Some of you are being asked to do communications work for the first time. Others have been at it a while but feel like you’re drowning in requests and details.

No matter what you are working on, there are a few really simple elements to this nonprofit communications work that you can always use to ground yourself and to create a strong foundation for your work.


On the STRATEGIC side of things, do the Quick and Dirty Marketing Strategy all day, every day, in every conversation.

  1. What’s our message? This will often include a call to action.
  2. Who are we talking to? This is your “target audience.” The general public is not a great answer. Try to get more specific. People who . . . what?
  3. How do we get that message to those people? This is about picking the right channels. Channels are things like email, print, Facebook, etc. You will probably use multiple channels.

You really need answers to all three questions. Most conversations with others will start with the answer to one of these questions. It’s your job to get answers to all three. If you can’t, then you really shouldn’t be doing whatever that thing is they are asking you to do.

OK, now on to the TACTICAL side of things. This is where we talk about editorial calendar basics. Don’t freak out — it’s OK if this is only in your head or in conversations for now. That’s better than nothing. Work on getting it down on paper or in software later.

Editorial calendars have three core elements.

  1. MESSAGING: What’s the message or content? It’s the thing you saying or publishing (like #1 above) but in the actual format for publication.
  2. TIMING: When will that message go out? Best to pick a specific day, but for longer-term planning week by week or even month by month will do. If you are swamped with requests that need to go out, you might want to split the day into a.m. and p.m.
  3. CHANNELS: Where will it go out? Be specific here about which channels that message will go out on that particular day.

We have a lot more about strategic communications planning and editorial calendars here on the blog and in our training when you are ready. But don’t let that add to your overwhelm! The contents of this post alone will take you a long, long, way.

Hang in there!