Day 7: How do I communicate? I wanted to get this point out of the way because this has always been my weakest part of the job as an economic development pro. So as my Mom always said to me, do as I say, not as I do. Since very few of you reading this (all two of you and one is probably my Mom, so that is why I just acknowledged her!) have unlimited funding you do have to rely on investors in the community to keep the lights on. These folks are much more interested in writing you a check if they feel like they know what you are doing and if they feel involved. In the old days I would send out a monthly newsletter that went in the mail. Today, most organizations send their newsletter via internet. But now we can typically see if many of your investors open the newsletter. When it went by snail mail, we didn’t ever know if it went straight into the trashcan. Now it can be discouraging to see how few people read the newsletter. The even more frustrating point is that the same people that don’t read the e-newsletter are the same investors that claim the organization isn’t doing anything. I know it can be very frustrating. No matter the size of your budget, how we communicate is pretty consistent. Here’s what I would recommend as the bare minimum:
Monthly e-newsletter: Keep it short. Maybe two or three “articles” Highlight successes that month or something important that has happened in the region or community.
Yearly printed annual report: Prepare a high quality annual report highlighting the goals and objectives from your strategic plan and other major accomplishments
Hot news email: When a company makes an announcement, be the first organization to tell your membership.
Close relationship with local media: In the smaller communities newspapers welcome any story ideas. They are understaffed and can’t do the research required. In the larger cities get to know the person that takes care of any business articles. If you feed them good information they will typically write some nice pieces on the ED activities.
Social Media: I will discuss social media over the next couple of days.
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