1. Grantees and advocates often say that the public dialogue about their issue hampers their ability to advance social change. In a recent Communications Network, we explored analytical tools you can use to map the current dialogue about your issue, engage policymakers and influentials to change the dialogue, and evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts.

    During the webinar, presenters Doug Hattaway, president, and Wendy Yaross, senior vice president for research, both of Hattaway Communications, cover the following topics:

    --What ideas dominate the dialogue about our issue?
    --Which individuals and organizations drive the conversation?
    --What strategies will steer the conversation in a positive direction?

    # vimeo.com/85625729 Uploaded 83 Plays 0 Comments
  2. If your boss and colleagues don’t understand the very strategic work you are doing, is it your fault or theirs? That is the question that Network for Good’s Chief Strategy Officer Katya Andresen forces us to consider in this interview I recently conducted with her on “The Art of In-House Persuasion.”

    According to Katya, many of us focus the power of our marketing and communications skills on what inspires external audiences while failing to apply the same care and consideration to colleagues whose buy-in is the first step in any viable campaign.

    Katya first developed these concepts for a workshop I dropped in to grab footage from at the 2011 Communications Network Conference in Boston. Far and away the most engaged session, I attended, I was struck by how readily attendees could distill attributes of their colleagues in to archetypes like the “monkey” and the “genius.”

    There was a lot of laughter in the session but it wasn’t at the expense of our colleagues. Katya made clear she doesn’t mean these as derogatory terms but overblown stereotypes intended to capture the essence common workplace behaviors. (She cops to having attributes of the monkey and the genius herself, as do I.) She is suggesting that, once armed with insights gleaned by focusing on what tends to inspire our peers, we can share ideas in ways more likely to be embraced.

    So when I asked Katya if what she is proposing is simply a way to manipulate others, she forcefully responded:

    “…understanding where another person is coming from -- and connecting to their world view -- is respectful. That’s not manipulation. And frankly, trying to convert someone to your worldview and just bulldozing forward your agenda in the name of authenticity, I don’t think that’s a good way of communicating. It’s not respectful and it’s largely ineffective.”

    Ouch.

    I’ve justified a world of words under the banner of personal authenticity. This five-minute video is worth a listen if, like me, these days you are more interesting in simply winning the good fight.

    # vimeo.com/35970252 Uploaded 597 Plays 0 Comments
  3. When trustees of the Mary Black Foundation decided to tackle teen pregnancy in the communities of Spartanburg County, South Carolina, they did what they usually do: make grants.

    From the period between 2009-2011, the foundation committed $200,000 in multi-year grants to efforts that ensure high quality teen pregnancy prevention programs are available to the youth of Spartanburg; train parents and trusted adults to have open conversations with their children about love, sex, and relationships; and increase access to condoms and contraceptives.

    But staff also saw this program area as an ideal opportunity to deepen the impact of the foundation by integrating strategic communications into its work. Communications was still relatively new at the foundation, as Cate Ryba had only joined Mary Black as the first communications officer in 2009.

    After exploring multiple options, the foundation decided early in 2011 to create a social media campaign, anchored by web videos, featuring local community advocates talking about the topic. The resulting campaign, “Speak Out, Spartanburg,” included the usual suspects: a school board, pastor and corporate leader.

    But based on a belief that messages directed to youth would be more effective if driven by youth, Ryba and the Foundation’s sole program officer, Curt McPhail, conducted a series of focus groups with youth to hone the campaign’s focus. Afterward, they recruited eight of the focus group members and charged them with the task of producing pregnancy prevention videos aimed at their peers.

    The squad of students came to the foundation’s offices weekly from September and December 2011 to produce the resulting six videos. Because they starred, participants were also motivated to tap their own networks to disseminate the videos throughout Spartanburg.

    McPhail, thinks that having “these extra tools in its toolbox” better positions the foundation to create deeper relationships in the relatively small community it serves. As a result of this effort, Ryba also got the chance to hone video skills, which she intends to deploy more broadly to support the foundation’s work.

    # vimeo.com/32847107 Uploaded 104 Plays 0 Comments
  4. To drive traffic to the 2011 County Health Rankings, an annual report on overall health of nearly every county in the nation, produced by the Robert Wood Johnson in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, RWJF relied on a combination of traditional media relations and online advertising (Google keywords and banner and Facebook ads). The main purpose of the online advertising was to keep interest in the website alive long after news about its launch began to fade.

    In this video interview, Michael Berman, senior vice president, of The Strategy Group, which designed RWJF’s online marketing strategy, talks with Communications Network contributor Susan Herr about how new digital technologies are creating opportunities to extend the “tail” of news and also reach and engage new audiences. As he puts it, “A lot of people aren’t going to read the story on page A17 that you worked forever to get in the paper. Let’s go find them when they are searching on a relevant subject or reading a story about something similar.”

    # vimeo.com/32816607 Uploaded 82 Plays 0 Comments
  5. In this video, Communications Network member Jai Sen of Sen Associates, discusses why online content needs to be simple and seamless to access across across a range of devices — desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

    # vimeo.com/31601462 Uploaded 70 Plays 0 Comments

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