all advance communications LLC

35-15 84th street 2h
jackson heights, new york 11372

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APRIL 05, 2013




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  • Are you underestimating the power of communications?
    Tuesday Apr 4, 2017

    Busy nonprofit leaders tend to focus on the visible, tactical stuff of communications—the emails and tweets and mailings that go out into the world and bring back donors, advocates, and participants.

    What would be different at your organization if you viewed communications as an essential, universal strategic function instead?

    Thinking of marketing or communications as just a series of externally-facing tactics can be a big missed opportunity, because most of the power of smart communications happens behind the scenes—infusing your entire team of stakeholders with the skills and tools to express a consistent, coherent voice.

    Every person who works for your organization is a communicator on some level, whether they’re building partnerships with peers or relationships with participants or connections with advocates or rapport with potential hires. They need tools and strategic support to work at the top of their communications game, just like they need a computer that boots up properly in the morning and lights that turn on when they walk into the office.

    So what if we thought beyond the websites and brochures and instead treated communications as a key utility underpinning every aspect of a nonprofit’s work and mission?
    What if everyone at your organization looked to your in-house communications team for helpful, expert advice on getting the word out or inviting the world in?
    What if programs, development, HR, board, and leadership could all reach out to one, centralized resource for strategic messaging points or insights about how to engage a key audience?

    It would be transformative.

    Everyone’s efforts would become more efficient and effective. Your programs team would have better tools to recruit and advance your mission. Your board would become more effective ambassadors. You would develop close alignment between what you do, what you say, and how you say it.

    And once you’ve made sure your messages, visuals, and strategies all ladder up to and support your organization’s most critical priorities, you could step back and watch the clarity and focus flow through the communications team to every corner of your organization and out into the world.

    I’m not pretending it’s easy work.

    Assembling a skilled, well-structured team and evolving a culture that treats communications as the lifeblood of your organization is challenging and requires real investment. But wouldn’t it be worth it if you could make clear, effective external communications feel as simple and magical as turning on a light?

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits
  • Needham Joins Final Nike/USL HSG Top 25 With Upset of Longmeadow
    By mschneider - Tuesday Jun 20, 2017

    Source: US Lacrosse Magazine
  • 3 Ways to Hire and Retain the Best Nonprofit Communicators
    Wednesday Feb 15, 2017

    Savvy communications directors with deep expertise and track records of success in larger nonprofits are, in my experience, a bit like the Painted Bunting who unexpectedly took up residence here in Brooklyn recently; rare birds that can be difficult to attract, spot, and head south for the winter too soon. When the right person applies to work for you and stays, spearheading game-changing communications projects year after year, you’ve hit the jackpot.

    Here are three ways you can hire and retain the best nonprofit communicators:

    Want a pro? Hire a pro.
    It sounds funny to say, but if you want an expert communications director, you need to actually hire one. That often means resisting the urge to promote that programs person who you think is a good communicator just because they’ve worked at your org for awhile and “get it.” Try to avoid hiring that great person from the corporate world who comes without nonprofit experience too. Instead, recruit people with solid backgrounds working in nonprofit communications already so they can bring their knowledge of the sector, strategy, and skills with them.

    Kivi Leroux-Miller and I recently collaborated on a study of successful in-house communications teams that revealed that hiring expert nonprofit communications professionals was a critical factor. (Download our ebook “What it Takes to Be Great: The top five factors of successful nonprofit communications teams” here).

    Big team? Invest in a strong second-in-command.
    I recently invited a handful of senior communicators at nonprofit organizations with operating budgets of 100 million dollars or more to meet each other over breakfast at Big Duck and share how their teams are structured. While each nonprofit’s communications team varied in size (from 1.5 to 14 full-time employees!) the directors in the room who seemed the happiest (and calmest) all had one thing in common: a strong second-in-command.

