Building Community while Building your Career
By Valerie Pesonen, Manager
Public relations is often thought of as a resource utilized only by for-profit companies when, in actuality, nonprofit organizations can also benefit from proactive communications. Through story mining, social media campaigns, media pitching, multimedia and other public relations tactics, nonprofits can effectively target their intended audiences, including volunteers, donors and even those in need of services.
While there’s benefit for nonprofits to implement public relations tactics to increase their visibility and maximize their reach, public relations professionals benefit equally by working with or for nonprofit organizations. Supporting a nonprofit offers PR professionals a wonderful opportunity to invest in their community while simultaneously investing in their career. This dual approach lets an employee pursue passions through meaningful work while honing a skillset that can be adapted to any industry. Participating in community enhancement gives workers a sense of pride as they’re able to share their talents with a cause they find worthwhile.
Many employees find fulfillment in being connected to an organization that is more concerned about helping others than it is about the bottom line (profits). This helps build lasting relationships because all parties are committed to a singular, common goal. Whether it’s with a client or coworkers, working alongside passionate, likeminded individuals facilitates a bond that can go beyond the boardroom.
Working for a firm that supports nonprofit organizations can assist PR pros in extending participation beyond volunteering. For someone looking to make a change while still maintaining a positive work-life balance, providing counsel to a community-focused organization can lead to a behind-the-scenes look at how the group functions—allowing an employee to fully immerse themselves in the process, from concept to campaign.
During my time at Lambert, I’ve had the chance to work alongside nonprofits like Bethany Christian Services, Amplify GR, the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation and Compassion International. Through this important work, I’ve uncovered passions and interests I may not have realized until much later in life, if at all. I’ve been fortunate to have a hand in directly advocating for causes I care deeply about, like refugee resettlement and community development in the city in which I live, work and play, while enhancing things like writing, crisis communications or strategic thinking.
Throughout planning and regular meetings, as well as tactical implementation of day-to-day PR activities, professionals get to really know clients and the areas they serve. Additionally, PR account leads and associates often get involved outside of work hours at networking and fundraising events, further extending their relationship with an organization. Such networking opportunities are useful for career advancement, because past clients may provide recommendations and references while also acting as mentors.
Serving nonprofits through public relations is rewarding because, at the end of the day, the work being done is truly making a difference in the lives of a community. Nonprofit work and community involvement is powerful and can bring about positive, measurable change for the communities and for those who advocate for change.