Showing posts with label community relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community relations. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Media Success for Sporting Clubs

  My recent presentation to 23 sporting clubs in Australia's national capital, Canberra. The seminar was sponsored by the ACT Government's sports and recreation program.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Community Radio Can Be Powerful PR

Australia is rich in radio.  But community radio stations rarely feature in PR and media relations plans. And that's a pity because community radio covers a lot of territory and reaches a lot of people in this country.  

It is estimated more than 4.5 million adult Australians listen to community radio stations every week.  That makes them an effective way of channelling campaign messages to grassroots and often committed audiences.

Community radio caters for many interests including community, multicultural, Indigenous and religious broadcasters. And like its commercial cousin community programming includes a stew of  music, news, current affairs, lifestyle and local content.

Although bigger stations may have a full-time station or program manager, volunteer broadcasters who give a few hours of their time each week are the lifeblood of stations.  As well as their broadcasting value these volunteers are often activists in their own right who can provide word of mouth and other engagement opportunities beyond the reach of the station. 

Here are the websites of peak and other bodies where you can learn more about Australia’s community radio sector:

Community stations even have their own news service. A small team of dedicated journalists run National Radio News from Bathurst in NSW supported by communications students at Charles Sturt University.  Their three minute news bulletins are syndicated to local stations across the country.

Many years ago I was a part-time community broadcaster.  That plus recent experience of working with a host of community stations has convinced me that volunteer radio can be an important medium in a PR project.

What has been your experience of community radio?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Open Government: The Canadian Way

Recently I met Canadian Chris Moore, the  Chief Information Officer for the City of Edmonton.

Chris is spearheading  efforts to deliver “Open Government” to the City’s citizens.  That means making the processes and data held by Edmonton's agencies more available to people …and in easily accessible forms.

The City of Edmonton is the fourth municipality in Canada with open government initiatives rooted in the IT department.  Chris’ measures include crowd sourcing new ideas and launching an Iphone app to allow citizens to easily report graffiti and potholes around the city to a municipal call centre. 

Chris has over 25 years of IT experience and has only been in his current job around 18 months.  Based on his experiences - which I’m sure have involved many bureaucratic struggles - he identifies three conditions as necessary in any efforts to make government more open.

  • There must be support from the top which means political  and CEO backing.
  • Administrative arrangements must support the move to change.
  • There must be genuine community engagement with peers, staff and with residents.

Chris blogs Edmonton’s Open Government program here.

Follow the Australian Government’s progress on Open Government here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Community Relations Will Be The Emerging PR Discipline in 2010

In 2010 and beyond our communities will face significant, planet altering issues. And the irony is that right now often we can't even agree on the causes of these issues let alone articulate their solutions.

Climate Change, the Global Financial Crisis, Terrorism and other problems demand an response now. Yet at the same time we know that their solution will involve all of us for generations to come.

That is why in 2010 we are likely to see community relations emerge as a distinct PR discipline similar to how investor relations emerged in the 1990s. Community relations is the art and craft of sharing information and talking to communities to solve problems that affect people with common interests. In the future it will involve:
  • Actively listening to our communities through research, face to face discussion and what people say on social media platforms.
  • Educating people on the key dimensions of issues because the ones we face invariably are complex and have more than one dimension.
  • Presenting a vision for the future with a mix of facts, figures, case studies, projections and other data and communicating with logic and emotion in language and imagery that are easy to grasp.
  • Adjusting corporate behaviours and responses when the wisdom of the crowd, the state of the economy and the health of our planet tells us that things plainly are not working.
  • Persuading our organisations to have the courage to take a leadership position on the tough issues and continuously communicate what we must do with conviction and clarity.
This new breed of community relations is more than assembling media relations, social media, direct marketing and other traditional channels into yet another PR or marketing plan. Rather the new style community relations is likely to involve a whole new way of thinking, strategising, listening and delivering our communications.

Communicators hang on. Not only are the channels we use changing, the philosophy of what we do is about to undergo a tsunami-like shake-up.

Friday, October 30, 2009

10 Steps To Engaging Communities

In recent weeks I have been working on a major conservation project which is in response to climate change. It is as much about people and communities as it is about science and data.

