Category Archives: Nonprofit Marketing

Words Count! Effective Nonprofit Content Marketing

In my last post, I addressed the importance pictures play in an effective content marketing strategy that works to tell a compelling nonprofit story.  We have often heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what's more important is that words and pictures can work in harmony with one another.

There are so many ways to say something. Just the other day, I mentioned to a client that I'd be happy to help explain the strategic plan we'd just developed to the staff.  I was just trying to help, but the response I received was to the effect of, "I really don't think I need anyone to hold my hand." Once again, I learned the hard way that words count. They need to be in the right order, have the right inflection, be succinct and genuine.  Most importantly, in today's Internet-fueled world, they need to cut to the chase. That's because we are bombarded by thousands of messages daily.  In a world where 141 characters is too many, we need to be efficient to be effective.

Here are five Hip Tips to keep the words you choose focused:

  1. Create an emotional connection with your audience. Emotions drive decisions and they create loyalty. In getting to know someone, some of your first questions are: where do you come from, what do you do for a living and how many kids do you have? The same types of questions are relevant when someone wants to get to know your organization.
  2. Speak to directly to your audience and in their language; anticipate and answer their questions. Your goal should be to become the authority in your space. Create content that addresses not just you, but the community you serve.
  3. When possible, tell a story.  What's the mythology of your organization? Why do you do what you do, what connection does it have to your stakeholders, how does it affect the lives of the people you serve? Don't forget to include stories about the success you create in your space.
  4. In research done by Disruptive Communications, over forty percent of people expressed that poor spelling and grammar lowered their impression of a particular brand (that's what people think of when they hear your name). Yes, you're on a budget, in both time and money, but try to invest a little more in ensuring that your content hits the mark. I guarantee it will pay off in the long run.
  5. Think dynamic rather than static.  Work to keep your message lively; switch your story up from time-to-time.  Your value proposition may not change, but how you express it can.  Keep your audience interested and engaged with new stories, pictures, and valuable information.

All too often, in the quest for keeping expenses to a minimum, nonprofits spend little to nothing when communicating with their target audience. How we express ourselves is pretty darned important. In marketing our nonprofit organizations, our words count. In working to encourage donors to invest in our cause, our words count, in getting volunteers to go the extra mile, our words count. Your mission is important and how you express it to your community is just as important.

Content Marketing and Your Nonprofit!

According to Great Nonprofits, there are 6,978 nonprofit organizations in the Denver area; each is special in their own way.  But, with that many organizations vying for attention, we must ask ourselves two important questions: 1) Do you want to blend in, or do you want to stand out? 2) Do you want to look "pretty" or do you want to be effective?

Content marketing offers the perfect platform for nonprofit organizations to set themselves apart from the crowd.  According to the Content Marketing Institute, "It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior."

Content Marketing is not new. As a matter of fact, the concept is over 100 years old. One of the most famous examples are the Burma Shave roadside signs. They were a popular advertising campaign that ran from 1927 until 1963, which consisted of rhymed messages sequentially staked on the side of the road and ending with “Burma-Shave.”



Today, content marketing includes everything from thought-provoking blog posts, to relevant pictures, informative infographics, and engaging social media projects.  It is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving positive audience actions. 

When you’re looking to influence people and build a powerful online presence, authority is the way to go.  People respect other people who have authority, expertise, and impressive credentials just like they respect people in lab coats and police uniforms.  And, they respect authority even more when you demonstrate it rather than simply claiming it.

Content marketing allows you to position yourself as an authority in your space; because when making a donation, donors want to learn before they contribute, and they want to be assured their donation is well spent. If you're the authority in your field you're more than halfway there.

In future posts we'll examine content marketing in more detail.  In the mean time, if you have questions, don't hesitate to contact Questus Strategies for consulting ideas on how to fuel your Internet marketing for greater awareness, engagement, and funding opportunities.

Competitive Advantage and Impact: The Difference is Critical to Nonprofit Strategy

Football Feet Crop 800x224pxI often feel like I'm walking on egg shells when using a term like competition.  Language like it is often viewed as foreign in the nonprofit community.  That's because collaboration, impact, and the common good are uppermost in all our minds.  But, competition can be good; it pushes innovation and inspires progress, and competition can be friendly. 

