Monday, August 02, 2010

everyone needs a public strategy

Even foundations.

I am a hard core evangelist about organizations developing a public strategy. I believe it works, I think it brings value and I know it can transform a sluggish organization into one that breaks barriers and moves quickly, fluidly and proactively.

The key word is 'strategy.'  Strategy isn't passive or accidental. It requires purposeful, directed thought and planning.  If an organization is strategic, it doesn't 'rest' on its laurels. The work is never sufficient to speak for itself. If left to its own devices, your work can often be misconstrued or misunderstood. Leaving the work to 'speak for itself' assumes your audience knows what your work is saying. 

Do they?  Do you even know who your audience is?

The organization I'm working for now was basically the best kept secret in Chicago. No one knew its mission or vision. Sure, they knew *some* of the work we did.  But they never had the whole picture.  If we let the 'work' speak for itself, we'd still be a best kept secret in Chicago. People would still think we had pools and residences.

What do they know about us now? That we're the largest provider of comprehensive sexual assault services in Illinois; that we've proven experts in the field of early childhood services; that we are an emerging voice for women's economic stability and empowerment. They know we're an organization that fosters women's leadership and an organization that looks ahead and anticipates socio-cultural shifts in order to deliver services faster and better.

How do they know it? They've heard our story in newspapers, blogs, and on tv.  They've heard legislators repeat our story in Springfield; they've read our story in Crain's and other private sector publications. Our board members and high level volunteers repeat our story wherever they go. Our staff, the main disseminators of our brand identity, are on message and can tell our story in whatever elevator they find themselves in.

In a word, that's my job.

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