Using PR to Recruit Volunteers

Using PR to Recruit Volunteers

One resource most non profits can never have enough of is volunteers. While, in a for-profit business, you can look at people as “human resources” who are compensated for their activities on your behalf, with a charity your work force is entirely dependent on their own enthusiasm and goodwill. If you don’t keep them happy and feeling fulfilled in their good work, you will be much less productive.

Not that this is in any way news to most people. But did you know that you can use effective public relations to recruit new volunteers, and give current volunteers more reasons to be proud of the work you are doing together?

Ronn Torossian, president of 5WPR and the Ronn Torossian Foundation, has three tips to help you use public relations to keep your current volunteers engaged and to help you recruit new ones.

#1 – Keep your message out there

People need to hear the message if they are going to catch the message. By making sure you keep your message out there in the public eye, you will give potential volunteers something to grab onto. This may sound like a simple idea, but you might be surprised how many groups are not doing this on any regular basis.

#2 – Reward your volunteers publicly

Appreciate your volunteers as often as possible. Now, some may not want the spotlight, but you should still offer them at least group praise. And, if you get a sense that there are leaders among your team who don’t mind the spotlight, make sure to offer them public praise for their good works. You are nothing without your volunteers because you can’t accomplish alone what all of you do together. Make sure they understand that.

#3 – Plan to help them stay connected

Going out, and doing stuff together is not enough to keep your volunteers connected. You must stay with them, keep them connected by keeping the conversation going. The core of public relations is in communicating with people. To do that well, you must never stop doing so.

While following these tips offer no guarantees – people are people, after all – if you employ these ideas, you will certainly put yourself in a better position to strengthen your volunteer team.

Coming Out on Top & How to Get There

Have you ever noticed how, so many times, the “Top” or “Best” or “Greatest” lists contain the same names? Why do you suppose that is? Well, for one thing, the definition of greatness doesn’t really change all that drastically, year to year. Plus, once you’ve made it, you’re on everyone’s mind the next time a list comes around. But, then how do you make it?

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR and President of the Ronn Torossian Foundation believes this question should be a primary concern for any organization trying to increase its donor, or volunteer base. But, that coveted seat at the table, so to speak, isn’t exactly easy to stumble into. You have to craft, and execute the right PR plan.

Torossian explains that there are 3 initial steps all charity organizations must take with their PR to be eligible to make a legitimate attempt at top billing.

#1 – Define your brand

Understand that when you are first getting started – and for many years to come – there will be companies out there with more fame, more money, and more attention. The only – and best – way to stand out is to make certain your brand is very specific. Too many charities try to be all things to all problems in order to get attention. The problem there, of course, is that there are already a bunch of other organization already out there doing all that stuff. And they can do it better because they are well staffed, and well funded. But, defining your brand is not about what you do. It’s about what people believe, or understand that you do. There is a difference.

#2 – Be specific in what you do

Your cause needs to attack a specific societal ill, or support a specific group. Do that, and people can understand exactly how they are giving, and what they are supporting. Whatever it is, the more specific you get, the more passionate both your volunteers and your supporters will be. Plus, you will have more opportunities to make a more dramatic impact.

#3 – Do before you ask

Even if you have to go out, and help another organization while you are building support for your own, do it. Once you have established that you are doing good in the community, people will be more apt to support you. In fact, once you have shown that you are making a difference in something very specific for very specific reasons, that is exactly how people will label your organization. BOOM. You are branded.

Now go out, and do some good.

ronn torossian foundation

3 Tips for Media Interaction

Publicity can make, or break any brand; a non profit organization even more so. People love to give to something they read about in the paper, or hear about on the news. But, if you don’t know these 3 rules for media interaction, you will blow your shot … and you might not get another one. Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, and Founder of the Ronn Torossian Foundation, explains the best way to help you successfully interact with local media.

Follow their protocols…

No matter where you send your press release, that publication, or production will have a submission policy. Follow that policy. Ignore it, and they will likely ignore you. Publications get countless submissions on a daily basis, and they don’t have time to give you any special treatment. Unless, you’ve earned it. Emphasis on earned. How you earn that treatment will be different based on the publication, and the editor involved. Remember, there is a system, but these people are, in fact, people as well.

