It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘websites’

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.
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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.

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