7 Communications Tips from Top NY Nonprofits


By Anat Gerstein, President, Anat Gerstein Inc.

On March 18, 2015, I moderated NPCC’s Pathways to Excellence workshop in Communications panel featuring Bronxworks’ Ken Small, New York Cares’ Steve Streicher, and Washington Heights CORNER Project’s Taeko Frost.

Here are some highlights:

On Making An Old Story New Again:

Find new personal stories about participants, volunteers, or partners and use those to retell an old story. That’s the tip from New York Cares about re-pitching their Coat Drive year after year.

Use a hot news topic as a way to tell your story.  Washington Heights CORNER Project used the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman to talk about their efforts to reduce drug overdoses.

On Branding/Rebranding:

If your name doesn’t work for you, change it.  BronxWorks was formerly known as the Citizens Advice Bureau.  But, they serve individuals who are not citizens and they don’t just provide advice. Once they changed their name, it made it much easier for people to understand what they do.

Think about the big goal and draw for potential supporters.  Washington Heights CORNER Project gives drug addicts clean needles – a worthy cause, but one that often makes it difficult to connect with potential supporters.  They have reframed what they do as a solution to a public health problem, making it easier for them to engage people.

On Pitching:

Start by engaging smaller, local outlets first and don’t forget about the power of online outlets, like Buzzfeed.  That advice comes from organizations large and small: BronxWorks and the Washington Heights CORNER Project.

Don’t have enough resources? Consider working with organizations like ReServe.  That’s how BronxWorks was able to hire a part-time, low-cost retiree with years of press experience who was able to get them press coverage in outlets like The New York Times.

On Social Media:

Have a social media plan and guidelines for posting.  Washington Heights CORNER Project spells everything out for their social media team, including: no emojis and no internet slang like LOL and SMH.

Pay attention to who is following you and why, recommends New York Cares. There is no quick guide to a winning social media strategy. It takes work and thought, but this investment pays off.


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