Issue 8 - Mar-Apr 2010
Happy Earth Day 2010!
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we're reminded of all the big and small opportunities for nonprofits to communicate about their work. With all the attention around Earth Day, nonprofits working on related issues can develop their own fresh angles - creating opportunities to connect with reporters, communicate with members, and re-engage volunteers. See "Use Events to Springboard Your Message" for more tips on how to stretch your resources by piggybacking onto other newsmaker events.
Also in this issue of Spitfire Sparks, learn how to let your content shine through in PowerPoint presentations with our free Presentation Planner. Plus, learn more about activating change among your audiences and sharpen your fundraising with the latest report from Edge Research on charitable giving trends. You will also find an example of a simple, yet effective activity to engage audiences with six word memoirs. Read on to learn more about these great opportunities to rev up your communications this spring - with Earth Day and beyond.
Happy Earth Day from all of us at Spitfire!
Reach Out & Influence Someone - Tips to Spread Your Message
Build a Better Presentation - Put Your
by Danielle Lewis, Senior Associate
These days, making a presentation has become synonymous with PowerPoint. It's easy to see why. Used effectively, PowerPoint can be a powerful tool for enhancing your presentation. But at the end of the day PowerPoint is just a tool and even the flashiest slides can't hide bad content. (However, bad slides can and often do hide great content - but that's a subject for another article.)
Strong content is the foundation of a good presentation. That is why Spitfire created the Presentation Planner - a free tool, found helpful by the hundreds of nonprofits that have already tested it, that leads you through five steps to better content.
1. Start by grounding your presentation in your communications strategy. Before you decide what you need to communicate, you need to know what your goal is, who you are trying to reach, and what you want the audience to do as a result of the presentation.
2. Create an opening that will get the audience's attention and plan a closing that will reinforce the big take-away.
3. Identify the main points you want to make - no more than four within a 20 minute block of time, as that is all your audience will be able to remember Determine how you will make it interactive to help the information you are sharing stick with the audience.
4. Think beyond Q&A and consider a brainstorm, concept check, quiz or small group activity.
5. Plan to tell at least one story to get your audience's attention at the beginning, support a main point, or even serve as the main organizing theme of your presentation.
The next time you have to create a new presentation or revamp an existing one, give the Presentation Planner a try. Or check out our Extreme PowerPoint webinar to learn more about creating strong presentations.
Great Minds - Ideas to Make You Think
Use Events to Springboard Your Message
by Maura Zehr, Junior Account Executive
For the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day has always been an important occasion to inspire Americans to be better caretakers of the Earth and educate them about the Agency's work. It just so happens that both the EPA and Earth Day are both turning 40 this year - and they are primed to celebrate.
The weekend following Earth Day, the Agency is hosting an event on the National Mall to commemorate the 40th anniversary of both Earth Day and the EPA. This dual celebration provides an opportunity for the EPA to highlight the agency's renewed commitment to healthy families and cleaner communities - and in addition to planned public events, the agency will also use media outreach, its website and social media tools to gets its messages to its target audiences.
Planning for existing or reoccurring news hooks is an important element of any successful media strategy. Annual events, such as Earth Day, or times of year - like back-to-school season, holidays and the congressional calendar - are predictable, allowing organizations time to prepare a fresh angle or unique story to pitch to reporters.
Other less predictable but timely hooks include pending legislation or breaking news events that are relevant to your issue. Since reporters are already covering these stories, your organization should provide quotes or interesting anecdotes that will help insert your message into the larger conversation.
What are some upcoming anniversaries, holidays, trends or other important dates that could provide a ready-made media hook for your issue? To help get you started, here is a link to Holiday Insights for some online inspiration.
