Issue 16 - Jul-Aug 2011
Another summer has come and quickly gone. Before fall gets away, too, take time to review your communications strategy for the coming months. Does it still support your organizational goals? Have changing circumstances created a need to rethink some of the strategic decisions you made at the beginning of the year? If your strategy for 2011 is in good shape, then it is time to start planning for 2012. Next year is a big election year. As the debates heat up, are you ready to put your issues front and center?
This month, we kick off a series of ideas for shoring up your communications activities to make the most of Election Day 2012. In this issue, you will also find smart tips for crafting materials that are free of jargon, learn which audiences respond best to Web video outreach and get cost-effective ideas to better engage visitors to your organization's website.
|Good to Great - Blazing the Trail to Election Day|
|Reach Out and Influence Someone - Writing Home to Grandma|
|In the Know - Web Video Analysis Offers Useful Audience Targeting Data|
|On A Shoestring - Gone in 60 Seconds|
Good to Great
Smart Strategies for Success
Election Day 2012 is less than 15 months away. It is important to keep this date on your radar, because elections matter to nonprofits. After all, public policy sets the rules that determine how quickly or easily nonprofits can make progress on the issues that matter most, and many nonprofits depend on government agencies for funding. To help you navigate this opportunity, Spitfire plans to bring you a series of articles to make sure you are ready to make the most of this opportunity.
The first step is to figure out just how much Election Day really matters to you. Coverage of the presidential election will likely dominate the media and much of the public debate from now through the end of next year. But the presidential election may not have much direct impact on your work - and elevating your issues to that level may take more resources than you have available. On the other hand, state and local elections - from state legislature and city council contests to school boards and zoning panels - may offer real opportunities for smart communications without the presidential price tag.
Wading into the political waters takes work. It also has risks. Federal tax law allows nonprofits to educate voters about the issues they work on, but not to intervene in candidate elections by telling voters which candidate or groups of candidates to oppose or support. And while electoral debates often provide an awareness boost, there is always the risk that the debate will swing against you. The Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest and the Alliance for Justice both offer resources to help nonprofits assess the legal risks of election-related activities. You will also need to consult with your board and colleagues to assess your sensitivity to the political risks.
Here are two questions to help you assess whether Election Day matters to you:
If you haven't thought about how government policy affects your issue, ask a trusted partner who has the appropriate expertise. A government official or a professional advocate can provide valuable insights and advice on whether and how to get involved.
If you answered yes to either question above, you might want to clear your calendar for Election Day 2012. The next edition of Spitfire Sparks will offer tips for determining where to direct your communications resources over the year ahead and help you to start thinking politically.
Happy election season!
Reach Out and Influence Someone
Tips to Spread Your Message
Something to Write Home About to Grandma
by Allyson McMahan - Senior Account Manager Spitfire has a strict rule: don't make your audience's eyes glaze over. This means avoiding at all costs the use of confusing phrases, vague or obscure words, and acronyms that float out into the communications void.
Acronyms and jargon (e.g., POTUS, permit bank, SEO) are so pervasive that avoiding them can be a real challenge. But using words and phrases that people do not understand - especially the people you are trying to influence - does more harm than good.
In fact, results from a recent study show that people might think you are lying if you only use abstract or confusing language.
In the Know
News You Can Use
Web Video Analysis Offers Useful Audience Targeting Databy Ed Walz - Vice President
A recent analysis by the Pew Internet Project shows that usage of online video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo has increased dramatically over the last five years - especially with specific segments of the population.
Not surprisingly, young adults are more likely than their elders to use these media. The research also finds these sites are particularly popular with African-Americans and Latinos. For example, Hispanics reported using an online video site "yesterday" 56% more often than White respondents. One other interesting note: the popularity of video-sharing sites is increasing the fastest in rural communities, with the suburbs close behind.
The survey included only adults, so if your audience is kids, you'll need to do a little more digging. But if you're interested in reaching young, suburban or rural adults of color online, a video sharing medium is worth a closer look.
On a Shoestring
Low Cost Strategies for Creating Impact
Gone in 60 Seconds
by David Bae - Training Coordinator
The first website became active 20 years ago on August 6, 1991. Since then, the Internet has changed the way we interact and communicate with a wide array of audiences. From social networks to video-sharing sites, there is fierce competition for the attention of online viewers. With the average viewer spending just 56 seconds looking at a website, it is essential to capture the viewer's attention immediately. Here are two easy ways to update your website to encourage visitors to stay longer.
A picture can convey meaning and create an impact. Instead of pages crammed with paragraphs of text, use photos and images to speak on your organization's behalf. Avoid using stock photos or ClipArt images. Use photos that show real people or the direct impact of your project, including images that demonstrate your organization's work and mission. For example, Water For People's homepage offers a series of pictures that reflect its mission: safe, clean water for everyone. This instantly gives viewers a glimpse of what they do and why it matters. Find those high-impact photos and keep your website visually compelling and vibrant.
Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool for determining what draws visitors to your site, how they are using your site and what you can do to enhance the user experience. With this resource, you can collect location demographics of site visitors, identify commonly used search terms, note the most active links, and decide whether visitors would use and benefit from a mobile version of the site. Take advantage of the many features of Google Analytics to assess the usefulness of your site and determine what improvements will make the site even stronger and more useful to your audiences.
Check out this post for additional tips to improve your website.
|Spitfire Strategies is dedicated to helping nonprofits and foundations create and implement high impact communications programs to achieve their social change goals. To learn more, visit www.SpitfireStrategies.com.|
By A Web Design