As stated in the section ‘What is “Outreach”, Really?’ a comprehensive marketing strategy will include three branches; Brand (identity and message), Communications (tools) and Outreach (extent of reach your brand has). In this section we will break down these three areas to help guide us towards a complete and attractive presence in the community. In addition to the steps outlined below, please feel free to check out our collection of Marketing-Related Articles.
Brand: How does one go about developing their identity and messaging?
In a world driven by neighbors and volunteers this can be an intimidating task, but we are here to reassure you that it is possible.
1. Start by having a very open conversation or a brainstorm. Organize an event or a meeting where you can encourage people to share with the larger community, and the neighborhood association, how they perceive the neighborhood and how they’d like others to perceive it. Be sure to capture everything that is said, up front, on a large sheet of paper or via computer and projector.
You can help guide this conversation by asking questions that will un-bury the things that people love (and maybe don’t love) about the place that they live. Don’t feel limited to characterizations that are literal—open it up by asking for colors, shapes, sounds and imagery that reflect the neighborhood in people’s minds.
2. Create a few mood boards.* Select one-three people whom the community trusts to take what was generated in step 1. and ask them to put together several mood boards that capture and distill the information gathered (Pinterest works well for this exercise). Mood boards should identify several different directions your branding could move in and will help focus the conversation; giving people limited options to choose from—while still representing the community sentiment. Beyond being practical, they are fun to make and are an important step in moving the project forward.
Mood boards should group: words or statements, color, images and textures into comprehensive identities.
Bring the mood boards to your next meeting and take a straw poll (non-binding vote) from your general membership before the board makes a final decision with which direction they want to take the neighborhood’s branding.
*What the heck is a “mood board”, how on earth do I make one and what should I expect it to look like in the end?
3. Move forward with designing a logo, sprucing up your website or producing new print collateral! Please visit our “Neighborhood Branding” toolkit on the Outreach and Communications home page to see what other neighborhoods are doing and to hear from branding-experts. Need resources or a designer to finish to the project? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get tips on possible next steps.
Communications: How do we make sure we are choosing the right communications tools for our neighborhood?
1. Survey your board and your general membership. How did they find out about your neighborhood association? Ask your neighbors what types of communication they prefer. Are they online or do they prefer print communications? Will they check a blog or website regularly? Are they on Facebook, twitter, Instagram or other social media? Are they avid readers of your local paper (SE Examiner or Sellwood Bee) or a newsletter? Perhaps they are tuned into the radio and prefer listening over reading?
Don’t anticipate that you will be able to satisfy everyone’s communications needs. Be prepared to be realistic about what is possible with limited resources and volunteers.
For example; print materials need to either be mailed or hand delivered which is simply not realistic for all neighborhood associations. Creating a budget and strategy that reflects your neighborhood association’s capacity is recommended at the outset and will help manage expectations.
2. Have the resources for a robust strategy that includes print and online tools and the desire to delve deeper? Consider hosting a few focus groups at a local bar or restaurant. Choose some place in the community that people are already prone to patron. Invite neighbors to come out and talk with your neighborhood about communications and their preferences for receiving information.
If you choose to hold focus groups, be sure to take findings back to the board at the next meeting to share and hold further discussion.
Outreach: How do you launch your brand and achieve high level visibility?
Beyond the communications tools that we use, how can we make sure that our brand is extending as far as possible?
1. Get to know your local reporters and media personnel. Many of our local papers have reporters assigned to specific areas of the city—find out who those reporters are and invite them out for coffee. Ask; how do they prefer to receive information, when do they need content by (press releases, articles), and what kinds of information they like to publish.
2. Teach yourself how to write an effective press release and send out to your media contacts. Some papers offer press release guidelines that are very helpful, such as this article from the Portland Mercury’s Blogtown, and we’d encourage you to follow suit—No need to recreate the wheel!
3. Don’t stop at your new media contacts. Think about who else you might want to show up to an event or a meeting you are promoting. Would it be appropriate to send your press release over to that well respected bike blog, or that community radio station? Don’t let the confines of your own communications tools stop you from thinking B-I-G.