After partnering with regional organizations to build an interactive data atlas for the Bay Area, PolicyLink required support to design its communications and engagement strategy. The Communications Assessment and recommendations drew on analysis of web and social media metrics, interviews with stakeholders, and experience with best practices in communicating complex ideas to users through digital platforms.
I'm at home in the world of social media. Facebook, Twitter and other networks help me do my job, stay in touch with my friends and fulfill my daily dose of manatee memes. But constant connectivity has consequences. The writing is on the Facebook wall: social media can impact our lives in ways that conflict with our values.
The region’s most popular gourmet cotton candy experience built its brand through pop-up shops and organic social media promotion. Now the brand has been featured in regional and statewide publications. Support for this small business’ social media included content development, live event support and consulting on how to apply new technologies.
A digital project with grassroots impact, Minnesota Compass relied on a strong digital strategy and high-touch engagement via social media. Application of a content strategy as well as curation, engagement and activation of staff ambassadors resulted in organic growth over four years (e.g., 1000 follows/year on Twitter) and support of long-term project goals (e.g., earned media and sustained funding relationships). The project has been featured in several publications. In 2017 I co-wrote book chapter focused on best practices in Minnesota Compass’ collaboration and communications.
Along with social media, I also managed event logistics, community research and and stakeholder engagement with statewide and regional leaders representing grassroots, civic, business, nonprofit and philanthropic arenas. Our core team worked closely on strategy with regular integration of client, user and advisor perspectives.
Small but mighty, this statewide foundation invests in STEM education across the educational pipeline. While its mission is future-oriented, its website was not. Before beginning a website redesign, I worked with the foundation’s staff and fund development consultancy to articulate the foundation’s key audiences. I sketched out a user flow and, from there, a wire frame to ensure the new website would achieve much more than a simple transition of content. Working on the WordPress platform, I not only managed the switch to a new theme, but also adjusted the timing to take advantage of WordPress’ Gutenberg editor release.
With new navigation and a streamlined content mix, the new website presents a unified visual design, provides the most important information up front and drives visitors toward mission-oriented goals.
While 2017 brought activities and events to the YNPN-TC calendar as usual, a quieter but no less important process took place behind the scenes: strategic planning.
A statewide professional association had the building blocks in place — engaged membership, social media channels and research on its brand. But they needed a coherent framework to bring it all together. Part of the answer: a member journey map tailored for each member persona.
YNPN-TC is known for providing consistent, relatable programming for young nonprofit leaders. However, its brand identity was nowhere near consistent and surveys showed confusion about YNPN-TC’s identity among its core audience. The brand refresh laid the groundwork for a consistent visual and language identity across the organization.
Scrappiness brings its challenges: YNPN-TC’s all-volunteer, working board experiences significant turnover every year as young professionals graduate to new opportunities. However, partnerships with organizations such as Pollen Midwest and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits remain consistent over time. To accommodate YNPN-TC’s fluid leadership model, this project’s deliverables included guides and templates to facilitate easy, consistent adoption over time.
The brand refresh was one part of a multi-stage, sprint-format project I led to assess and improve every area of YNPN-TC communications during 2018. As chair of the Communications Committee, I led a team of volunteers to complete this yearlong project.
Fresh on the heels of the brand refresh, YNPN-TC is updating and elevating its social media presence. New design guidelines equip board members and volunteers to create visually consistent collateral. As a social media manager, I set the tone for the social media channels in preparation for handing them off to the next round of volunteers.
I also led a team to research and create best practice and style guides for social media volunteers. We put this work into play right away for our brand new YNPN-TC Facebook group. While YNPN-TC recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, it has never had a digital commons where members can engage one another—until now. As the project lead, I combined the social media guides, brand standards and research on similar communities to create the group and develop a comprehensive training for the moderation team.
A small nonprofit had a history of community impact and a core group of passionate volunteers. However, after ten months without staff or clear direction, it faced closure. Issues included burnout, lack of connection with a regional network and inconsistent leadership.
An appreciative inquiry research project (protocol development, key informant interviews, and presentation to organization members) provided the emotional boost and practical information with which to write a new chapter in the organization’s story.
Drawing on research findings, I worked with an interim staff member and a diverse team of volunteers as head of a transitional leadership team. We drew on organizational knowledge, emotional intelligence and adaptive leadership to foster a culture of hope, collaboration and future-oriented thinking.
I led stakeholders through collaborative change strategies, including included funders, regional administrative leadership, members and former and current leaders. I also maintained an open channel of communication with outgoing leadership to understand pain points and operationalized responses to prevent recurrence. Over the course of a year, I iteratively managed every function of the organization (financial, technology, human resources, communications, training, engagement, arts) to create systems, build efficiencies, document processes and equip stakeholders to lead each area.
Looking ahead to the needs of the community in years to come, I coached incoming leaders, managed the contractual process and onboarding of new staff and co-created a leadership pipeline including an elections process customized to prevent burnout and support smooth leadership transitions. I closed my term with a new leadership team elected, trained and equipped to collaborate with staff for sustainable growth.