Case Study: United Partners for Human Services
The United Partners for Human Services is a nonprofit organization representing 80 human services agencies in the Big Bend Region of Florida. UPHS advocates for human-services funding with local and state elected officials, and provides training and technical assistance to the Big Bend’s nonprofit human services agencies to improve program delivery.
UPHS was struggling with perhaps the worst public relations challenge a nonprofit agency can face: Outside the human services field, no one knew they existed. Community key influentials with sponsorship and donation money to share were unaware of the opportunity to touch nearly every human services nonprofit in the region through providing financial and material support to a single agency. Local media had not been educated about the importance of UPHS, which cemented their unwanted anonymity.
The UPHS Board of Directors had charged the agency’s new Executive Director with improving the under-performing annual Conference for Excellence in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. In 2013, only 68 people attended the conference, which offers valuable educational opportunities; high-end speakers and presenters; free legal consultations; and Continuing Education Units to assist nonprofit professionals in maintaining necessary certifications and licenses. The conference offers both an opportunity to assist local nonprofits while enhancing the agency’s reputation.
7Hills Communications conducted a communications and marketing audit that identified several areas in which solid public relations practices could raise the agency’s profile in the community and improve conference performance, including:
- Creation of consistent, high-quality conference materials to reposition the annual conference as a credible and valuable professional development opportunity.
- Provision of a comprehensive, high-quality media relations and advertising program designed to earn coverage in the area’s top news media outlets.
- Conceptualization of a relevant conference theme designed to attract the interest of human services professionals.
- Creation of a sponsorship package to assist UPHS staff in attracting new sponsors for the annual conference.
- Conducting outreach to grassroots and grasstops key influentials at Florida State University’s College of Social Work, Florida A & M University’s College of Social Work and the Leon County Public School system — institutions that had never been approached about the conference — in order to increase attendance.
- Rebrand UPHS’ existing social networking platforms to harmonize with the agency’s new look and feel and create a new Twitter program for disseminating legislative updates and other updates throughout the year.
- Provide one high-quality training session in support of the conference.
- 7Hills Communications’ efforts generated significant media coverage that raised UPHS’ profile in the Big Bend community, including an extensive feature story in the Tallahassee Democrat, a story on WCTV’s Good Morning Show, and a radio feature recorded live at the conference and broadcast on NPR.
- Conference attendance increased from 68 in 2013 to 160 in 2014, the maximum number of participants the conference could accommodate.
- UPHS now is “on the radar screens” of new benefactors, positioning the agency to generate significant additional sponsorship and donation revenue going forward.