It is necessary for nonprofit organizations that address national issues to realize the importance of reaching out to people that can take a national cause and implement it locally because real change starts within smaller communities first. These people that locally implement national causes are called “community partners” and they can help integrate a cause into their community and bring awareness through local media, which is only possible, by bringing information and services for the cause to their community.
The most successful nonprofit organizations like the American Cancer Society have local chapters established because services and change are only efficiently delivered on a local level. So, starting with just one location, your headquarters or national office, you will have a list of actions that will need to be planned first and then put into effect. First you will need an advertising agency or professional to help create materials that will grab the attention of local media and compel them to care about your cause, which will in turn encourage them to spread the word. You will also need someone such as a distributor that will plan and develop a local media campaign as well as develop a plan to evaluate the success of the campaign. The most important asset in your local/national public relations campaign is the people that maintain connections with the local media and that share compelling information and materials with them- your community partners.
The Internet has quickly become the best avenue to reach out to people all over the world and deliver your message quickly and efficiently. You should already have a national website established, but if you don’t, that’s your first step-create a website. On your website help engage community partners by posting any videos or articles including all coverage from the media and videos and informative materials created by your organization and provide potential community partners easy instructions to tag and share your videos or PSAs. Post facts about your cause that community partners can use to present your organization to their community. It is also nice to include information about what areas in the region or country have not yet been exposed to your message. Also, try to list local media outlets that have yet to share your message, but that you would like to get information to.
Once you have engaged your community partners, develop a system to track or evaluate their success in delivering exposure for your cause within their communities. Remember to share everything with your partners, the more knowledge they have about your organizations, mission and cause, the more they can help.