Connecting with other organizations to share communications assets and expertise is a crucial part of your overall outreach strategy – one that facilitates a unified voice capable of resonating with a broad range of people, organizations and communities.
The Patterson Foundation utilized the power of this aligned communications approach to great effect during the months leading up to Age-Friendly Sarasota’s public launch in May 2015. Through a collaborative process among several communications partners lasting several months, news of the initiative’s launch was spread widely across a multitude of channels including print, broadcast and social media.
Here are the key steps taken before and after Age-Friendly Sarasota’s launch that have evolved the initiative’s strategic communications into a collaborative effort – many of which can be applied to your philanthropic endeavor.
Identify potential partners
Partners can be entities that are heavily invested in your work, as well as ones involved in specific opportunities and events. Regardless of the level of engagement, successful partners have traditionally exhibited strong qualities of leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and culture. Once these entities have been identified, connect with them to identify their communications lead or team.
In the months prior to Age-Friendly Sarasota’s community launch, The Patterson Foundation identified each of the key partners engaged in the initiative in order to outline roles and responsibilities.
Meet early and often to align on your message and goals
When working with partners for the first time, it’s helpful to set aside time to meet with their communications staff to introduce yourself and discuss the common goals of your collaboration. Take this time to align on key messages to ensure each partner is equipped with the information they need to accurately relay this messaging to their audience.
Going forward, maintain your relationship and stay on top of the latest updates by scheduling regular check-ins with your partners’ communications teams.
Create an inventory of partner communications assets and opportunities
Alignment meetings are an excellent opportunity to ask partners about the communications tools at their disposal, including social media accounts, websites, blogs, newsletters and other assets. Capture these, along with your other partners’ assets, in a master document that is updated following each meeting with the partner.
Along with communications tools, ask partners about upcoming events and opportunities that would lend themselves to spreading key messages.
Share content with partners prior to sharing with public
As a courtesy, share copies of upcoming announcements, videos, infographics and other content with partners 24 hours or more before releasing to the media and the public. It’s often helpful to suggest ways your partners can share this content with their audiences through their own communications channels.
Age-Friendly Sarasota partners received a courtesy copy of The Patterson Foundation’s press release announcing the initiative’s launch prior to any public announcement. AARP Florida, which had access to the nationwide network of its parent organization, shared the release through AARP’s national bulletin service – announcing far and wide that Florida had entered the global age-friendly movement.
Following these steps will strengthen your relationships with collaborators engaged in your philanthropic mission, opening up new possibilities to reach supporters and those you serve.