Communications & Engagement: Choose Wisely (Summary: Mtg #4)

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Last week, Creating the Future had its 4th meeting to create our communications / engagement strategy. For background, the following are discussion summaries from the meetings that led up to this one:

Meeting #1: Who will see our messages (whether the intended audience or not)? What do we want those messages to make possible for anyone who sees them?
Meeting #2: What do people need to know / feel / hear / experience / be assured of, for those outcomes to become reality? (Conditions for success)
Meeting #3: Unpacking those conditions for success, what are the dominoes that will create those conditions?

With the richness of the landscape we described in those first few meetings, we shouldn’t have been surprised that there were tons of great ACTION ideas during Meeting #4. (You can watch / listen to the actual conversation at this link.)  As you read the following list, keep these few thoughts in mind:

  1. The ultimate goal of this strategy is that these communications help accomplish our mission – that people everywhere know what it takes to change the systems they encounter, via the questions they ask.
  2. This plan is rooted in engagement and conversation. One of the biggest overarching goals that became clear in our first several meetings was summarized beautifully by Peter Panepento as we kicked off this 4th meeting: Our communications will be “the starting point for conversations we may not even know about, between people we don’t even know.” If all we achieved was that, imagine how much closer we would be to accomplishing our mission!
  3. Our goal is to celebrate what we have in common, not to convince anyone of anything. Our goal is to encourage conversation that brings out the best in people – their compassion, their desire for love, for understanding. Celebrating what we have in common, meeting people where they are with the underlying assumption that we have more in common than divides us.
  4. Top down and bottom up. This initiative will focus on both top down engagement (influencers carrying the conversation into their messages) and bottom up engagement (the living room conversations of regular people).
  5. The stories that people will hear are stories about THEM. The importance of a diversity of stories about a diverse mix of people – age, ability, ethnicity, race, gender, socio-economic status, geography. 

The following is the list of actions we came up with during our time together. Please let us know if there is anything we missed!

• Social media as conversation starter. Using social media posts to encourage conversation, to ask questions, to learn about people’s lives. Posting links AND adding our own observations about the link AND encouraging conversation AND then encouraging others to spark their own conversations via their own social media, whichever platform they may be on.

• Community conversations, living room conversations. Many groups have created templates for these sorts of conversations (OnTheTable.com was noted, an effort initiated by the Chicago Community Trust). Our work could be to provide questions, tools for asking and answering questions.

• Live-streamed “living room conversations” via Zoom

• Advertising – billboards, radio, television. Advertising allows people to see / hear the messages who are NOT in the social media bubbles of our team members. Social media is so segregated, with algorithms often keeping conversations siloed. Billboards, radio, television – these are places everyone sees. These could be great conversation starters. (The idea for 1 minute message at the top of the hour on community radio stations).

• Conferences – as attendees, as speakers, as facilitators. Be where people already are. In addition to conferences for social change advocates, conferences for corporate leaders, for foundations, for educators, for faith leaders.

• Articles in high-credibility periodicals – Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Op Eds in major newspapers and magazines, guest articles / guest blog posts.

• Stories in other entity’s publications / media. In addition to our own media, stories in other people’s media create a “credibility” that is different than our publishing in our own media.

With a list this comprehensive, our next step will be to prioritize which to do first, where to invest our resources including (and perhaps especially) our time and attention.

If you would like to help push the boundaries of what is possible by putting this plan into action, please let us know. There are tons of activities, from a few minutes of posting on social media to larger projects (like compiling the summaries of this journey into a short e-book), and lots in between. We hope you’ll continue to be part of this journey with us, as we change the questions that will change – well – everything!

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