Moving from corporate to nonprofit

Marybeth Johnson, former corporate communications VP at Exelon Corporation, moved last year to an exciting new challenge as VP of communications and public affairs for Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.  I asked Marybeth to share her thoughts on the differences and similarities of those very different seeming roles.  Here are Marybeth’s insights: 


Not-for-profit organizations are typically multi-million dollar businesses, managed and lead by strategic, comprehensive plans and budgets.  Usually, budgets are tighter in non-profit organizations, which requires a more creative approach to extending non-paid media opportunities and forging partnerships.


I would say there are probably more similarities in the public relations arena between corporate and non-profit organizations than differences.  Each has a distinct culture, personality, strengths and challenges.  Both are managed by Boards and concerned about the bottom line, whether to shareholders or donors.  Both rely on each other for support in the community and are eager to accept recognition from third parties to boost credibility and stature. 


Sound public relations practices apply to both worlds, whether promoting a program or service or managing a crisis – in the end, it’s all about perception and how your audience or constituency responds to your methodologies.       

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