A PR firm for youth organizations and youth initiatives.


February 7, 2017


Chris Cooke, executive director, PULSE

Chris Cooke, executive director, PULSE (Image courtesy of Cara Rufenacht Creative)

After reading the interview, contact Chris and PULSE here:

Facebook: PulsePittsburgh
Twitter: @pulsepittsburgh
Instagram: pulsepittsburgh
YouTube: Pulse

My name is Chris Cooke. I’m the Executive Director of PULSE, a nonprofit that “cultivates a community of young servant leaders to transform Pittsburgh.” PULSE invites talented university graduates to partner with Pittsburgh nonprofits for a year of service and leadership.  Over the past 22 years, PULSE has invited about 250 young adults to partner with 125 nonprofits, contributing over 400,000 hours of service to the city and its residents.  My role in the organization is to serve our staff and board as they serve our PULSE fellows, nonprofit partners, and neighborhood residents. As a small nonprofit, I’m often serving as a utility infielder too as needs arise on a day-to-day basis.  Communications is essential for any nonprofit and leader, both on an interpersonal and organizational level.  It is extremely important to be clear and concise in our messaging, telling stories that comply people to jump onboard with PULSE. –  Chris Cooke, Executive Director, PULSE

1. Which communications tools does your organization use to get its messages out?
PULSE uses a lot of different communications tools to get our messaging out.  We have three main stakeholders: young adults, nonprofits, and neighborhoods.  Our methods vary depending on the stakeholder.  Currently, we are in an Instagram campaign with alumni called “A Day in the Life of…” to give people a better picture of what a year with PULSE looks like from the inside.  Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Email Campaigns, Print, Face-to-face info sessions.  Each play and important role in our work.
2. The youth in your program are recent college graduates. Why the focus on this demographic?
I’ve always believed that the years between 18 and 25 are some of the most pivotal and formative in life.  They often set the trajectory for one’s hopes, dreams, and work.  We want to invest our time and energy in “things” that have lasting value and significance. Recent college graduates have been that “thing” for me personally and for PULSE as an organization.

3. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an expected growth in the communications industry. Are PULSE program participants generally interested in communications careers?
Absolutely. A lot of PULSE fellows have an interest in communications as a career.  Many of our alumni work in the communications industry.  Regardless of where our fellows end up, their ability to listen well, speak confidently and convene a message is important.

4. Where do you see communications trends going in the future?

I see communications moving more towards face-to-face and print.  In the digital era, people are craving community and that physical touch.  I think the effectiveness of this kind of communication, although time-intensive, is highly underrated.

5. How are youth integral to your organization?

PULSE fellows are the lifeblood of PULSE.  They are the reason why staff get up in the morning.  Everything they are experiencing matters to us and our ability to effectively serve them determines the future of the organization.  If we can’t meet their needs, then we cease to exist.