Everyone wants their work to have a significant impact – to influence individuals, academics, policies, governments, organizations, and communities. Given the resource constrained environment that peace and development work faces in the next few years, and the ability of information communication technology to foster new means of connecting, it is important to ensure we are using our resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Organizations increasingly have to do more, with less. Between cultivating support through traditional and social media, building a simple yet stimulating website and informing the public about your organization’s mission, projects and development issues in general, a well-rounded and researched communication strategy can help to keep the big picture in mind at all times. Technology can be an amazing tool for social and economic development.
This resource guide seeks to provide key resources to support and assist organizations in ensuring their communication strategy and outreach efforts are aiding their organization in providing the products, services and assistance to beneficiaries. Having an awareness of strategies that have worked (and not worked) for other organizations, and sharing knowledge, is a substantial and essential part of PCDN. I encourage all members to share more resources on outreach and media support, to begin a discussion about what has worked (or not) for you and your organization, and to use this resource guide as a springboard to maximize the impact of your work.
KEY RESOURCES ON MEDIA AND DEVELOPMENT
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND OUTREACH
Do not be afraid of change and doing something different. Technology is revolutionizing the way that non-profits do business, and its value added is real. Online outreach success, fundraising or otherwise, does not come easily. It requires time and effort, and most importantly—a clear strategy—supported by the right tools. Building that online support is vital, but needs to be backed up with engagement of in-person supporters and connections with traditional media (print, television and radio).
The following are some key steps in developing a communication strategy:
1. Build or Refine your Communication Strategy - The International Development Research Centre has a comprehensive guide to designing a communication strategy, stressing the importance of long-term planning and breaking down your mission into workable goals.
KnowHow NonProfit has some simple tools to share your message effectively – through social media and traditional mediums, and step-by-step resources for making a communications plan. Message in-a-box has another good one.
2. Try using Infographics – Visual representation of statistics, research and ideas can go a long way in communicating with many different groups. Start with visual.ly - you can either make your own infographic or access an online database of pre-existing ones.
3. Check out other campaigns – See what other organizations are doing, and make notes on what might or might not work for you. Here are a few suggestions. (I think you might list a few more here) as something seems missing Be open to new ideas. Be inspired by what others are doing. One of my favourites was #beatcancer on Twitter.
4. Take on Twitter – Using Twitter for good can be simpler that you might think. Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Head of Corporate Social Innovation and Philanthropy at Twitter, developed a framework for Twitter success that she calls T.W.E.E.T: Target, Write, Engage, Explore, Track. Her website is a great starting point. You can also explore case studies and NGOs campaigns successfully led using Twitter at Hope140. You should also get familiar with social change hashtags to join the conversation.
You should also check out PCDN’s new Twitter Guide here!
5. Make the most out of Facebook – While Facebook Pages has been around for many years, if you’re using Facebook as an organization, be sure to keep track of your engagement levels and new resources and trends as they emerge. Create a viable strategy based on your available resources and look for areas to bring in extra assistance. CharityHowTo is a good starting point, and the sites listed under general resources have up-to-date information in using Facebook as a non-profit.
EVALUATING OUTREACH EFFORTS
Too often in communications and in general, people do not assign enough importance to evaluating what is working and how. Monitoring and evaluating our efforts sounds like extra work and can even seem daunting at first, but there are plenty of resources to help us to set measurable outreach objectives. Limited communication budgets mean clear, measurable objectives are critical. What are you trying to accomplish, and how well are you progressing toward that goal?
1. Metrics are essential to understand the impact your messages are having on individuals, their thoughts and their actions, which are difficult to measure. This is particularly essential in evaluating your online impact. Take a look at what prTini and Socialbrite suggest for creating measurable indicators and about social media monitoring. Check out DM&E for Peacebuilding for an assortment of best practice resources.
When implementing a social media plan, it is important to evaluate your results and see what impact you have had. There are several tools available to measure social media outcomes, please feel free to comment on ones that your organization has used! Here are some examples:
- Social Page Evaluator, which evaluates the value of Facebook Pages in terms of reaching audiences.
- Twinfluence, which evaluates reach and influence of Twitter accounts.
2. Data Collection - Strategic, systematic, and low-impact data collection (e.g, through phone conversations, evaluations at meetings, brief e-mail surveys) can provide both a baseline understanding of an audience’s awareness or understanding of your work or concerns. This baseline also provides a point to measure any changes over time.
For organizations looking to collect data more systematically but have limited resources, check out this guide to outcomes-based evaluation for non-profits.
GENERAL MEDIA AND OUTREACH RESOURCES
1. Using the Media as an Advocacy Tool – Building relationships with media and journalists is an investment but it is worth the time and resources if done strategically. This resource provides a good overview, despite providing International Criminal Court examples, of building media relations skills across traditional media avenues.
2. TechSoup, Socialbrite and Mashable – There are many online resources for getting the most out of your investment in social media and other online communication engagement. With social media, you generally have TOO much information about how best harness it, designing captive campaigns, suggestions on how to write, and how often, as well as measuring your success. The tricky part is sifting through it all to find what is most applicable for you and your organization. Keep your goals and resource capacity in mind while you are browsing these sites!
OTHER IDEAS TO CONSIDER
1. Digital Storytelling - Digital storytelling is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component. You may already be integrating digital storytelling in some form into your practices, but check out this overview from the University of Sussex and this step-by-step from Socialbrite.
2. Crowd funding – If you or your organization has a new and innovative idea for social good, but are lacking the funds to start it up, crowd funding may be a great option for you. This infographic shows how Kickstarter, the main player, started and provides an easy-to-understand overview of crowd funding.
3. Think about Pinning – Over the last 6 months, Pinterest has exploded onto the social media scene. A good number of NGOs, including UNICEF, are using it to spread images and messages. No need to jump into things, but it is good to explore how you could harness this resource.
You can also check out what Dr. Craig Zelizer, founder of PCDN, has learned about online social networking in the past 15 years.
Good Luck and Happy Sharing – I know that your message is worth spreading!