InterAction: Reflections From Forum 2018

Stefani Zimmerman Drake InterAction Forum 2018

This blog originally appeared on InterAction's blog on July 5, 2018. You can find the original post here

With an increasing partisan divide throughout our nation and the world, it's important to tell your story. I acknowledge that it is easier said than done, but after attending Forum 2018 I cannot stress how vital it is to share your passions with the world. 

As I sat in breakout sessions, watched humanitarians receive awards and networked with amazing people who give their all, it became clear to me that your stories need to be told. The story of InterAction bringing together hundreds of change-makers is important and needs to be told. The innovative solutions to solving complex problems needs to be told. The unifying passion of thinking beyond oneself to reach others needs to be told. 

My team was awarded the opportunity to lead a breakout session at the Forum. Our goal? To empower humanitarians with visual branding tips that will further their impact. We want to make this information accessible for all because we see your passion and believe in your mission.

Below are three best practices to propel you and your team forward to reach the right audience:

1. Not all data is created equal, but all of it is important.

Gone are the days of silos and huge corporate structures and in are the days of collaboration and information sharing. You need to view all available analytics to spot trends, failures and implement strategy, but you should never forget that everyone on the team holds valuable information that needs to be shared to strengthen your story.

Case and point? M+E data. While we work hard to identify indicators and measure goals, outcomes, and outputs for our log-frames, none of that matters if no one knows about it. Of course, you will share this information with your partners, but how can you share your successes, failures and discoveries with your communications team so that they can bring that story to life?

When an organization has strong internal communications, it will have strong external communications. Make it easy for your teams to share stories, pitch new ideas and submit honest feedback. Only then will you be able to implement a strong communication strategy that reaches more people.

2. Consistency is key for branding.

While we all understand the value of data, the importance of a consistent brand can often be overlooked. Remember, for someone outside of your organization to remember your message you must reach them 7 times in 3 different formats. So, make it easy for them and stand out in a crowd.

While design and branding may sound intimidating for type-A data nerds like myself, it is vitally important for others to remember your organization. So be consistent and use clean design. If your logo colors are grey and red, don't use purple and pink on social media. Your brand should look and feel the same across all platforms.

3. Imagery connects the head to the heart.

Let's face it. Text heavy reports, collateral materials, and online news articles don't make nearly the same impact as a simple photograph. Bring your content to life with imagery and video. A good photo can make someone stop and pay attention. In a world of over-saturation, you can't afford anything else.

And telling your story through photographs can be simple enough. If you have to tell a story in three photos or less, make sure you show the landscape/setting, capture an empowering portrait, and show your work in action. 

Whether you are part of a large NGO, a small grassroots organization, or are a boots-on-the-ground humanitarian, your work is important and deserves an audience willing to receive it. Through a smart digital strategy and simple design, you can reach more people and inspire them to take action.

StefaniZimmermanDrake Blog Entry Headshot.jpg

Stefani is a strategy consultant + speaker with over a decade of experience working in the US government, international NGO space and with nonprofits. Currently on the UNDP's Roster of Communication Experts in Subsaharan Africa + certified in Google Analytics, Stefani is an analytical thinker and thoughtful storyteller who works with nonprofits + humanitarians to define who they are, elevate their influence and broaden their impact through strategic communications, branding + advocacy. Stefani lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, twin girls and rescue dogs.