Over the last several weeks, I've shared four video interviews with nonprofit communications pros, talking about how they create and manage content on their websites, email, and social media.
- Kristin Johnson, online editorial manager with the National Wildlife Federation, talked about managing about one hundred contributors to their website
- William Neuheisel, communications manager with DC Central Kitchen, talked about keeping up with a fast-moving organization
- Wendy Harman, social media director with the American Red Cross, talked about how she decides what to tweet
- Pune Dracker, director of content and editorial services, and Valerie Sheppard, director of e-learning, with ASPCA Pro talked about how they work together to repurpose content
We'll have two more video interviews and several print interviews coming up next, but here are three lessons we've learned so far . . .
Strive to Coach, Rather Than Control
You really can't be the single voice for your organization, and you shouldn't want to be. You are better off helping others (whether they be on staff, on your board, volunteers, or social media fans) to become better messengers for your cause than trying to control them or do it all yourself. That means thinking about your role as a communicators manager as one where you are coaching people, rather than trying to control them.
Use an Editorial Calendar, But Don't Let It Use You
An editorial calendar helps you keep your communications goals in perspective and vanquishes writer's block. But always consider it a working draft, frequently subject to change. It's nearly always better to respond to what your supporters are talking about or some other timely news, rather than sticking to a story idea you put on the calendar a month ago, just because it's there.
At the same time, don't let the day-to-day distract you too far from your strategic communications goals. Some of the real power in an editorial calendar comes from seeing how you can get all of your communications channels working together and the best ways to repurpose your content over time.
Plan Month to Month, But Decide Week to Week
While everyone's process is a little different, many nonprofit communications directors find it most useful to think about their bigger communications goals month-to-month (and up to three months at a time, including roughing out an editorial calendar), but to make the real editorial decisions about what actually goes out or online, and when, on a weekly basis (e.g. during a weekly editorial meeting or staff meeting). In organizations that are driven by real-time events, week to week can often turn into day to day.
This article first appeared in the April 27, 2011 edition of Nonprofit Marketing Tips, our weekly e-newsletter.