The irresistible power of storytelling for organizations

“Good stories surprise us. They have compelling characters. They make us think, make us feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph don’t.” Read more

Great writing tips for authors, bloggers, columnists & journalists

Writing for, Andrew Griffiths provides some excellent writing tips for authors, bloggers, columnists and journalists. This is all based on experience writing 20 books and 3,000 articles over 20 years!

My favourites include:

  • Always visualize a person who is your ideal niche whenever you write
  • Don’t waste a whole session on a piece that isn’t working
  • Keep an anecdote and story list
  • Figure out when you write your best words

Check out all 10 tips here

What’s your wish for refugee and migrant children?

Top illustrators from across the globe — including Christoph Niemann, Jean Jullien and Mrzyk & Moriceau — are answering this question via the #illustrators4children campaign (Twitter).

The campaign was launched by UNICEF ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where world leaders are currently gathered.

UNICEF aims to raise awareness of the refugee and migrant issue, which it says is “first and foremost a children’s crisis.”

Featured image: Screenshot from the #illustrators4children campaign on Instagram. Illustration by Ayumi Takahashi

10 steps for effective crisis communications

Photo: Samuele Ghilardi

You’re the head of communications at a foundation. It’s 12 AM and your phone rings. You’re told that one of your foundation’s local grantees has been accused of corruption by a local newspaper. What do you do?

You could ignore it and hope it goes away, or dismiss the story given that the newspaper is not well known or has a bad reputation. But what if the story is picked up by more prominent media outlets like the BBC or CNN? You could put out a statement via all of your media channels staunchly and vigorously denying the accusations. But what if you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill?

How do you ensure that you respond appropriately to crises or potential crises? To answer this question, Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management outlines 10 steps for crisis communications.

Why crisis communications? As Bernstein notes, in the absence of adequate internal and external crisis communications:

  • Operational responses will break down.
  • Stakeholders will not know what is happening and quickly become confused, angry, and negatively reactive.
  • The organization will be perceived as inept, at best, and criminally negligent, at worst.
  • The length of time required to bring full resolution to the issue will be extended, often dramatically.
  • The impact to the financial and reputational bottom line will be more severe.

The 10 crisis communications steps are:

1. Anticipate Crises
2. Identify Your Crisis Communications Team
3. Identify and Train Spokespersons
4. Spokesperson Training
5. Establish Notification and Monitoring Systems
6. Identify and Know Your Stakeholders
7. Develop Holding Statements

Post-crisis (or during the crisis)
8. Assess the Crisis Situation
9. Finalize and Adapt Key Messages
10. Post-Crisis Analysis

The extent to which you engage these steps will depend on the context that you are working in. Furthermore, Bernstein makes some important points on the importance of steps 1-7:

“Reacting without adequate information is a classic “shoot first and ask questions afterwards” situation in which you could be the primary victim … If you haven’t prepared in advance, your reaction will be delayed by the time it takes your in-house staff or quickly hired consultants to run through steps 1 to 7. Furthermore, a hastily created crisis communications strategy and team are never as efficient as those planned and rehearsed in advance.”

Read Bernstein’s full article here

The case for communications

Image: Maxime Dinaux, Flickr

“Halting climate change. Eradicating disease. Lifting up the arts. Ending poverty. At their core, foundations and nonprofits are in the business of developing and advancing big, bold ideas. If you want your ideas to take hold and win, you need to communicate and communicate well. It’s not an option anymore—it’s a necessity.”

“Practiced at its highest level, communications is so much more than PR or marketing. Smart, strategic communications defines, cultivates, and understands important audiences. It listens. It crafts and shares clear, compelling stories. It builds relationships and deploys influence. It convenes. It designs. It analyzes data and gathers intelligence. It creates conversations. It understands and directs the best of old and new power.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. The above extracts on the power of strategic and effective communications is taken from the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s web series, ‘The Case for Communications’.

Through a variety of case studies the series illustrates how smart, strategic communications helps organizations deliver high levels of impact. Examples of the case studies on offer range from how the World Wildlife Fund’s communications strategy increased media coverage of illegal poaching by 270 percent, to how effective communications contributed to the repeal of the US military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell‘ policy.

The editors hope that the series prompts social sector leaders to rethink the role and potential of communications as a key means by which powerful impact and success can be achieved.


Check out the series here