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From the mailbag: Non profit boards as the boss

June 7th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Collaborations

Mailbag As I think you know, one of the perks of my job is that I get to travel the globe, talking with conference/convention audiences about marketing, branding and social media.  After a presentation, I take a lot of questions but invariably, I get a few via e-mail when I get home.

So…it occurred to me that since I am going to respond to the e-mail — I might as well share both the question and the answer here as well.  Here's one I got this Spring…

Hi Drew-
 
I attended your session last week at the SMART Conference – one of the best ones I’ve attended in years because it’s had me thinking for days.
 
The question I wish I’d asked at the time (if I’d thought of it then…) is: most of the folks in the room work for nonprofit organizations and their boards of directors are their bosses.  Are there special considerations or questions that should be asked of a board before undertaking social media? I don’t have to get my board’s permission about what I say when the Lions Club invites me to be their noon speaker, but they might feel entirely differently about something I post on the web linking to our website.

Looking forward to your answer!

And my reply:

Thanks for your question.  I think it gets to a bigger picture issue, actually.  Whether you work for a non profit (and deal with a board) or work for a for profit and deal with the C-suite — like with any marketing — you need a strategically thought through plan.  So you wouldn’t or shouldn’t be doing anything via social media that would be a surprise to your board.

I would think your key messages and communications strategy (what to say to whom, etc.) would be the same.

One of my biggest worries when it comes to social media and how organizations use it is that they believe it should be this magical add on that is somehow separated from the rest of their marketing effort.  I think it only works long term if it is woven into the rest of your communications plan.  It's just another tactic, really.

That’s why I think it needs to be part of a larger communications plan — rather than a stand alone.  Once management or a board understands the entire plan (with key messages etc) then they shouldn't care very much about HOW you get the message out.  The vehicle becomes almost irrelevant (unless it's off target) and because they have confidence in the overall plan, their concerns about any tactic, including social media, are immediately reduced.

Did I answer your question?  If not, let me know and I'll take another swing at it!

Thanks,

Drew

How would you have answered the question?

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Jessica

    This was a great answer, Drew.

    And it doesn’t just apply to non-profits and boards. The same can be said for anyone approaching their committe or executive board with regard to the planning and distribution of marketing messages.

    The vehicle is moot, as long as the target market is there and messages are in line.

  • Phil Wrzesinski

    I agree, Drew. Social Media is simply a tool for communication. The message is the message, regardless of where or how you spread it.

  • casus telefon

    The same can be said for anyone approaching their committe or executive board with regard to the planning and distribution of marketing messages.

  • Drew McLellan

    I concur with all of you — and I guess that’s my point. Everyone assumes that Social Media has changed the basic framework of the game. But really, whether you are a for profit or not for profit — it is just one more tool.

    But the overarching rules (have a plan, be consistent) are pretty evergreen and haven’t been altered by the emergence of this new choice.

    Drew

  • Chanel

    That’s a good point — just all of this publicity around the “controversy” has to be good for her book. I wonder if that was part of the plan all along?

  • Chanel

    The same can be said for anyone approaching their committe or executive board with regard to the planning and distribution of marketing messages.

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