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Four simple ways to join up your comms

25 November 2011

Being consistent across your communications is key, says charity copywriter Trina Wallace

Doing more with less.

Thanks to budget cuts and lack of funding, that’s what charity communicators have to become expert in.It’s because while comms teams in many charities are shrinking in size, the work they have to do is increasing.

The online world of social media, for example, has opened up a whole new platform for charities to communicate from.Choosing which aspect of your charity’s communications to focus on is crucial because, with limited resources, you can’t do everything.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure your communications are consistent and that your work is joined up with what’s happening across your organisation. That way, you’re making the best use of your time, not doubling up with colleagues’ work or creating more for yourself. And, vitally, you’re making the best use of donors’ money.

Here are four simple ideas for joining up your comms that can have lasting impact.

  1. Audit your website. It’s essential that your online and offline comms match up. If not, they undermine your organisation and its cause. While a leaflet might have just been published, website copy covering the same issue could have been written a year ago, using a different tone of voice, language, facts and statistics. A biannual audit of your website will help make sure your comms are consistent.
  2. Have gatekeepers. Case studies and spokespeople must be well looked after. They’ll be annoyed if you phone to ask them to talk to the media about one thing, and two days later a colleague calls for quotes about the exact same issue for a fundraising mail out. To avoid this, no matter how big or small your organisation, assign a member(s) of your team to manage the relationship with them.
  3. Use social media contacts. It doesn’t matter how many “likes” your charity has on Facebook or followers you have on Twitter, if you’re not engaging with those people, the numbers are meaningless. One way to do so is to ask people if you can directly contact them to help you out with your comms work. Someone who tweets about a problem your charity has helped them overcome could become a media representative for your cause. A person who writes a post complaining about an issue on your Facebook wall could become your best online campaigner.
  4. Know what’s happening in other teams. There’s nothing more stressful than being given a last-minute deadline to deliver a communications project for an event your events/fundraising team has known about for ages. Keep an up-to-date diary of major events your charity is involved in and ask colleagues to let you know well ahead of time if they need your help with anything. Or keep the diary in a shared folder and ask colleagues to update it.

What are your top tips for keeping your comms consistent, and for joining up work across your organisation?

Trina Wallace

copywriter and editor, freelance

Trina Wallace is a copywriter, editor and communications consultant with around 14 years’ experience in the charity sector. She has worked with over 70 charities, including Cancer Research UK, Rethink Mental Illness, Alzheimer’s Society and Oxfam. Trina specialises in writing audience-focused communications that inspire people to take action.