Craft a proper press release…

There is one right way, and endless wrong ways, to send out a press release. However, that “right” way will differ slightly from publication to publication. Bottom line, though, most people don’t mess up the subtle differences. They mess up the stuff that matters most. If you don’t know how to write a press release that will get read, hire a professional PR agency to do it for you. If you don’t have the budget, contact the editor, and ask how they want things done. Figure out how to make their lives easier, and they will appreciate it.

Be prompt and prepared…

When a reporter, or editor, or producer contacts you, be available, and be prepared. If you are in a meeting, set up a way to communicate that to the reporter, and get back to them in a specific time period. You may have all the time in the world, but the media lives in a world of hard deadlines. If you can’t keep up, they will fill “your” space with something else. When you do speak to a reporter, be prepared to answer the who, what, when, where, and why questions. Know what you are going to say, and NEVER “wing it.”

Following these tips is no guarantee you will get press coverage. But ignoring them virtually guarantees that you won’t.


3 Charity PR Tips on Capturing Donation Funds in the New Year

The New Year is upon us, and organizations from coast to coast are planning their 2014 budgets, and putting their charity PR plans into action. Everything feels fresh, and new, and exciting. If only you could capture that energy and transform it into additional donation funds for your non profit enterprise.

According to Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, and president of the Ronn Torossian Foundation, you can. More importantly, you definitely should. Here are 3 tips Torossian offers to charities interested in increasing their donation commitments in the New Year.

#1 – Focus on new donors

New Year means New Year’s resolutions. Millions of Americans decide to give more in the new year. But how? And to whom? This is your chance to connect with that sentiment by clearly articulating how supporting your cause will benefit your donors, make a difference in their community, and in the lives of people, or things they care about. The message here is all about the message. Don’t just talk about what you do. You need to get specific about how what you do matters, who it impacts, and how their donation can make a difference. Tell a story. Don’t just throw words out there.

#2 – Reward previous donors for continued support

When focusing on new donors, don’t forget to show appreciation for your previous supporters. You need to do so in a tangible way. Offer a prize, a reward, or a tangible “thank you” at the beginning of the year. Remind them what you accomplished with their help in the previous year, and explain your plans to do even more in the year to come, again, with their support. Remember, never stop saying “thank you.”

#3 – Make it as simple as possible to give

In the time of New Years resolutions, people may be more apt to give, but they are not any more motivated to work hard to discover a way to do it. People often won’t give if they are not asked, but they definitely won’t give if you make it difficult, or frustrating.

Bottom line, it is your job to keep the line of communication healthy, and flowing. Not theirs. Keep up the good work.

ronn torossian rebranding

3 Ways to Rebrand in the New Year (Without Really Changing a Thing)

As we enter 2015, the temptation to try something new will be almost palpable for most folks. Resist it. At least, in principle. Change for the sake of change is not a good reason to invest the time, money, and manpower you need to do it right.

Rebranding takes time, effort, and expertise.

However, there’s no reason you can’t rebrand yourself this year … without changing a thing. Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, explains.

At the very core, the message of branding is not about what you do, it is about who you are to your donors, and the public. As long as the core of who you are to the public does not change, many other things are on the table. You can renovate, revitalize, or reintroduce without actually rebranding anything. Here’s how:


Do you have a part of your work that is “so last year”, or, truthfully, so outdated that interest has fallen off almost completely? It’s time tear that down, and start over. Look at what’s trending now in relation to this offering. What can you do to completely renovate the look, and feel without losing the identity, or the message? These are questions your creative team needs to be asking, right now.


Is there a particular program that is still working, but might be on it’s last legs? Don’t throw it out without seeing what a fresh coat of paint, or a few tweaks here and there, might be able to accomplish.


One of the best ways to “rebrand” in the new year, without really changing a thing, is to reintroduce your donors, and the general public,to what you are really about. All brands, even non profits, evolve over time. But, what makes your organization unique probably won’t. What is it about your charity that people are so accustomed to that they have now forgotten?

If you can use creative, and compelling PR to accomplish these goals, you will have successfully “rebranded”, without changing a thing.


Horrific Weather Pattern a Non Profit PR Opportunity

Earlier this month, a dangerous winter storm stretched across 2,000 miles of the central United States. Wind, ice, and snow covering the country from Minnesota to Texas. The hazards were obvious, and people suffered from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

Tens of thousands lost power, there were record lows in 10 states, and 19 states suffered from unusually frigid weather.

Ronn Torossian CEO of 5WPR, says this difficult time can be an opportunity for many local, and national non profits to establish themselves, and earn some goodwill and positive PR.

