It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘development’

Daphne’s List of 7: Telling your company’s story

I have just spent hours researching the history of several Bay area nonprofits–learning about their stories. Specifically, their history.

Here are 7 tips on storytelling that would be helpful for all businesses, particularly nonprofits. These are 7 important points, what I have learned along the way as a professional writer for nonprofits and as a member of the media as I am currently…

  1. Make your audience “feel” your story. DO NOT give us facts and figures. We truly don’t care–we glaze over them, mostly. Tell us about the tears. Tell us about the victories. Tell us about the struggle. Tell us how your organization CHANGED things. Give me something to feel, to care about, to go out and tell my friends and family about. Here in Pinellas County PARC does a GREAT job of telling their story HERE.
  2. Get your FACTS straight and make sure your information is up-to-date. I will not mention the site, but it is one I know all too well–they have the date the company was founded, which is good, but then they also include how long the company has been operating. Not only is this information redundant, but the number of year operating is an evolving number that needs to be changed each year. If you insist on including it, you’d better be committed to updating it every single year. As it stands, you’ve been dormant for about 5 years. Okay, that’s just an example, but in a historical statement, STAY AWAY from figures that change. Also, if you include a blurb about where you are today, which is good–update that at least annually. Do it the same time you do your annual report–that’s a good reminder that all your company’s content should be reviewed, including your website
  3. Make sure your website looks good. Honestly, this is not an expensive or difficult thing to do. If you have a website, and you certainly should, make sure it’s attractive. Certainly, if it’s easy to navigate, lots of content, etc.–even better. But, first, make it visually pleasing. If your web page is hard to look at, no one will want to bother, and it reflects poorly on your company’s image.
  4. Less is more when it comes to text. WOW! So much verbose copy, laden with industry jargon–I’ve been working in the helping fields for over 20 friggin years, and if I wonder what you mean by what you’re trying to say, and I’m getting tired of reading wordy copy, I can’t begin to imagine what the public at large thinks when they see it. Tighten it up, and keep it simple. If that’s too hard for you pros in the field to do, get some clients and community members together to focus group your marketing copy for you. If you don’t believe me, listen to what they have to say…
  5. Include a link for media on your website. Please, think of us and throw us a little bone. Include your press releases there as a link. Include contact info. and brief bios of subject experts that we can contact for quotes and insight into issues–we are always looking for expert opinions. Make it easy for us to find. Give us your logo and other graphics that we have total permission to use as stock art for articles. And, tell us who your media contact is so that we can contact them directly. When a story is breaking, and we want to use your organization as an expert, we don’t have time to wait around or hunt to find “maybe” the right person. Get us linked to them straight away, and we’ll get you into print faster and more often as the experts in the field that you are.
  6. Be responsive to media. We matter. In a time when funding is tighter than ever, getting and keeping your company’s name in the community dialogue is critical when you are cultivating donors. If a development director has to spend too much time explaining to a potential donor what the organization is and why they care about it, it’s probably already too late to bother. Keeping your name in the media as noted experts in what you do is key to raising the value of your organization in the mind of your public. There’s no short cut. There are many creative ways to do this, and traditional media isn’t the only one… but it’s important to do in some fashion.
  7. Reach out to media. Don’t just send us a press release. Trust me, we often don’t “get” why your story is important. Talk to us. Get to know us. Take us to lunch (we really like that!). But, develop a relationship with us. And this is critical–don’t bother telling us why your story is important to you. Tell me why I, the media professional cares, and why it’s cool, interesting or important to the public. THAT’s the story. Don’t count on the fact that the media professional will be able to see why your story matters. Spoon feed THAT to them, because why your story matters IS the story.

Philanthropy Rocks! Van Wilson supports St. Pete Free Clinic

This is a tale of caregivers, philanthropy, stewardship and rock ‘n’ roll.

Patrick, Paul and Mark Wilson

On Oct. 15, Van Wilson, a local band made up of three brothers and some others, rocked the stage at St. Petersburg’s The Local 662 to a sold-out crowd. What matters here is not the rock show, which really did rock, but who these brothers are and what their rock concert did.

The brothers three happen to be Emmy and Tony Award nominated Patrick Wilson, Fox 13 news anchor Mark Wilson and advertising mogul Paul Wilson. What the concert did was raise about $4,000 of unrestricted funds for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Brown Forman Corporation donated spirits to the event to be enjoyed by the patrons and to help raise money.

Rocking Out for a Cause

The concert opened with the John Kelly Band, warming up the crowd with original tunes that seemed familiar, though I’ve never heard them before. The venue began filling up with an enthusiastic crowd that soon swelled to a tame mob — a packed house made up of community members, friends and family of the Wilson brothers and, perhaps most significantly, Patrick Wilson’s graduating class of 1991 from Shorecrest Prep.