Spitfire Recommends - Latest and Greatest Tools and Resources
Flip the Switch to Activate Your Audiences
by Monisha Som - Senior Account Executive
For everyday acts, such as eating healthier or saving money, change can be uncomfortable and difficult - and that is just changing your own behavior! What is a nonprofit organization to do when faced with the challenge of changing the behaviors of others in order to shift social trends or move the needle on policy? Chip Heath and Dan Heath of Made to Stick fame offer hope that such herculean efforts can be done if you strategically plan for change. In their latest release, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, the authors offer insights on how to influence behavior change that can be applied practically and right away. The core kernel to take away is that people make decisions based on their mind and their emotions - meaning successful messages need to tap both. One immediate change you can make? Help your audiences make the change easier by being clear on what you want them to do. In Spitfire speak this means emphasizing a specific and doable "ask."
Build on the insights from Switch by downloading a free copy of Discovering the Activation Point - a tool based on best practices for planning for persuasion, tailored to the unique needs of social change organizations.
In the Know - News You Can Use
Here's the Scoop
by Monisha Som - Senior Account Executive and Heather Sullivan - Operations Executive
The communications landscape keeps changing, making staying well informed on the latest developments critical for the nonprofit community. To help keep you in the know, here are two recent items of note.
The first is an op-ed by Ford Foundation president Luis Ubina that recently appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. He argues that social needs are often put into silos based on specific issue areas and are treated as though they do not affect each other, but he maintains that affordable access to the Internet is a modern necessity that impacts the health, education and economic development of Americans. The Foundation is committing $50 million over the next five years to support work in this area. Ford is calling on other foundations to make the connection between Internet access and their key issues as well - and take action to support and secure universal access.
The second item of interest is a new report from frequent Spitfire collaborator Edge Research, who partnered with Convio and Sea Change Strategies to produce a national case study on The Next Generation of American Giving. The result is a first-of-its kind look at the charitable giving behaviors and preferences of Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers and Matures. Everyone trying to reach these audiences will want to give this a close read to glean new insights on how to best connect with the different generations to get results.
Good to Great - Smart Strategies for Success
Words, Words, Words. Apologies to
by Heather Sullivan - Operations Executive
E-mail blasts, Twitter feeds, the latest blog post: all are useful tools for sharing information, but smart organizations want to engage their members to take action (in the most timely and cost effective way possible, of course). Next time you find yourself pacing your office, trying to think of a fun way to engage your members on your issue, consider using words. If your mind immediately races to thoughts of lengthy, complex informational materials or sleep-inducing speeches, think again. Six words are all it takes.
Treehugger, National Constitution Center and Chow.com each teamed up with SMITH Magazine to challenge their members to tell their stories about green living, to inspire President Obama and to share their food adventures in six words. In response, thousands of people rose to the occasion to share their unique take on the issues at hand - and receive a chance to win a variety of prizes to boot. The next time you are considering options to get your members involved, remember these elements for success:
• A straightforward ask: Submit a six word story.
• Keep it simple: Members could enter a six-word memoir through a user-friendly submission page accessed through each organization's Web site.
• Offer recognition: All submissions were viewable to everyone in the online community and eligible to win a prize.
Keep these guiding principles in mind and your next member engagement effort can be a success - no word limit necessary.
Coming Soon - Opportunities of Note
Webinars Offer Access to Expertise
by Adam Rankin - Junior Account Executive
The environment is the big topic this week as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Annual holidays and events such as this can provide your group with an incredible opportunity to do the same - but you can't wait until the last minute! The most effective decisions are those made with an eye to strategy and planned well in advance. Let Spitfire Strategies kick start your planning efforts on May 4th as Kim Johnson presents the Smart Chart™Communications Planning Tool. Developed by Spitfire Strategies, the Smart Chart is easy-to-use and offers a practical, step-by-step approach to developing effective communications programs. During this fun, interactive webinar, you'll be led through the choices that must be made to put a successful plan in place. Requiring you to lead with strategy rather than tactics, the Smart Chart ensures that strategy drives your communications, and helps build the strong foundation your organization needs to achieve its goals.
Spitfire's low-cost webinar series is an excellent way to train your staff on smart, strategic communications planning. Click here for available webinar topics or to register for a session.
By A Web Design