Thursday, 18 March 2010

NGO = PR

"I love a challenge and saving the Planet seems like a good one" - Paul Stamets

PR plays a major and defining role in the activities of non-governmental organisations - whether we are talking about charities, social welfare, religious organisations or foundations - although people working in the Third Sector are reluctant to admit it; or as our guess speaker from Friends of the Earth said - they would do anything to separate themselves, their work and job titles from anything having to do with public relations. However, at the end of the day, the tasks that they perform and their abilities are exactly those of a PR practitioner.

What are the key abilities and skills that a third sector practitioner must have? Just to list some of the most commonly mentioned: fundraising skills, persuasive pitching abilities, budget management, research capabilities, relationship and network building skills, media relations skills, organising skills, negotiation and planning skills, documentation and dissemination of information abilities. And what are the key abilities and skills that a PR practitioners should have? I would exactly say the above mentioned.

The main thing that advocacy groups do is raising awareness, whether it is for an event, an environment cause, a social issue or for them as an organisation. Raising awareness refers to alerting the general public that a certain issue exists and should be approached the way the group desires. And how do you do that if not through PR campaign?

What did our speaker described himself to be? "The brand destroyer". Because according to him that's what NGOs are in the business of doing: destroying or threatening to destroy the reputation of big brands in order to get their way - impose the cause they are working for. And how could NGOs put that amount of pressure on the likes of Nike, McDonalds or Lukoil if not through well mastered PR skills and techniques?

All in all, NGOs entire existence as Third Sector organisations is based on their ability to practice good PR, whether it is to raise funds, to describe services to their beneficiaries, to inform the public about their accomplishments, to distinguish themselves from other NGOs, engage in media relations or to promote their causes.


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