    Senior-level communications pros don’t want want to do it all themselves, and they know it’s not a good use of donor dollars if they do. A strong Number Two gives your communications director the ability to step out of the weeds of managing every project, focus on setting priorities, and work more on the high-value projects. This generates greater value for the nonprofit, who’s likely paying that director a six-figure salary, and pushes down the day-to-day communications work to people who are less expensive, just starting their careers, and need to build these skills. It also provides your organization with a working succession plan if your director leaves.
    ?These Number Two spots are great opportunities to develop rising stars—and a more appropriate place for someone who’s entering your organization from the corporate sector or another department. They can be mentored by the Director while getting hands-on experience assuming management responsibilities.

    Lots to do? Set priorities and be ruthless.
    Communications teams have important strategic work to do: raising awareness, changing hearts and minds, engaging donors or members, recruiting participants to programs, strengthening the brand experience, and more. This work can take years to do successfully and well; it requires planning, budgeting, buy-in,methodical oversight, and execution.

    At the same time, many communications teams also function as an internal agency. They are asked to create flyers for events at the last minute, help a department finesse and send an email out, and more to accommodate projects on short notice. This work is important too, but it’s often reactive and more tactical. It’s the sort of urgent (but not always important) work that eats up time from the important (but not always urgent) work of proactive, strategic communications.

    That seasoned director you hope will build a nest for years to come will fly away fast if she’s burdened with an unreasonably long list of tasks, murky priorities, no resources for managing more production-based assignments, and left without time to advance the projects where she and her team might add the most value.

    In our ebook, “What it Takes to Be Great: The top five factors of successful nonprofit communications teams,” we confirmed that successful communications teams rely not only on a clear set of priorities, but also the support of leadership who empowers them to be able to say no. At my roundtable of communications pros at large nonprofits there was consensus about this, too.

    If priorities aren’t clear, consider labeling every project your department works on in one of these three ways:

    Fire-extinguishing: these projects and tasks are typically urgent, time-sensitive, and often crisis-driven. They tend to be tactical and often have little or no long-term ROI. For example, fixing your board chair’s misspelled name on that big mailing you’re about to do.

    Optimizing: these projects and tasks usually involve making processes, systems, and tools better. For instance, upgrading Constant Contact to something more state-of-the-art and powerful like Salesforce, or building a better website.

    Seed-planting: these projects and tasks are the essence of important/not urgent work. They won’t bear fruit for some time, but when they do, you’ll feel great. For instance, researching and preparing a 3-year plan for your communications team that builds off of your organization’s strategic plan, includes a budget, and culminates by tackling a big project (such as a rebranding you know you should do but can’t happen soon).

    Labeling these projects and tracking them in a project management system like Basecamp (or even on post-its on your wall) will help you get a clearer sense where your team’s time actually goes. Better yet, consider reviewing how many and what sort of fire-extinguishing, optimizing, and seed-planting projects you’re working on regularly with your boss so you can make sure you’re aligned.

    Looking for more? Just reach out.
    If you’re a CEO searching for your own Painted Bunting at a mid-size or larger organization, contact us. We might be able to help.

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits
  • Tapjoy Appoints Seybold as VP Global Communications
    Wednesday Sep 12, 2012

    On Monday, Tapjoy announced the appointment of Patrick Seybold as vice president of global communications and marketing partnerships. The San Francisco-based mobile advertising platform says thatSeybold will be responsible for all of Tapjoy's consumer media strategies.

    Source: Media Post: MAD SF
  • Mickey and Minnie communicate with a little boy in sign language, and it's the sweetest
    By Jessica Sroczynski - Friday Jun 16, 2017

    If you are one of those people who's a little freaked out by amusement park characters, this video will absolutely change how you feel. 

    Olive Crest, a nonprofit whose mission is to prevent child abuse, recently posted a YouTube video of Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto communicating with one of their children in sign language. Afterwards, Minnie gives the little boy a hug and kiss on the forehead. 

    The heartwarming interaction certainly seemed to make the little boy's day. The magic of Disney, in all languages.  Read more...

