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The 8 Key Elements for Effective Internal Communications -- Ask Nancy Q:   I'm developing a communications plan for a client, but it's not focused on reaching the media (as many plans are). This is about generating visibility internally at a large institution.

I have meetings scheduled with key members of the institution to collect ideas, but I'm hoping you'll share your ideas on core elements for a plan to communicate within a complex environment.

My instinct is to consider messaging, audiences, media, resources required, measurements of success. What am I missing?

–Noelle, Communications Consultant

A:  Dear Noelle,

Great question and good you're asking now, before you dive in.

You've made a great start with your list. But include these additions and clarifications:

  1. Goals — What you're trying to achieve
  2. Measurable objectives — What tangible outcomes will indicate campaign success or need for fine-tuning
  3. For Audiences — Who you have to engage to meet your goals
  4. Strategies (rather than media) — Building awareness or engagement, or motivating action, and channels that lead there (likely to include building buy-in and training for any internal communications work)
  5. Tactical work plan — What gets done when
  6. Roles and responsibilities — Who does what. You'll want to build a team of messengers throughout the organization, way beyond you and your client there.
  7. Budget
  8. Evaluation and campaign revision

Let me know how the planning goes, Noelle, and what the outcome is.

Best of luck,

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every internal or external communications campaign! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Ask Nancy, Internal Communications, Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation | 0 comments
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Ask Nancy Our Org Wants to Launch a Web Site wo Much Time or Expertise. Where Do We Start
Dear Nancy,

I am a member of a small non-profit organization for the deaf, and we're now embarking on building our first-ever Web site.

With tight funding, few available hours and little expertise, where's the best place to start?

We're looking for a launch pad that doesn't require too much of an initial outlay but is designed to evolve as does our understanding, needs, content and expertise. It would also be nice if the web can be easily modified by our members to post various events.

Thank you,
Bill Dukarski
GGRAD/HH (Greater Grand Rapids Association of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing)


Dear Bill,

First of all, let me commend you for your realism and focus. You know what you need now, and what your organization can invest. That understanding is THE critical first step!

Your challenge is avoiding a static, unchanging, old-fashioned site for your organization when there are these significant limitations on your time, effort, and/or expertise generally required to create and maintain a dynamic site. You'll need a set up that is easy to build, launch and provides some support — all at a reasonable cost.

I'm happy to say I have a clear recommendation for you — Nonprofit Soapbox. Soapbox is a content management system (CMS, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get content editing tool) that will enable GGRAD/HH to build and grow an engaging, dynamic site without the headache. In fact, anyone who can use Microsoft Word can create and run a web site.

What's great is that the Soapbox folks are expert in working with orgs tight on time, budget and know-how. And they've set up a process that works for them, and for their clients. If you end up needing more help, let's say in strategy or graphic design, you can purchase those services on an as-needed basis at a reasonable cost.

So get in touch with Nonprofit Soapbox, Bill. Then please email me and let me know how it goes. I'll share your experience with Getting Attention readers facing the same challenges.

All the best,

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every nonprofit Web site! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Ask Nancy, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 10 comments
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Ask Nancy What's The Best Software for Designing Print MaterialsQ: I've been researching software to use for developing marketing collateral.  I have researched Adobe PageMaker, Illustrator, QuarkXPress and more, but just can't seem to determine the best tool for me, our organization and our marketing goals. 

We currently Microsoft Publisher to design marketing collateral (brochures, one -pagers, etc., but I want to be able to do more with photos and graphics than I am able to do in Publisher. What software, if any, you would suggest for an organization that does not want to hire a graphic artist for all of its marketing needs?
                  — Talia Piazza, Program Coordinator, Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development

NOTE: Since I'm not a graphic designer, I consulted with one of the best — Susan Edwards — on this one.

A: Sue says "Adobe's InDesign is the professional design and layout software of choice these days. It's expensive and powerful (code for 'steep learning curve')."

If you're designing for professional printing, I definitely recommend you learn to use InDesign. Professional offset or digital printers require high quality PDFs in order to create high-quality printed pieces. Publisher and Word just aren't designed to create output for professional printing.

A great way to quickly master InDesign is to dive into these modestly-priced online tutorials at You can sample a few of the Getting Started segments here, at no charge."

P.S. Please send your nonprofit marketing inquiries to Ask Nancy. I promise you that I'll respond to as many of your questions as possible, always sharing the responses with readers of the Getting Attention blog and e-news.

Nancy Schwartz in Ask Nancy, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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