Relational trust – the trust built up between an organization and its constituents – is instrumental in any organization’s success.
Over recent years, companies have started to work harder to develop a dialogue between themselves and their customers. When performed with sincerity, this two-way communication – this relational trust – leads to successful partnerships where companies provide the goods and services their customers want.
When a company or organization only pays lip service to community outreach, say, seeking their constituents’ feedback and then promptly ignoring it when making decisions, the organization damages the relational trust and may find it difficult or even impossible to achieve their goals.
Building relational trust starts with community outreach.
Community Outreach means letting your constituents know all the great things that are happening. Then, listen to feedback about how your constituents view your organization. Below are three steps to get your organization started on the path to continually conducting effective Community Outreach.
Step #1: Develop and implement an effective ongoing communications plan.
An informed constituency means the difference between having the support your organization needs to thrive or having to regularly struggle for resources and success.
Throughout the course of a busy day, expecting your administrative team to remember to communicate the great things that are happening often takes a back seat to focusing on the day-to-day operations.
Having an effective, thoughtful, and implemented communications plan means your customers will know about the hard work and investment of your staff and organization, and that knowledge will make them more likely to offer their support and patronage.
Step #2: Learn about what your community thinks of your organization.
What does your audience want to hear and learn from your organization? Have you ever asked them? Without knowing what your audience wants to know, you won’t be able to craft effective communications. Reach out to your audience for feedback about what they want to know about your organization and what you do.
There are a variety of ways to reach out to your audience. Here are just a few examples:
- Key Stakeholder Interviews
The Key Stakeholder Interview Process begins with identifying a number of key stakeholders related to your organization. These stakeholders include members of your audience who love and support your organization as well as those who may be hypercritical of what you do. After identifying a group of stakeholders, typically between 15-25, one-on-one interviews taking approximately one to one-and-a-half hours are conducted. The results of those interviews are collected, collated, and analyzed to provide a comprehensive document featuring intensive analysis of the valuable qualitative data collected from your stakeholders featuring trends, specific responses, and other points of interest. The Key Stakeholder Interview Process provides your organization with a detailed plan for both the present and the future.
When your organization’s audience is large, a survey can provide a method to generate ideas and perceptions about what your audience thinks of your organization and its products and services. Surveys offer a great first step in beginning to understand your audience and planning your communications. However, keep in mind that surveys can only provide a 30,000-foot view of your organization. You may learn that a certain percentage of your audience has a specific belief about your organization, but surveys often cannot tell you why your audience believes what they do. For that, you will need to conduct more in-depth approaches like the Key Stakeholder Interview process described above.
Using the above methods to learn more about your audience can provide eye-opening results that will help ensure your organization’s future communications provide your audience with the information they need in order to learn more about you and what you do.
Step #3: Offer methods of two-way communication so your community can talk to you.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be an excellent way for your community to offer immediate feedback so you know how they perceive your organization.
Let’s be clear about social networking – it is no longer optional. With over one billion active daily users, Facebook has become a primary method for members of almost every audience to receive news about their friends, family, their schools, favorite companies, and brands. Every organization must have a Facebook account to reach their constituents.
Twitter continues to gain in popularity. Many users rely on Twitter to get up-to-date news on all of the organizations they follow. Twitter also offers its users the ability to send messages directly to your organization, giving your administrative team a method to reach out directly to your constituents.
Do you need help planning your Community Outreach strategies?
edTactics specializes in comprehensive Continuous Improvement for every aspect of school districts including Community Outreach, Facility Planning, Leadership Coaching, and Strategic Communications. We would love to hear from you about your district’s needs and help you guide your schools to success!
Feel free to give us a call at (360) 566-7616 to discuss the services you’re seeking with one of our free consultations! If you prefer, you can also reach out via email.
edTactics will provide you with our professional experience and expertise so your organization can achieve the success it deserves.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Art Edgerly & Eric Jacobson
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