I presented an online session today on editorial calendars for community engagement during the national conference for nonprofits providing support to cancer patients.
I went through all the things I teach about how to do engagement campaigns and build out a calendar, but then the “This is great, but we have no one to staff it. What do I do?” question came in. It’s a very common question when speaking to a broad audience of nonprofit professionals rather than comms or development staff specifically.
You can learn all you want about doing great comms planning, but what if it really isn’t anyone’s job and yet you are stuck doing the work or have otherwise taken it upon yourself because you know it’s important?
It’s all about having better conversations internally. That’s where you start.
Better conversations involve better questions.
Start with what we call the Quick and Dirty Marketing Plan questions:
Who are we talking to? Get as specific as you can about your target audience. Everyone or the general public aren’t good answers.
What’s our message to those people? This should usually include a call to action.
How do we deliver that message to those people? These are your communications channels. It’s the comms stuff you make.
Nonprofits without comms staff always have the answer to the third question. We need a flyer! We need a billboard! We need to be on Snapchat! Your challenge is to always introduce the first two questions into the conversation: Who is this for and what do we want to say to them — and what do we want to ask them to do?
Once you get those basics into the conversation on a regular basis, you can add other questions:
So what? This gets to the “why?” question for your target audience. Why should this message or call to action matter to them? What’s in for them to follow through? What does it matter? Think of these questions from their point of view, not yours. This is how you build out the messaging that goes with your call to action.
Why now? Even if you have convinced your target audience that your messaging and call to action make sense, they still need a nudge to do it now. How can you create some urgency so people will stop doing everything else and follow through on your call to action?
Even if you never get around to creating an editorial calendar, regularly injecting these questions into your conversations about communications will move you in a much more strategic direction. Once you get some dedicated staff time, you can work on a real plan.