Reality in Non Profit Organization Communication

Jana Galera Matúšová

Assistant Professor, UCM, Bratislava, Slovakia


Zuzana Ihnátová

External lecturer, Pan-European University, Bratislava, Slovakia


Abstract: A nonprofit organization has to use individual marketing communication tools to raise awareness of its activities or specific projects. Nonprofit organizations dont have a huge budget for communication campaigns, therefore they mainly use PR activities. But is it easier for nonprofit organizations to communicate with media than for commercial companies? The article tries to answer this question on the basis of knowledge acquired during project realization – “I AM THE RESCUE” (ZÁCHRANA SOM JA in Slovak).

Key words: media relations, non-profit organization, public relations, I am the rescue


Act no. 213/1997 as amended by Act no. 35/2002 defines a non-profit organization providing services of general interest as a legal entity providing generally beneficial services under predetermined and equal conditions for all users and whose profit may not be used in favor of its founders, members of the organization bodies or its employees and must be used in its entirety to provide services of general interest. [1].

Brief thetoretical and methodological explanation

Nowadays we are witnessing the ever-growing importance of non-profit sector organizations as a social and economic phenomenon. The role of non-profit organizations in society and a country’s economy is understandably different from that of commercial entities or public authorities. Different is not only their legal and organizational basis and the principle of economic functioning but above all their mission and the social impact of their activities. For this reason, their access to marketing activities and marketing philosophy must also be different [2].

From a marketing communication point of view, stemming from the characteristic of a non-profit organization, the focus is on those instruments that require minimal investments. A non-profit organization does not make a profit, so its communication resources are minimal. It is for this reason mainly that most non-profit organizations are involved in public relations and especially in media relations.

Media relations is the practice of developing relationships with journalists and editors in the media. Efforts are made to cover media for business or related activities of the subject. Furthermore, building close media relations can provide fair media coverage in the event of a dispute or a negative case involving the subject [3].

Publicity as the ultimate phenomenon of media relations has a long-term, but particularly credible, impact on target groups. People get used to believing the information they find in media as they see it as the ultimate work of an independent and objective journalist. Therefore it can be said that it still holds true – the truth is what we can be seen in television or, respectively, what we can be read in a newspaper. The bulk of reports and notes in a typical British journal are inspired by or obtained from the Public Relations Department.

Free publicity in the media in the form of editorial articles written on the basis of the materials of the non-profit organizations themselves is still one of the most widespread manifestations of their marketing communication. The importance for non-profit organizations to collaborate with the media is gradually emerging, albeit with a variety of successes. Despite the low professionalism of the nonprofit sector in this area, achievements are primarily related to the personal talents of particular workers. For nonprofit organizations it may be very important to place their own information free of charge in the editorial part of the media, which always looks more credibly than any paid advertisement (including paid PR articles), which can be perceived as too stylized and highlighting only positive features. Collaboration with non-profit organizations may of course also be of interest to the media themselves – especially nonprofit organizations offer themes that have a longer term validity and can be included in the issue at any time (for example out of season). The media especially, can look for experts within nonprofit organizations who can provide an opinion on currently debated issues (if journalists get a policy statement, it may be interesting to get a “second party” opinion – the one of NGO members). It is generally much easier for nonprofit organizations to assert themselves in regional media rather than nationwide. Regional media often find it difficult to “create” new themes, and so gratefully praise when someone offers them new and unconventional themes. In most media it is possible to find an editor who is in charge of the area in which the organization operates. A nonprofit organization can work closely with this editor, invite him to its events and actively communicate with him. In this case, the way to the media is a little easier. Otherwise, it is necessary to use standard procedures – to place a piece of news to the press service, to send press releases to all selected media, to organize a press conference on special occasions [4].

About the project I am the rescue

The project was held in November/December 2017 (1st volume) and November/December 2018 (2nd volume). The aim of the project was to return the topic of first aid to elementary schools; to educate pupils in first aid, life-saving and accident prevention. It was a project that constitutes the gateway to spreading education and knowledge in this area and returning to simple but very important steps of first aid as well as basic moral values – helping is human. The main pillar of the project was the inter-class competition for the first graders of elementary schools. Children had to prepare a project for the competition on first aid, accident prevention, travel safety and life-saving topics. Each work had to include the following three indices:

– 1 illustration showing life saving phone numbers: 150, 155, 158, 112,

– 1 illustration on the subject of road safety,

– 1 illustration of free choice.

