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There's a Secret Social Impact Communicators Want Leaders To Know


Dear Social Impact Leaders,
I’d like to share an open secret amongst communications strategists. You’re squandering valuable resources and stunting your impact because you fail to take advantage of their expertise.

Engaging target audiences and convincing them to take desired actions is all about strategic thinking; it is not a series of tactics such as press releases, blogs and op-eds that nonprofit leaders assign. Instead, if you just shared your objectives and target audiences, you might be happily surprised by the innovative strategies and outcomes your communications team could produce.

Here's an example: Once upon a time, the CEO of a conservation policy think tank asked a nonprofit communications consultant to place stories in major news outlets about a new carbon emissions reduction policy his organization had just developed.


The consultant asked, “Who should learn about this policy proposal and what do you want them to do?”


The CEO handed the consultant a piece of paper and replied, “I want this selected list of national government representatives who will attend the next United Nations Climate Change negotiations to learn of our policy and endorse it.”


Since the list of representatives was from around the globe, the consultant was skeptical about how persuasive a few news stories published in English-language media outlets would be.


After a moment, the consultant said, “I recommend we identify the leaders your targets want to network with at the conference. Let’s invite them and your targets to a breakfast the morning before negotiations start where you can present the new policy proposal and start a conversation.”


The consultant managed all the invitations and the breakfast event where the CEO presented the new policy proposal. The targeted government representatives in attendance not only endorsed it, some unexpectedly pledged new amounts of funding to the think tank.


Simply put, mission-driven communication goes far beyond public relations.

Holistic “big picture” communicators assess programs to determine if and how communications could help achieve success and expand impact. They engage with communities by listening deeply with compassion to identify the issues they wish to change and their solutions. They sustain social change by training local partners in practical and achievable public outreach techniques. They mentor leaders and build teams. They develop innovative policy frameworks and effective messaging from opinion research. They gather stories that illustrate program measurements and impacts.


As a senior social impact communicator, I help leaders create and execute strategies that tackle critical social inequities and conservation challenges. My methods are solutions for achieving quantifiable objectives. So let’s talk about whom you want to reach and what you want them to know or do.

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