We are extremely excited to welcome back Claire Meyerhoff not only as a guest blogger, but as a resident of North Carolina! Take it away Claire! ~Kivi
When you (don’t) assign, you make an….
Felix Ungar once said, “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” This magnificent line is from a classic Odd Couple episode where Felix acts as an attorney for himself and his roommate, Oscar Madison (they faced ticket scalping charges). I’ve heard people (mainly guys) say that line a million times over the years (with gestures), starting with my Long Island high school guy friends/Odd Couple fans (Sal and Mooda, I’m talking to youse), and it always reminds me to NEVER assume!
Never assume what?
The usual. Never assume your friend “knows” what time your flight arrives if you haven’t sent a text or email with your info or that your son has walked the dog. Then there are all the instances in nonprofit marketing/communications when we should NEVER ASSUME…
….your donors know (and care about) all the nitty-gritty details of your org’s mission.
…your supporters actually read your last email or Facebook post.
…your staff member/volunteer knows what you mean when you say, “write an article about (whatever) for the next newsletter.”
Example: You ask Murray to write a story about your org’s new public safety workshop and then Murray spends way too many hours worrying about it, thinking about it, writing a first draft, writing a second draft, asking his wife for help and finally, he submits some quasi-coherent and way-too-long piece of copy. All you get is an article that’s not even half as good as what Oscar Madison could churn out when he was in junior high, because Oscar was a natural journalist and Murray is a retired cop who now volunteers at your org.
So, instead of ASSUMING try ASSIGNING.
“Murray, you know a lot about the new public safety workshop. Would you please write up three of the best tips for safety this summer and we’ll put those in the June newsletter. I need them by tomorrow at 3pm because Gwendolyn is editing everything right after that.”
So now, all Murray has to do is come up with his three safety tips. All Gwendolyn, the editor, has to do is write a lead and a closing paragraph that hits all the key points about the new workshop. If you’re tasked with editing a newsletter, you KNOW this is easier than EDITING Murray’s article and you won’t offend him in the process.
Some people CAN write fantastic articles without any guidance, but in a lot of cases, they don’t really have the time. Assigning works well in this case, too. I just assigned something to my good friend Dave Marcus who is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, book author, speech writer and New York PR guy. I asked him to give me his THREE BEST TIPS for breaking writers block and to give me real life examples for each. Kivi and I know that many of you feel the pain of writer’s block on many occasions.
I could have asked Dave to write an article about writers block, but he’s a busy guy. This way, I can take his tips and write a useful blog post for my friend Kivi, her stellar website, and you…
(Note to Dave, I need those tips within 24 hours after you read this, thank yew.)
Claire Meyerhoff is Director of The PG Agency, specializing in planned giving communications, marketing and public relations. Her next speaking gig is the April 30th-May 1st North Carolina/South Carolina Planned Giving Council conference in Hendersonville, NC. Find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.