Many of us find it difficult — even intimidating — to keep up with all the fast-changing digital tools available to do our jobs. It often seems that new ones pop up every day. With many of them available for free, the choices can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are organizations out there like the Sunlight Foundation who make it their business to stay on the bleeding edge of web/mobile tools that help them do their work better. That’s why we recently invited Liz Bartolomeo, the foundation’s media director, to have a conversation online with our regular webinar host, Andy Goodman, about the best tools for outreach, engagement, productivity and research. During the course of their 60-minute conversation, Liz and Andy discussed the tools and described how they can be mixed and matched for unique purposes. (Links to many of the tools discussed on the webinar are below.)
A Quick Word With… is our ongoing series in which Communications Network members from a range of organizations tell us about themselves, their work and where they draw their inspiration. This installment features George Soule, manager of strategic communications at the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
What is a recent communications success you are particularly proud of?
Helped manage the handover by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Afghan President Hamid Karzai of the first of what will eventually be hundreds of thousands of digitized manuscripts, rare books, maps, and photographs related to Afghanistan’s history. Afghanistan lost access to many culturally significant items through colonialism, war, internal upheaval, or natural disasters. Our grantee, the Library of Congress, has helped to virtually repatriate these treasures.
When you were 13 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A cartoonist for the New Yorker. I couldn’t believe people actually got paid to do that.
You’ve probably heard countless times that a picture is worth a thousand words. But how often have you actually heeded that advice and opted for a picture instead of a paragraph to create powerful messages for your organization? By choosing words over images are you creating an unintentional blind spot in your messaging? What can communicators – usually hired for our excellent writing skills – learn about using visuals?
To answer these questions we recently held a webinar, Avoiding the Blind Spot: Telling Your Story With Pictures. During the webinar Liz Banse and Scott Miller of Resource Media shared the neuroscience behind image processing, strategies for effectively communicating using photos and video, examples of extraordinary visual storytelling and practical, low-cost tips for better visual communications.
Chances are good that your organization is sitting on a pile of data. How do you take those vital nuggets of information hidden in files and trapped behind your four walls and shape them in ways that help advance your organization’s work or mission? How might you mash it up with other data to create new knowledge? And how can you bring all of this to life through data visualization?
To provide answers to these questions, we recently held a webinar, Seeing is Believing: Data Visualization for Philanthropy (Replay available below.)
Today, there are a lot of communications people wringing their hands about the dearth of traditional media outlets and trying to find new ways to reach out to journalists who are interested in their organizations’ work and mission. Tried-and-true distribution channels are being replaced by a bewildering multiplicity of Internet outlets. Editors and press contacts are now bloggers and Twitter feeds. Press releases can seem like ticker tape floating over a digital parade. The challenge of placing well-edited, well-researched, in-depth material in front of the right audience can feel like trying to outpace an iPad with a manual typewriter.
These changes also provide opportunities for new approaches. Take The Commonwealth Fund, which is investing in several new — what might be called — “media relations 2.0″ strategies. In one case, it is piloting a program to provide content for small-town newspapers. In another effort, it is complementing pitching new journalists with educating them. As a third way, the Fund is partnering with a venerable journalism institution to provide cutting-edge health care reporting online. In each case, the focus is on cultivating and maintaining cadres of professional, trained health care journalists and relationships with traditional, trusted publications. As part of The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency for all, these programs are designed to put well-researched information about health care issues in front of a broad audience.