Digital communications in the non-profit environment is demanding. Resources are tight, and expectations are high. This is especially true on donor-funded projects, with short timelines and teammates sometimes working together for the first time, often entirely remotely. You, the comms professional, are trying to maintain calm in a sea of digital noise. At Big Blue, we feel your pain.
On international development projects, digital communicators must wear several hats. They manage communities, tell stories, campaign, and respond to insights.
To do this, you want to use the power of social, visuals, and online networks, but you struggle for buy-in from funders and team leaders.
You know how to help your project communicate faster, wider, and more visually. But you face resistance from teammates and funders who may not yet the value of comms investments.
You have powerful systems and workflows, but these are received with varying levels of enthusiasm.
What dominates our discussions with digital communicators?
Technology, social, and stories…
Across cultures and sectors, we hear digital communicators facing similar challenges on international development projects. Here are some top conversations with digital comms professionals in 2018.
Digital communicators are connectors and modernisers. The world is moving social, visual and mobile. This means that digital communicators have an increasingly important role to play in the success of development projects, but teammates and funders may not see that yet. Your practices and workflows can make communication faster, cheaper, and safer. Communicators have a vital role in the digital transformation of companies and projects. You can be the energy that pulls projects into the future, but you need to make a strong case for comms.
Bring animation, film, visuals, and sound. These lead to more engaged communities, better presentations, shorter proposals, and lower language barriers. Increasingly, comms professionals want to incorporate short social media animations/videos to communicate data. Meanwhile, field staff are turning mobile phones into digital storytelling tools.
The right comms targets, indicators, and results are important. Digital communicators are often working on projects with unclear plans and unhelpful indicators. Indicators often focus on incomplete pictures -- ‘number of retweets’ -- instead of meaningful interactions. Instead, comms targets must be closely aligned with overall project objectives.
Donors/funders need to care about digital communications. Comms professionals are often disconnected from donor teams. This leads to lack of awareness of comms achievements. Instead, try to connect with donors. Create regular comms reports that are part of the project conversations/meetings/updates. Show how comms supports the project vision.
‘Make it pretty’ is an excellent opportunity. Yes, digital communicators are sometimes asked to make something pretty. Relish it. ‘Make it pretty’ really means ‘Make it stand out’ or ‘Make it impactful’, and you can do that.
Your team needs you to be a firm, kind editor. Editing can be challenging. No one thanks editors. But editing is vital. Your team needs editing/approval structures. Seniors and experts need to be OK with edits to overtly technical or unclear content. Make the case for clear, compelling, direct, concise communications. Set the tone, voice, and messaging at the beginning of your project.
Other discussions with digital comms professionals
Digital transformation: Where does a team start? What role do digital communicators play?
User experience: How design/tone/message need to be crafted in 2019.
Accessibility standards: How do they influence design?
Changing audiences: Baby boomers, generation X, generation Z, millenials.
Remote working: International development project teams are increasingly remote and digital. How can communicators help teams get the best out of the new working environment?
What else is on your mind?
What else are you digital communications experts facing on international development projects? Tweet, email, or fill in our Contact form.
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