The jury selected 50 papers / classes – the criteria were the originality of topic processing and compliance with the rules / indices. Subsequently, 50 schools won a first-aid course destined to all first graders, an accredited first aid course for teachers and an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

Media relations in the project I am the rescue

As noted above, a nonprofit organization has limited financial resources and therefore Falck’s non-profit organization’s activities were directed towards public relations, namely media relations. The aim was to inform the public through the media about the project itself while raising awareness of the automatic external defibrillator and its use.

Communication with the media was divided into three phases:

– Start of the project – basic information about the project

– Communication aimed at explaining AED issues

– Evaluation of competition and realization of first aid courses in schools.

In total, Falck NGO published nine press releases and organized one press conference.

Let’s take a closer look at the press conference realization. It took place at one of the winning schools in Bratislava. From a visual point of view, the very fact that there would be almost 100 children in a room / gym and the first aid basics would be taught, could be interesting for regional or national television. All the media would also have enough respondents in the form of children, but also their teachers.

As advertised in the publication Advertisement 2000 (Reklama 2000 in Slovak), the first Slovak professor of advertisement, P. Horňák, wrote that a press event (conference, discussion) can be characterized as a common form of reporting information to journalists. By means of them, a part or the whole public should get aware of the information. It is made up of an official presentation of the representatives of the institution that has launched a call for the action and a supplementary debate to provide more comprehensive information to journalists, or more precisely, explains problematic matters about the subject of its action. They have a fundamental role – to inform the public via journalists. The success of a press event depends directly on the quality of its subject, or more precisely, the facts for which it is held. The mediated information must be up-to-date, timely, relatively complex. Press events are an important tool for public relations, promotion and other related activities. This is confirmed by surveys of the effectiveness of mass media communication. Together with presentations and other press media, they remain one of the most effective tools of effective marketing communication and communication of the institutions with their target groups, which they want to address and influence in terms of disseminated information [5].

However, the project topic has already been exhausted from previous PR communication and would no longer be suitable for a separate press conference. So the NGO Falck was looking for a way to get the topic of the first-aid, child education, and automatic external defibrillator into an attractive media theme so it would also be suitable for a separate press conference.

The NGO Falck arranged a press conference with the following theme:

Is the “Generation Z” ready to rescue human lifes?

Are today’s children ready and willing to help others?

Can they distinguish real situations from fiction?

Can they respond in case of danger and help actively?

Why is it important to educate students about first aid, life-saving and injury prevention?

In the scope of communication, the non-profit organization Falck focused specifically on national and regional media. Within each region, it adapted the communication to local needs to make it more attractive to local media. As a result, a basic piece of information was provided – that a specific local school had won an automatic external defibrillator.


The NGO Falck managed to communicate across all types of media – from television, through radio to print and online. The main topics were courses for schools, AED, Allianz Foundation and Falck Non-Profit Communication. The personalities of the communication were Lucia Muthová, Jana Mračnová and regional rescue instructors themselves.

The total number of media outputs was over 140. In the overall assessment, PR communication of the project had the greatest impact in online news, regional print magazines and online portals.

As stated in the introduction, the goal of nonprofit organizations should also be the shaping of their representatives as experts on a given topic. The NGO Falck was not successful in this respect, concerning media relation communication. Although the director of the nonprofit organization was associated with the first aid issue, the questions to her were directed only to the project and after the end of the project, the organization was no longer addressed by the media as an expert on this issue.

Overall, it is difficult to give a conclusion about this project, whether it had a sufficient number of outcomes as there does not exist a relevant benchmark. However, if we look at it in terms of the average number of outputs per month, the project information has been recorded aprox. 20 times in the media monthly.


[1] Act no. 213/1997 as amended by Act no. 35/2002. Available online at:

[2] Bačuvčík, R. (2010). Marketing neziskových organizacií. Zlín: VeRBuM, 9.

[3] Rentmeester, C. (2011). The Importance of Media Relations. [online]. In: Craig Rentmeester’s Blog. [cit. 2011-10-31]. Available online at:

[4] Bačuvčík, R. (2010). Marketing neziskových organizací. Zlín: VeRBuM, 103.

[5] Horňák, P. (1999). Reklama 2000. Bratislava: Central European Advertising CEA, 74.


Bačuvčík, R. (2010). Marketing neziskových organizacií. Zlín: VeRBuM.

Horňák, P. (1999). Reklama 2000. Bratislava: Central European Advertising CEA, p. 74

Rentmeester, C.: The Importance of Media Relations. [online]. In: Craig Rentmeester’s Blog. [cit. 2011-10-31]. Available online at: /the-importance-.html

Materials for the project I AM THE RESCUE

Сп. „Реторика и комуникации“, брой 39, април 2019 г.

Rhetoric and Communications Journal, Issue 39, April 2019