Let the show begin! Enter Paul Wilson from behind the crowd, looking like the smooth devil he is, covering the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil.” The music was a walk down amnesia lane for many of us who grew up listening to Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and even a touch of Jimmy Buffett.

Mark Wilson captivated the crowd with his masterful guitar riffs. Patrick Wilson never missed a beat, playing drums while his brother Paul Wilson played front man with larger-than-life incarnations of classic rock stars such as Mick Jagger and David Lee Roth. Yet, the majority of the songs were crooned by the Broadway veteran Patrick, never disappointing his adoring fans.

Philanthropy Is in the Blood

I’ve known the Wilson brothers since I was about 10 years old, growing up with them in the church where their mother, Mary K. Wilson, was the choir director of four choirs at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, and their dad, John Wilson, news anchor at Fox 13, was often nearby lending a hand with nearly anything for anyone.

Beyond John and Mary K. being extraordinarily talented professionals, their overarching shared attribute is that they both have hearts the size of planets. It would be alien to their nature to not give of themselves in large and small ways to their community and to people in need. They are far from pushovers, but they have a level of integrity that flows beyond honesty and manifests in stewardship and philanthropy.

Certainly this sense of stewardship and philanthropy influenced Patrick, Mark and Paul, but I believe it goes beyond that — it’s in their DNA. Paul Wilson said, “At a nascent age, my parents instilled in us a sense of giving. My mother wrote checks to the power company to pay for others — paying someone else’s power bill, someone who couldn’t afford it. My mother is altruism personified. To us, helping others was always part of our family values. My dad seldom ignored the chance to give someone a ride when their car broke down. So we get it from both sets of genes.”

The brothers have been raising money for charitable organizations through their “family reunion” concerts for a couple of years now. Mark Wilson explained that this is an opportunity for the family to get together, have fun and give back to the community.

Patrick Wilson said in a recent interview with CBS, “if you can get the common person that may just want to come out and have a good time and hear some music and give to charity — especially a very noble one like the free clinic — then we’re in good shape.”

I asked Paul why giving back is so important to him and why it is so meaningful to his family. “In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget how easy it can be to help others, how valuable it can be for the spirit, yours and those in need. But it is the giving that nurtures the soul and replenishes it,” he said.

How to Give Back in Your Community

Each week I write a simple column, raising awareness and celebrating the great works caregivers do in your community. This article is a call to action.

This story is all about the power of a little generosity and a lot of commitment to making communities and lives a little better and a little stronger through raising awareness and funds. Right now, our economy is putting a strain on most families and unemployment is plaguing more and more of our neighbors, making large-scale philanthropy and fundraising increasingly scarce. Yet, if we all joined together and dedicated just a few hours of our time, talent and resources, it would make a world of difference to those most in need right in your own neighborhood.

Just think of a nonprofit or a cause that means something to you, and then think of a way that you can donate talents, skills, time, resources or even money to help support that cause. If we all work together to make the change we want to see in our community, imagine what great things we could do.

For a listing of charitable organizations in your community, call 211 or visit 211tampabay.org.

PUBLISHED ARTICLE: http://largo.patch.com/articles/wilson-brothers-give-back#photo-8197554

UPDATE: Check out the upcoming concert 5/26/2012, benefitting Paws for Patriots: http://www.facebook.com/#!/vanwilsonband

For the love of St. Petersburg

I spent a few hours at the Manhattan Casino Saturday morning with a few creative minds and community leaders, and if you ask me, they are one in the same. Here we had an opportunity to come together and explore what loving St. Petersburg is all about with For the Love of Cities author Peter Kageyama.

Mayor Bill Foster said of the event that he has big hopes for this concept. He wants people to become more engaged in the City of St. Petersburg, and he wants “love missionaries.” Foster said, “It’s about the little things—the things that make St. Petersburg not just a destination and home. Not just a place where people work and live but a place where people work to feed their habit—the habit of St. Petersburg.”

But what does it take for a community to fall in love with its city? Kageyama talked about “love notes.” Love notes are little things that make your community unique, light you up, make you smile and have you coming back for more. He mentioned Studio 620 and Free Fall Theatre as notable “acts of love” in St. Petersburg.

Other aspects that create a lovable city are bicycle-friendly and dog-friendly cities, and St. Petersburg is both of these, mostly. Kageyama also asked Saturday’s participants to write down and come up to the mic and share what they love about the city.

Mostly, there was a common theme of parks and the waterfront. The arts, museums, the people, small businesses and the history of St. Petersburg also made the list. From here, the interactivity of the participants picked-up, including working in teams to come up with themed t-shirt designs.

From cradle to retiring—what matters in St. Pete?