Understanding competitive advantage is about two things: 1) what it is you do best, and 2) how you fit within your community of service providers.  Considering these factors gives you the ability to better connect with your audience to improve funding and to better your position in the community by improving service options.

I've been following several topics in the LinkedIn group Strategic Planning for Nonprofits lately.  As someone with a natural curiosity and full well knowing this is a controversial topic, I posted the following question to the group: "What level of importance do you place on understanding an organization's competitive advantage in strategic planning?"  The comments flowed as though from a wellspring of enthusiasm and while I thought they would fall distinctly into two camps, by and large, I was pleasantly surprised.

In the contrary camp, comments included: "I don't usually use the term "competitive advantage" in this context, because I think it's more illuminating to say how one's organization fits into the landscape of others addressing an important community issue." Another comment stated: "I would add that in the nonprofit arts world organizations bridle at the word "competitive" so I often use the term "comparative advantage." Then, there was: "Swallowing to get past "competitive", there are several questions that funders silently ask that come close."

On the other side of the coin: "Other than Mission and Vision, I think that Competitive Advantage (Differentiation, Value Proposition, Uniqueness, etc. – they all mean essentially the same thing) is the most important consideration when doing strategic planning." Another said: "Being able to articulate how you are different and/or better than others is important to winning funding."

One of the more compelling comments stated: "Sadly, I find engaging non-profits in discussions regarding competitors to be challenging at best. I have encountered resistance to the use of business terms or concepts, as if doing so would somehow soil the purity of the group." This commenter went on to further illuminate his frustration with the following: "Adopting business concepts is viewed by some as cavorting with an enemy who somehow is responsible for the ills that the non-profit is trying to address."

I think we all agree that impact to the community is the priority, because without it, then what's the point?  However, it's important for every organization to distinguish between what it is they do best and how well they perform (outcomes).  Competitive advantage and impact are two different things. Outcomes demonstrate your value to the community and help you get better at what you do; while an understanding of your competitive advantage positions you among service providers and works to prevent overlapping services, which can dilute impact.

A final short, sweet, and poignant comment concluded: "Whatever you call it, it's vital."

And, that's the primary message I'd like to leave you with; whatever it is called, competition has always been present and it's here to stay.  Those organizations that do not understand what they do best, or that embrace that difference, place themselves at a serious disadvantage.


Reflections on 21st Century Nonprofit Strategy

chessboard2 800x224 GSWhile collaboration is not new, it certainly seems to be gaining momentum.  Perhaps that's because more and more people and organizations are discovering that together we're not only stronger, but we're smarter. 

I experienced a genuine buzz of collaboration at the Colorado Nonprofit Association's 21st Annual Fall Conference and collaborated myself with my good friend and colleague Rachel T. Emmer.  She is a frequent collaborator at Questus Strategies, where we've assembled a cadre of strategy architects who take a team approach to projects exactly for those aforementioned reasons. For the conference, she and I presented two separate workshops: "21st Century Website Realities" and "Foraging for Funding, Creating Social Enterprise."

Social Enterprise was on the tip of everyone's tongue at the conference.  Many nonprofits are exploring earned-income possibilities while social benefit-oriented companies look to forge social good out of a business model. Unfortunately, according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 business entrepreneurs fail within the first 18 months.

In a recent Forbes article Five Reasons 8 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail the article points to the "inability to nail a profitable business model with proven revenue streams" as a major factor. That's why our Foraging for Funding workshop presented a process for vetting ideas for further feasibility study. Using a World Cafe format and some innovative decision matrix tools, participants worked through the process of how to sort through a myriad of business ideas. We were pleasantly surprised to overhear several people exclaim: "Best workshop so far!" Having started several businesses, I know half the battle is in the preparation and planning.

The Forbes article also points out: "No real differentiation in the market (read: lack of unique value propositions)" and "Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise and compelling fashion" as two other reasons businesses fail. That's where 21st Century Website Realities offered tips on how you can leverage content marketing strategy and use your website as the hub for all your marketing activities.

Today, when someone wants to learn more about your organization, the first place they go is your website. Yet, even with the importance of making a favorable first impression, it's remarkable how many sites fall flat.  You only have 8 to 10 seconds to capture a reader's attention, so it's vital to make the most of it. While building credibility with a contemporary, professional-looking site is essential, what's most imperitive is engaging your audience, that often means having something both powerfully moving and relevant to say.

