Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Lindsay Nichols

Lindsay J.K. Nichols

Lindsay J.K. Nichols

Here’s the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators, where we ask you to describe your day in your own words.

Lindsay J.K. Nichols is the senior director of marketing and communications for GuideStar, a nonprofit that powers philanthropy and is widely considered the leading source of nonprofit information. Every day she builds on GuideStar’s strong brand position and reputation to sustain awareness of its mission through dynamic and long-lasting relationships with key audiences and influencers. Lindsay is a GuideStar spokesperson and is frequently quoted in the media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Philanthropy, NonProfit Times, Dallas Morning News, and more. 

Here is her typical day:

Before 8:00 am: I shower, dress, get my daughter dressed and fed, then I drop her off at day care. I grab coffee and a muffin for the road then drive 45 minutes into work.

During the drive I listen to the news to make sure I know about breaking stories, as well as the traffic and weather.

Once I’m satisfied I have the lay of the land, I listen to my favorite music on Spotify to wake me up and get me going.

8:00 am – 10:00 am: As soon as I get in (usually around 8 am), I log on to Hootsuite, Outlook, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, our internal communications portal called The Front Porch, our blog, and Spotify.

I try to get music going first thing and keep it going all day – it’s how I feel most productive.

I then spend time going through my email to see what came in while I was sleeping and to make sure there are no fires that need to be put out. There are ALWAYS fires to be put out, so I address those first. Then I read through my daily email digests of the Washington Post, NY Times, USA Today, Chronicle of Philanthropy, SSIR, Lucy Bernholz, Beth Kanter, Kivi, Independent Sector, etc.

I send great articles to people to give them a heads-up on things they should be aware of. I read through GuideStar’s own media placement round-up from Vocus and make sure that people who are quoted know about it. I also check my spam to make sure I’m not missing anything.

Then I check my calendar for the day to make sure I have a clue where to be and when. Then I make my daily list – a Word doc that I update into sections including “today’s big rocks,” “other action items,” “two-minute tasks,” “waiting for,” and “some day/maybe.”

I then do a quick once over on Hootsuite (reviewing Twitter specifically) as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and our blog. My goal is to make sure great content has gone out and/or is scheduled to go out, that all questions/complaints are addressed, and that all engagement is acknowledged.

I make sure to check my voicemails next, and then usually I have at least one if not two calls to make, as well as meetings.

I try to check-in with each member of my team each morning before 10 am so I know that they’re alive and well (and don’t need my help with something.)

10:00 am – 12:00 pm: I usually have meetings from 10 am-noon. On this particular day I met with our CEO who I had not seen for three weeks and we checked-in on a party he was having at his apartment on the following Monday.

If I don’t have a meeting at 11, as I didn’t this day, I will respond to reporters. On this day I had to follow-up with Chronicle of Philanthropy and San Fernando Valley Business Journal reporters.

After that I tackled additional email — I had been out the day before attending a data visualization class and more than the normal amount of replies I needed to send. Some examples include:

One of my employees received glowing feedback from a customer so I not only thanked the person who sent it my way, but I thanked my employee and sent the feedback up the food chain so it would be noticed by a larger audience.

I had to approve the design of a new business card.

I learned more about our social media conversations.

I found out more details of my speaking gig at the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship in late June.

I let a colleague know her video was on YouTube.

I confirmed that I could speak on an America’s Charities webinar in July.

I forwarded emails that were erroneously sent to me to the right person so I could ensure the right answers were being given.

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: I am extremely lucky that I usually have lunch with the 7 other ladies in my office – all of whom I truly enjoy – every day. We make a point to leave our desks for this break, and because I spent my entire career before this at PR agencies where I NEVER left my desk for lunch, I celebrate this time and hold it dear every day if I can.

Our lunch group heads to our roof top deck to eat if possible — if not we sit in our conference room.

After lunch, I spend time putting out more fires and/or advancing an item on my to do list. On this particular day that included editing a document that a colleague sent to me that she wanted to post to our internal communications portal. The document explained better the process that our three-person nonprofit support team goes through. I then helped her post it to the portal.

I edited a press release. I updated a post on our blog. I wrote several colleagues to discuss messaging for our new APIs. I clarified our “Share of Conversation Index” and “Brand Equity Index,” for which I am responsible monthly, with the teammate that collects it. I responded to a video vendor that had sent us a proposal.

I typically have meetings during this time as well. On this particular day I had a call with a colleague and representatives of Foundation Center to discuss our ongoing partnerships from 12:30-1:30 and a meeting with two of my employees and my boss to get huddle up on giant project we’re diving into — identifying partners and clients and seeking approval to display their logos and testimonials of our products/services on our website in order to enhance our social proof.

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: I had meetings from 2-4 pm (and I usually do.) On this particular day I had a call with our new partner about how we might cross-promote our collaboration.

I then had a team meeting with the head of our community foundation program, DonorEdge, and my boss and one of my employees to discuss how we could maximize the social media engagement and blog coverage of the 2014 DonorEdge Learning Community Annual Meeting that had recently taken place. We also discussed the marketing team’s ongoing support of the program, including advertising and webinar possibilities.

Usually around 3 pm each day I start writing: a press release, blog post, marketing plan, email campaign, web page copy, report, media pitch, etc. 

After 4:00 pm: I usually finish large writing tasks between 4-5 pm.

At 5 pm I begin organizing and focusing on what I need to do from home that night or as in this case, over the weekend. I knew I had to work on a marketing plan and a press release over the weekend, so I made sure everything was easily accessible and I had all of my notes with me.

I also checked to make sure there were no calendar conflicts and I rescheduled meetings if there were. I meet with our seven-person marketing and communications team as a group each Tuesday and Thursday for a half-hour, and I meet with each of the team member’s individually each week as well. I typically use 4-5 pm to add items to their agendas, celebrate work if it’s been done well, get items ready to be delegated, and generally focusing on them.

I also check social media — esp. Twitter and Facebook — at this time to make sure nothing urgent needs to be addressed.

At 5:30-6 pm I head out.

My husband usually picks our daughter up from day care, so I rush home to be with her and my husband from 6:30/7-9 pm. Once she’s asleep I usually have dinner, around 9 pm, and then I figure out if I’m going to work out in my basement.

Then I usually do a bit more work, before watching TV and playing a jigsaw puzzle on my iPad from 10-11 pm. At 11 pm I head to bed, but I make sure to get my purse ready for the morning, my shoes easily slipped on, and my coffee mug out so I can easily fill it up and get going. Then I go to asleep around 11:30…and I am asleep before my head hits the pillow! 

Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.

Author: Kristina Leroux, Community Engagement Manager

Categories: Day in the Life, Nonprofit Communications

I am the Community Engagement Manager at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com.