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Strategic Communication is for Everyone

View from the Telluride FirehouseGreetings from Telluride Mountainfilm! I had the distinct pleasure of taking part in one of Mountainfilm's programs that helps to strengthen the work of non-profits. This one was on Strategic Communications and Spitfire Strategie's Kristen Grimm taught me to love the Smart ChartTM.

The Smart ChartTM is a tool that will help you reach your objectives, whether it's convincing people to join the 100 Miles for Elephants walk, or teaming up with Great Old Broads to be a wilderness steward. You can find the chart online along with a thorough set of guidelines to help you put it into action -- remember your Goal is different from your Mission is different from your Objective...

But first things first: The Elevator Pitch.

Kristen Grimm pointed out that too often we start getting down to the literal of WHAT we do and forget the SO WHAT. So don't give us a history lesson, don't start listing statistics, do grab attention.

Grimm broke down the pitch into 4 parts:

  1. The Grabber - What's the line that's going to make people look you in the eye?
  2. There's a problem you're solving or a benefit you're offering, and that benefit CAN be achieved.
  3. There's a solution, and that solution is you.
  4. The Ask - you know what it is, and you know you avoid it. Not anymore.

Before you go thinking that it's easy for me to say -- I was the first to volunteer to be critiqued on my pitch for the Center for Social Media. And here's the feedback I got:

  • Make it shorter.
  • Make it more personal.
  • Make it less generic, be specific!
  • GET RID OF THE JARGON… that's right, I'm tossing "incubate and disseminate" out the window, much to the relief of many readers I'm sure. "I don't want to be incubated!" pointed out Grimm.

And just so you know I'm still in the game, I'm including the REVISED version I came up with. And now I want to hear what you think. Does it work? Do you understand what we do? How can we improve our communication to you - our audience and our community - ? Send me an email - das [at] american [dot] edu.

Then, I hope, you'll try this exercise yourself. As suggested by The Fledgling Fund's guru, Emily Verellen, put yourself in the scenario that you just got in the elevator with the ONE person you want to tell about your film… what do you say? And no, you don't have 32 floors to pull it off. Here's what I came up with:

Center for Social Media
1. Lee Hirsch made a documentary called Bully, and it inspired a national conversation about stopping bullying in schools. The Center believes that documentary films can change the world!
2. If you're a filmmaker and you want to do outreach on a social issue, you should be thinking strategically from the start of making your film, and that's where the Center comes in.
3. We talk to a whole lot of filmmakers who have been successful with social issue campaigns and put those ideas back into the world for you to use and learn from.
4. Check out our website, we have a whole host of resources, and even a conference, that can help you make media that matters.