Communication and Outreach Best Practices

Tool | Step 7 | View All Steps

Engaging representatives of the media and those with marketing and communication expertise is a critical strategy for effectively telling the story of your community’s inclusive innovation efforts. It is notable to acknowledge that most media lack deep understanding of how local innovation ecosystems work. Journalists lack insight into what drives the local economy, who the decision-makers are, and how planning decisions have short- and long-term impact on different communities and residents, often falling along racial and socio-economic fault lines. That said, journalists are the trusted storytellers and vital to the process of framing issues and developing the overall narrative of a city and region. Traditional media are not the only option in storytelling and shaping the narrative of a target region. Social media, paid marketing campaigns and events can help amplify a consistent flow of content and information into the public psyche beyond the infrequent earned media coverage.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Consider the under-connected individuals the community is seeking to engage in the innovation economy, and identify the media outlets that they frequently go to for trusted information. Consider adjusting the language and tone of the communications to best suit the needs of this audience. Consider who the audience is and the desired outcomes. Consider the call to action and the angle of the story that could trigger a response. Consider presenting the story within the scope of discovered value, untapped talent and new opportunity versus expressing grievances, neglect, blame or shame.

Establish a Social Web Presence: Determine which networks are most popular among your constituency and your targeted audience (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)

  • Use photos, quotes and storytelling to engage an audience on social media
  • Link your social media platforms to your website
  • When embedding links, use URL shorteners like Bit.ly
  • Follow or like similar organizations, stakeholders and individuals in your region within your target audience – be sure to cross promote by sharing relevant news and posts
  • Use social media to being conversations and connect with local groups and individuals
  • Post regularly, and establish a pattern of conversation (this sheet has some good tips)
  • Generally, more positive content will allow for a greater return in engagement
  • Use hashtags to insert your information into popular conversation (i.e., #inclusiveinnovation)
  • Do not overuse hashtags; a good rule of thumb is 2-3 hashtags per post
  • Get familiar with your analytics (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all offer access to analytics for your account on their site)
  • AppAction is a useful tool to track engagement on Instagram
  • There are many useful websites and online tutorials that can help you navigate what these tools can tell you

Media/Outreach: In addition to social media, create targeted media lists of regional/local outlets and key contacts – tips for successful PR pitching are available here. And use the following engagement strategies:

  • Draft and distribute press releases and media advisories around your event to alert media and garner coverage, and invite media to attend
  • Identify appropriate times for press interviews/photo opportunities
  • Feature timely news/significant updates with a press/news release
  • Create media/press page for cataloging news releases and media mentions/publicity
  • Share news/updates across social media platforms, websites, and in any direct correspondence (newsletters)
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to author or co-author an op-ed for local media or a web/blog posting

Collateral Resource Materials: Beyond external outreach through social media and traditional media outreach, it is smart to have a set of well-designed, well-written collateral pieces. Tips include:

  • Developing informational one-pagers and infographics specific to community/partnerships to share with stakeholders and media
  • Maintaining archive of photos/video footage from events, meetings, etc.
  • Maintaining archive of news releases, media/publicity
  • Developing contact listserv of stakeholders, partners, event participants and media

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