Friday, May 24, 2013

Three Simple Questions to Create a Communications Strategy

Do you get overwhelmed by the concept of a communications "strategy"? Does it seem so daunting that youkeep on doing what you're doing already?  Or, do you assume your strategy needs to be complete and perfect, so you don't even start to create one? Relax!  It doesn't have to be so hard.

Get the people who have a stake in your communications in the same room and ask them:

1) Who are the audiences we're trying to reach? (Hint: there is no such thing as "the general public." You have people inside and outside your organization that you would like to do something for the organization. Who are they, specifically?)

2) Toward what end? (Once we have built up a nice, preferably two-way, relationship with the audience, what will they start to do that they weren't doing before?)

3) What do we already know about these audiences? What do we need to find out to give them what they're looking for?

Answer these questions first, and then issues like the content of your messages, the media you should use, what counts as success and how you measure it will be much easier to resolve

But don't stop reaching out and interacting with people in the mean time! "Take a sad song and make it better." --The Beatles

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Share of Mind, Share of Heart, by Sybil F. Stershic: a review

Sybil  Stershic wants you Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: the employees, volunteers, and Board members of your nonprofit organization.  In her new book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart, she explains the top two reasons why.
  1. "Your service is your brand."  Think about it: there are a lot more points where people touch your organization than just the newsletters and emails you send them, or the social media you want them to see.  Every time a client or stakeholder walks up to your reception desk, calls on the phone, takes advantage of a service, attends an event, or volunteers for one of your programs, they are forming their impression of your agency.  That means that the people who represent your organization the most often are not the Executive Director, the Communications Director, the Development Director, or the Board chair.  They are the employees and volunteers who face the public every day.
  2.  "Connection is the key." People who work at your agency for love or money must feel connected to the mission of the organization (and know how they are helping to move you forward). They also have to connect with your customers (or clients) to stay dedicated to a high level of customer care.  They want and need to connect with other volunteers, and with employees. Indeed, that may be the reason they came to work for you in the first place.  It certainly will be key to keeping them coming back for more.
Stershic calls this concept "internal marketing."  The term focuses  attention on the fact that employees, volunteers, and Board members are also customers, and they need to be motivated to keep buying what you're selling: the good name of your organization.
What happens when employees don't feel valued?  They disengage and leave the organization.  Or worse, they disengage and stay.
Don't let this happen to you! Share of Mind, Share of Heart is full of examples, tips, and "action plan starter notes."  The book is slim enough that you can read it through in a couple of hours, then go back and put the suggestions into practice that best fit the way your agency functions now.  That will help you make your organization a better place to work, improve your customer service, and at the same time, communicate to the world what you are all about.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Body in the Piazza, by Katherine Hall Page: a review

When Dorothy Sayers finally got Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane to marry, in Busman's Honeymoon, she subtitled the book "A Love Story with Detective Interruptions."  I would call The Body in the Piazza a food and wine tour with detective interruptions.  I am much more of a connoisseur of love than of food and wine: for one thing, it's much easier to give the flavor of lovemaking in a few words.  That may be the reason that, although I found Katherine Hall Page gracious and lovely in person when she spoke at Stellina last month, I thought this book was slight. 

The mystery made sense, but since all the characters were not what they seemed, who cared about any of them?  And although I am not annoyed at Faith Fairchild, the sleuth, simply for knowing the designer clothing at a glance the way my wife is, I do find her a bit too, too Manhattan.  Supposedly she has been living for years in small-town Aleford, Massachusetts, as a pastor's wife, yet so little of New England has rubbed off on her.  She has style but no taste, knowledge but no depth. She has grown older but she hasn't matured. 

I will probably sample this series again, just as I will probably try out one of the recipes in the back of the book, but I am not in any hurry to do so.  I dislike the way reading about such an airy character makes me feel so stuffy.  Perhaps I should go back to reading about tragic characters who remind me that I have a happy life, instead?

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Recent Book Reviews about Communications

I'm learning a lot, and getting many good reminders about what I already know, by reading smart writers' books about Communications.  Here are the links to some that I recently reviewed:

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Robin Hood Marketing

Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organizations


How to Find a Job on LinkedIn...

Many of these authors, and other smart people, are giving good advice every day on Twitter.  Follow me @DennisFischman and check out my Communications list.