I’ve been talking to many of my nonprofit marketing friends over the last few months about what my next book should cover. The consensus is helping communications directors deal with the hard and often very unpleasant situations that they find themselves in on a regular basis, as well as the people who fuel those situations.
There were some choice words used to describe both the people and the situations, which I have toned down to Delinquents and Fusterclucks (and yes, that is, in fact, the toned-down version).
What the Delinquents Look Like
Delinquents often take the form of:
- Managers who avoid planning and decision making for months only to have pages and pages of ideas and criticisms right before launch.
- Overnight experts who read one blog post and suddenly know more about your job than you do.
- Power- and prestige-hungry volunteers and donors who see a path to their own glory . . . right through you.
- Co-workers who can’t meet a communications deadline, but think you’re incompetent because you won’t instantly whip up a flyer/press release/Facebook post on their thing, on the spot.
You can imagine for yourself the fusterclucks these delinquents leave in their wake. We are collecting examples submitted anonymously and hear about them almost daily via our various training and mentoring programs.
So while we love a good “Wine and Whine” session ourselves (hmmm . . . I need to host one of those virtually), I am really more interested in empowering and emboldening communications directors to learn how to deal with it all and ultimately to prevent the fusterclucks — no matter whose fault they are — and to reform the delinquents.
Because without good communications, your organization flounders or fails. You don’t change the world in the ways you should, and that’s what you are there for.
I see two approaches that are going to influence much of my blogging and our programming over the coming year.
First, Be a CALM Communications Director
It starts with you, dearest communications director, and how you approach your work. You need to be Collaborative, Agile, Logical, and Methodical (CALM) in how you approach your job. You must get your own act together before you can expect the same of others, and you have to make it easy for others to do what you need them to do. Being CALM does both. It helps you and helps them.
Next, Lead Your Boss and Co-Workers
Stop waiting for your executive director or board to provide leadership on marketing and communications. In many cases, they don’t know what to do, or don’t really want to do it, or don’t want to invest in being good at it.
But they don’t admit any of that, or even acknowledge it. They are often confused or lost or even totally clueless, but think they SHOULD know it all, and that leads to delinquent behavior.
And same goes for your co-workers. They are busy trying to be experts on their own jobs, but it’s your job to communicate about their jobs, so now they think they know how to do that too.
That’s why if you are constantly caught in fusterclucks, just being a CALM communications director isn’t enough. You need to LEAD, and do it from where you are. This is often called “leading from the middle” and we’re going to talk a lot more about how nonprofit communications directors can do this too.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be fun.