1 min Read
September 30, 2010

Old-fashioned Ink

One of the fun things about writing a book is that it gives you a good excuse to go on the road, meet new people, and talk about something you’re passionate about. Last week, my adventures took me to Sarasota, Florida (hey, it’s hot there!), where I spoke about brandraising at the Community Foundation of Sarasota.

After one of my talks, I hung around to hear a panel discussion about earned versus paid media. I was curious: how many of these smaller, local nonprofits are really buying advertising? Or even paying a PR firm a retainer to get them ink?

I don’t know about you, but where I live (New York City, baby!) the traditional advertising and PR industries have both been turned upside down and shaken by social media. It seems that those professionals who’ve understood and embraced it (like Weiden + Kennedy, Old Spice’s ad agency) are hanging in, but those that don’t are closing their doors daily.

Very few, if any, of the nonprofits we work with here at Big Duck regularly spend money on advertising. Some have a PR budget, but most of those organizations increasingly doubt the ROI.
I suspect general marketing (e.g. reaching the broad public- as opposed to direct marketing, which targets individuals) just doesn’t pay off directly enough to warrant the ongoing expense- unless you’re publicizing events (for instance, a show at a theater). Even organizations that used to advertise in order to change public perception around an issue (called social marketing) seem to do so less and less.

Does your organization advertise? Or retain a PR firm to help you get media coverage? I’d love to hear more about why, where, and what the results are. Please share your comments here- or email me privately if you prefer at Sarah (at) bigducknyc (dot) com. Thanks.