Some say September is the new January, but to me there’s nothing like flipping to a new calendar year to feel like you have a fresh start. Although many non-profits don’t work on a January to December fiscal year, January can be a good time to check in and hit the reset button. In a recent post, I discussed a couple of key questions to ask yourself during the review/planning process. Today I want to discuss the process of planning a stronger storytelling program in 2015.
Identify Your Themes
When it comes to communications and marketing planning, you have to start with a 10,000-foot view. I like to work on a yearly timeline when I plan, and then break it into smaller pieces as I get more detailed. As you think about the span of a year and your organization’s storytelling, reflect on the following questions:
1) What do you want people to remember/know about your organization?
2) What big ideas/themes do you want to talk about over the course of the year?
3) What fundraising/communications priorities are on your radar?
These questions will help you define your themes, which will serve as your storytelling guideposts. Every story you tell should relate back to the themes you have selected. It’s not unusual to have more than one theme; in fact, I recommend picking two or three themes for the year.
Put Your Themes on the Calendar
After you have determined the broad themes for the year, the next step is to determine when you will highlight each theme in the stories you tell.
For instance, let’s say your organization is a rape crisis center and your themes are: feminism, violence against women, and counseling. Your stories might touch on all of these themes, but there may also be times when you want to highlight one particular theme over the others. This brings in the element of strategy, which is key for storytelling.
To be strategic means you determining which themes you will highlight and when. Here are a couple of ways to do this:
1) Fundraising appeals – perhaps you run particular appeals at certain times of the year and choose your themes in relation to your ask.
2) Holidays/celebrations – your themes could tie into holidays or celebrations. For instance, feminism could tie into International Women’s Day on March 8th.
3) Seasonal themes – change your themes based on the seasons if this fits in with your message.
Once you’ve mapped out your themes, go a level deeper and start to look for the specific stories you can tell that relate to those themes. It’s also good to think about how you will deliver those stories – offline, online, and so on.
Planning your year of storytelling is the best way to stay organized and to maximize your storytelling opportunities!