Communications - make it work for you!
Communications with both league members and with the community at large is one of the most effective ways a community league can raise awareness about its activities, increase membership and improve its volunteer numbers. Especially if it is consistent and engaged communications through a variety of media platforms.
Thanks to the Internet, community leagues can now have regular contact with their members and are able to reach more people within their communities than ever before. No longer do they need to deal with the “locked main door” of an apartment building, which for most high-density neighbourhoods was a blockade to reaching many residents. Nor do they need to rely solely on printed newsletters to reach their community audience.
Every community league can now develop its own website, which means league members, community residents and potential new neighbours to the community can access information about the community league and the community at any time. As long as it is kept up-to-date, a league’s website becomes the perfect resource guide or ideal communications tool to provide valuable information on the league itself, membership, programs, civic news, community events, volunteer opportunities, general community information and so much more.
So how should a league supplement its website to up its communications game to gain the maximum benefits?
In a perfect world, a community league would make use of every communication tool available to them, especially the free ones, but it depends upon their volunteers and their community.
Creating the right team
The key position would be a good communications director. Someone who has a background in media and communications would be ideal, but this isn’t always achievable for most leagues.
Alternately, a volunteer who understands the communications process, but who may not have the technical background, can put together a very effective communications team with individual volunteers who have the expertise in one or more platforms and know the best practices for a more professional approach verses personal use.
And for those leagues who may have enthusiastic volunteers who already use social media, but who would like to take it from personal to polished as a spokesperson for their league, the EFCL offers workshops throughout the year on how to make the best use of their leagues' online platforms.
Before turning your communications team loose, make sure to have a solid policy in place for your board members and for your community. This is especially important as part of the community league mandate is to be non-partisan when it comes to politics or religion, nor should your communications tools be used for individual personal causes. Check out this Sample Policy.
The key to a successful communications plan that reaches out to all your community members is to cross-promote each platform. Here are some suggestions:
- on your website, include the online icons for your social media pages, so your visitors can click to those pages and follow you. Include a subscription link to your electronic newsletter as well
- on your Facebook and Twitter pages, include your website link in your profile
- occasionally (once a month) remind your followers that they can also follow you on your other social media accounts: ie: on your Facebook page, post your Twitter account
- use Facebook and Twitter to encourage people to sign-up for your electronic newsletter (e-news)
- if you publish a hardcopy newsletter that’s delivered, use your social media pages to let people know when they can expect it to be delivered to their mailboxes
- in your e-news, make sure your logo at the top of the page links to your website and include your social media icons, which should always link back to your social accounts
- if you produce a hardcopy newsletter, make sure to include your website link and social media icons
- when sending out emails, include your website, e-news and social media links in your league address signature
Which options are right for your league?
Consider these platforms when building your league's communication strategy:
- Electronic newsletters (e-news) (see the EFCL's E-News archive)
- Direct Email
- Supplements – posters and postcards