Be the Change You Wish to See: Lessons Learned for Social Change Communicators

I’m entering my sixth month at Prichard and have seen the breadth of social good my team is able to accomplish when we put our minds together. Beyond daily client communications support, Team Prichard really knocks it out the park on staying innovative and focused on its commitment to communications for a better world.

Rather than offering new year’s resolutions, I reflected on these four lessons for social change communicators that I’ve learned from in my six months at Prichard.

Be the Neighbor You Wish to Have

At the end of the work day, after collaborating with partners across the country and developing big ideas that have national impact, we are all ultimately members of our own communities.

Though we work with national nonprofits and foundations large and small, Team Prichard is quite fond of our home in Portland. It is chock full of creative thinkers, game changers, and social do-gooders — and yes, they may or may not be coffee-drinking, pet-obsessed, craft beer enthusiasts… but that just makes for a darn good happy hour.

To help nurture relationships with and among this community of local leaders on a personal level, Prichard launched The Portland Ten (TPT) in 2014. TPT is an intimate, quarterly gathering of social changemakers over dinner and drinks. It is a free, invite-only and pitch-free event designed to nurture conversation and foster connections, a way to further amplify the ripple of social change.

We’ve seen outstanding results. Two classes of TPT have connected with each other, exchanged contact information, formed new partnerships, and united local leaders to help each other effect social change in Portland and beyond.

Be the Brand You Wish to Adopt

We are often tasked to look critically at clients’ brands—to understand their business goals, target audiences, needs, hopes and dreams, and offer strategic counsel on how they should communicate their brands to their target audiences.

We believe branding is crucial to the success of communications programs—and ultimately, the success of a business—so in 2014, Prichard took an introspective look at our own branding to identify room for improvement.

To better reflect our growing list of services, Prichard tweaked its name (formerly Prichard Communications) and adopted Trish, the persona behind the new brand. In conjunction, we launched a new website, adopted a dedicated Prichard Twitter account, and put our visual media skills to good use on Instagram.

This strategic review of our own brand was a valuable exercise to help us really understand from a communications perspective how social change organizations can strengthen their identities, establish a prominent voice in their fields and be effective at moving the needle.

Be the Leader You Wish to Follow

Though much of our work for nonprofits and foundations gets back to the basics—offering counsel on how to establish a foundation for communications planning—we’re committed to staying ahead of the curve in our field, tracking trends in communications and social change work, and sharing creative solutions. We learn from others outside of our office by attending conferences, connecting with organizations doing stellar work, and following online conversations that pique our interests.

Approaching communications from all these sides has poised the team for leadership in PR and social good communications. That’s why we weren’t surprised (and hugely proud) when Prichard VP Jennie Day-Burget won the national PR News Top Women in PR honor in 2014, and Account Director Jessica Williams earned a Light a Fire award recognizing local social changemakers.

Staying ahead of the curve has become important to us, as we’ve learned that communicating innovations in social change takes a lot more than a simple communications plan. It takes fresh ideas, out of the box thinking and targeted, efficient strategy that can help organizations be leaders.

Be the Friend You Wish to Have

We’re in the business of social change first and foremost, so it’s not a surprise that giving back is woven into our culture. As communicators, giving back can mean something as small as a phone call with a nonprofit leader in need of advice, or as large as a long-term pro bono project. These elements of giving back allow communicators to connect with nonprofits doing incredible work and unlock their potential—something that is second nature to an agency committed to social change.

We completed a number of pro bono projects in 2014, including media relations campaign support for the Willamette Valley Development Officers, helping the organization promote Oregon’s Giving Tuesday campaign last year. Partnering with a social change communications agency with a leader in Oregon nonprofit development was a natural fit, and resulted in a passionate and concerted effort from both sides to promote Oregon nonprofit fundraising efforts. We were thrilled to be part of the team that earned media recognition for the great work that Oregon nonprofits do every day.

What social good lessons will you apply in 2015?

Jenna Cerruti

Account Director Jenna Cerruti leads Prichard's client work and manages Prichard's blog. Before Prichard, she spent several years working with for-profit, purpose-drive brands. When she is not developing strategic communications plans, brainstorming digital communications strategies or executing media relations for clients, she is on the hunt to find the best pizza in Portland, likely listening to her favorite diva, Beyonce, along the way.
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One Response “Be the Change You Wish to See: Lessons Learned for Social Change Communicators”

  1. These are excellent lessons for social change communicators…for politicians of every stripe and CEOs of for-profit corporations…and for the rest of us plain old humans. Thanks for these perceptive words as we get our new year up and running!

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