June 15, 2015
You’re already convinced that content is king – and as a foundation – there’s a plethora of grantee stories available for prospecting. While producing content is well proven to be worth the effort (more on that in another post), it’s more complicated for foundations, takes more effort and requires more planning than expected. Like most things, it’s takes a village.
MDC Consulting Network recently produced StoriesfromSalinas.org for the Packard Foundation. Below we share some our learnings that can help streamline and guide your efforts.
1. It is a big deal, so plan for it.
Just like most communications efforts, it takes planning. In our case, we created a mini-communications plan, laying out the timing for deliverables and designating responsibility for delivering them. Consider the rounds of edits needed as well as approvals in your timing. If creating grantee stories, you’ll need time to make contact, brainstorm on story ideas, be on site for the interviews and gain the necessary grantee and participant releases.
2. Yup, strategy & objective count here too.
Like all communications, initial thinking about your audience and what you want to accomplish saves effort. Consider your audience in creating storylines. Think about how to make your content timely, but as evergreen as possible.
Lay out your objective. Our goal to create positive and inspiring stories of a community often misunderstood. For measurement, we sought digital engagement and demographic information to determine how our efforts measured up to our audience targets.
3. Use the right team
A journalist and photographer were part of our MDC Consulting Network team. Although many of us communications folks are fairly good writers – a journalist offers critical interview skills and know-how to find that kernel of a good story. This was critical to our finding compelling and representative stories.
Our photographer lives in Salinas and is a multimedia reporter for the Salinas Californian. His connections with the community enabled quick access and trust from his subjects; his journalistic bent gave us action photos. For this project, many of those portrayed in the photos were subjects of our stories.
4. Make it a teachable moment
As with most grantees, our Salinas group presented a range of communications capacity and skills. We launched our project in conjunction with two sessions for the grantees on storytelling. Through an interview with the reporter, the grantees thought up the stories and recommended and contacted subjects. This participation gave them an experience storytelling and a model for future efforts.
5. Engage grantees in the launch
Creating good content is the first step, but after all is said and done, it’s the launch that determines if you reach your audience. In our project, each program’s story can be tweeted or posted on Facebook with a photo. In addition, each grantees was given the text of story and all the photos to use as they wish. Creating a user-friendly format, hashtags, and assets are helpful to these efforts.
6. It really can’t be a one-time deal.
Before this project is launched, think about your next one. No surprise that content has to be constant to draw attention to your social causes. Good content takes time – so a longer editorial calendar will be your best bet for increasing and deepening your connections with your target audiences.
What content are you developing?