Advertising and public relations are both functions of marketing. Advertising and public relations are more similar than they are different. Marketing for businesses and nonprofit organizations are more similar than they are different. Our lives are interwoven with our vocational and avocational pursuits as much as the promotional side of marketing is interwoven with advertising and public relations.
I’ve actually spent more time working with a nonprofit than I have years in the working world. I joined the Boy Scouts of America as a Cub Scout 10 years before I left for college. Boy Scouts got a head start on me.
Regardless of whether the organization is for-profit or nonprofit, the “4 P’s” of marketing do not change – product, place, price and promotion.
The marketing “P” known as product is really referring to a product or service. Nonprofits are typically more service-oriented. The service that Boy Scouts provides is leadership development. My company provides a service, and it is marketing consulting. We both offer touch points whether it’s merit badge pamphlets or brochures, but the similarity between us is service.
We both have an area of territory that we cover. This “P” is place. The Yocona Area Council covers a 12-county area in Northeast Mississippi. Robinson Marketing has a much wider coverage area. Thanks to the Internet, service organizations like my company can cover a much larger territory than it is to comfortably drive.
“Price” is not necessarily profitability. For nonprofits it’s about breaking even. For-profit companies look at revenue. Nonprofit companies look at funds raised. Both carefully look at expenses.
So, with “promotion,” nonprofits use public relations and for-profits use advertising? Right? No. Nonprofits use advertising and public relations and for-profits use advertising and public relations. More simply put, nonprofits and for-profits promote their services in a variety of ways. It is a fair statement that nonprofits rely more on public relations, but there are times when they advertise.
Advertising refers to paid space. With advertising, the advertiser has creative control. The message stays as it is crafted. Advertising lasts longer because the space for print and the time for broadcast is paid for and is dependent upon the advertisers budget for the campaign.
Public relations is about free publicity. There is less control over the message because when a news release is sent, the media can edit the release. More credibility is given to a public relations article than paid advertising. The media is under no obligation to run a news release or public service announcement. The life of a public service announcement or news release is generally not as long as an advertising campaign.
Communications with the audience is the key. The simpler the message is, the better. Nonprofit groups have more advocates who will use social media to help their cause and who are more likely to post about their relationship to the group. My personal Facebook and Instagram accounts show more about the Boy Scouts of America and the Yocona Area Council than it does about my business. But, since my business is about marketing, I’m using my social media accounts to aid my Scouting relationships.
Keep the message clear. And, thank you, for the work that you do to support our community.