How to create a nonprofit communications strategy: A preview

Part of a series: How to create a nonprofit communications plan

All social profit organization’s communicate. If you have brochures, a website, annual reports, you are communicating. But are you being strategic? Do you have a nonprofit communications strategy?

This post is the first in a series on how to create your nonprofit communications strategy. Over the summer, I’ll publish a series of posts to guide you through creating your own strategy or re-evaluating what you are already doing.

Your organization almost certainly has a strategic plan that sets your priorities and shapes how you plan to use resources moving forward. All the elements are working towards striving to achieve a common vision.

A communications strategy looks specifically at who you are trying to reach, what messages you are trying to deliver and what results you are trying to achieve. As I covered in an earlier post, you should plan to have a strategy. There’s a difference between a plan and a strategy because frequently a plan is all about tools and implementation whereas a strategy is about why and how you are using tools–and critically how each tactic and tool works together to achieve your goals and objectives.

Why a series on how to create a nonprofit communications strategy

I realized that there is interest in how to create a communications strategy when earlier this year I looked at my Slideshare stats and saw that my presentation on “What is Communications Planning?” had nearly 1000 views. I’ve embedded it here.

While I distinguish between planning and strategy, I have used them interchangeably in this presentation since it was originally created as a webinar for a client that used them that way.
This presentation and an accompanying one with over 500 views on the communicator’s toolbox provide the framework for the my series on how to create a communications strategy. The Slideshare versions are high level and my posts will include the substance underlying the structure and tools.
But the content of this series will also reflects changes to communications over the past couple of years and my own professional growth.

Marketing in the Round

In particular, I’ll be drawing upon Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston’s book Marketing in the Round
I’ll admit that as a communications professional with my roots in the 1990s when I joined the International Association of Business Communicators, at first I didn’t see the book as covering much new ground. I’ve always seen communications as requiring an integrated approach. And having spent much of my career in small nonprofits, I needed to be a communications generalist so that meant that  elements like advertising, public relations, marketing communications, etc.. were all  being handled by one or two people which prevented silos being created. There were still often organizational silos that needed to be addressed for effective communications though.
But as I read Marketing in the round, I realized their was a lot of great, current content that I could share in a series on how to create a communications strategy. Rather than regurgitating their expertise, I’ll curate the content to highlight what I think is most helpful to social  profit commmunicators and I’ll add my own insights and recommendations.
I’ll also be drawing upon on sources and my own experiences so the series will be uniquely mine.

An introduction to communications planning

If you’re eager to get started, I suggest you read my post that presents an introduction to communications planning or what I prefer to call communications strategy. Or you can wait for my next post in the series that will take a refreshed look at why a communications strategy is important.

What would you like?

Please share any specific topics you’d like to see covered or any questions that you’d like to have answered.
I’ve upgraded this blog’s commenting system by using Livefyre. I’m hoping that this change will enhance my conversations with readers and between the community of folks coming here.

Looking for help with your communications strategy?

Sometimes it helps to tap external resources to create a communications strategy. A fresh set of eyes with a fresh perspective on what is possible and desirable can be useful. It also allows staff to continue focusing on your day to day communications tasks and bigger projects such as annual reports. Consider getting our help!