Guest post by Ryan Turner
One of the glories and terrors of working in public is that you do see if your output means anything to anyone.”
Jenny Holzer, conceptual artist
The act of linking good works, great organizations, and desired audiences requires a strong communications chain forged in relationships. Done well, strategic communications for social good inspire progress, in line with the expectations and needs of interests that matter. Done effectively, successful communications also enables good works to grow, thrive, and extend social change.
Relationships matter, whether it’s the internal connections that create and support organizations, or the external networks that sustain and grow good causes throughout their advocacy, fundraising, service delivery, community building, and stakeholder engagement. Connections reflect of the quality of organizations, their capacity to deliver on the promise of their social good, and their ability to foster support towards sustainable achievement towards their ambitions.
In order for good works to see the light of day, groups must first know themselves well enough to acknowledge what they can deliver to themselves and to others; understand who they aim to serve and why; and appreciate the environments in which opportunities to engage exist. Without a clear sense of focus across all touchpoints, organizations constrict their intentions and messages, and recipients struggle to find and follow avenues for participation.
While good groups build communications capacity that sustains existing relationships, great groups invest in skills and abilities that grow relationships across audiences and influencers. This is especially true as social good efforts continue to expand the language of what’s possible through digital media, online branding, social marketing, native advertising, and personalized branding.
It’s not enough for organizations to create an identity, establish a presence, and define a space online. Organizations must also develop accessible pathways for genuine interactions with, and across, varied communities of interest. These pathways, in turn, must reinforce credible, relevant, purposeful communication as an extension of shared value and mission. More than merely creating buzz, improving visibility, or generating response, organizations focused on good works must decide which communications methods best support their visions of success.
Good works don’t require separate thoughts for communications in online and offline directions, but instead find the best opportunities to integrate channels in a manner most appropriate for their circumstances. This means infusing online activities with the values and dynamics applied to their relationships offline, while bolstering their offline interactions with the curiosity and creativity gained through online participation.
For good groups still unconvinced at the usefulness and soundness of committing to a strategic extension and harmonizing of communications resources across existing and emerging technology paths, one thought to consider: In a world where audiences seek more and better connections with resources that add value to their lives, smart efforts are anticipating, fulfilling, and stoking that desire for attainable great outcomes.
By bridging new ideas and evergreen wisdom around what works, what fails, and what’s possible, social good efforts can extend their roles as relationship catalysts towards greater overall success. The strategic intersection of technology and communications provides an added level of depth, towards a more thoughtful measure of the value of good works all around.
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Ryan Turner provides strategic communications counsel for nonprofit organizations, philanthropic interests, and social enterprise/social innovation efforts in the U.S. and abroad. Learn more about Ryan at http://about.me/ansinanser or follow @ansinanser on Twitter.