What do certain demographics think of St. Petersburg—a 15-year-old, a retired person, a married couple with children, a young professional, a college student and a business owner? The teams that worked on t-shirt designs were asked to work together again to explore what was valuable to specific demographics.

There were some common themes such as crime and safety being top concerns spanning all demographics. This does not imply that people consider St. Petersburg to be very dangerous, but crime and safety remain top concerns for all demographics.

Top things that certain demographics within the city like are the beaches and entertainment and ease of access to community, business and government leadership. Also, things that many demographics agree are needs for the city include higher-paying career opportunities in fields such as technology and green energy.

Specific demographics did identify specific needs for their station in life such as more daytime activities for retired persons and more arts education available for youth, especially as programs are being cut within Pinellas County Schools.

 It’s $500 of love

If you had $500 to create a “love” project for St. Petersburg—what would it be? Participants worked in teams to develop projects that would have a $500 budget. Some great ideas were developed such a Family Friendly First Friday in North Straub Park—an idea that can be incorporated into an existing city event and expanded upon for $500.

Once these ideas were developed and presented to all, everyone voted on which idea they liked the most. Family Friendly First Friday not only won the vote but also received an anonymous donor who has agreed to provide the $500 to make it happen. Here are some of the other ideas:

“I am a native of St. Petersburg, and ‘for the love of St. Petersburg means a lot to me,” said Clarence Scott in closing remarks of this summit. He encouraged all of us to not only spread the word about the great work done today and all the great ideas developed but also to spread the word about the great city St. Petersburg is saying, “ Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.”

Peter Kageyama ended the day with a book signing opportunity, having books, t-shirts and lively discussion all available for those interested in For the Love of Cities.

Peter Kageyama

Also posted HERE on SaintPetersBlog, published 2/20/2012

Most Effective Communications Tools–List of 7

Below is a list of 7 of the most effective communications tools. If used in unison–together they will complement one another and bring value to your brand.

  1. Website: Store current information on your website. Websites are a static, usually non-interactive, resource for people seeking information. Therefore, it is critical to maintain useful, robust and up-to-date information on your website. The better and more useful the content, the more valuable your website.
  2. Blog: A blog does three important things: 1) It can help you build credibility in your field. Whether you are blogging on your own expertise, guest-blogging on another reputable site or inviting respected guest bloggers on your site, you are establishing yourself and your brand as leaders–experts on your topic.; 2) Search engine optimization (SEO)–drive traffic to your website and raise your website in search engine rankings by posting many links to your website throughout the Web. Whenever you blog on your blog site or guest blog somewhere, or encourage others to repost your blog, links to your website spread throughout the web increasing your SEO; 3) Serve as a platform for citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is an increasingly credible media source, when you/the public, formerly known as the media consumer, use the media-making tools at your disposal (such as blogs) to report news, that’s citizen journalism. Traditional media (print, broadcast, radio) is suffering with fewer staff and resources, making it more difficult to solicit news coverage. Citizens can help fill this gap by reporting on news themselves, providing coverage on critical topics the public needs to know to stay informed.
  3. Facebook: It’s where the eyeballs are. Engage, engage, engage! On Facebook you have a captive audience bundled with useful tools such as advertisements, “like” pages, groups, etc. The most powerful feature of Facebook is its ability to actively engage target audiences. Ask questions. Respond to answers. Develop contests and on-line activities. As for feedback. Respond to feedback. Show audiences exactly how their feedback was put to use and helped foster change. Also, reciprocate–like, friend, visit and comment on and participate on others’ Facebook pages. Spread the link to your website and blog around as a resource for people to help answer their questions and meet their needs.
  4. Media Relations: Build relationships with key media professionals. Get exposure to their work, know the topics they cover, their style and what they like. Contact them with leads that benefit your brand or your field or just leads that could benefit the media professional. Don’t be selfish. Submit press releases that are written in accordance with journalistic style (AP) to reduce editing time needed for print media. Submit polished video press releases to broadcast media professionals. Always be available to be a valuable resource to media pros. This will benefit both of you.
  5. Sales: Yes, the time-honored motto of “always be closing” is as true today as it has always been. Pitch and close. The craft of sales closes deals and takes proposals and ideas to the next level towards commitment, action and profits. Without proper sales, everything is just an idea or a creation. You need sales to translate this into profits.
  6. Visual & Multi-meda Materials: Let me SEE what you mean. Develop compelling, clean, impactful visual and multi-media materials. Keep words to a minimum (save that for blogs, reports and white papers). Keep visuals direct and simple. Use targeted focus groups to decide upon the most effective visuals or enhance/improve materials. Post this stuff everywhere: Slideshare, YouTube, Facebook, your blog, website, etc. Get it out through traditional means–traditional media, fliers, brochures, posters, etc. Show me!
  7. Public Speaking: So, data indicates that many people fear speaking in public more than death! If you are fortunate enough to NOT be one of those people, and even better if you have a particular flair in front of an audience with organized thoughts and a confident presence, rock on! You are already ahead of the wolfpack. Turn that into a communication strategy. develop trainings and presentations. Give away your magic tricks and gather a following, energize a tribe. You’ll close deals and build value for your brand. Also consider recording these presentations and developing webinars and video trainings, which you can post to your multi-media sites and host on-line trainings expanding your reach and reducing barriers to the content you offer.