By answering the following: What do you do? Why is it important? And, what's the impact to the community? You begin to build a relationship that answers the most central question of all: "Why should I give you any money?" Content marketing leverages our basic need for stories and deeper connections; by listening, conversing, and teaching instead of pitching, you set your organization up as an expert in your field and that encourages people to return time after time.

I've been on a soapbox talking about these ideas for a while now. But, I must say I felt pleasantly validated when Tuesday's keynote speaker, Susan McPherson, SVP & Director of Global Marketing for the NY, NY Public Relations firm Fenton echoed our advice. Two things are critical in mission achievement; emotional connection and community engagement; it's effective storytelling that gets you more than halfway there.

You can find our presentations on the Questus Strategies website and soon we'll have complimentary ebooks available to help you get the basics in place.

No Magic Bullets

speeding bullet 2"Nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed." – "Underdeveloped", CompassPoint

Like many of you, I subscribe to several industry groups and newsletters in the interest of staying on top of trends, notable wisdom, and topical conversations of interest to my community. So, a question posed to the Linkedin group, Alliance for Nonprofit Management, which revolved around a development director raising his/her own salary, caught my eye. That's because, I've heard this argument before, most notably from a colleague who led a rather large nonprofit association. At the time of his remark, I remember suddenly getting that cold prickly feeling.

Around that time, I also heard a statistic that proclaimed the average length of employment for a development director to be 18 months and for an executive director, 36 months. That's never sounded like a positive solution for a sustainable organizational future and it certainly doesn't create a positive environment for a team approach to growing relationships with donors.  So, I found the following quote from Compass Point's study: UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising more than simply poignant.

"For years now, there has been widespread concern in the nonprofit sector about premature turnover of development directors, lengthy vacancies in the role, and the seemingly thin pool of qualified candidates from which organizations can choose. The development director is commonly labeled a “revolving door” position, and “the hardest to fill and retain” by executives, board members, funders, and capacity builders alike."

Fundraising/development is by and large a sales function. You need someone who will get out there and sing your praises, but it's not that simple. With years of experience as a sales manager and development director, I understand the pressures associated with these positions as much as anyone. And, with over 25 years of marketing, business, and organizational development expertise, I know there is a simple solution to this turnover problem: fundraising is not a singular position. You can't expect one individual to arrive with a box of magic bullets, or a Rolodex full of donors interested in your mission. Here are some hip tips to help you reframe your expectations about this important organizational function:

  1. Stop looking at fundraising as a burden. If you are convinced of the importance of your work, that you are performing your best, and if you believe the world is a better place because of your impact, then asking donors to invest in your mission should be the easiest thing in the world. Everyone should want to participate. 
  2. Resist the urge to hire someone with the goal of placing fundraising soley in their court. Rather, give this person the responsibility of rallying the troops and giving all your stakeholders the opportunity to sing your praises.  Your development director is your quarterback, not your running back. Don't hand him/her the ball and hope he/she crosses the goal line.  Everyone on the team should be focused upon tearing down the goal posts.
  3. Think holistically, understand that your entire organization is a system, with each functional area reliant upon the other.  Program drives impact, impact attracts funding, marketing spurs interest.  It is circular not linear.

By applying a holistic strategy to your organizational development you'll automatically create a team environment where everyone wants to win. 


Billboard in the Sky

New Rules of Internet EngagementBack in the early 90's, looking over the shoulder of my office manager, I'll never forget the first time I saw a webpage on the Internet. It was part of something included with her new computer and it was called America Online.  My first thought was: "another place for me to receive advertising pitches, or perhaps just waste my time." "It's like a billboard in the sky!" …Turns out, I wasn't far off the mark.

A great deal has changed since my first exposure to the net.  Today, the Internet touches virtually every aspect of our lives and how we interact, relate to, and communicate has changed forever.  It's a critical component of your marketing efforts and so it's important to get it right.  I've been busy and haven't written much lately, as I migrated this blog and Questus Strategies to a new platform.  As a result, I've learned some new tricks of Internet engagement that I hope you will consider.  

Lego-like Building Blocks

Remember Lego, those neat little preformed, colorful, construction pieces that made it easy to build just about anything?  I don't consider myself a web-developer, but over the years, I've built about a dozen websites. Each time I've had to pour untold hours into learning or relearning a development application to get the job done. It sure has gotten easier!  Now there are lego-like tools to make building a website pretty darned easy. 

