Readers of Art Feinglass's The Public Relations Handbook for Nonprofits can help themselves to a smorgasbord of ideas, tips, and advice served up from his 20+ years of experience in the nonprofit world. Performing public relations (PR) for clients such as the American Red Cross, Brooklyn College Foundation, and the Association of Junior Leagues, Feinglass seems to have done it all, and in this guide he shares generously from that experience and know-how, from the nuts and bolts of writing press releases to staging a special event featuring actor Jimmy Smits.
With its instructive step-by-step approach, nonprofits new to PR will find the Handbook especially helpful. But it can also serve as a refresher for the more experienced practitioner.
"PR is the key to survival for nonprofits," Feinglass states, "especially in hard economic times. Effective PR is essential to raising money, attracting members, energizing supporters, and fulfilling the organization's mission." While many nonprofits face the reality of limited resources, he emphasizes, they need to find creative ways to get out their message. In his handbook he strives to help nonprofits do just that.
Some of the basic concepts in this book are not unique; other writers have addressed similar territory. What makes The Public Relations Handbook for Nonprofits particularly beneficial is its comprehensiveness. With seemingly everything and the kitchen sink included here, it can be used as an ongoing reference and practical how-to manual, whether one is building an entire PR campaign from scratch or seeking some advice on how to pitch and place a radio interview. Even with such breadth and detail, The Public Relations Handbook for Nonprofits is easy to use. The clear, straightforward design and format are — following the author's own advice — very reader-friendly.
Public relations is serious business, but Feinglass gets it across in a style that is refreshingly conversational and even motivational at times. Framing the section on how to give media outlets what they need so your story is communicated, he draws on a family anecdote that became a mantra for life. When his young daughters had tearful trouble remembering and delivering homework assignments, the solution he taught them was "See what they want and give it to 'em." This very simple rule, he says, also works well in the practice of public relations. Once he determines what people need to do the job he wants accomplished, "Then I do my best to see that they get it."
As writing instructors always say, "show, don't tell." Throughout this guide, specific examples of public service announcements, newsletters, media advisories, brochures, and video scripts show how real-life nonprofits used these communications vehicles and others to good effect. Quotes from nonprofit staff who have pitched stories, cultivated media contacts, and dealt with crises provide insights "from the trenches".
For citations to additional materials on this topic refer to the Literature of the Nonprofit Sector Online, using the subject headings "Nonprofit organizations-public relations" or "Nonprofit organizations-communications."