listening

Like many New Yorkers–along with scholars, researchers and librarians—I was outraged to learn that the New York Public Library (NYPL) planned to reshape its flagship research library to incorporate a circulating library. Especially since the obvious outcome would be moving most of the library’s research collection offsite, delaying retrieval requests, making research difficult and diminishing NYPL’s value as a top-line research center.

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Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 0 comments
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How Joedy Isert's Listening Helps Heifer InternationalListening is all the rage right now and for good reason. With an ever-increasing number of communications channels, there’s much more to listen to and the ability to do so.

Most importantly, as I discussed a few weeks ago, what’s said about your organization, leaders, programs, or issues is information critical to your decision making. But, despite the fact that listening IS a must and quite feasible for nonprofits of all sizes to implement, far too many do a poor job of it or don’t do it at all.

Here’s someone to learn from: Joedy Isert (at left), director of branding and communication at Heifer International is a great listener. He emailed me just 15 minutes after I blogged on my vote for Heifer’s Holiday Catalog as the most powerful holiday fundraising campaign out there.

With just a quick but heartfelt email, Joedy thanked me for my post, emphasized how the organization values its donors and other supporters, and shared how he and his Heifer colleagues are similarly touched in “rereading the powerful stories of the lives that have been changed by the simple gift of a cow or goat.”

Joedy made a connection between us in mentioning the Heifer team’s rereading of the catalog’s stories, and in his closing wish for a good holiday wishes for me and my family. So now, although I’ve never spoken to Joedy, I feel I have a connection at Heifer International should I want to develop another Heifer story for the Getting Attention blog or e-newsletter. He’s succeeded in generating one of the greatest benefits of good listening — helping your organization’s story to travel.

Thanks Joedy, for your note and for sharing your story! Keep those ears to the ground.

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

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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Best First Step into Social Media -- Monitoring Your Nonprofit's Reputation and IssuesI had the fantastic opportunity of facilitating a conversation (slides here) on this vital topic at the Communications Network conference recently. Here's the problem we were helping participants to solve:

  • The daily volume of content and conversations created in social media channels – blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more – is huge, and growing exponentially. These conversations were always happening but you couldn't hear them. Now you can.
  • You need to know how they cover your organization, leaders, programs, or issues.This is information critical to your decision making.
  • Beyond listening, you need to respond appropriately, in addition to all your other communications responsibilities. 

Making sense of all the content and conversation out there is challenging, but the right listening strategy and tools enables you to filter out the key conversations.  That's the first step in any effective social media strategy.

Here are three guidelines for effective listening from panelists Larry Blumenthal, Director of Social Media Strategy at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Laura Braham, Web Officer at the Open Society Institute; and Holly Ross, Executive Director of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network: 

  • How to use what you hear: 1) To better serve your networks by knowing what they're saying to others and to you — instant audience intelligence; 2) To respond to and/or engage critics; 3) To stay abreast of the latest developments in your area of work.
  • How to overcome objections that listening is unnecessary: Compile and share online conversation on critical keywords and themes over a
    week or a month. Provide some concrete examples of how not listening or
    participating meant that others spoke for (and defined) your organization. Others speaking out is fine, but your organization's voice should be in the mix.
  • What to listen for and best free listening tools: 1) Google Alerts and RSS feeds (searches blogs, websites) for keywords (org name and URL, issues, leadership names, competitive/colleague org names); 2) Twitter search. Here's more guidance on putting together a one-stop listening dashboard.

Very frankly, avoiding these conversations is just putting your head in the sand. If you do, you're missing hugely valuable insights into the world in which you work and the opportunity to respond to them proactively.I urge you to take these guidelines in hand and get listening today.

P.S. Don't miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update.  Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 1 comment
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