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June 14, 2013

Brandraising column: a simple exercise to spark conversation about your communications

“I know we need to improve our marketing, fundraising, and other communications –maybe even change our brand– but how do I get others in my organization to see that, too?”  

If I had a nickle for every time I’ve been asked that question… but it’s a good one none the less. As I’ve considered ways to answer it usefully, there are a few exercises I’ve discovered really do help people within nonprofit organizations get more aligned about their communications.

One of my favorites is this simple Materials Review exercise:

  1. Schedule a one hour meeting with your leadership team in a room with a big table and good lighting.  Don’t share the agenda- just say you’re going to review your communications.
  2. Gather a year’s worth of your communications. That means event invites, print outs from your website and social media, your newsletter- whatever the outside world has received from you, or your chapters, programs, etc.
  3. Lay it all out on the table. When your leadership team arrives, let your materials speak for themselves. Encourage them to stay standing, walk around, pick things up, and talk about it all. Then facililate a discussion using the following questions, or adapt your own. 

Questions for discussion:

  • If a donor, client, lawmaker (etc), saw most of these materials, what impression of our organization would they leave?
  • Do our materials support a clear understanding of who we are?
  • Do our materials reflect our personality- the tone and style we want to communicate- well?
  • What, if anything, should we change in order to communicate more effectively?
  • What, if anything, should our next steps be?

There are other ways to spark useful conversations around branding and communciations too. Some folks tell me that taking our brandraising scorecard self-assesssment tool and sharing responses internally has been useful, for instance.

I’ll be giving a free webinar about brandraising next Tuesday, June 18. Join me to talk about exercises like this, learn more about what brandraising is, and more.