Do your brand communications ring as clearly as the Liberty Bell does? Or are they muddy like the Schuylkill in rainy season?
When people hear your foundation’s or non profit’s name or see its logo, what comes to mind? Would your board members, and staff say the same thing? Would they mention the characteristics and values that you intend to convey? Do your website, materials, speeches, messaging, and client interactions align to present a consistent message about your mission and direction?
In the communications business, the stakes are rarely higher, the margin for error narrower, and tensions hotter than when you find yourself at the helm of communications during times of major organizational change.
Ahead of our #ComNet14 session on change communications, we’ve surveyed and interviewed communications leaders at foundations and nonprofits to better understand the unique considerations for communicating in times of change, and what they learned from situations that went awry. What have begun to emerge for us – and what we’ll dig into at our session in Philly – are the guiding principles of effective change communications. We’ve also come to see that when you start by naming what you fear (maybe it’s the tweet that goes viral about your organization’s #EpicFail), it’s easier to steer clear of pitfalls. Some call this a “pre-mortem.” We hear all the time that we learn more from failure than success. So, why not learn from failure before it happens?
I’m just back from another visit to Philadelphia, and I think we’re all in for an amazing conference experience: Ezra Klein of Vox.com, NPR’s Terry Gross, Ben Smith of BuzzFeed, and Judy Smith, the inspiration for ABC’s Scandal, will be with us, along with 15 smart breakout sessions. We’ll also have a muralist on hand. And we’ll be screening Rocky. There’s a lot on offer.
This year, we’re welcoming a record crowd! A note here: we are completely sold out and are out of hotel rooms at the DoubleTree CityCenter.
As we finish with the final conference preparations, we’ve been collecting previews of some of our breakout sessions on ComNetwork.org. This week we heard from:
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which shared insights from their upcoming session, Talking Poverty in the Age of Piketty, this week, and are seeking your feedback. Please take a moment and complete their brief survey.
- The Rockefeller Foundation previewed their upcoming session, Digital Storytelling for Social Impact, and their new narrative structure framework to help social sector organizations tell good stories.
At the conference in Philadelphia, we’ll have a dedicated team on hand documenting the conference proceedings. Led by Paul Van De Carr of Working Narratives, they will be tweeting, blogging, shooting photos and videos, and otherwise bringing the conference to life online. If you’d like to help out, we’ll be gathering on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the #ComNet14 hashtag. To join the documentary team, you can reach out to Paul directly at PaulVDC@gmail.com.
If you haven’t already, please take a moment and check out our new online conference tool, Sched. It will work on your computer, phone, or tablet, and allows you to see what’s happening, who’s speaking, and where everything is occurring.
See you soon,
PS — If you want to get a flavor of some of the sounds you’ll be hearing in Philadelphia, we’ve set up a playlist on Spotify. Turn your speakers down!