Yes, I love public relations, but I’m also passionate about being passionate about something. I love getting lost in a cause, being driven and devoting myself to something, and that’s why I want to work at a nonprofit. This past week I had the opportunity to chat with Greenhill Humane Society’s staff members Katy Colburn and Tuesday Scott about how to represent a nonprofit organization and, more importantly, how to represent a larger cause.
Both Katy and Tuesday deal with the public, though they do so through very different means; Tuesday is in charge of community outreach and fills the more traditional public relations role with responsibilities like working with the media and planning events, whereas Katy deals with the public more indirectly by training volunteers.
Despite their differences, both women agreed on a few things to remember when representing a nonprofit.
Answer all questions – over and over again
When you’re dealing with the public, there is bound to be questions. Don’t get frustrated when people don’t understand; try explaining it to them in another way. Never talk down to people who don’t get what you’re saying- that’s just as much on you as it is on them.
A little smile goes a long way
“Being approachable is one the most important things for all volunteers to remember” Katy explains. And that’s where smiling comes in. People are much more likely to ask you questions and, in this case, adopt an animal if they feel comfortable talking to you. Plus, they’re more likely to smile if you do.
You represent something much bigger
Yes, you’re here representing a specific organization, but you’re also representing a cause. In the case of Greenhill Humane Society, volunteers and staff are promoting adopting an animal to “save a life,” so if neither of their locations has the right fit for a particular family, staff shouldn’t be afraid to suggest another shelter nearby. Saving a life is saving a life – period.