Fresh Takes

This week has been a tough one. Barreling back into real life post a great Australia trip to work with nonprofit folks there, but doing it without mobility and with pain due to having broken my foot by running from a saltwater croc missing some stairs while away. More on the many wonders of the Australia trip later.

Right now, everything takes too much thought, maneuvering and time. Being the impatient person that I am, that’s really tough. And the fact that my office is the third floor of our very vertical house, and I do stairs crab-style right now, makes life exhausting on all levels. But enough complaining—this is minor and temporary, and I’m so lucky in that.

What I really want to tell you is about two nonprofit communicators who made my day today. I just finished back-to-back calls, both with folks had contacted me on possible consulting work (always a positive) but the upside goes way beyond that…


Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes | 0 comments

Martin Luther King inspired me to ask fellow bloggers to join me in the January Nonprofit Blog Carnival, to “pick any dream you have—for your cause, organization or the nonprofit sector—and share it and how you plan to make it real.”

I am inspired and energized by the richness of your contributions. I urge you to digest them to energize yourself and to focus you and your colleagues on the pathways to increased impact and results in 2012:


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What Matters Now -- Follow Seth Godin's Path to ConnectionEvery nonprofit communicator worth her salt works from this lens: Where does our organization’s passion and impact intersect with the needs, interests and desires of our network? Making that connection is the key to engaging your base. Without it, you’re like the proverbial two ships passing in the night.

Now there’s a great new resource to help you find that point of connection. Marketing innovator Seth Godin, who is constantly proposing new and often provocative ways of looking at the world,  asked 50+ creative thinkers to craft a brief essay on the single word that matters most to them, right now. What Matters Now, available as a free download, is the result.

Elizabeth Gilbert writes on ease, nonprofit marketer extraordinaire Mark Rovner covers timeless (principles) of effective communications, and Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Making it Stick, dig into change. These are just of few of the perspectives you’ll gain in investing the hour or so it takes to devour What Matters Now.

Read this e-book today for the insight and inspiration you’ll need to make these critical connections in 2010.

P.S. Seth’s compilation and release of this e-book is a great example of building engagement. He invested his time and effort to ask 50+ friends to contribute their points of view, edited and released the book, and is now promoting it to his own enormous following. But he’s not alone. He has 50+ well-connected colleagues, each of whom has her own set of relationships, who are doing the same. And so on, and so on….

P.S. Learn how to craft a compelling story for your org in 8 words or less. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes, Internal Communications, Strategy | 0 comments
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Earthjustice Packs a Visual Punch -- Picture Worth 2,000 Words

Take a good hard look at this stellar example of a picture worth far more than 1,000 words.

Believe me, this approach is a welcome reprieve for your network from the endless narrative they're fed from most organizations. Visuals (especially photos) tell more of a story so facilitate the learning process, and are easier to remember and associate with facts. Plus photos like this one pull heartstrings, tweaking emotions as well as reason. We want to make sure these adorable kids in grass-stained jeans stay okay.

Dare to try something different. Replace some of the content you're crafting today with a photo or other visual. Your network will appreciate it, and respond accordingly. Just ask Earthjustice.

P.S. Be first on your block to get soon-to-be-released 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report when you subscribe to the Getting Attention e-update.

Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Taglines | 0 comments
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Music video fan or not, you’ve probably heard about hip-hopper/producer Kanye West’s bad-boy behavior at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) on Sunday evening. (Video here if you don’t see it above.)

West jumped on stage as country singer Taylor Swift had just begun her acceptance speech for best female video, grabbing the mike from Swift to attest that Beyonce deserved the award.

Swift was so rattled she couldn’t continue but the show moved on. Of course the cameras focused on Beyonce in the audience who looked astonished then immediately rose to give Taylor a standing ovation. Great move, Beyonce. Because if you or your organization is taken on by a crazy advocate, you are stained by that crazy behavior or approach. The best response is to separate yourself as far as possible.

But Beyonce did even better. When she won the Video of The Year Moonman for ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),’ she said a few words and then invited “Taylor to come out to have her moment.” You can see it here. Win-win. Not only did Beyonce show herself to be more a star than ever via taking the high road, but in doing so she turned around what had become ugly into something positive. That’s effective crisis communications!

