PR - public relations that is - need not be an ugly word for the grant writer. Even though many organizations prefer to call it outreach, marketing is what it truly is, and the reason why the grants department feels no need to become involved. But the truth is that grant writers who do become involved in their organization's PR efforts can improve their grantseeking results over the long run.
Before any PR campaign can be implemented, an organization should be conducting some type of community needs assessment - whether on its own or by using available resources. The good news is that as a grant writer, you already have access to much of the needs assessment tools and resources in the community. You use them on a daily basis for grant writing, but often you don't realize that they can also be helpful for PR and outreach efforts. A question to ask yourself - and your organization's key staff members - is whether your programs and services accurately reflect current service gaps in the community. Obtaining an answer to that will go a long way in revising and fine-tuning all media and outreach efforts, and also be beneficial to grant seeking.
Community needs can be pretty diverse and, let's face it, too big to handle to any one organization. But as the grant writer, you often may be able to bring funders together with your senior staff and volunteers for ongoing discussions about what service gaps exist and how your agency is best suited to meet those community needs.
As a grant writer you should also be the number one source of client data, stories, testimonials and the like. PR efforts that take advantage of these types of information typically have better results, because they offer a true picture of life in your community. You should try to coordinate with your marketing team so that they are aware of this storehouse of data - both qualitative and quantitative - every time they produce press releases, media advisories, marketing pieces etcetera. The burden then lies on you to remain steadfast in the collection and updating of this information on a regular basis.
Public Relations need not be a pain for the grant writing department. Take it as a blessing in disguise, and recognize that a well-coordinated front is better for both areas than a lack of communication.