Our Impact team gathered around the big screen computer on Tuesday for a webinar from Stanford Social Innovation Review on Communications that Work: Making Ideas Move. And yes, there was popcorn! It was an hour very well spent.
If you missed it, never fear, I’m going to give you the highlights right now (plus you can visit the webinar recording here).
Here are SIX big takeaways from this outstanding webinar:
- In the digital information age, communications is no longer a support function; communications is the work. According to Andrew Sherry of the Knight Foundation, “The Internet has atomized the way we communicate.” It’s much harder than it used to be to get millions of Americans to have the same conversation at the same time. But that’s what we need to do to move public opinion and advance social change.
- It takes a communications strategy to deliver the right message through the right messengers. Kevin Nix of Freedom to Marry shared how his organization helped turn public opinion on LGBT marriage completely around in just over a decade—by using personal storytelling to convey messages centered around love, commitment and family. Freedom to Marry succeeded by touching on our shared values and by using many unlikely allies as spokespeople including grandfathers, members of the military and Republicans.
- Organizations need to invest more in communications infrastructure. Daniella Gibbs Leger of the Center for American Progress shared how her organization made the decision to invest 50% of their budget in communications and outreach. And today, they have one of the most widely read daily public policy blogs in the country and nearly 60,000 followers on Facebook. Not too shabby for a think tank, don’t you agree?
- Foundations need to invest more in communications too! Andrew Sherry urged funders to consider communications as an essential part of their grant making. Don’t just fund a program, but also provide funding for three to four related communications steps to help build awareness and momentum for the work.
- If you’re trying to communicate to lots of people, you need lots of partners. Frederick Mann of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shared their plans to build a movement to make health a priority in our nation. According to Mann, “We’re targeting young parents, but they don’t know us. We need to reach them through the organizations and companies who they already know and trust. And that requires collaboration.”
- And my favorite takeaway from today’s session: Ideas only create change when they move. The speakers underscored that effectively communicating your idea is as important as the idea itself. And Sean Gibbons of the Communications Network reminded us that, “it’s not just about pretty writing.” There’s a lot of science involved in determining who you need to reach and creating a narrative that moves them.
The entire Impact team came away inspired to continue working to help our clients reach, persuade and engage people in efforts to make the world a better place.
How is your organization dealing with today’s communications challenges? I’d love to hear from you about how you are getting your big ideas out to the world.
– Posted by Kathy Swayze, CFRE