    More about Watercooler, Disney, Children, Disney World, and Disneyland

    Source: Mashable!
  • Five lessons learned for the coming of the connected car
    By Shaun Kirby - Tuesday Jun 13, 2017

    The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has caused stratospheric growth in the number of connected devices and sensors in enterprises across all industries.It’s estimated that more than 80 things per second are connecting to the Internet, and by 2020 there will be 50 billion things connected to the IoT. Industries such as manufacturing and retail are being dramatically transformed by the IoT, with enterprises adopting technologies like fog computing and advanced analytics, or deploying hundreds of thousands of sensors throughout every aspect of their supply chains to create efficiencies,...Read More

    Source: ReadWriteWeb
  • Managing through game-changing moments
    Tuesday Nov 15, 2016

    That Holy *!*&^%$! Moment

    We’ve all had them: moments when you realize what’s just happened is a game-changer—and you didn’t see it coming. Sometimes the change is internal: a key staff or board member unexpectedly departs, budgets are cut, fraud occurs, etc. Sometimes, despite our best-laid plans, the change is external: a recession, a national crisis, or the political landscape dramatically shifts.

    Of course, we should nurture positive cultures within our organizations, make succession plans, build up cash reserves, and plan for the unanticipated. We should eat well, exercise, look at our phones less, and get a good night’s sleep, too. But this important (not urgent—until it’s too late) self-care is often the first stuff to go during a busy time, or when staff is spread thin.

    After the fact, everybody has an opinion about what might have been done differently—and, sure, we might have done so. But what do you do right now, when the $#%@) has hit the fan?

    Empower individuals not teams

    Nonprofit cultures value buy-in and collaboration. But making decisions slowly and with too many cooks in the kitchen can be devastating during a moment of crisis, especially when others in your space are moving quickly and appear to be better prepared.

    On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, just hours after it was announced that Donald Trump had won the U.S. presidential election, many progressive nonprofits released statements, updated their websites, and sprung into action. Some had the foresight to prepare ‘what if’ scenarios anticipating Trump’s victory, but others hadn’t. What they had was accountable, agile leadership; people who were empowered to make decisions and act fast. They left their slower-moving peers in the dust.

    Scared that the wrong decisions will be made? A bad decision made quickly is better than a better decision made slowly in many contexts. If this style of leadership feels out of whack with business-as-usual at your organization, consider giving people temporary titles and a clear timeline when they hold the seat so it’s clear this isn’t a permanent change (for instance, “Election Response Communications Chief”).

    Prioritize speed and candor over comprehensive communications

    Your organization’s values (deeply-held beliefs) should guide as you decide how to respond and craft statements or other communications. An organization that has transparency as a core value, for instance, shouldn’t hesitate to share what’s known and not yet known with its community.

    Panic and unproductive chatter will fill the void when it’s not clear what’s going on. Communicate with your key stakeholders quickly and as candidly as possible. Don’t wait until you have all the answers or a perfectly polished statement.

    Your organization’s brand strategy should also help you select how you communicate. Use your positioning (the big idea you want people to associate with your organization) as a yardstick for your statements, and be sure the tone and style of your response reflects your nonprofit’s personality, not just that of individuals.

    Learn this time for next time

    Building sustainable, resilient organizations should be a priority for every nonprofit’s leadership team, and unexpected moments are just one of many places where that work pays off, potentially changing a bad game-changer into a good one.

    Make someone accountable for keeping track of the useful solutions and new ideas that bubble up along the way during today’s crisis or moment of significant change. Create a collaborative document your team can add to, with categories such as, “What worked well was...” and “next time, we should…” or “before this happens again, let’s….” Once the dust settles, debrief with everyone involved using this document to guide your discussion, then decide what, when, how, and who will advance whatever is needed before the next unexpected change.

