All this week, we are taking a look at what it means to be a CALM Communications Director (Collaborative, Agile, Logical, and Methodical).
Today, let’s talk about being Collaborative.
Communications directors are the translators and bridges between the people doing the work (inside the nonprofit) and the people supporting and benefitting from that work (outside the nonprofit). All of these people have an important stake and say in what happens, and as a communications director, you are the default “listener in chief” for your nonprofit. You then work with others to take all that you hear and convert it into communications. You work with many people, every day, as you create, approve, and publish content.
Problems That Arise When You Aren’t Collaborative
But this requires a great deal of coordination and collaboration. When you don’t manage that well, you can face several different kinds of problems:
- You may feel like you are solely responsible for all of the organization’s communications, and frankly, they aren’t very good, because you are producing them in a vacuum.
- People in your organization may not help out with communications because they don’t really understand their role in it.
- Program staff may avoid working with the communications team because the process seems very slow or restrictive.
Three Ways to Be More Collaborative
1. Help people see the big picture, and how their part fits into it.
I love doing the Big Picture Communications Timeline exercise with nonprofit program staff, fundraisers, marketers, and executives in the room. Every time we do it, you see light bulbs going off over everyone’s heads as they finally realize how their little piece of the puzzle fits into the larger communications plan and how interconnected all the pieces are.
2. Create a clear process for working together that is easy and efficient.
Make it very clear how people can provide input into the communications decisionmaking process. For example, you should have a regular schedule of editorial meetings where various decisions are made. See Agendas for Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly Editorial Meetings for some examples.
You can also use a variety of technology tools to make collaborating easier, from project management software to meeting scheduling. We’ll get more into specific ways to do this on Friday, when we talk about being Methodical.
3. Build listening into your ongoing routine.
Not regularly surveying or polling the people on your email list and social media followers? You should be! Develop ways to stay in touch with what’s happening with the communities you serve and the communities that support and influence your work
Tomorrow we’ll look at being Agile.