“No, PR is not the primary concern in these times,” Torossian stated, “But, there is absolutely no reason why a charity organization cannot consider their PR footprint while responding to these horrible circumstances.”

In fact, Torossian says, factoring in public perception before diving in to help often causes charity organizations to take a moment to plan better, getter better organized, and, because of this, see better results.

Sure, the reflex is to just jump out there, and help, and most charities should have a rapid response team for these sorts of endeavors. But, in the meantime, representatives at the center of the organization should be working through a plan to do the most good they can. This takes time, planning, and exemplary use of resources.

People out there need help, but wasteful, or sloppy reactions hinder response time, and effectiveness.

Stopping to plan not only increases the positive impact of the response, but it also puts the organization brand out there in the best possible light. Fair or not, the people not directly helped by the organization – and even some who are – will definitely judge a charity based on the results of it’s response.

This is the crucible in which many charities are challenged, and tested. Will yours be ready when the storm comes?

Christmas Wish Charity Shows the Power of Radio

Radio personality, Mason Dixon, has been on the airwaves for more than four decades. In his career, he bounced, like many in radio do, from place to place, gig to gig. Some time back he found a home in Central Florida. Tampa may not be the most major of markets, but it suited Mason just fine.

He spent the next three decades establishing himself in the local community. Along the way he began to love his adopted hometown, connecting in ways well beyond his studio time, entertaining morning, and afternoon drivers.

Then, about 20 years back, Dixon decided it was time to do more than connect on an entertainment level. He wanted to make a difference, one person at a time.

So Dixon founded “Christmas Wish”, a charity that provides for needy families who wouldn’t have much – if any – of a Christmas without outside help. Now, two decades, and hundreds of families later, Dixon says he is “amazed” again each year. “This never stops being a blessing for me.”

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, and President of the Torossian Foundation, says that sort of dedication may not have an intentional public relations angle, but it just shows how powerful PR, for the best of reasons, can be.

“The guy has a well-established brand, and tons of influence in his market.” Torossian muses, “He could just sit back, and enjoy the success. He brings smiles to faces, and makes their daily commute less grueling. That might be enough, but as with anyone who dives into the shark tank that is founding a charity, Dixon wanted to do more.”

That drive now helps to provide Christmas for more than 250 local families each year. According to Dixon, his success hinges on several factors: volunteers willing to support the mission; donors ready to give to something tangible, and immediate; keeping a close watch on the integrity of the entire operation; and, most importantly, being sure that this very public work maintains a spotless public reputation.

Torossian calls these the fundamental basics of charity PR in an operation worth emulating.


Stories Drive Nonprofit PR

Exploring the marketing power of narrative

Nonprofit organizations work hard everyday to communicate to their donors, and volunteers the vital importance of their mission, and vision. But, as many have learned the hard way, sometimes connecting with your audience takes MUCH more than a simple request. You have to reach past their head, and connect with their hearts. That’s the best – and most impactful – way to establish a long term, mutually beneficial relationship.

But to do that, you need to have the secret weapon that any savvy nonprofit PR team uses to connect with their constituents. Story. Narratives are the absolute best way to genuinely connect with your audience, and keep them engaged. Ronn Torossian explains how nonprofits can better connect with their audience.

#1 – People can connect with stories

People, no matter the age, cohort, or medium, connect with facts, and figures through story than any other way. We are naturally wired to engage, and understand the point of stories. Our brains even process them differently, more easily. And, what is processed stays with us longer, even after a single engagement.

#2 – People can reminisce

Stories allow your loyal friends, and supporters to reminisce about the good things that have come before. Positive memories make for a powerful message. Stories allow those who remember “being there” to share their good times “as if it was yesterday.”

#3 – Stories transcend time and place

Stories contain context, but they can transcend time, and place. A powerful story today will be powerful tomorrow, and the next day. Statistics may change, and priorities in culture may waiver, but the strength of stories grows in the telling.

#4 – Stories communicate difficult truths more easily

Sometimes, the raw reality of the issues the charity has been formed to fight can be difficult for people to think about. So they choose to ignore them. Stories help to humanize these difficult ideas, and cause people to more readily connect with them.

Remember, when you are telling the story of your nonprofit enterprise, tell a story that weaves these principles throughout it. SHOW what you do, and your donors will have an easier time telling about it.