MailChimp may not be the best solution for your members

For membership-based organizations, regular and reliable communication with the member community is essential. Email newsletters are a commonly used tool for this and whenever email newsletters are mentioned, you can be sure MailChimp will come up as an option. But you shouldn’t be too hasty in embracing that friendly monkey! Read more

Treat your website to a content audit

Taking a few hours to do a content audit of your website represents time very well spent. Both the process itself and the document that results can help to identify problems with site structure, inconsistencies in menus, titles, headings and URLs, and outdated or difficult-to-find content.

The word audit might suggest some kind of scary inspection Read more

I’ll be brief…

It’s highly likely that the people you are trying to reach with your message — whatever it may be — lead busy working lives and have to deal with constant interruptions and distractions. Your gift to them should therefore be brevity. Try to tell your story, or at least deliver the essential (for your audience) information, in as few words as possible*. Read more

Communicate sustainably

With a title like that you could be forgiven for thinking this post is about using recycled paper for your flyers and offsetting the emissions generated by your events. In fact, I’m encouraging you to think about sustainability in communications from an entirely different angle. Read more

You should be on Facebook, but don’t waste your time on Facebook

A few years ago I recall reading many articles predicting the death of websites. People would get their information from social networks and would use mobile apps to access and browse content. I believe those predictions have been proved wrong, or at least premature, especially when it comes to niche audiences and interests.

For the small to mid-sized organizations I’ve worked with, the website remains the most important focus for online presence. Read more

Give your conference programme room to breathe

Many organizations are locked into a long-standing pattern of annual events of different kinds that consist of a set of presentations programmed across a day or two, perhaps with a token panel session in an attempt to liven things up a bit. Events like these, often run by over-stretched comms people who fall back on the same template year after year, rarely generate any really interesting discussion or energy in the room. Read more

A tried and tested approach to e-newsletters

Over the past decade or so I’ve worked for four different organizations aiming to engage members in some way. Whether it was technology experts following the work of the DVB Project or the EBU, the staff of EAZA member zoos, or alumni of the International School of Geneva, the common thread was that the organization I worked for was an added extra in the recipients’ busy lives. In each case we were asking them to create space for something beyond their daily professional responsibilities and their personal life.

At all four of those organizations I wrote and sent a monthly e-newsletter, using more or less the same format and approach in each case. Why? Because it works! Read more

You need an About page for your website

You will find this advice in may other places, but it bears repeating: you need an About page for your website.

Websites come in many shapes, sizes and flavours, but no matter how groundbreaking or stylish your site is, there are some basic universal rules you should respect. If the organization’s logo appears somewhere towards the top of the page, clicking on it should take the visitor to the homepage. And somewhere on the page there should be a link containing the word About Read more

Be organized. Or organised. But not both.

Growing up in Ireland, I was taught to write British English. Thus my colours have a ‘u’, my omelettes come with a ‘te’, and the ‘r’ comes before the ‘e’ in my litres. I also, at least until quite recently, realised, organised and finalised things, believing that only in American English are those words spelled with a ‘z’. I was wrong. Read more

Alumnographics: graphically representing a community using basic software

As social media have become the predominant channel for spreading information and ideas, infographics (which have been around for a long, long time) have become hugely popular for organizations of all kinds. As tools for promotion, advocacy, awareness-raising or marketing they can convey information much more efficiently than blocks of text or tables of figures.

Working at the International School of Geneva’s Alumni Office, I realized the membership database represented a wealth of information that, properly presented, could help us Read more