Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Stacy Harbaugh
Welcome to 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.
We’d love to feature YOU in this series! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Stacy Harbaugh is the Communications Director for Midwest Environmental Advocates, a Madison, WI-based public interest environmental law center. It is Midwest Environmental Advocates’ mission to support citizens’ efforts to protect public health and the environment using sound science and the law.
Stacy has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Ball State University and studied Women’s Studies at Mankato State University. Her interest in communications work started as an undergrad when she wrote for her campus newspaper, but it is her commitment to social justice that led her to work for nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
In addition to her day job, she launched unstuckcommunications.com which is her corner of the internet where she shares thoughts about nonprofit communications and information about what she’s doing and learning. But the real action is @unstuckcomm on Twitter where she loves to retweet Kivi’s thoughtful blog posts!
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – Get outside for morning walk and a podcast at 6am (my current favorite is Make Me Smart, but I’m always looking for podcasts that tell great stories or share perspectives on productivity).
My girlfriend tells me I putter around the house a lot in the morning (which is why I’m always late to the office) but I try to leave the house with the bed made and the dishes done.
Today’s breakfast was coffee, an apple and a cinnamon pastry (which was amazing).
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – I look at the to-do list I made before I left the office last night. Mornings are my most productive time, so I try to “eat the frog” and pick the priority item that I want to do least.
Today it’s updating the quarterly report (hard to start, but worth the time to write down all of my nonprofit’s victories over the last few months).
Other items that require morning coffee-fueled focus are studying a recent fundraising campaign’s social media analytics to add to a report and thinking through content for a new member newsletter we’re developing.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Check email. Take at least 15 minutes to review social media (like when people share our posts, invite people who liked our posts to like our page, comment on partner organization’s posts, respond to questions or comments on our page or replies to our tweets).
Take 15-30 minutes to run searches on Google News for mentions of our organization or for coverage of issues that relate to our work and mission.
Tweet relevant news articles, post news to Facebook with commentary if something is really important to our audience, and document any articles that cover our work in a spreadsheet.
Thank journalists who cover our work, quote us in their articles or who write thorough pieces on health and environmental issues.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Eat a packed lunch or run to the food coop for their great salad bar.
Meet with staff to share what we are working on and ask for help – we work as a team and I’m always looking for strategies to help staff get their work and their perspectives out in front of the public either through social media, earned media, or website content.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Combat the afternoon energy slump by scheduling all “right brain” activities for this time slot. This is my favorite time for creative or collaborative work.
I’ll create a photo and text based image in Canva for a Facebook post, sort through and edit photos from a recent event, or make phone calls to plan collaborative communications work with partnering organizations on upcoming media outreach efforts.
After 4:00 p.m. – Wrap up, review the inbox one more time and try to get back to inbox-zero (or just leave emails that relate to tomorrow’s tasks), and write up tomorrow’s to-do list.
To-do lists have three sections: daily tasks (inbox, review social media, review news), priorities (six item limit) and other to-dos (pending items, ongoing projects, non-urgent items).
Leave work around 5 or 6pm for a relaxing night at home or meet up with my girlfriend for dinner and talk about our day.
I try not to peek at email (but I always have an eye peeled for notifications of urgent email questions or social media comments… just in case).
Thanks for sharing your day, Stacy!
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.