What Matters Most

For the past few weeks, I've been writing about how important it is to let your constituents (or target audiences) know how you are delivering on the commitments you've made to them. Keys to doing this effectively include making it easy for your audience to understand the data and giving them an easy way to articulate and convey your messages. When you do that, your audience can be a powerful force multiplier to help share your story.

Social media has made it easy to share stories with the push of a button. Your challenge is to give your audiences stories that are worth sharing. That's more than simply pushing out news releases to Facebook and Twitter. When you want people to help tell the story that you are delivering on your promises, you need to make sure the stories are credible, that they compelling and that they are about things that people care about most. That means being transparent and consistent with your data. It also means shaping your story so people can easily see why it matters to them or their friends, family or neighbors. 

Two organizations I've worked for, the City of Fort Collins and NASA, regularly use video to "tell their story." You see, it's important to give folks regular updates on how you are doing - whether you are a national government organization trying to understand the universe or a local government organization trying to understand the needs of your community.

Shows such as "This Week at NASA" (produced by NASA HQ) and "CityView" (produced by the City of Fort Collins) have quite a bit in common. They are both designed so people can find out and understand a lot of information in a very short amount of time. Often, it gives both organizations a chance to share "good news" rather than simply what might generate ink in a newspaper or clicks on a website.

These types of video series give both organizations a way to show the faces and smiles of the people who are committing their time and expertise to improve the lives of their audiences. These shows give folks at home something interesting to talk about over dinner that's goes beyond what you'll see on CNN, FOX or MSNBC. It shows the public that their tax dollars are being spent to make things better, that there are people working hard to deliver on the promises their government has made.

On the flip side, it's an honor for people in those organizations to be featured on those shows, so it can inspire many in those organizations to work even harder than they already do. Organizations that share their success stories are fulfilling a responsibility to the public, but they are also providing a model of that success for others within those organizations. It lets people on both sides of the screen know that fulfilling their commitments as an organization matters. I encourage you to take a look at both of these series and think of how you might use video to regularly share your organization's success stories.

- Timothy J. Allen

p.s. Special thanks to Andre Valentine at NASA and Jill Marx and Danny Nelson at the City of Fort Collins for bringing enthusiasm and joy to the shows they host. When the host has fun, the audience has fun!