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits
  • Getting heard in the age of media frenzy
    Thursday Mar 30, 2017

    Over the past 15 years (or so) the media and our habits of consuming information have helped to produce a world of seemingly inescapable, fast-paced echo chambers. Now enter 2017, and controversy and scandal are driving a never ending media frenzy.

    Whether or not this is going to settle into permanent new-normal status, it is worth pausing to revisit a question nonprofit communicators have been obsessing over since at least the turn of the century: How do I get my message out amidst all this noise?

    Here are some strategies for getting heard in a period with lots of distractions:

    Repeat and reinforce your campaigns
    If you’re worried that your audience may not be paying as much attention as they normally would, few tactics are as helpful as repetition. Packaging your key messages and initiatives into campaigns of strategically timed communications that reinforce each other across channels and over a series of messages will go a long way toward driving action and making a lasting impression. This means including all of your active channels, from direct mail to SMS, in your campaigns, repetitive use of the same images and basic messages across channels, and timing your various components to launch in short succession.

    Plan strategically, but be flexible
    Recently the only thing that’s predictable is that big, attention-getting surprises will keep on coming. In this context, you need to keep planning your communications strategically and methodically based on when your message is likely to resonate, the messages your audience responds to, etc. At the same time, prepare yourself for the unexpected. Often you need to stick to the plan and roll with the punches—and you shouldn’t be overly reactive. But at times it’s smart to make small changes to your schedule or messaging. For example, we knew in advance that Conservation International’s 2015 year-end fundraising campaign would have to be responsive to the UN climate talks in Paris. We were lucky to know roughly when outcomes would be released, and built wiggle room into our schedule as a result. And because we didn’t know for sure what the results would be, we explored various scenarios when writing campaign content so we would be ready with the right messaging and tone when the announcement came.

    Shift toward the public mood
    If you haven’t done so recently, take a moment to consider what your nonprofit’s personality is. Is there an aspect of your work that feels most relevant to current events? Can you adjust your tone in a way that aligns with content your audience is consuming right now, while still sounding like you? Or, you may be able to adopt language that reflects cultural trends—for example, talking about your work in terms of movement building or using advocacy language like “take action” in response to today’s political climate. One organization that has done this recently is Sanctuary for Families, a domestic violence organization that serves a largely immigrant population in New York. As advocacy has always been part of their work, Sanctuary’s communications have long included bold language. But, as the president’s executive orders on immigration, they’ve leaned into this aspect of their voice in a way that communicates their passion in the face of a political environment that is hostile toward the community they serve. Showing your audience that you know what they care about is a great way to build stronger relationships—and, if your content or tone relates to where your supporters’ heads are at, they will be primed to pay attention.

    Go to the unexpected
    Another strategy is to purposely contradict with your audience is thinking about or how they’re feeling. Imagine this: An environmental organization sends you an email tomorrow with the subject line, “The earth is smiling today.” You open the email, and find a message that addresses the three-year plateau in carbon levels your support helped achieve, then asks you to donate to make sure we can fight back against climate deniers. The seemingly dissonant subject line would get people’s attention, and supporters may even take solace in and appreciate the positive part of the message.

    Up the volume
    As the number of marketing messages we’re bombarded with every day grows and grows, you’re going to need to do more to get your supporters’ attention. That may mean increasing the frequency of your ongoing communications, creating new campaigns, or adding additional components to existing campaigns—increasing the number of emails or social posts, adding a lightbox, investing in paid advertising, etc. Many organizations are hesitant to communicate more out of fear of annoying their supporters, but generally nonprofits don’t communicate as much as they could. In my time working in nonprofit communications (and I’m old enough that it’s been a while), I’ve never seen a notable negative response to an increase in communication. I’ve even seen the opposite—for example, one Big Duck client who’s found that their unsubscribe rates on emails have gone down as we have increased the number of appeals!

    On a different note, if you’re also responsible for your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising I’ll be leading a brief webinar on emerging trends from 2016 fundraising. Registration is free and all the details, including how to register, is online here.

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits