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climate change efforts

Communication Tactics for Municipalities to Use in Climate Change Efforts

Right now, it’s no secret that climate change is becoming an increasingly crucial situation for municipalities to consider. While it already affects all life on Earth until we combat it, the reality is that so many people are hesitant to even believe in it. Why? Because climate change data can be so hard for people to conceptualize. The spread of misinformation and politics doesn’t help, either.

Another issue that can make it difficult to act on climate change is adapting to the changes made. For example, to lower fossil fuels, the Biden administration aims to make half of all vehicles in the United States electric by 2030. Concurrently, several car manufacturers have greeted climate change efforts by signing the zero-emission by 2040 declaration at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Despite this, though, the U.S. is still running behind on electric vehicles, in large part because government incentives aren’t as generous as they are in other countries.

In a similar scope, governments must adapt their communication tactics to address a diverse audience. However, as diverse as they are, some of the people within that audience might have trouble understanding the point, or they might not even believe in climate change at all. Here are four communication tactics for municipalities to include in climate change efforts.

Communication Tactics for Municipalities to Use in Climate Change Efforts

1. Use Credible Sources

Now more than ever, in a world where “fake news” is a frequently trending topic, people must be vigilant in discerning fact from fiction. This is particularly true in the U.S., where climate change has become so politicized and divisive that governments have gone so far as to remove climate change efforts and regulations that were already in place.

To help combat the issue of both misinformation and climate change, governments must use credible sources, such as climate change experts and scientists, in their communications strategy. These experts can communicate the complexities of climate change in more simple and/or metaphorical terms to be more relatable to your audience. Being relatable to your audience will help them to understand, and getting them to understand will enable or even inspire them to become more involved in their communities and climate change efforts.

Besides helping your audience understand, being relatable is important to storytelling, another avenue municipalities should take in their climate change communications.

2. Highlight Uplifting, Personal Stories

According to a 2020 survey from Digital Third Coast, more than 65 percent of people surveyed have watched more news than usual and are either anxious or overwhelmed by it. To get residents on the same page, governments should be careful to communicate climate change in a personal, positive light. There’s a scientific reason why people like to hear stories that resonate with them. It increases the release of oxytocin, a hormone that makes people feel good.

It’s important to pay attention to mental health in the world of marketing. You want people to feel good about the future of climate change instead of hopelessness. The point of climate change efforts is to get people to act. If municipalities want their residents to care about climate change, they need to inspire them with stories they can connect with, including ones that will inspire their future.

Connecting a climate change message to your community’s cultural values and beliefs is another strategy governments can use to make climate change relatable. For example, say it’s the Superbowl, an annual sports event watched nationally by millions of Americans. The U.S. Government or its municipalities could fund a climate change commercial featuring people recycling during the big game to encourage people to act. The great appeal of commercials is their visuals, another vital tactic to consider in climate change communications.

3. Visualize Climate Change

Because climate change is so visual, residents would benefit greatly from graphics, infographics, videos, commercials, and other visuals to highlight climate change stories and data.

Governments should use Instagram, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn as marketing tools to spread these visuals. Social media is where many residents go to find engaging and informational content. If your municipality isn’t utilizing it in your communications strategy, you should be. It can help your municipality to communicate complex information and ideas related to climate change. More importantly, it can also encourage residents to act on it.

4. Think Globally; Act Locally

Thinking globally means thinking about how people can slow, stop, or reverse climate change. Acting locally means finding ways to make a difference with climate change in your community. Teaming up with other organizations to act on climate change is another route municipalities may take to encourage efforts. An example of this is Gwinnett County, Georgia. Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful, a nonprofit organization aiming to make Gwinnett County more environmentally friendly, and Gwinnett County Solid Waste Management teamed up on November 6th for America Recycles Day to collect electronics, latex and oil paint, tires, and other hard-to-recycle items.

Climate change will only worsen if we don’t work together to solve it. It’s a global issue that requires local and national action. Municipalities should think about how they may encourage residents to act on climate change issues within their communities. Taking simple steps, such as encouraging residents to recycle, save water, or support environmental groups will help make a difference.

Do you need help considering your climate change communications strategy? Our creatives at PivotPath have the tools to help. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

strategic partnerships

Engaging Your Community Together: The Power of Creating and Maintaining Strategic Partnerships

Partnerships are a cornerstone of community outreach and engagement. When two or more organizations cohesively work together towards a common goal, greater presence and impact can occur. However, building a successful partnership requires organizations to strategically engage their communities together. To do so, organizations must learn how to utilize their strengths and effectively align with their strategic partners to serve their purpose. Doing so ensures your organization and its strategic partners have done their best to meet their goals on a global scale.

Engaging Your Community Together: The Power of Creating and Maintaining Strategic Partnerships

 1. Institute your organization’s internal goals and objectives

You have to identify your organization’s problems before you can decide which partnership to pursue. First and foremost, developing and examining your organization’s internal goals and objectives will help determine which goals to establish within the partnership. Brainstorming with your team to determine the goals, objectives, interests, and motivations behind the partnership reduces the use of resources and potential risks involving your organization in the partnership. It also increases your success rate in developing a plan that aligns with the expectations of the partner organization and your target group.

2. Analyze potential strategic partnerships

strategic partnerships

Conducting due diligence before engaging with potential partners will help your organization know your internal goals and objectives and those of your potential partners. Due diligence involves investigating potential partners with an audit. Before engaging with a potential partner organization, your organization must first develop its internal goals and objectives and then assess your potential partners. Designing your first partnership plan and asking your stakeholders for their feedback on your design will help your organization to decide whether or not to form the partnership. If you’re dead set on pursuing the partnership, your organization needs to formalize the partnership document or business case. A business case is a written document, short verbal agreement, or presentation that explains the reasoning behind starting a project or task.

3. Develop a business case

Developing a business case provides an avenue for the partnering decision-makers to discuss the coalition and objectives of the partnership with transparency. The business case defines the partnership goals, objectives, and budget for resources or returns on investment (if any). It also may include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to track the progress of the partnership’s goals and objectives. It’s vital to keep your business case up-to-date and timely as it describes the partnership relationship for all parties involved.

A business case describes and involves:

  • The purpose, target audiences, objectives, and goals of the partnership
  • The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the partnership
  • The players involved in the partnership, including the target audience
  • Budgeting for resources or returns on investment
  • Quantitative and qualitative benchmarks

After developing a business case, delegate the roles and responsibilities for each partnering organization.

4. Determine the roles and responsibilities

Determining the roles and responsibilities within the partnership will ensure every partnering organization is doing its part. Using a governance structure describes what each organization is expected to achieve in the partnership. It creates a positive relationship between partners, as well as identifies stakeholders. Most notably, it can serve as a guiding and efficient organizational document should a challenge within the partnership arise.

Typically in a governance structure, depending on the level of need of the partnerships, there are usually two to three levels of groups:

  • The Strategic Group or Governance Group comprises representatives from all partner organizations involved and is responsible for achieving high-level decision-making on the overall objectives of the partnership.
  • The Partnership or Project Group includes a project manager from each organization. In addition to completing set tasks, the project manager is responsible for managing the project plan.
  • The Implementing Group involves representatives from all partner organizations. This group implements the activities and deliverables within the project plan and reports back to the Project Group. At this level, each partnership delivers its agreed-upon work.

Once you’ve determined the governance structure of your organization, mitigate the risks and conflicts associated with the partnership.

5. Mitigate the risks and conflicts

Mitigating the risks and conflicts of your partnerships increases the likelihood of achieving your mutual goals and objectives. It also improves the confidence and trusts your stakeholders and partners have in your organization.

Risk and conflict mitigation is a vital tactic in creating powerful partnerships. It should be assessed during the partnership due diligence before your organization has met with the potential partners and also during the partnership process.

A risk assessment can:

  1. Help you understand your partnership’s risk profile
  2. Analyze crucial risks
  3. Decide how to mitigate risks
  4. Mitigate your risks

Including your organization’s community during the risk assessment provides transparency for all parties involved. There is also power in numbers, so incorporating and also engaging your community, especially your partners, will improve the goals and objectives of your partnership.

6. Engage your community

Paying attention to your community, especially your stakeholders and your target audience, is crucial to engaging your community. If you don’t water and sunbathe your houseplants, eventually they’ll die. Similarly, if you don’t interact with your audience, your partnership and even your organization may cease to exist. You have to engage your community to know what they want and need from your organization in order for your partnership to thrive.

Organizations and their partnerships can engage their community simply by talking to them. A study from the Royal Horticultural Society found that talking to houseplants helps them grow faster. Likewise, conducting surveys, interviews, briefings, meetings in groups or one-on-one, town hall meetings, etc. will help to grow your organization as well as your partnership and its goals. Because engaging your community is also crucial to your organization’s flourishing, organizations should also engage their community in the decision-making processes, such as in the governance structure.