One last tip: ALWAYS  use spellcheck and have your work proofread by someone who knows grammar and marketing-speak. This leads to credibility and how much trust and respect you will be able to build in your target markets.

New Media Communications Consulting: for the beginner–how to avoid scams and paying for ineffective strategies

So, you want to hire a communications consultant to help boost your on-line marketing effectiveness? That’s a great idea. But they keep talking in acronyms you barely understand such as SMO and SEO without really telling you want it all means–why it’s valuable to you.

SMO and SEO are acronyms of great meaning in the world of communications consulting and new media marketers. If your idea of social media optimization (SMO) is posting all your family vacation photos AND videos for your “friends” to see in a couple clicks from your mobile device, you’re not alone. However, this leaves you in a difficult position when you go to hire a communications/marketing consultant to manage your business’s social media campaign.

Social Media Optimization is all about driving unique visitors to your website and business and ultimately creating customers and supporters of you brand/products/services/cause. At its best, SMO will identify and attract unique visitors of a certain profile who are most likely to be current customers, potential customers and/or supporters who will help spread the word about your brand/products/services/cause. Clearly, this could make a huge positive impact on your business’s success.

This is similar to another buzzword, search engine optimization (SEO), where a set of strategies, used properly, will help drive unique visitors to your website and business. Again, at best, the strategies employed will target a particular type of visitor who has already demonstrated some interest in a topic addessed by your business as evidenced by their web search interests, etc.

So, what we are focusing on here is not just SMO or SEO but target marketing. Marketing that targets a group of customers whom businesses have decided to aim their marketing strategies/messages and likewise their products and services.

Why does this matter? You will have far better success in turning 1,000 unique visitors to your website into customers/supporters if they are already interested in your products/services or at least show signs of fitting your target market’s demographics. For instance, it isn’t very helpful marketing a new micro-brewed beer to a group of individuals who are responding to blog posts on how to survive unemployment.

While this may sound obvious, I’ve said all of this to say this: beware of communications consultants/ marketers who try to feed you an SMO (or SEO) plan, which doesn’t strategize for target marketing. I’ve seen far too many consultants pad up clients Facebook “friends/likes” and Twitter “followers” with thousands of fellow marketing professionals whose personal profiles contain thousands of “friends/likes/followers” whom they follow and whom follow them.

For the most part, this is a worthless strategy, attracting nothing but marketers looking to pad their followers numbers and who have no interest in your business, products or services at all. They will not interact with you and help you build meaningful collaborative relationships, and they will not help you gain more customers or supporters. What they will do is often fill your view of messages from followers with endless chatter and make it difficult for you to decipher a true supporter from one who is just padding your numbers.

I say for the most part, because there are exceptions where this is useful. These exceptions exist when you are referring to income generated from ads and click-throughs etc. In some of these cases, large numbers of followers can help generate revenue for you, but certainly not the loyal supporters of your brand/products and services you need for true business sustainability. Plus, it doesn’t represent the best that social networking has to offer in terms of augmenting relationship-building, two-way communication and loyalty among customers and potential customers.

Beware of consultants who can’t or don’t map out a SMO plan for you that includes target marketing. There are far too many in this field who are looking to pad their own pockets with your money for merely padding your numbers of social media followers, conning you into thinking they’ve done a great job. What value was brought to the table for each strategy implemented? That’s the question you need answered. This will determine the value of your consultant.

Daydreaming for a living: a writer’s perspective

Daydreaming for a living: a writer’s perspective

Daydream

At its best, writing is a perpetual daydream for the author. This is when you stare at the clouds in the sky, and they drift along, morphing into the creation of the most delightful and intriguing characters you’d ever hope to know, and you know them well. The scenery is as vivid as any bright spring day you’ve ever seen while the plot, motivations and story all come to life as if you were living it then and there. And it all springs forth on the page.

 This is true for most types of writing, anything that requires masterful storytelling to engage your readers: from fiction or nonfiction literature, articles, blogs and feature stories, to grants and press releases. Daydreaming can be a fulltime job… with a lot of very hard work, talent and skill, that is

Want to know about events and Tampa Bay greatness?

Check out Brand Tampa: www.brandtampa.com and say hi to Julia Gorzka, founder of Brand Tampa.

Say hi to Julia Gorzka, founder of Brand Tampa

Tag Cloud