. In the youth work sector, this can be connected with selling a new educational game that an organisation has developed or promoting an event or training course arranged by the organisation, by using different marketing strategies.
All in all, communication focuses more on creating quality relationships with people in order to increase the reputation of an organisation, whereas marketing is connected with creating a profit by analysing the needs and wishes of people. (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2009) Marketing shapes who you are as a brand, differentiates your services from other NGOs and helps in creating value for your target groups. Communicators are then storytellers, who will reach out to your target groups and other stakeholders. (Moser, 2014) Both are needed in the everyday work of youth organisations, as they can help in creating sustainability and greater visibility.
There are many benefits for organisations who decide to implement quality communication within their organisation. It helps them in:
Organisations should talk about their actions in the media (and/or on social media) and share it with the wider public and interested individuals
When communicating well, the organisation achieves an enhanced reputation in the local community and strengthens their brand
This is especially important as enticing young people to participate in activities is a huge challenge for most organisations
In order to create a positive change in the community (this is closely connected with all our communication efforts, but also with maintaining media relations)
There are also different other benefits in using quality communication, which include creating and maintaining an effective climate for fundraising, creating new channels through which the organisation will attract different people and creating a loyal fanbase of people who will help you in achieving your mission and vision (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2009).
Good communication also helps in creating outreach to different groups. In order to achieve effective outreach, you need to think about the following criteria: who are your target groups (what is their background), what channels are you using and what strategies will you use (Enroll America, 2013). It is always good to ask yourself if the issue you are communicating is important personally to your target groups, as it will make them more involved and connected to the cause. Good outreach can help raise awareness among the public, but it can also help to inspire others to put civic action into effect within the local community.
Being able to create and share messages and content are also forms of participation and together constitute one of the important competences of media and information literacy. The creation of content is just one part of the connection between the fields – knowing the media landscape and ethics in the media, or how they operate, are important for media literacy as well as promotion and outreach. With this in mind, we should encourage young people and organisations to be creators of the content, to think strategically and to use their skills in order to communicate the actions, programmes and projects they are implementing. With this, the voices of young people and youth organisations can be heard even more.
In this section, you will be able to read more about planning and strategy in communications, as well as how to define target groups, set communication objectives, choose the right channel and shape an appealing message. Also, you will be able to find out more about media relations and inspirational practices in the field of promotion and outreach.