7. Manage the resources

Achieving your partnership’s objectives may be impossible if your partnership isn’t managing its resources, such as access, data, finance, and human resources.

Resource management helps build powerful partnerships through:

  • Developing documentation of the resources used to support the achievement of objectives and establish trust between partners and third-party funders
  • Ensuring transparency related to financial agreements in the partnership, including which partnership contributed which resources and incurred costs
  • Providing a fair division in the distribution of costs and resources between the partners

In addition, partnerships should make sure to incorporate a resource management plan that quantifies the resources into monetary terms. That way it is much easier to manage a budget.

8. Evaluate the efficacy of joint partnership

Along with resource management, organizations must evaluate the efficacy of the partnership. Partnerships are made powerful through resource management, a vital benchmark within a partnership’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework. The M&E framework fosters successful partnerships because it monitors project progress, resources, and risk. It also encourages learning within the partnership, and, most importantly, it creates and supports public accountability within the partnership.

Organizations in a partnership should utilize these M&E framework key steps to:

  1. Identify the KPIs, impact targets, and the range of M&E activities
  2. Develop a system to collect data and information within the range of M&E activities
  3. Collect data and document inputs, outputs, and outcomes
  4. Analyze and evaluate the data outcomes against KPIs and impact targets

Furthermore, organizations should evaluate not only their partnership projects but the partnership itself. Evaluating the partnership can improve the relationship between partners, provide recommendations for changes to roles and responsibilities within the partnership, and facilitate discussions to prevent potential disagreements in the future.

If this guide wasn’t enough to drive you down the road to developing your powerful partnership, our strategists at PivotPath can help you reach them. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

International Strategic Planning Month… Here are TOP elements you need in your plan to soar next fiscal year.

It is International Strategic Planning month, and time for organizations to develop their strategic plans for the year. Although it can seem cumbersome, strategic plans are vital to ensuring your organization meets its goals and objectives. It also aids your team in knowing where to properly manage time and resources and effectively reach your targeted audiences.

By answering the following questions, you will position your organization to soar this fiscal year.

International Strategic Planning Month… Here are TOP elements you need in your plan to soar next fiscal year.

1. Why does your organization need a strategic plan?

The first step in developing an annual strategic plan is to know why you want and need one. Consider the needs of your organization and the needs of your stakeholders. Perhaps your organization has never thought to put a strategic plan together in general. You might just be starting and need a new direction. Or maybe you had a tough year like many municipalities, foundations, and other organizations have had due to COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) created its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan 2021 (SPRP2021) in follow-up to the organization’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. These strategic actions focused on the new challenges, for example, to lessen the risks related to new variants—such as the safe, equitable, and effective delivery of diagnostics and vaccines.

The benefits of using a strategic plan include:

  • Paints a picture to stakeholders on progress within the organization
  • Promotes mission-driven values within the organization
  • Shows your organization is guided by success
  • Invites staff to be future-focused
  • Furthers the organization’s mission

2. What are your goals?

After understanding the purpose behind your organization’s strategic plan, the next step is to determine your goals. Goals and objectives should be specific and detailed. Decide what you want each department to develop and achieve, and your organization’s holistic goals and objectives based on the needs of your stakeholders.

– What if you can’t determine strategic goals and objectives?

Conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis can help you get there. This should be done at least once per year.

A S.W.O.T. analysis is done in order to help your organization formulate objectives.

Take the time to brainstorm internally to determine:

  • Strengths (internal) – What your organization does well.
  • Weaknesses (internal) – Where your organization can improve.
  • Opportunities (external) – What market trends could positively impact your organization.
  • Threats (external) – Which external factors (competitors, pandemic, etc.) could have a negative impact on your organization?

In addition to an internal S.W.O.T analysis, interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and town hall meetings are other forms of stakeholder research and examples of how your organization could better understand the needs of your stakeholders, which in turn helps to determine the goals and objectives of the organization.

3. What is your organization’s plans for the future?

It’s important to know why you’re creating a strategic plan for your organization so you can know where your organization is heading into the future. Consider the premises of your organization in order to determine the best future course of action.

– What are the internal and external premises of your organization?

Internal premises come from the organization itself. It is the beliefs, behaviors, and values of the executives and employees of the organization. Examples of internal premises include the forecasts, policies, and programs of the organization, competence of management, organizational capabilities, and other resources of the organization in the form of practices and, in some cases, profits.

