We’re All in the Communications Business

January 27, 2013

Message House workshop“We’re all in the business of communications.”

It’s the number one message Marc Fest drove home at the packed Message House workshop at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County on Friday.

Our team enjoyed seeing nearly 100 executive directors, program staff, fundraisers and communications professionals who gathered to learn the simple and effective Message House tool—in preparation for the Giving Challenge and for more focused and consistent messages shaping any project, initiative, event, or concept.

Marc stayed to spend some time with the Foundation staff after the workshop to share the tool and brainstorm with us.

Here are five important takeaways from both sessions:

  • Always have a seat for communications at the decision-making table, not as an afterthought.
  • Good messages are simple.
  • Develop messaging with others to help build your team, reach alignment about simple and effective communications, and increase the likelihood that your team will use the messages that are co-created.
  • There are two distinct sides of human nature we can appeal to in our messaging.
    1. The altruistic side, which looks for the “big picture message” about why your project or appeal makes a difference in the larger scheme of things. This is your emotional, “goose bumps” message.
    2. The selfish side, which looks for an answer to “What’s in it for me?” This utility message speaks to the personal gain one can experience from giving money, volunteering, or whatever action you are asking your specific audience to take.
  • Despite all of our good work and every good intention, there is likely a chief criticism we will have for the initiative or communication we are addressing. Anticipate that from the beginning and pre-empt the criticism with a positive message.

The Giving Challenge is a fertile ground for practicing the Message House concept: inviting communications to the table, appealing to both sides of human nature, developing messaging with others on your team, addressing the critic’s message, and simplifying it all for your audience with a no-brainer action item.

Download the free Message House template here.

Thanks, Marc. Come back to Sarasota soon, and bring Zeus with you next time. So many dog lovers here…

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


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