My latest venture was to dive into WordPress.  It is known as a blogging platform, but it has some great tools for building complete websites. One of its main features is its (CMS) content management system. CMS makes it easy for non-techies to organize and manage websites, giving you flexibility and an easy interface for building pages, adding pictures, and other content. 

Wordpress has nearly 1800 free and hundreds more custom "themes"; templates which detail how your webpage will appear and give your site a unique layout, look, and feel.  In addition, there are countless "plugins" and "widgets" that make updating and further customization a breeze.  WordPress is probably the most popular CMS, but there are dozens of others with interesting names like Joomla and Drupal.  It's important to have an ever-evolving, dynamic site that refreshes your message and encourages your audience to return on a regular bases.  So, the bottom line is, if you can't update your website content yourself, you are way behind the curve. 

That's because…

"Content is King"

First coined back in 1996 by Bill Gates and still true today. You literally have only a few seconds to capture a veiwer's attention, so you need to get right to the point: what do you do, why is it important, and what is the benefit to the community?  Not effectively communicating answers to these critical questions are probably the biggest problem I've found among nonprofit websites. You can avoid making this simple mistake by employing the Triad of Value in your web presentation.  It's a structural issue, one that doesn't rotate, flash, or scroll, but is focused on the reader's expectations, which will lead to greater understanding, empathy, and emotional connection.  It's easily remedied with just a little effort by using the Triad to define your value proposition

So, your first step is both simple and hard.  Understand what your audience wants and then to give that to them, hopefully in a manner that creates an emotional connection. Take some time to define your target audiences and then research what they find interesting. A dynamic well-organized site that is easy to navigate is best, so try to avoid static copy-heavy pages. 

To create this dynamic look and feel, remember that people naturally gravitate towards images.  Appropriate images will move you up the ladder and garner greater impact.  You should also consider: calendars of events, contests, product reviews, testimonials, reference materials, forums, newsgroups, knowledge bases, blogs, and photo galleries.  The lynchpin is that your content should be as unique as possible, so you distinquish yourself from the crowd. 

All this will work to fulfill another branding fundamental… positioning. You should use your website to showcase your good deeds, your impact, and value to the community.  Remember that: "donors want to be investors in a well-managed organization that has an exciting plan for the future." Show them how exciting, organized, and impactful you are through your website.

SEO, Analytics, Mobile, Smoke, and Mirrors

For the longest time, I felt that (SEO) search engine optimization was not that critical to the nonprofit community, because after all, we're in the relationship business, right? Well, yes and no.  SEO is important in widening your audience and presenting your organization as a leader and expert.  So work to get your ranking higher up the food chain.  There are plenty of resources to help you understand the basics, like this one, or you may want to consider hiring someone who understands the algorythms more thoroughly. 

Web analytic tools are now within reach of even the smallest nonprofit organization. Analytics are those metrics that track trends and visitor behavior. Website success is more than content and design, it’s about knowing who is visiting, how they arrived, where they are landing, and how long they are staying.  Analytics can help you understand what really drives visitor actions, providing a clearer picture of your website's performance. You may learn that donors spend a good amount of time viewing your about us and program pages, prior to a donation follow through.  Armed with this information you can massage and tailor your website for growth and continued success.

Understand that the world is going mobile, so by all means make sure your site is optimized for smart phones, tablets, and other on-the-go devices.  That means the site recognizes the type of viewing medium and adjusts accordingly. You want viewers to get your message on all their devices.

But, be careful not to get caught up in the latest trends, further complicated by technical jargon.  There are thousands of sites with great visuals and technical wizardry that fail to get the message across.  Determine up front the goals for your site. Do you have a clear vision of what you want your website to accomplish?  For instance, is it a donation tool, informational site, marketing piece, or all of the above?  Defining your website goals will help you align your presentation needs to match your brand.

These are just a few new rules for Internet engagement and for successfully defining your "Billboard in the Sky".  These basics can all easily be applied by you, or if you choose to hire expertise, following these simple rules will help you stay on course.


Lessons From a Trust Fall

We build trust through positive actions and then use marketing channels to promote that trust.  The best nonprofits understand effective marketing communications is critical to their success. So why is there so little emphasis on measurement in so many marketing campaigns?

