March 15, 2012
I often hear people tout the MBA style of management – “I just need to know how to be a good manager; I trust that my employees know the field and are skilled at what they do.” That managing a team of database the developers is much the same as managing a department of textbook editors is much the same as managing in a car manufacturing plant.
I have never really understood how this works in practice; while yes, knowing how to manage and assemble a team is a great skill regardless of the work involved, at the end of the day, why would I want to manage a team of editors if I didn’t know the basics about editing? Or the textbook industry? About what is involved in the process? It’s not fair to my team if I haven’t the foggiest idea what they actually do all day. Sure, ultimately they need to be the experts, not me, but if there’s conflict amongst the team, I need to understand what the issues at hand are.
So let’s narrow it down a little bit: what about transferring basic marketing and communications skills between industries or causes?
There will obviously be a learning curve with any new job, especially if you’re changing from, say, an animal welfare agency to a public health organization. Your core skills and experience will serve you well, but you will have to adapt to a different type of audience with different messaging, etc. But a solid foundation in strategic communications should handle most of that.
When changing jobs within the sector – or changing industry entirely – which skills do you find transfer the best, and which ones do you find you most often have to relearn or adapt?
It always helps to be a good writer, but how easy is it to change style? How do your PR needs change if you’re working with an under-served population as compared to a high profile sympathetic community? What have you found to be least affected by a change in employer?
(Your editor is facing a possible relocation – and thus these very questions – soon, and will take advantage of this blog while she can…)
February 22, 2011
This past weekend I was at a housewarming where the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. Generally, most of us didn’t do much to celebrate it – we’re not fans of the crass consumerism, amongst other reasons.
But I, at least, always acknowledge the holiday, even if I don’t “celebrate” it by buying anything or going out to dinner. Since it is conveniently located approximately 6 months from my anniversary, I personally like it as the kick in the pants to slow down from the craziness of life and the doldrums of winter, take a deep breath, and appreciate my partner. A reminder to stop and smell the are-you-kidding-me-$40-per-dozen?!? roses.
And this hit me as a good practice for other parts of my life, especially work. We’re so caught up with deadlines and workloads (such as being too busy to maintain this blog!) and crises that I sometimes lose sight of why we’re here. I get so busy supporting our mission and the social change we seek to effect that I forget to take a breath and celebrate the change that has happened and is happening around us.
So I’m left pondering how best to incorporate simple reminders – like a birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day – that help me to slow down and treasure the successes of our constituents.
What sort of vital battery recharging opportunities do you build into your work? What strategies do you employ to remember to stop and smell the roses to feel reinvigorated on a regular basis?
November 15, 2010
As I recently quipped on Facebook, I love Google Analytics. I love playing with and analyzing the vast array of data that it provides (after all, how else would we know that the number of visits via dialup has increased over the past year?). But I dislike preparing the report that goes to staff.
First, there’s the data that I find interesting and useful as online communications specialist. Then there’s data that my teammates, as communications professionals, find interesting and useful. And then the statistics that program staff find interesting and useful. As well as the broad trends and figures that senior leadership and the board want to see.
Not all of these are the same facts and figures. Executive Transitions likes to know how many page hits a new job posting has received, while our communications assistant looks at spikes in traffic corresponding with the promotional efforts she’s made for our training series. My boss and I are concerned with bounce rates, increase in traffic, and visitor engagement.
Sometimes there aren’t any noticeable trends or fluctuations since the previous report.
So, then, how best to present enough information to answer most questions, but not overload everyone with more information than they care to ever know?
August 25, 2009
In the process of promoting this year’s Capacity Building Training Series, we’re implementing some of the SEO techniques we’ve been studying.
As Communications staff, one dilemma we’ve encountered is the use of alternate spellings from what we use in the TSNE style guide. Such as “nonprofit” vs. “non-profit” and “fundraising” vs. “fund-raising,” etc. TSNE uses “nonprofit” (except for the NonProfit Center) throughout all materials and the website.
So “non-profit” (the example in question was “non-profit financial management”) does not actually appear within the text on our page. Which translates to a lower quality score for certain search terms (“non-profit fund-raising”), and thus lower SEO potential.
If you have an organizational style guide, how do you address this issue? Do you ignore the style guide on your website in order to allow for multiple options to appear within the text? Do you stick to your style guide and remain consistent? Have you created a new style rule that still allows for consistency?
January 31, 2009
So, Larry King and company have proclaimed, “It’s in to be Black.” He explained, laughingly (and that’s the part that really got me), on one of his recent shows that his eight-year-old son wants to be Black.
When did it become appropriate for people in the news business to joke about race like bad comedians on cable networks?
So, I guess I wasn’t in before?
First, King is suggesting that being Black was out until he decreed otherwise. As a Black American, I’ve always thought that being Black was in. I either felt sorry for or angry at those pathetic people who acted otherwise – the people that unwittingly helped to galvanize the Civil Rights movement and the centuries-long activism (most of it left out of the history books) that came before it.
September 30, 2008
September 4, 2008
You need 360 degree feedback when managing communications projects.
I’ve been a PR flack for three decades.* I know this work inside and out, and I’m even getting up to speed when it comes to some of the newer communications technologies being embraced by our field (because they are being embraced by our stakeholders).
But I have to admit that sometimes I realize during a communications campaign that the most basic communications — that with the internal stakeholders — has been insufficiently nurtured.
August 20, 2008
It’s been interesting, as a relative techno-newbie, to work on the Third Sector New England Vlog Project with people like Steve Garfield, Deb Finn and Bethany Ramirez, folks who are in the thick of the Web and Web 2.0 (maybe 3.0!) revolution. It can be intimidating, as a person who cut her teeth in the print, pre-computer design and production days, to help to conceptualize a project that requires me to think through pre-production, “talent” prep, final production and distribution for a completely different mode information sharing.
August 11, 2008
When the TSNE website was last redesigned, staff looked at other nonprofit websites to get a sense of whether or not they were using smart quotes in web text. The prevailing trend seemed to be that smart quotes were common, and a choice to use smart quotes on the new site was made.
However, it turned out to be more time-consuming than intended. When under deadline, having to go through and change each individual quote and apostrophe on top of everything else was a headache.
But it has been improving over recent months. While no CMS can handle direct pasting of MS Word documents as well as it claims, it does seem to be a focus of improvement for many vendors. Because let’s face it — we all paste from Word whenever we can. Having formatting – including smart quotes – carry over cleanly is highly desirable.
So now we’re putting together thoughts for the next redesign, and it’s time to revisit the topic of smart quotes. Do we still want to use them on our website? Are other sites still using them? Will they become easier to use as CMSes work to integrate MS Word documents more cleanly?
A big question – for one of our web staff, anyway – is whether readers notice smart quotes/lack thereof, and if so, what do they think of them. Without going to look at any websites, what would you say the standard is? After going to look at your favorite websites, did your memory hold up?
June 27, 2008
Third Sector New England Strategic Communications Blog, while accurate, is somewhat cumbersome. Do you have any ideas for what we can rename this blog?
Share your suggestions, and if we choose yours, win a prize!1
1. A choice between Bridging the Class Divide by Linda Stout, or a $20 gift certificate to Equal Exchange
June 26, 2008
Google Analytics now offers benchmarking statistics. Google looks at the data to determine which category it belongs in, and then removes any identifying information so that your data is anonymous when it goes into the benchmarking aggregate.
However, “for sites of a similar size, a category of industry verticals can be chosen when there is a sufficient number of accounts in that category.” Which means in order to compare your statistics to an appropriate category, there have to be enough organizations signed up.
So if you’re already using Google Analytics, sign up! (Especially any nonprofit capacity building organizations out there…) Hopefully they’re not too far off from being able to flesh out a nonprofit vertical – you could be the last organization they need to add a category.
(For now, categories under “Society” hold the most promise.)
June 25, 2008
We recently learned that there was specific EOE language – in addition to what we already had with our job postings – that we were required to place on our website to remain compliant with a funder’s guidelines. This set us to thinking about what other necessary or important things we might be missing.
This led us to discover that our directions page didn’t mention anything about building accessibility. We are now rewriting our directions to include information for those who have restricted physical abilities.
What other content do you think is necessary for a website, that might be overlooked?