It was just a few years ago when words “convergence” and “integration” emerged onto the scene. Until that time in the non-profit world, Media, Donor Development, Public Relations, and Creative were each unique disciplines that operated independently of one another.
Because agencies typically specialized in a single discipline, it would not be unusual for a single organization to have a media production company, a fundraising agency, a creative agency and a public relations firm. In fact, this model often remains the case today – but the world is changing. Read on…
With the advent of the Internet and Digital technology, amazing new opportunities began to unfold. Today, we can reach people we could never reach before through the Internet — at an affordable cost; we can deliver radio and television programming to personal computers and mobile devices; we can build active and engaged communities through social media; we can now use content for multiple purposes on multiple platforms.
But, with these great new opportunities came some new challenges. Messaging and technology began to converge and the integration of multiple communication platforms is now a necessity. This requires a different way of thinking…
The Internet requires organizations to respond more quickly to inquiries; digitally delivered programming requires an intentional strategy to enable viewers and listeners to easily respond; social media requires a higher level of transparency and greater frequency of communication.
Today non-profit organizations require an integrated set of services to support the communication ecosystem:
Branding: What do people think of when they think of you?
Every organization needs to be intentional about its brand. Brands happen… but an organization has the opportunity to choose what their brand will be. A brand is not a look or a logo — these are the results of the brand. A brand is an unfaltering promise your organization makes to it benefactors, its donors, its stakeholders, and the public. The more the promise is true, the stronger your brand will become. It is important that the brand promise be a singular focus that permeates every level of the organization’s communication. The way that brand promise is communicated is the organization’s brand essence.
Donor Communication: What is your unique and compelling vision?
Nowhere is the need for a clear brand essence more significant than in an organization’s donor communications. This is where the Brand Promise needs to come to life, in terms of an ongoing and compelling vision. People want to give to a clearly defined cause and a compelling vision. Donors look for organizations where they can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others through their prayers and financial support. The opportunities an organization provides need to be communicated consistently through multiple platforms — always utilizing a consistent brand essence.
Media: Who do you really want to reach?
Once an organization has a clearly defined brand, the brand essence needs to be communicated through multiple media platforms. There are three distinct types of media:
- Owned Media: Marketing channels an organization owns and controls (produced content, website, donor direct mail, donor email, mobile site, blog, social media, etc.)
- Earned Media: When media or individuals voluntarily share an organization’s content or talk about its brand (articles, interviews, mentions, shares, posts, reviews, etc.)
- Paid Media: Where an organization invests to grow their audience or raise awareness of their brand (TV, radio, cable, streaming, direct mail acquisition, email acquisition, display ads, paid search, retargeting, social media ads, paid content promotion.)
It is important for an organization to choose the correct media strategy, mix, and specific outlets to appropriately reflect their brand, achieve their objectives and reach their goals.
Creative: What is the message behind the design?
Creative is more than just design. Design is a component of creative development that also includes development of the brand essence. Creative has to do with using the correct message, tone, mood, color, and style to develop a brand essence that accurately represents the brand and communicates the brand promise.
Public Relations: What at your organization is worth talking about?
Modern day public relations is more than press releases, interviews, and special events. PR is now fully integrated into the social media stream where shares, likes and mentions are the commodity. Whenever there is something worth talking about at an organization public relations invites the world to be part of the conversation. Public relations is often overlooked by non-profit organizations, yet it is one of the most powerful ways to communication brand essence and build brand awareness. Investing in a well-orchestrated PR program can generate significant goodwill, organizational engagement, and even donor acquisition.
Digital: Are you making the most of your resources?
The digital world today provides opportunities that were only dreams just a generation ago. Most non-profit organizations are under-utilizing the digital tools and resources available today. There is no more cost-effective way for an organization to communicate its brand than through multiple digital platforms. Not every digital platform is right for everyone, but there are millions of people receiving digital content every day from multiple platforms.
Bringing it all together…
Today every aspect of an organization’s communication has converged into a single integrated multi-platform ecosystem; each dependent on the other to be healthy and effective. All of the individual platforms are connected digitally and synergistically work together. A successful organization will understand the power of convergence and integration as they communicate their compelling vision and brand promise.