Today I finished a three-part webinar training series with the Liberal Communicators Network, a project of the European Liberal Forum and its partners, including the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. This is the second year I’ve assisted with training communications staff at NGOs in eastern and southeastern Europe. They work primarily for think tanks, political organizations, and liberal/progressive advocates in Bulgaria, Romania, Belarus, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, and other nations in the region. (The graphic above is the visual recording of the content marketing and strategy training I did last year.)
As an American nonprofit communicator, it’s always fascinating to talk with people from around the world who share the same professional identity but work in very different contexts and environments. I definitely learn as much from them as they do from me. It was particularly striking this year to talk with the participants from Ukraine while their nation is at war with Russia, and to hear today from the Bulgarians about their government’s collapse (again), happening right now.
With all of these cultural differences, it was also striking just how similar the challenges of the work are. Here are several struggles that the participants discussed during the training over the last ten days that I know American communications directors can fully relate to . . .
- Learning the vocabulary of nonprofit marketing so that you can train others in it and begin using that shared vocabulary is invaluable. Everyone loves the Nonprofit Communications Strategic Planning Card Deck not just because it’s a visual way to build a strategy, but because it’s also a great dictionary for nonprofit marketing and communications.
- News writing is the standard writing style that virtually everyone in this work learns, and yet it is woefully inadequate in so many instances. Understanding the seven different writing styles we use in our sector really helps refocus people on appropriate word choices for the target audiences they want to reach and the communications channels they are using.
- All nonprofit communicators are craving ways to organize the chaos of their work lives. Giving them frameworks, processes, and workflows to customize is a huge leap forward in their ability to manage the work and get it done well.
- So many marketing debates come back to how well you understand your target audience. You can never do too much listening and engaging with the people you wish to reach with your communications.
- Even in the midst of crises like brutal wars, communications professionals in our sector are committed to doing their very best work and improving themselves with professional development, because they know their work matters. It’s always a privilege to be on that journey with them.
Special thanks and love to Boryana Atanassova at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for inviting me and organizing my participation and to Sven Gerst, our always affable and creative training moderator. It’s always a good time working with you both!