Your Organization in the Communication Age: What is Your Story? 
By Marisha Wojciechowska-Shibuya Union of International Associations
Of this I am sure: your organization has a story to tell, a testimony or expert opinions to express, or even, possibly facts and evidence to report on a pressing matter.
Communication is an art, of that there is no doubt. But most of us can still learn to communicate better. If your organization wants to communicate its story and is not already doing so, or it is seeking new ideas to do so more creatively, this article is written with you in mind. And with a few quick pointers, you absolutely can get started and should, because:
1) facts and accurate, reliable evidence are more essential than ever, and we need you to relay what your organization knows and sees of the world;
2) you might think you do not have anyone on your team who can write or that you cannot possibly publish anything at all, but realize that now it is pretty easy to get your story out; and,
3) communicating your story is a powerful way to bring attention to your cause and to help your organization sustain itself, and even grow.
So how do you begin? What is it that you want the world to know about? Your organization has a mission, and is trying to solve a problem; otherwise, there would be no purpose for it. There, you already have your subject!
Why do you want to communicate? Do you want to bring attention to an issue? Do you want to increase your membership? Do you want to enhance your organization’s reputation and standing? Do you want to attract donors or clients? Most likely all of the above, right. But begin with one objective, because that will determine what sort of communication product you produce – i.e. an article, an interview with an expert, or testimonials from your beneficiaries, a photo-log, etc. Afterwards, you can move on to other goals.
Who is your target audience? How much do they know about the subject already? Communicate with a clear sense of who you are ‘talking’ to. Where will you find that audience – e.g. through a magazine, your website, social media, etc.?
Half the battle is won by answering the above questions!
Next, depending on your answers, you must choose how you want to communicate, and in this day and age there are many possibilities. Here are some ideas (but many more exist):
- interview an expert, for instance, a local university professor or a stakeholder, and propose the article to a magazine in your field. There are innumerable online magazines, and they are constantly in need of content;
- write an opinion piece and submit it to a local or national newspaper, or both. Bear in mind that it might be of more interest to an editor if it discusses current news;
- self-publish an article on LinkedIn (click on ‘Write an article’ on your homepage); it even allows you to add charts, photos, videos. Here are a few pointers for publishing online content: rather than draft a big long piece where you pour out everything you know in one go, break it up into a series of distinct 300 to 500-word analyses. For instance, you can focus each piece on a short question around a single, key, visual issue or statistic. Then, work your way backward to illustrate and explain how you reached your conclusion;
- post facts, statistics and/or documents through photos on your organization’s social media accounts;
-and when you really get the hang of it, why not create a blog.
You can find guidelines on how to write or tweet or blog on Google, just type in, “how to tweet/blog/write an article”. For me, the golden rule is to be accurate and truthful. If you are not sure of what you are writing, then don't write it. Because I can guarantee this: what you publish, others will see, and you will be held accountable for it.
Once you have published something, make sure to get the word out: provide the title and link on all your social media accounts, post it on a ‘news section’ of your website and email the piece to your networks. Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your audience and track the viewership statistics if you can: it will make your next story better!
Last piece of advice: keep an archive of all your published material. Think of taking screen shots if it is online and preserve them (note: I learned this the hard way, with a slew of articles that I’d written having vanished from cyberspace when the website was abruptly terminated!). These pieces become part of your organization’s portfolio and will come in handy, particularly in approaching donors and stakeholders or submitting grant proposals.
Now, over to you: find your story and communicate it. The world needs to know.