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…)
August 12, 2011
Denise Moorehead, Communications Director at Third Sector New England, discusses the use of podcasts and video in the nonprofit sector.
For more information visit: http://www.tsne.org
May 20, 2011
Personal Responsibility, Really?
Have you noticed that the phrase personal responsibility has begun to resurface as the country discusses the looming debt crisis, major budget cuts and the word “taxes,” which seems to have become profane? The last time the phrase personal responsibility was used this much by those inside the Beltway, progressive causes were under attack, and progressives appeared to be on the ropes.
When Meanings Become Meaningless
As a communicator by trade, I am still awed by the power of words — and still amazed at some people’s willingness to manipulate them until the original meaning is almost meaningless. As a nonprofit communicator committed to advancing justice, I pledge to work hard to keep the denotation of personal responsibility front and center in my own discussions and writing. I hope to help keep the connotation that some less-then-progressive people are trying to yoke to the phrase from becoming the norm.
I intend to write and talk more about the personal responsibility of politicians to tell the truth about what it costs to run the world’s largest economy. I want to call them on any obfuscation about who is paying for what, and who is not paying their fair share.
Do You Have to Be a Person?
Now that corporations are equal to one human being, I’d like to ask companies to demonstrate personal responsibility in caring for the environment, employee health and well-being, and customer satisfaction as much as “s/he” ;-) cares for the bottom line.
I would like those of us with jobs and who make a living wage to demonstrate personal responsibility in ensuring the health and well-being of those in our communities who are not so lucky right now. I would like us to demonstrate personal responsibility for our youth, modeling this behavior to help them figure out what being a good citizen means and calling young people out (instead of hurriedly walking away) when we see them being irresponsible.
What About Everyone Else?
Mostly, I want progressive nonprofits and their staff to use the phrase personal responsibility in ways that illustrate how crucial taking responsibility for oneself — and one’s community — is for ensuring the kind of communities and world for which we are working so hard.
AND, I think it is time to co-opt some language. What about civic engagement and encouraging democratic principles?
January 14, 2011
I’ve spent most of the nonprofit portion of my career as a communications professional supporting the programmatic core of organizations. But I have also worked directly in program departments, creating and growing grassroots initiatives in the field.
While both program and communications staff are passionate about their work – and the mission of the organization they serve – there are often times when the two groups seem to be operating in two different worlds. As a communications staffer, I used to think, Why don’t the program people get it.
Then I went to work as acting deputy director of programs. After a few months, when my former communications staffers came to me with excellent ideas for promoting program work, I thought to myself, Why don’t the communications staff members get it?
November 3, 2010
March 11, 2009
I’m in the thick of creating a 2008-2009 annual report, and the question I pose to other nonprofit communications professionals is, Why do we keep producing these things, and does anyone bother to read them anymore anyway?
Why do I pose the question? Well. if you enter the question, Does anyone still read nonprofit annual reports? in a Yahoo or Google search, some of the items that come up suggest that annual reports are so last century. BUT, and this is a big but, the writers of these posts tell us that donors still care about what you are doing, who you are serving and your impact.
So, the question is, How do you provide this critical information to funders in a way that keeps the information lively and informative.
My colleagues tell me to consider a video annual report. Or you can try the four-page, keep it short and only discuss impact report. I also saw a report earlier this year that chronicled one young man’s journey thanks to the help he received from a nonprofit.
What advice can you folks give me and each other on the best way to create a relevant annual report in the “keep it simple and short” era? I’d love your help!
February 11, 2009
OR What If You Held a Three-Hour Webinar and Nobody Stayed?
Third Sector New England is offering a new training series to help nonprofits navigate the economic downturn — and use this time of change to decide if they need to retool and refocus their strategic direction. The trainings, which are three hours in length, are being offered for free to people anywhere in the country.
Therefore, we are offering these sessions as both an in-person opportunity and as a hybrid webinar or conference call. Obviously, webinars are rarely more than an hour in length. So we are grappling with how to:
- Make this venture affordable for us (as the minute plan could break the bank quickly).
- More important, make the webinar experience useful, educational and enjoyable for remote participants.
- Make sure the remote feature adds to and does not detract from the experience for in-person attendees.
Have any of you dealt with turning a long training workshop into a shorter webinar or call-in experience for remote participants? How have you structured these trainings, so that the remote folks could sign off in a place that gave them a fulfilling experience and caused the least disruption for the presenter and in-person participants?
Or have you found that people were willing to participate for a two- or three-hour training?
I look forward to your insights.
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.
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.
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
September 18, 2007
Welcome to the Third Sector New England blog. Periodically Denise Moorehead, Communications Director for Third Sector New England, and her colleagues will bring you practical “how-to” capacity building strategies to help nonprofit executives, board members, managers, staff, and volunteers serve constituents more effectively.