Guest Post: Rebecca Arno
In her recent post about the survey results from last October’s Fall Conference, Minna Jung, our vice chair, mentioned that I was planning to share some additional insights about the Communications Network’s revised mission and strategy that we previewed in Seattle and subsequently discussed on our blog.
Last week, I sat down with long-time Network contributor, Susan Herr, principal of Trigger Creative, to talk about our new mission. Because of comments and questions we heard during and since Seattle, we decided to record two separate conversations.
Guest Post: Minna Jung
So, last year I started sharing, on behalf of the Network Board and staff, what it takes to organize our annual fall conference, and I also posted last year about the results from our conference survey. So here’s my recap of the survey results about this year’s conference in Seattle that many of you (about 2/3) filled out, plus some additional ruminations/background on the Network’s revised mission.
Each year, some things stay the same with the Network conference, and then we switch other things up. This year, we still tried for boffo speakers that would knock your socks off, but we engaged only two—Sherman Alexie and Jane McGonigal—because we wanted to try a day of workshops preceding the conference for those of you who were yearning for flat-out skill-building or training, and we wanted to leave Friday to share our new mission in plenary session.
So how did you feel about this year’s conference?
Guest Post: Suzanne Walsh
At the recent Communications Network Conference, Kevin Corcoran from Lumina Foundation and I set off on a journey to try to bridge the divide between communications and program. Since we are both program officers, we began by asking our audience to rate their relationships with their program colleagues, identify how often they proactively offered input to program staff and share how many of them wished they were brought in earlier on projects. What we found was a group of communication professionals who were really interested in working together with program staff from the beginning of an idea.
Guest Post: Alexandra Christy
Are stereotypes about the people you serve getting in the way of achieving your communications goals? All kinds of labels—from “low-income people,” “ex-convicts” or even “climate scientists”—can activate negative stereotypes that undermine support for a cause. So how do you improve public attitudes toward the people you serve? Start by thinking about the four questions below – all of which can help you focus your strategy to address the real concerns of your audience.
To ground your thinking in a real-world example, I’ve provided some lessons learned from work the Woodcock Foundation has supported to bust stereotypes of American Muslims (a topic we explored during a session titled, The Art and Science of Strategic Storytelling: Disrupting Stereotypes of American Muslims, at the recent Communications Network Conference in Seattle).
(This post, written by Communications Network member Steve Sampson, originally appeared on Arabella Advisors’ Greater Good blog.)
Last week, I attended the annual Communications Network conference in Seattle and picked up some great ideas from some of the best and brightest in philanthropy-related communications. After sessions on storytelling, using data and analytics and media in the community, three ideas in particular stayed with me.
1. Be more authentic. Author Sherman Alexie, the plenary speaker, delivered a powerful speech on storytelling. In it, he made the provocative suggestion that “the key to really communicating is narrowing the gap between your public and private lives.” We connect when we are authentic, when we speak from a place of genuine commitment and concern—even though doing so makes us vulnerable. He used the podium on stage as a metaphor, calling it “armor” and arguing that he shouldn’t be standing behind it. “Politicians use these,” he noted, “so you know it’s wrong.” (Turns out humor is key to communicating, too.) As people pursuing social impact, we have powerful stories to tell. Too often, the niceties, proprieties, and formalities of our positions stand in the way of simple testimonial—of telling the honest truth as we see it. “Don’t be shy,” Alexie suggested. And that struck me as right.
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