We examine best practice for clear and calm communication in the midst of a pandemic
Across voluntary and private sectors, coronavirus has forced leaders to make their position clear to both internal and external stakeholders – a real test of outreach and communication skills for charity digital leaders. Many charity leaders may also want to plan for any unforeseen circumstances. Taking a proactive approach to outreach and communications, we’ve put together best practice tips on outreach and communications.
Best practice for digital communications and outreach includes getting a strategic mix of owned, earned, paid, and influencer marketing. According to Forbes magazine, digital communications and outreach strategies start with considering integrating efforts related to:
The combination of the media outlets can underpin charity digital media and outreach strategy, as each type should reinforce the same message. Equally the split between media types ensures that charities cover most digital grounds.
For charity digital leaders looking to brush up on communications strategy, the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown is an opportunity to develop or enhance emergency and ongoing digital communication plans. Online resources are available to help charity digital leaders draft plans. The CharityComms website features a digital toolkit and template in preparation of communication emergencies.
Rallying to raise the alarm over the disappearance of funding due to the coronavirus, charities have issued emergency appeals for funding. Charity digital leaders issuing online statements have been brave and honest: “We have been reassessing our budget forecasts and frankly the impact of the coronavirus on us is going to be big and will last for a while. The vast majority of our income comes from events and travel. We run our own events, including pub quizzes and walking tours for tourists, sold through Air BnB, and fundraise at UK music festivals," said a representative of Child.org.
Other charities have taken a similar digital communications approach to the emergency. Age UK Camden has set up an emergency appeal for users of its befriending services – essential for older people living alone, the service provides support for those in isolation. The online appeal has been honest and direct in asking for help. During an emergency, successful digital communications are genuine, ensuring supporters have a clear picture of how to help.
Translating from the marketing and communications industries, outreach means seeking out groups with shared interests – essentially to gather publicity, support, engagement, and donations for charities. Social media is the perfect vehicle for increasing outreach because of its ability to seek out and engage audiences. For charity digital leaders, some of our top tips for increasing outreach include:
Best practice for charity digital leaders includes first, do your homework on influencers, thought leaders, and voices in the sector which align most with values, vision, and action. Once chosen, influencers can leverage their audience to charity causes. Sprout Social reports that 89% of one survey showed that influencer marketing was equal to, or exceeded networking reach. Charity digital leaders can also take advantage of the coronavirus lockdown – many new influencers are now emerging as at home fitness coaches, chefs, DIY, DJs and teachers. This could be an opportune moment to partner with influencers as they enter homes en masse.
The next best practice tip is around the social media ‘click’ and response factor. Successful outreach content is a two-way relationship – getting audiences to interact, click, and respond. Digital content can ask audiences to vote, participate in quick quizzes, and invite responses. Successful explicit content can then be used to track outreach and engagement.
Charity digital leaders don’t need to look farther than their websites and local communities. Even before the coronavirus lockdown, we have featured successful grassroots movements which have gone viral. A key element to turning charity causes into a viral grassroots movement is shareability. For charity digital leaders aiming to increase outreach, the easier it is to promote, share, and exchange ideas related to the cause, the quicker the spread. Earlier, we featured grassroots movements that included digital toolkits for organising events; charities which have branded packages directly on websites for fundraisers; and shareable hashtags which encourage engagement.