External premises come from outside of the organization. It comprises of the cultural, economic, political, social, and technological environment and cannot be controlled by the organization. Examples of external premises include government policies and the rate of growth in the population and economy.

Crafting premises based on internal and external factors will ensure your organization’s strategic plan is feasible and sustainable. In addition to internal and external premises, feedback from downstream and upstream stakeholders should also be taken into account.

– What are downstream and upstream stakeholders?

Downstream stakeholders are the target audience. They’re those the organization seeks to influence and reach. It includes the general public, residents, visitors, media, advocacy influencers, and potential partners.

Upstream stakeholders develop the product to bring to the target audience. They are the other audience members that do not necessarily have to be influenced based on the information itself. Rather, their influence is in the dissemination of information and actively promoting the organization and its offerings.

4. How can your strategic plan aid in organizational sustainability?

international strategic planning

Knowing the internal and external premises and the kind of stakeholders your organization has is not the only way to forecast the future. Researching other ways in which your organization could achieve its goals is another avenue.

Aside from the S.W.O.T. analysis and knowing the feedback from your stakeholders, a community needs assessment or environmental scan can help your municipality or organization obtain information from the environment.

A community needs assessment provides municipalities and organizations with a picture of the local policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place. The assessment seeks to understand the needs of the community by gathering accurate information. It can help municipalities and organizations to identify areas for improvement in its services to their communities.

An environmental scan includes the ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization’s internal and external environment. Currently and in the future, these internal and external trends determine its success.

5. Which plan will your organization choose?

Once you’ve gathered all of the data you can to support your goals, it’s time to decide which plan or which model your organization will choose to implement. There are dozens of plans and models to choose from, portrayed in this article from ClearPoint Strategy, which features 16 of the most popular ones. In our last article, PivotPath introduced you to the PESO model for developing an effective communications and visibility plan. So how will you know which is best for your organization?

strategic plan

Before setting yourself up for confusion, consider these questions:

– Is it expensive?

Your organization will want to pay the least amount of money possible for whichever strategic plan or model you choose.

– Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Make sure your organization chooses the strategic plan or model that has more positive potential outcomes than negative ones.

– Is it fixed?

Finally, you’ll want a strategic plan or model that isn’t rigid or fixed but adaptable should things change with your objectives during the planning process.

– What will be your supporting plans?

After the initial strategic plan is in place, it’s important to determine a secondary, supporting plan to meet your goals. Some organizations can do this in their annual report that happens once per year, while the strategic planning timeline can take place anywhere from every one to five years.

Never made an annual report? No worries! PivotPath can help you to create your best annual report yet.

The benefits of using an annual report include:

  • Strengthens the relationship with the strategic plan by crafting newer strategies that further the strategic plan’s goals.
  • Supports the mission of the organization in daily practice.
  • Gives staff a clear course on their responsibilities to the plan and their department.

6. Are you listening?

The most important takeaway from creating your strategic plan is to make sure you’re listening and connecting with your stakeholders. Strategic planning and the background research involved may take anywhere from six to nine months. But it ensures that your organization will know what its stakeholders want and need, which will aid your organization in achieving its goals and objectives.

PivotPath has experience in B2G marketing and communications. We can help you implement your most successful strategic plan yet. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

End of Year Blues? Here are 6 Tips on Creating your BEST Annual Report

Writing up the required annual report can be the most dispiriting part of the year for nonprofits and community foundations, especially in a year so many were threatened by COVID-19. However, it can also be an opportunity to effectively market your organization’s story by getting visually creative. Here are six tips to craft your best annual report yet.

annual report

1. Work as a Team

John Maxwell states “teamwork makes the dream work.” The same can be said in relation to creating your best annual report. Engaging annual reports are not solely developed by the CEO and your organization’s numbers. Assign tasks to each department head and partake in a planning committee to decide the information your organization will need, such as who will be responsible for assembling the income and expenditure reports. Utilizing your graphic design and content writing teams may help to share the story of your accomplishments and activities.

Graphic designers can:

  • Be creative with the colors of your brand to highlight the past year.
  • Use best design practices.
  • Make infographics, charts, graphs, and other visuals to showcase your brand.
  • Work with photographers to create powerful data visualizations, including photos and videos.

Content writers can:

  • Use the facts and figures to craft the story of the year to tell your story in a relatable way.
  • Interview supporters, employees, and any others who can enhance the accomplishments of your organization.
  • Combat challenges with transparency and prove that your organization has accomplished its mission and has been responsible to its supporters.
  • Use the facts and figures to forecast your company’s fiscal future.