No matter how compelling or frightening the data may be, governments still need to convince people they need to act in the face of challenging circumstances. This means consulting them, getting their input and then fashioning a response individuals, communities, business, government and others can act on.

Often community consultation involves a series of inter-locking steps:
  • Identifying stakeholders and individuals who wield influence
  • Identifying local attitudes, aspirations and concerns
  • Helping those affected understand what it is proposed, how it will improve things and when things begin to happen
  • Providing opportunities for community feedback and involvement throughout the project
  • Keeping people, especially key people, continually informed
  • Incorporating feedback into planning and subsequent actions and, as importantly, telling people you have done so
  • Communicating milestones and outcomes
  • Simplifying communications yet providing access to detailed data if people want it
  • Frankly acknowledging setbacks and disappointments
  • If people have to change behaviours, providing information when they need it and how they need it and offering ongoing encouragement
Above all build flexibility and persistence into your own mental mindset.

Things rarely go to plan 100% of the time in community consultation, coalition building and communications. After all we're dealing with people - just like us - and that's just the way it is.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Not For Profits Face Tough Marketing Challenges

In July 2009 the Centre for Social Impact, the Fundraising Institute of Australia and PricewaterhouseCooper released Managing in an Uncertain Economy. This 24 page report outlines how Australian not for profits are handling the downturned economy.

It concludes that:

  • Incomes of not for profits are declining but government funding is stable.
  • Incomes are reducing at the same time as costs are rising.
  • 30% of not for profits have taken measures to reduce costs and more plan to do so in the next 12 months.
  • Larger organisations are faring better. Probably because they have more reserves, are better known and so far they have been more proactive in introducing cost saving measures.

The report states that marketing and raising brand awareness will be priority items on the to do lists of many charities and volunteer groups as they head into 2010.
  • Many will put more emphasis on winning government funding so government relations tools and tactics will increasingly feature in their marketing mix.
  • About a third of organisations plan to upgrade their websites and 35% are planning to improve communications with stakeholders.
  • Many are considering collaboration or partnerships with others but very few would consider a merger.
  • There will be a greater call for volunteers as one way to meet increased demand for services as staffing levels either remain static or drop.

The PR and marketing implications from this study are stark.

In the coming year not for profits need to develop and implement simple, cost effective marketing efforts that deliver both dollars and volunteers. That's if they
intend to continue to offer the same level of services their communities have come to expect ... and keep the doors open and the lights on.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Power of Community Relations

Smart organisations instinctively know their survival is linked to their community. And that long term success depends on their relations with other organisations and individuals in the areas and environments in which they operate.

Those same organisations invest time, money and effort in community relations programs and continually look for ways to link to their communities. Effective community relations can increase their visibility and influence and help their bottom line by fending off unwarranted restrictions or criticisms.

Effective community relations gives them a "license to operate".

The University of Canberra apparently understands the power and importance of community. In the past 12 months it has embarked on a program aimed at drawing it closer to those living in Australia's national capital and the surrounding region.

What's attractive about the University's approach is it is simple and seems to be effective. For example this year the University:

  • Entered a team in the Mothers Day Breast Cancer Walk joining around 4000 locals to raise awareness of this critical women's health issue. The team's brilliant orange T shirts announced their presence and the University won the award for the education institution making the biggest contribution on Mothers Day to the cause in Canberra.
  • Is sponsoring (for the second year running) a competition to encourage the development of young Canberra film makers in their final year of school. Run in conjunction with the Tuggeranong Arts Centre the sponsorship connects the University to local schools and, importantly to influential personalities in Canberra's arts community.
  • Has established a Canberra Award to acknowledge students who undertake an active program of personal development over the course of their university studies. Through the award students develop their skills by a combination of academic work, paid work experience or voluntary participation in community activities. At graduation they get a certificate of achievement which in today's tough employment market could be just the thing to make them stand out from other job seekers.
The community relations program seems to be cutting through. Along with vigorous marketing efforts, this year both the University's domestic and international students enrolments are well up.

(Disclosure: My partner works at the University of Canberra)
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