woman climbing a ladder

I’ve been in a lot of conversations lately where I’m encouraging nonprofit comms staff to create levels or tiers that represent a certain level of comms staff effort and/or a certain volume of communications activity, such as numbers of emails or social media posts.

Many of you are familiar with this approach from a crisis communications and rapid response point of view. For example, you might have something like this for rapid response:

  • Tier 1: All hands on deck:  Executive director makes a statement within 24 hours. Additional communications added to the editorial calendar. Everything else is secondary to getting this message out now.
  • Tier 2: Priority messaging where other messages are bumped out of the editorial calendar, but messaging volume or pace doesn’t change much, just the topic does. Coordination may be limited to a specific program expert or program, with the executive director’s consent.
  • Tier 3: Change or add some social media posts (e.g. do a couple of extra tweets) or perhaps include at the end of an email newsletter already going out. If additional communication is required, it will be considered as part of the ongoing editorial planning process.

But instead of just applying a framework like this to breaking news or just-came-up events, what if you could apply an approach like this to the kinds of things that you are regularly asked to market?

Could you have tiers that were applied to events your organization hosts or reports that you issue? If you can come up with some “default” levels of effort or communications packages or menus, you could use those as starting points for conversations about how much communication support you can provide on specific projects.

This is also a savvy way to help gauge whether your team has the appropriate level of staffing, expertise, and budget. If you are being asked to make everything a Tier 1, when your capacity says most everything should be a Tier 2 or 3, you are providing some good context and boundaries for those staffing and budgeting conversations.

What do you think? Do you use tiers or levels or other similar frameworks to decide how much effort to put toward something? Share in the comments!