2. Share Your Story

While the basics of an annual report include an introduction, a shareholder’s letter, a business profile, a financial statement, and an auditor’s report, the most important aspect of a good annual report is sharing your organization’s community with the impact of the year that will be told throughout the document.

An annual report should never be boring. To counter that, you don’t want to only report the facts and figures with your shareholder letter and call it a day. Instead, you want to use the facts and figures to showcase the activities, accomplishments, successes, and failures of the year and the years going forward.

Content writers can do this in several ways. They can simply list the activities, accomplishments, successes, and challenges in relation to the mission. To collect additional information, they can interview supporters, donors, and strategic partners, and use those interviews throughout the report in conjunction with the tasks, achievements, progress, and shortcomings listed. In addition, the writers can interview and write personal profiles on supporters/donors, employees, and others who have made an impact on your company, and/or on how they may impact your organization in the future.

Your best annual report:

  • Introduces the audience to your company.
  • Explains what your company has done in the past year.
  • Uses the facts and figures to highlight the accomplishments of your organization from the prior year.
  • Describes how your organization will do what it wants to achieve in the future.

3. Let’s Get Visual

Humans are visual beings—over 90 percent of information processed by the brain is from sight. According to Neuroscience News, even those born without sight use the visual part of their brains when hearing sounds in the dark.

So it is no wonder, then, that in order to create the most engaging annual report you can make, you must consider making it aesthetically pleasing. It should also be visually appealing to positively represent your organization and attract your targeted audience(s). And there are many ways to do that, including a food company that asked its supporters to bake part of their annual report booklet in order to read it.

Two other creative examples include Vrijwilligersacademie Amsterdam, a volunteer foundation in the Netherlands that encouraged their supporters to turn their annual report into origami after reading it, and Sonae, a shopping center company that turned their annual report into playful, rotating gears.

While print is the traditional way to go with annual reports, many organizations these days find that digital reports can be the most cost-effective, creative way to reach more supporters. It is also one of the easiest ways to market to more audiences through email, social media, etc.

This digital report from the Humane Society of the United States in 2019 showcases beautiful animal photography mixed in with articles explaining their accomplishments and interviews from supporters.

Some organizations have found using videos to create their annual reports has been the creative way to go. There are several reasons why video marketing is beneficial.

4. Be Transparent

Being transparent can be important to any part of an organization, but particularly in creating your best annual report. Your organization should not only divulge its activities and accomplishments from the past year, but it should also stress the shortcomings. Many organizations have had to face challenges in the past couple of years due to COVID-19.

An effective example is this digital report from Pathfinder International in 2020, whose impact included how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their organization’s mission and the people they help. Pathfinder International is an organization that supports women in making their own reproductive choices. In their annual report last year, they explained how they moved through the challenges of the pandemic, from health services and contraceptive supply chain issues to nationwide lockdowns.

5. Forecast Your Fiscal Future

An annual report typically goes over the prior year’s financial successes and pitfalls. A good annual report projects the potential for future revenue growth, too.

It’s also important to ask and answer what activities your organization will take on in the future. Don’t make your audience work to find out more about your future course of action.

Your best annual report:

  • Compiles your organization’s plans for the future.
  • Incorporates new programming and services your organization plans to propose.
  • Comprises plans for research and development.
  • Presents information about other opportunities and initiatives for your organization.

Providing a future plan of action gives your supporters an idea of your organization’s direction, which can help with monetary support.

6. Ask for Feedback

Include a feedback or response form. It can be helpful to know how your audience feels about your organization and your annual report. After all, effectively listening to your audience is essential. Feedback or response forms can help your supporters communicate about their opinion or questions they have on your annual report. That way, you can prepare to make an even better annual report in the future.

To keep your audience content, it may even be important to consult with your board members and supporters during the process of creating your annual report. Include them in the design direction. You don’t have to act on everything they say. However, incorporating some of your audience’s wishes will ensure that the final result is met with openness and transparency.

It’s important to keep an eye on your audience and how they respond to your annual report not only for transparency. You also want to get to know them.  Don’t just repeat the same unhelpful information over and over again. For annual reports that are created digitally, find content creation platforms that offer analytics reports. This will allow you to quantitatively measure and enhance your annual report for future use.

If all else fails and you need help finding what your audience wants, ask our team of creatives at PivotPath to help your organization pave the way to your best annual report yet. Contact us for a free consultation today.