Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Communicate Online like a Kenyon (Part 9 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

"Imagine your online communications are kept attractive, accurate, coordinated, and up-to-date in only hours a month. Fresh, engaging content flows like water, bringing a steady stream of new and returning visitors. Your every fundraising, educational, or advocacy campaign's online components spark throngs to action. You are safe in the knowledge that you have a plan flexible enough to keep you nimble yet solid enough to keep you prepared and help you weather unexpected challenges."
"All this is achievable for nonprofits with the right planning--along with the knowledge, skills and will to improve."

I will buy a bazillion of whatever John Kenyon is selling! Seriously, did you read that opening from his chapter in the NTEN book? I usually try to start my blog post with a witty opening, but I learned never to enter a mind battle with John when death is on the line (oops started to slip into Princess Bride talk, do you have six fingers on your left hand?)

Anyway, I can honestly say that John has a skill in his writing and presenting that makes everything seem possible and is easy to understand.  And what I like most about John's chapter and everything he does, is that he doesnt get caught up in the hype of the latest craze or that cool tool. He focuses how to enable the organization, the mission and the people to make a difference.

I learned a lot from John about the four C's of a website (credibility, cultivation, clickability and content) and the cornerstones of an email campaign (personal, targeted, integrated and trackable). He lays out a very doable course of action for any nonprofit to have a successful online communication strategy.

My struggles coming from a large and long standing nonprofit come in many forms:

  • Building a consensus on message - we offer so many different services in wide ranging neighborhoods, populations and sectors that it is hard to focus.
  • Communicating internally first - it is hard to communicate to our fans when we dont always communicate well with each other
  • Marketing, fundraising, emergency or public service - often our immediate needs of meeting budget and getting through today drive our messages, not our mission and vision
  • Changes in leadership - in times of transition when short term stop gaps lead rather than long term strategic plans it is tough to build sustainable messages
  • Creating urgency in messaging - how do you create urgency in a message when the things you fight (Diabetes, obesity, health) are all gradual in nature
  • Changing a brand - our brand has many traditions, fans and stereotypes, only some of which are true, it seems harder to change someone's mind rather than show them something new
My partner in mission work is Judith Sol-Dyess and we are working in numerous ways to impact these challenges and we have a lot of ideas.  I have spent over a year building the foundation of a web strategy focused on the four C's and it is working overall. I have numerous strategies that I a rolling out and a few tricks up my sleeve, but those will have to wait for another post.

I know, usually a blog posting is more about a solution rather than listing challenges, but this is my blog so I can do what I want.  And here is what I want! I want John Kenyon to post a counter blog post and help me! So anyone that reads this should nudge John Kenyon to help out this poor blogger.

Over 11 weeks I am doing a themed series of blog posts. Each week I will write about a chapter of the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. This week is on the 9th chapter by By John Kenyon called Effective Online Communications. You should totally buy the book. (In case you are wondering, I am volunteering to do this, I am not getting paid or in any other way reimbursed for this. I just love NTEN and their events.)

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