Here’s what your organization can learn from Beyonce’s quick response to a potential disaster:

  1. Act quickly — that’s when your response really counts.
  2. Establish distance between your organization and any crazed fan or advocate that’s supporting you.
  3. Make sure your response is right on target — there’s no room for correction. Be prepared.
  4. Take the high road — you’ll win every time. Get down and dirty along with your “opponent” and it’s likely you’ll stay wallowing in the mud.

Is your organization poised to turn a messy situation around? If not, it’s time to sit down, envision possible crisis likely to emerge, and how you’ll take them on — now!

Nancy Schwartz in Crisis Communications, Fresh Takes, Nonprofit Communications | 4 comments
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Best Time to Send Out Your E-News -- An Aha MomentThis is in the "why didn’t I think of that" category, and I had to share it with you pronto.

Like me, you’ve probably heard 10 or more definitive takes on the best time to get e-mail readers (of your alerts, e-news, online fundraising, surveys….) to open and digest your missives.

For the bi-monthly Getting Attention e-news (subscribe here), I’ve always had success in late morning sends to make it easy for readers from coast to coast. I send the e-news out on Tuesday or Wednesday, figuring those are the days when 1)there’s time on either side; 2)no Friday pressure to get stuff done before the week’s over, and none of Monday’s to push through an overflowing in-box; and 3) (I hope) the desire for something different than the work readers have been doing week to date.

How about this for a brainstorm? Look at when folks subscribe to your email list for the best time to reach them. Hat’s off to the folks at Marketing Sherpa for researching this phenomenon (in a more specific context of how to get the most opt-ins in response to your e-news confirmation email).

Better yet, extrapolate this to figure out when is the best time for an e-campaign for online donations to a specific campaigns, post new blog entries and so on. Those are the times your people are doing what you want them to do. Make it easy for them to do it. Meet them on their time.


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Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment

Fresh Takes Goes to ParisThis new bridge is refreshing, delightful and a definite destination for me next time I’m in Paris. The photo alone made me do a double take.

This fantastically imaginative design pushes the envelope — hard. Pedestrian and auto traffic move up and down, in addition to from one side to the other, creating an absolutely new shape for a bridge.

Your Takeaway — How can you change what you’ve been doing the same way forever, to make it absolutely intriguing for your audiences?

Bridge alert thanks to the NY Times.

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Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes, Grants and Other Funding, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 0 comments

Introducing Fresh Takes -- Coming to you when they come my wayWelcome to Fresh Takes, my as-available picks of great resources, fresh ideas and inspiring models. I promise you this read will be as nourishing and satisfying as that delicious salad you had last summer.

Here goes —
1) Marketing adventurer Katya Andresen shares two nonprofit case studies on the value of ad hoc, informal focus groups (she calls it "conversational marketing"). With a modest effort and minimal cost, your organization can build a one-time or (even better) ongoing audience advisory group (or two, or three), and get their vital perspective as needed. They’ve volunteered so it’ll reinforce their loyalty, while you get immediate insights from the field. Win, win, score.

I just executed an online survey for members of a client organization, and asked participants to share their contact info if they were interested in serving on an informal advisory board. More than 40% of participants (a self-selected group, of course) said yes!

2) Boston cause marketer Joe Waters gives his take on how to refresh tired marketing and programming, like MS’ Jerry Lewis Telethon. Joe’s recommendations:

  • Intermingle the new with the old — build from the brand equity (aka bread and butter) of what your audiences know, but innovate from there.
  • Go beyond cutting edge to cut to the bone — show audiences that your vision and passion goes beyond your marketing, and is core to your organization’s work. Here’s Joe’s hard-hitting example:
    • "At my own job, I often combine talk about cause marketing with education on some of the the unique, creative things the hospital does to live up to its mission of delivering "exceptional care without exception.Things like a new cancer care facility that consolidates our cancer services in one building so patients have access to the best care without a three-block hike from radiology to their doctor’s office.  Things like we’re the only hospital in the country to have an on-site food pantry because we found that being sick is only one of the problems affecting our patients."

BTW, I’d love to hear your fresh takes. Email them to me and I’ll share them with Getting Attention readers.

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