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Outreach & Global Engagement

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External Affairs: Engaging Your Stakeholders and Partners

Getting everyone to the table is hard enough, getting them to play their role in helping you put the pieces of your program together is another critically important challenge. Healthy relationships with your stakeholders and partners create additional opportunities for your organization to reach its goals. Like any relationship, it takes time to develop and sustain engagement for the long term amid the ever-evolving terrain between your organization and those who are potentially impacted by your work. Good external affairs and stakeholder relations are sure to save you headaches down the road and deliver better outcomes, regardless of if your stakeholders and partners encompass private sector business, non-profits/NGOs/FBOs/CBOs, government officials or more broadly, the public.

History proves that it is usually best to develop relations with your stakeholders earlier rather than later, especially if there is even a whiff of controversy. If you haven’t worked out the details–all the better–because you can honestly tell your stakeholders that you don’t have all the answers and sincerely desire their input. When you get people on board early in the game, it is so much easier to have their support to avoid problems in the first place, and find resolutions when problems do arise.

At my core I’m a real “people person” with the talent of engaging people because I’m truly interested in them. This makes it easier for people to connect with me. I seek to understand their point of view, even if it is not my own. In addition, the experience of living for years in different cultures gives me a deep understanding of cultural norms–why it is actually important to know, for instance, when it is best to wear a dress, and when only pants will do. My professional demeanor is always appreciated by stakeholders. I remain in good spirits, even when faced with unanticipated logistical difficulties well beyond my control–-a prized asset among often impatient U.S. and European colleagues.

Knowing how to listen deeply, seeking to understand others, and developing win/win scenarios is certainly my core competency when it comes to external affairs and stakeholder engagement.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu

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Crisis Communications: Planning to Weather the Storm

Crises are a fact of life, despite our best efforts. You can usually tell that a storm is coming if you know how to read the sky when events turn dark and sometimes scary. Your organization can find itself tossed to and fro like waves crashing against a sea wall. Those waves can be quite destructive. Sort of like when the puzzle falls off the table and all the pieces scatter on the floor. Has all your work been destroyed? What to do? Well the best plan is to PLAN and always prepare for the worse. Do your research and come up with a worse case scenario. Identify the crisis management team in advance. Consider the best way to use social media to quickly establish your message and control rumors.

How do you protect your people if there is a physical threat of danger? Do a complete run-through to practice the plan like a fire drill, including on-camera interviews with senior leaders. Does everyone on your team know the process? Ask the hard and uncomfortable questions BEFORE you really need to.

In my experience I have both planned and implemented crisis communications plans, helping to craft messages, knowing when “we’ll get back to you ASAP” is the right answer, and ALWAYS ensuring safety comes first.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu

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Media Relations: Get Your Message Read and Not DOA (Deleted on Arrival)

The media relations picture is more complex than ever and constantly evolving. Gone are the days when the organization could send out a news release and expect reporters to respond with coverage on radio, television and in the paper or magazine–even when there was real news. Old School says the media is fractured–broken. New School knows the media has mutated–changed into another creature altogether and therein lies tremendous opportunity if this piece is handled properly to fit into the total picture. 

It is still essential to get your message out to the media to inform the public. But as noted “traditional” media is no longer traditional, with reporters in long-established media outlets now doing everything–shooting video, recording podcasts, writing and constantly updating blogs. To maximize positive earned coverage you must know how the reporter works and what they want. Personal relationships can often make the difference in whether your release gets read or deleted.

I have personal relationships in the media in Washington, DC and around the world. I also have personal relationships on Capitol Hill, in the Administration, in nonprofits and in the private sector. As a result, I seek to know and understand a given journalist’s needs and interests. I avoid sending blanket emails and attempt to tailor the pitch. Reporters tell me that this is greatly appreciated. As a result when they see my name attached to an email, they are much more likely to click open rather than delete. 

I constantly nurture my relationships, not just to get things done, but because I am essentially a people-person at heart who believes in a win-win approach to life.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.To greater success,
Nolu

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International Development: 10 years on the ground in 17 African countries

My work in Africa began when I covered the release of Nelson Mandela for National Public Radio (NPR). How in the world will democracy transform the lives of South Africans I wondered? One of my first missions to the country, as a Freedom Forum Journalism Fellow, revealed how important the role of the media had been to advancing the goals of the apartheid government–and how important it could be to advancing the ideals of democracy. I wanted to be a part of that transformation.

I relocated to South Africa and began as a freelance journalist, covering the story of South Africa’s historic turnaround for NPR, the BBC, Public Radio International (PRI’s Marketplace program), and other media outlets. I also launched my first website and eNewsletter. After the country stabilized and the story all but disappeared from American news media, I transformed myself into a development communications professional. As a consultant to organizations such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Joint Center for Political Studies, and others, I became known as an effective communications strategist and media trainer.

I was hired directly by President Nelson Mandela’s administration to work with the Ministry of Health on HIV/Aids communications issues, and by the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) to develop and implement numerous communication strategies. I also worked with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC, which has a daily audience of 20 million), community radio stations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and faith-based organizations (FBOs). My work spread throughout the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) sub-region and into east, west and central Africa.

If you need a professional who knows what it takes to deliver results in challenging environments in the developing world, as well as Washington, DC, give me a call. Check my resumes for details and portfolio for proof of results.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu

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Strategic Communications: Achieving The Big Picture Goal

Many pieces must fit together for a strategic communications plan to be successful, and truly it takes a team to deliver the best outcome. The first piece is figuring out what you are trying to do and why. To achieve your goal, the pieces should be part of a whole–this is not the time for impromptu approaches. Start down deep and be true to your organization’s heart and soul, vision and mission. Look at the basics like branding, do the colors and other components consistently say “this is who we are”?

Which social media will work best? Since social media in particular is about engagement–will our target audiences feel they are engaging if there is a logo as the social media face–or a real person’s face paired with that logo? And remember you can’t change what you can’t measure.

How well does your team know your audiences and the best way to reach them? Have the objectives been clearly communicated to the team? As you can see, the best communications plan begin with LISTENING and asking questions of the people who can make it happen. All the pieces are important to success.

I’ve designed, implemented, monitored and retooled global integrated communications strategies including developing messages, writing print, broadcast and online products, reaching out to target audiences including policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the White House, collaborating with partners in the private sector and in the international development community. I’ve written talking points, news releases, scripts for radio and television and prepared senior and junior team members to meet the media. What I’ve done for others, I can do for you.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu

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Online Strategies: Web, Social Media and Mobile

oday’s savvy communications strategist knows that there is no separation between online strategies and communication strategies. It’s safe to say that EVERY successful communication strategy will include an online component–be it through a website or various social media. Integrated communication strategies have been around for some time–online is just another piece of the already complex puzzle.

What’s new is that the ever-multiplying means of delivery demand an enjoyable interactive experience. Look for mobile apps to be an even a bigger part of online strategies as more people throughout the world access the net via mobile with our resulting need to deliver compelling content on the move. And don’t let the apps distract you. Never forget that CONTENT IS KING. It is and ALWAYS will be about your MESSAGE and the PEOPLE you want to reach.

I was among the first in my organization to see the value of social media. I was part of teams that helped to develop social media policies. I began using my personal FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to spread the word about different organizational activities and asking my networks to share with their networks. I recognized early on that while it is great for an organization to have its own FaceBook page, there’s more traction to be had when people who have a connection to an individual read and share information from that individual’s personal feeds.

Perhaps one of my greatest skills is the ability to explain to senior leaders why they must learn how social media works, and embrace the concept as an important tool in the communications toolkit. Recent events around the world have shown the paradigm-changing power of mobile social media.


As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu

 

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Outreach: Getting a Clear Message to Your Audience

Capturing the attention of the people you want to hear your message is a bigger challenge than ever and remains another key piece of the communications puzzle. How your organization runs its outreach strategies will determine if your message will rise above the clutter and the hubbub of the crowd. One of the characteristics of hubbub is confusion. It’s hard to figure out who said what. A distinctive buzz can be better because at least it stands out and calls attention to the source. But can we all agree that a clear message well communicated and well targeted is the best way to go?

Various communications platforms must fit together. Face-to-face outreach still can be most effective. A creative team can come up with many proven approaches including formal meetings an “Advocacy Day” on Capitol Hill, events and meetups–special interest in-person gatherings organized through a website or social network portal. Often overlooked is a strategy that seeks to find common ground on key issues among seemingly unlikely bedfellows. A call to action can get your audience fired up and truly engaged.

Outreach is at the core of what I do. As a truly creative person I understand the sure-fire approaches, I also know and understand when it is worth trying something new. Even when new means “back to the future” such as an actual face-to-face meeting, event or phone call.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu

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Media Relations: Get Your Message Read and Not DOA (Deleted on Arrival)

The media relations picture is more complex than ever and constantly evolving. Gone are the days when the organization could send out a news release and expect reporters to respond with coverage on radio, television and in the paper or magazine–even when there was real news. Old School says the media is fractured–broken. New School knows the media has mutated–changed into another creature altogether and therein lies tremendous opportunity if this piece is handled properly to fit into the total picture. 

It is still essential to get your message out to the media to inform the public. But as noted “traditional” media is no longer traditional, with reporters in long-established media outlets now doing everything–shooting video, recording podcasts, writing and constantly updating blogs. To maximize positive earned coverage you must know how the reporter works and what they want. Personal relationships can often make the difference in whether your release gets read or deleted.

I have personal relationships in the media in Washington, DC and around the world. I also have personal relationships on Capitol Hill, in the Administration, in nonprofits and in the private sector. As a result, I seek to know and understand a given journalist’s needs and interests. I avoid sending blanket emails and attempt to tailor the pitch. Reporters tell me that this is greatly appreciated. As a result when they see my name attached to an email, they are much more likely to click open rather than delete. 

I constantly nurture my relationships, not just to get things done, but because I am essentially a people-person at heart who believes in a win-win approach to life.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.To greater success,
Nolu

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Media Training: How to Control Your Message

What sets the professional apart from the amateur can be summarized in one word: training. While it is not brain surgery, complex operations are indeed involved, thus training is another piece of the overall communications strategy which must be in place.

Whoever is to be the face and voice of the organization must know how to effectively communicate, especially orally and visually. And as shallow as it may sound, how you look is extremely important to how your message is received by your target audiences. Not just the clothes you wear, but your facial expressions and body language all communicate something about you and your organization.

Speaking calmly, clearly and effectively in all situations is a valuable skill which can be learned with targeted and hands-on training, including practice interviews on camera. Developing quotable quotes is another part of media training which can lead to you and your organization being the “go to” source for reporters.

Over a period of more than 10 years, I have trained 2,000 plus participants in effective communications. Participants included leaders in NGOs, nonprofits, governments, faith-based organizations and the media, in more than a dozen African countries as well as in Washington, DC.

In addition, I am a former adjunct professor of journalism at Howard University and Trinity University, so I understand the importance of training and education principles.

As a trained professional with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, I have more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing, leading and advising senior leaders in governments and nonprofit organizations about effective communications strategies that help deliver results in international development. To learn more about my experience including online products, outreach, media relations, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications, and media training, read my bio, check out my portfolio or contact me today.

To greater success,
Nolu