I saw this video the other day and it really made me laugh and then it got me to thinking. Communicating exactly what you want your audience to understand is a tough business!  How effective are you in your communications?


What we have here… is a failure to communicate!

How often have you presented a simple message only to encounter an undesired reaction?  As nonprofit professionals, we understand the value of effective communications.  But, do we really know whether our message rings true and if so, to what extent?

How often do you find yourself stating and restating your directives? Are your presentations, or "asks", falling flat?  Has attendance at your events become lackluster? Do you find yourself wondering why the phone is not ringing after implementing a great new fundraising appeal?

The answer may be found in our innate inability to hear ourselves. It always sounds better in your head! We think our message is clear, but we often fail to adequately express our value in ways in which our audience will connect and understand.  Often we use too many, too few, or the wrong words, or we promote our significance in areas where our audience is not listening.

If what we are striving for is to get our great mission understood by as many in our target population as possible, it's important to first craft a great message, but then we need to know if it really is a great message.  Has it been heard, comprehended, and most importantly did it resonate? Here are five Hip Tips to get your message off and running and then humming along like a well-oiled machine.

  1. Understand your target audience.  Know what they read, listen to, watch, like, and think. Remember you can have multiple audiences for your message, so make sure your tailor your communications to each group.
  2. Test, test, test and then test some more.  In every good marketing campaign the message is test marketed and then tested some more during implementation.  Set up specific measurement tools, which will allow you to gauge your success.
  3. Find out what works and keep doing it until it doesn't.  That's how you create and maintain a consistent voice and a develop a real brand.
  4. Remember that multiple touch points reinforce the effectiveness of your message.
  5. And, don't forget the old sales adage: Tell them what you're gonna' tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you just told them.

Employ these Hip Tips in all your communications efforts and your audience's hearing will improve dramatically.

Core Strength

Seals Training - crop1The very best companies and organizations realize that marketing is a core component for success and they place its importance at a high level within their operation. So why do so many smaller organizations only consider marketing efforts as secondary, or as an after-thought?

Risk is inherent in all business and it's those businesses and organizations who minimize their risk that find themselves opposite (or, separated) from the unsuccessful. Minimizing your risk means being smart with your marketing budget. You need to focus on what is working and keep doing that until it doesn’t work anymore.

An effective marketing strategy should be at the core of your fundraising activities. While sometimes a great idea may appear from out of the blue, effective strategies are typically developed only after a great deal of research.  Understanding your "market" and separating yourself from your 'competitors" with a unique value proposition is the first step in developing your strategy. Armed with this positioning, your next step is to create a blueprint designed to inform your target audience(s) as to why you're so awesome.

And, that’s where a marketing plan comes in. Those organizations without clear marketing plans find that their marketing tends to be reactive, unstructured, and usually ineffective.

Marketing Process"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you do not know what you are doing."
W. Edwards Deming

The trouble with the marketing efforts at many organizations is they are typically only implemented when their backs are against the wall.  An effective marketing plan is on-going and dynamic; it expands and contracts as you learn from your measurement activities.  It's these metrics, which help you understand if your message is effective.  It's a process that should evolve as you and your audience progress.

Marketing without a plan is a risky gamble; marketing with a dynamic plan can minimize your risk and potentially pay off big.  Here are the core components: 1) Research your "market", 2) develop a strategy, 3) set a budget, 4) identify best tactics, 5) implement the plan, 6) measure your effectiveness, 7) research, refine, & refresh, 8) stir and continue.

One last thing, a marketing plan can have several campaigns.  Campaigns are well thought out methods of attracting donors, constituents, new stakeholders, or informing the general public.  All campaigns have a goal and they clearly state what happens next. This is important because it keeps all your stakeholders on the same page delivering a consistent message and persistent experience. This reinforces and solidifies your brand in the minds of your community.

Running an organization can be a risky business, but nonprofits can mitigate their risk with knowledge. Don’t risk everything on the roll of the dice, or the toss of a coin.  Improve your core strength by planning for success.

Social Media Matters

While for many, how to best use social media to promote and publicize their organization appears to be an amorphous creature that continues to escape their grasp, it's really fairly straightforward, and it's time to join the conversation.

social-networks-V2 crop

And, that is pretty much what social media is all about; it's a conversation between you and others, via the Internet, primarily with your network of constituents, but also with the outside world.  Think of it as a cocktail party, a business meeting, or networking event where you share what's new, your interests, and things you think would be valuable to those with whom you are talking.

