When she was studying journalism in community college, Linda Alberts had a teacher who referred to public relations as ‘the dark side’. It’s a good thing she didn’t take his view too seriously, because today, Linda is very happy as Public Relations Coordinator for the National Alliance For Youth Sports.

Linda came to the nonprofit sector in 2010 after working in public relations agencies for several years. The Alliance, based in Florida, offers programs and services for those involved in youth sports including administrators, volunteers, coaches, officials, parents and young athletes. Their goal is to make sports and activities safe and positive by providing programs and training with a focus on fun, safety and fundamentals.

“Whenever I interview volunteers and administrators that use the programs, I get to connect back to the kids, which is what this is all about. It’s why I do what I do,” says Linda. “It’s great to get feedback on our programs and how we are making a difference. And the stories we tell give others ideas on how they can use our programs to make a difference.”

Using public relations to motivate action

Linda is currently working on a project that integrates public relations with marketing: “As a PR person it’s great to see your company’s name included in an article. However, I always wondered, what now? What happens after someone reads this? How can we encourage an actionable step that proves the value of PR?”

Called the Sports Parent Pledge, the campaign is promoted though PR elements like traditional media, bloggers and social media and calls on parents to join a movement to pledge to become a positive influence in youth sports.

At the pledge’s website parents sign up for a free six-week email series that offers tips and guidance on topics that will enhance their family’s youth sports experience. If, after the email series ends, pledge takers want to continue receiving information and connecting with like-minded sports parents, they can join the Alliance’s Parent’s Association for Youth Sports. And if they don’t, they have still accessed free, helpful resources that will have made a difference that season. The campaign formally launches in January.

Lessons and opportunities in social media

Regarding working in social media, Linda appreciates the room for continuous improvement. She recommends being fluid, always adapting and not being afraid to change. For example, the Alliance’s Facebook page has grown organically from their member base and serves as a way to keep members connected to the organization following their volunteer training.

On the other hand, Linda also highlights some cautionary advice about taking the time to get things right from the outset.

“When I took over the position, I took over social media and in some ways, moved a little too quickly. Specifically, I secured a really poor URL for our organization’s youTube channel, which was a real rookie mistake,” explains Linda. “The url doesn’t look good when trying to promote it and it’s not memorable. Be mindful of branding and longevity when it comes to your social media identities; take your time and do try to get them right.”

PR: the not-so-dark side

As for public relations being the ‘dark side’? Not so, according to Linda:

“Journalists and public relations pros need each other to do our jobs. We need journalists to help get our story out, and they need us to bring them new information. I just try not to be ‘that PR person’. I’m direct, show respect for their time and try to get to the point. It’s not so dark over here.”

To continue the conversation with her, connect with Linda on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira