Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finding free solutions for communicating

I was working with a voluntary organisation last night - they have been talking about developing a piece of land for many years and I work for a mentoring scheme to help chief officers and boards helping them to move forward.  This is a small community group with very big aspirations - the two main people involved have high levels of skill and motivation and are eager to learn.  I am not sure that they would agree that I have been mentoring them - bullying may be a more accurate description.  

Essentially my line has been - something has to happen, the talking has to stop and local people need to see a change.  And whilst I am being paid by the hour I don't want to drag this on and on - then I would become part of the problem.  I don't just talk I also do - so I have drafted a business plan - populated some of it with information that they have given me but left the rest blank.  And last night I was offering advice about websites, domain names and e-newsletters.  Whilst I was there they paid to have a domain name for a year - so much better to come away from a meeting knowing that something has been achieved.

They have already set up a website using WordPress and can now have their own domain name linked to this.  They can also have some email addresses specifically for their work for the organisation, which means that they can set up a PayPal account and when they do a press release very soon they can advertise that they can accept donations via PayPal.  This can all be linked to their Facebook page and they are thinking about creating an e-newsletter using MailChimp.

The person taking all the e-communications forward is 61, just a little older than me.  So we cannot say - this sort of stuff is for young people.  We do have to engage with the electronic age if we want to take our message out into the world.  It can be time-intensive to set these things up and to manage them but most of what I do with regard to website and e-communications is free or very low cost.

Of course we have to remember that may people in our communities are not connected to the internet and don't not have a computer, neither do they want one.  So decide how you will connect with these people both providing them with information but also finding ways to get their views expressed and how they can contribute articles or comments on your communications.  Communication is intended to be two-way.

It is a challenge but it is a real pleasure when people tell you how much they appreciate receiving a communication in whatever format.

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