Just as when you are in these other social settings; you do the same for your social media network.  Your goal is to create a conversation around mutual interests. So, in this dialog, you share your successes, your exciting new plan to make the world a better place, your shiny new program, or your impressive new hire.  But, you also want to talk about the community to which you both belong and you want to provide valuable information to that community.  When you think about it, it's pretty basic public relations; there are just some basic guidelines that you need to keep in mind to remain relevant (so you're not tuned out by your audience).

Mashable, a leading online news community, lists 21 rules of engagement for using social media to your advantage, here are my top 3 picks from their list:

  1. Become a true participant in each community you wish to activate.
  2. Establish and nurture beneficial relationships online and in the real world as long as doing so is important to your business.
  3. Give back, reciprocate, and recognize notable contributions from participants in your communities.

And, here are my hip tips:

  1. Start today; jump in and get your feet wet, you just need to participate. But, be careful about what you post; set up some guidelines that fit with your brand ideal and work to promote that message.
  2. Post regularly, but not constantly; keep the conversation going, but try not to dominate the conversation.
  3. Remember your audience, rather than simply entertain like you might at a cocktail party, think about your conversation as a luncheon meeting.  It's casual, but on point and message; talk about something you both find interesting.
  4. Operate outside your immediate sphere of influence, in other like arenas where interaction can be beneficial.

If you want to keep someone engaged, have a meaningful conversation that you both enjoy. If you're still stuck about where to start, give me a call, I'd be happy to help you get the conversation going.

Spin Cycle

Spin Cycle crop 800x224You never really know when negative press may hit your organization and switch your communication efforts to the spin cycle. It can easily hit the best organizations; just consider the disparaging developments at organizations like LiveSTRONG, Central Asia Institute, and Susan G. Komen.  Preparing in advance for these speed bumps, can minimize your risk and save you some pretty big headaches.

This issue was recently brought into focus by a friend who posted the following image on Facebook with the comment: "Wow, I had no idea…"

PETA imageI thought it was pretty incredible and a little shocking, so did my friend, who happens to be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). That's because, while many may consider PETA a bit extreme on some issues, I think everyone agrees they hold the rights of animals first and foremost.  So, my red flag went up on this one and I decided to dig a bit deeper.

The first thing I looked for was a values statement from PETA that might provide some guidance and insight into their organizational foundation. Throughout my search, I learned that PETA has strong and deep-seated position statements that identify their views on just about everything.

"PETA's "Uncompromising Stands on Animal Rights" is an overview of what sets PETA apart. Our positions may be controversial, but they are always true to our driving mission: to stop animal abuse worldwide."

True to form, I found a list of positions on animal rights, including euthanasia:

"Euthanasia is a sad reality caused by people who abandon animals, refuse to sterilize their animals, and patronize pet shops and breeders instead of adopting stray animals or animals from animal shelters." Read the rest of their position here.

So, that pretty much answered my question.  At the ready, PETA had provided a reasoned and pragmatic position on an important and unpleasant issue they have thoughtfully considered and then decidedly presented as their stance on the problem.  Most importantly, their preemptive strike rendered the aforementioned attack pointless and that is exactly the result you want to achieve.

So, let's briefly take a look at some of the important take-a ways on spin; it's a double-edged sword that can work to present a reasonable alternative, but it can also be used to incite and provoke.



  1. Remember that even the most innocuous statement can get spun in a different direction than intended. We see this every day on the 24 hour news programs, as they digest, regurgitate, and spin every single statement made by politicians and celebrities into something often unrecognizable from the original.
  2. You never know who is going to take a pot-shot at your work. The smart organizations are pro-active in their communications.  They develop comprehensive values statements, stick to them, clearly think through all their positions, and post them front and center.
  3. An active PR campaign with a comprehensive media contingency plan, available at the ready, can save you a great deal of heartburn, especially if they are developed in advance to a potential attack or misunderstanding.
  4. Remember that not everyone's red flag will pop up when they see something that may stray from the truth, popular belief, or reality.

I never found a values statement for PETA, but they probably don't need one, that's because they are true to their values and clear in their vision, which they share widely.  Being true to yourself and confident in your beliefs will take you a long way, just don't let them become your little secret. Make sure you let the rest of the world know.