Communicating with the community
Good communication is required within your group, amongst the staff/volunteer team, your local community and other organisations with whom you work.
When communicating with your community you need to consider the different ways and methods you will need to use. Not every method is suited to everyone. Some will happily engage with social media/e-newsletter, others would prefer to attend regular meetings or perhaps rely on a weekly or fortnightly newsletter or would like an ad hoc leaflet, letter or poster to inform them.
The key thing to remember is that your role is to ensure that everyone in your community is aware of what you are doing. The best way to understand how your community would like to be communicated with is to ask them.
Here’s some tips to consider when communicating with your community:
- Develop a communication plan so that everyone is clear on what is being communicated and when. Remember reaching out and working with others, councils, community and voluntary organisations will allow you to get your messages further.
- Staying on message is important to ensure consistency and clarity in what you are aiming to get across. The clearer you are the better your audience will hear and understand what you are sharing. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the third sector for training and support in communications and public relations.
- Decide if you need a newsletter and the type of newsletter – whether an e-newsletter or a printed newsletter/both.
- Agree who is going to create your newsletter and find out if they need training and support.
- Ask your community what they would like to see in the newsletter.
- Agree the frequency of the newsletter bearing in mind the number of stories and information that will be shared.
- Check online or through your word processing package such as Microsoft Word if there is a newsletter template you can use.
- Pick the right style and format for you, and make sure to include photographs to break up the text (as long as you have permission from those in the photographs to publish them!).
- Ensure the newsletter does not look or feel cluttered and be as creative and imaginative as you can for your headlines to grab your reader’s attention.
- Get feedback on your newsletter from your readers and make changes to improve the newsletter based on the feedback.
- Marketing materials are an important way to let people know about your event/project. You need to ensure that the materials are easy to read, contain no spelling or grammar errors and have the correct information.
- Get in touch with the local press and issue a press release about your project/event to give it more exposure locally.
- Your funder will have requirements on the logos and details that can be used on all marketing material if you are funded to deliver a project or event.
It is important that the correct logos are used, that the right information is provided and that the funder reviews the materials in terms of their requirements before anything is published. Some funders may not want to be thanked, so check with them first.