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Nonprofit Public Relations Case Study


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A study of Grassroots Strategies for Public Relations Practicioners Working With Underserved Communities

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Nonprofit Public Relations Case Study

  1. 1. A Case Study Grassroots Strategies For Public Relations Practitioners Working With Underserved Communities By Jennifer Vardeman-Winter Alannah Finnan and Kristina Horsley
  2. 2. Background of the Case ● Purpose: ○ to interview public relations practitioners and communicators at grassroots health organizations to learn their communication strategies with underserved communities ● Total of 10 Participants: ○ all working for organizations whose missions focused on women’s causes ■ 4 CHWs/ Health Educators ■ 3 Executive Directors ■ 3 Program/ Outreach Managers and Communicators ● Limited Geographically:
  3. 3. Guiding Research Question The Question Guiding the Study: “How do grassroots communicators overcome the challenges they face in working with publics from underserved communities?”
  4. 4. Conducting the Study ● Vardeman-Winter conducted qualitative, in-depth interviews with 10 practitioners ● The interview guide consisted of 26 questions that “explore basic concepts in this study.” These concepts include: ○ Organizational mission and participants’ role ○ Public communication factors ○ Grassroots programming and women ○ Cultural factors in programming ○ Dynamics of publics-incorporation in programming ○ Dynamics of communicator-publics differences
  5. 5. Case Study Findings Vardeman-Winter’s findings: to overcome the challenges communicators face in working with women from underserved communities, health organizations implement a number of “grassroots based strategies” what exactly does grassroots mean? Local to national Strategies include: Public participation in decision making: An inside-out approach: belief that the inner strengths and capabilities of the organization will make the organization prevail Practices of identity reflexivity: participant’s have processes in place to ensure they do not “elevate themselves” above their publics.
  6. 6. Why is PR needed? “Underserved populations are important to study from a public relations perspective because campaigns targeting them expend significant dollars and represent a sizeable portion (approximately 20%) of public relations services.”
  7. 7. Key Non-profit PR Approaches Used Vardeman-Winter conducted study while still a student There was no organizational board participating in the research Note :: Vardeman-Winter’s educational institutio did supply approval of survey questions used Only fundraising used was grant money Note :: Vardeman-Winter’s educational institution provided the grant money Used to purchase gift cards → not as incentive, but as a thank you How were volunteers found? Vardeman-Winter used previous contacts
  8. 8. “What would we do?” What was missing from this study? Range of participants Vardeman-Winter conducted this study using only women who worked with organizations that focused on women’s health. What would we do differently? Include a wider range of participants Multitude of participants from a number of health organizations, men and women Also attempt to include participants in similar communication positions across the nation In doing this, we could decrease the limitations of this study and expand the scope of the many different strategies that can be used when working with underserved communities
  9. 9. Conclusion This study provided: Theoretical development for nonprofit public relations professionals and communicators Practical skills for accomplishing better relationships with different publics in different communities “Actionable ways to accomplish [grounded approaches to communication campaigns]” “Premises upon which to build testable theory about the relationships between grounded strategies and tactics and health communication outcomes”
  10. 10. References Vardeman-Winter, J. (2015). Navigation and grounded communication: Grassroots strategies for public relations practitioners working with underserved communities. Public relations in the nonprofit sector: Theory and Practice (pp. 124-140).