GAYLE THORSEN, communications consultant, Minneapolis, Minnesota
What that meant 10 years ago is not what it means today. The shift from paper to screen that’s happening now is just as revolutionary and far-reaching as the shift from voice to paper in the 15th century. And if you still think it’s all about young people–know that one of the fastest growing demographics for social media is the over-forty cohort. (Take a look at AARP’s website and consumer demographics for ipads!)
If communications in the Web 2.0 world seems too daunting for your organization, consider this. There has never before been this range of opportunity for democratic, bottom-up, cross-silo community building. How people are using new technologies to build relationships and energy around common interests turns traditional institutional communications on its head. About time. This is about conversation—not lectures or soliloquies or advertising pitches. This is about magnetizing people around common cause using personal rather than generic appeals. This about an authentic two-way street—one you learn to drive on either now or next year. There’s no ignoring it and no going back.
You don’t have to automatically jettison printed communications or stop issuing press releases. But you do have to think more carefully about whether they’re the best channels for your goals. Strategy rules. It’s even more important now that the field of possible tactics has exploded into a new universe.
I’ve been in the nonprofit communications world for more than 25 years, the last 12 as the communications head for two large foundations: The Minneapolis Foundation and The McKnight Foundation. I was the first community foundation vice president of communications appointed in the country, and helped pioneer issue framing, issue campaigns, and communications evaluation in the philanthropic sector. I’m now a nonprofit communications consultant in the Twin Cities area. My passion is helping organizations figure out how they can use Web 2.0 tools to raise visibility and funds, ignite support for their efforts, empower their partners, and make the world a better place. All within a constrained budget. It’s possible, step by step.
For more details on my background, portfolio, and philosophy, check out the slide show on my LinkedIn profile. Also check out this article on program related communications campaigns I wrote for Foundation News & Commentary.