The Communications Network Newsletter February 2017
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“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must not walk in fear of one another. We must not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep in our history and remember that we are not descendants from fearful people, we proclaim ourselves indeed as we are the defenders of freedom wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

—Edward R. Murrow

From The Network

Over the past few months, your organization may have grappled with new and thorny questions about its role in the years ahead. In that time, we've partnered with experts in the field to help you find answers, from how to communicate on tough topics, why your organization's character should act as your north star, and what it takes to make your voice heard in Congress

Wherever you are, you don't have to go it alone. Check out our ComNetworkLOCAL groups to find one in your area or hop online in our Members Community to stay connected.

Time is running out to submit a breakout session proposal for ComNet17 in Miami Beach September 27-29. The deadline to submit a session idea is THIS FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified the week of April 3rd.

ComNet will sell out again this year. Want to make sure you get a seat? You can register now for the conference in Miami Beach September 27-29. FYI: We're nearly out of early bird registrations. Just 10 left. Need more incentive? MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Pulitzer Prizer winner, and National Book Award winner Katherine Boo, author of the remarkable Behind the Beautiful Forevers, will be among our keynotes in Miami this fall. 

The collection of wisdom in The Network is growing every day. Use it to do good better. Revisit our series with Stanford Social Innovation Review, Making Ideas Move and The Case for Communications, our original research Communication Matters, or our latest issue of Change Agent to hear from the best and brightest in our field.

Upcoming Events

March 2: ComNetworkDC: The New Narratives of 2017

March 8: ComNetworkMONTEREYBAY Kickoff (Santa Cruz County, CA)

March 15: ComNetworkMONTEREYBAY Kickoff (Monterey County, CA)

March 21: Webinar — Mindful Messaging. On our next webinar, we'll talk about Mindful Messaging, and how it can help you think about audiences not just demographically, but psychographically (why they think and do what they do). Stay tuned for RSVP info.

Surveying the Field

Dr. Richard Besser will replace Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's next president and CEO.

Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact (CSIC) relaunched with a brand new site and evolved mission.

The 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report is out and highlights how 5,000 global NGOs use email, social media, and more.

The California Health Care Foundation's Steven Birenbaum interviewed Dr. Jessica Zitter, star of the Oscar-nominated short documentary about death in the ICU, Extremis. CHCF plans to integrate the film as a teaching tool for current and future California health professionals regarding end-of-life and palliative care.

Hattaway Communications has launched a new podcast, Achieve Great Things, that shares cutting-edge insights and ideas for creating impact through communications.

This 10-year case study examines the impact of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation a decade after it was created by the merger between Community Foundation Silicon Valley and Peninsula Community Foundation. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art director and chief executive Thomas P. Campbell explains why abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts is a bad idea, and why the arts are essential for our culture.

Good Work + Good Jobs

Looking to defend human rights at home or abroad? Border Crossers is looking for a Communications Manager and Fortify Rights for a Communications Associate. See more from our job bank.


Don't Miss the Deadline — This Friday!

Miami Splash ComNet17 Promo
Ideas. Insights. Inspiration. And fun! Join us in Miami Beach for ComNet17 September 27-29 for the communications conference of consequence. 
The deadline to submit a breakout session proposal is this Friday, March 3rd.
Excited for Miami? Want to spread the word? Grab this photo and share it on social! 
Submit a Breakout Proposal for ComNet17

What We're Reading (So You Can Use It)

15 Ways to Win at Writing Email | MailChimp
Think about the problem you’re solving, and how your readers experience it in their daily lives. When you write email that syncs with your reader’s pain and perspective, they’ll feel understood and want to know more.

Persuasion in a "Post-Truth" World | Stanford Social Innovation Review
As people become more divided in how they see the world, it’s more important than ever that social sector organizations reach people who have a deep investment in seeing the world a particular way...It’s time to update the persuasion toolkit using the best of behavioral, social, and cognitive science.

How to Become an Insanely Good Writer, According to Stephen King | Medium
If you’re in a position of leadership, you are often trying to convince others of something. So whether you’re trying to sell a new product to a major client, or assuring your team that their six-month project will take the company in a positive direction, your writing needs to be convincing and convey strong leadership.

LinkedIn Rolled Out a Redesign — How to Clean Up Your Profile | Fast Company
Many of your once-independent profile sections such as Projects, Honors & Awards, Patents, and others are now gathered in a new "Accomplishments" section.

How Nonprofit Communicators Spend Their Time (Infographic) | Nonprofit Marketing Guide
Website, social media, email, events, print, and media relations/PR were identified as the six most important comms channels. How much time do folks spend on each?

Stop Raising Awareness Already | Stanford Social Innovation Review
Because abundant research shows that people who are simply given more information are unlikely to change their beliefs or behavior, it’s time for activists and organizations seeking to drive change in the public interest to move beyond just raising awareness. It wastes a lot of time and money for important causes that can’t afford to sacrifice either.

Step 1 for Effective Advocacy: Learn to Listen Better | Nonprofit Quarterly
Rather than blindly chasing the latest digital trends, [leading nonprofits] maintain a colorful mix of listening signals: they conduct weekly member surveys; they make phone calls, and talk with their active volunteers; they ask hard questions of their coalition partners; and they don’t assume that the analytics and experimental results are either objective or infallible—they listen within their own networks and also keep an eye out for lateral trends appearing outside of their networks.

So, Um, How Do You, Like, Stop Using Filler Words? | The New York Times
Speakers need to relax and take a deep breath when finishing a thought. A focus on breathing will make it more difficult to introduce a wayward expression.

Brand Voice Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means, But You Still Need One | Contently
The fundamentals of brand voice comes down to a personality—prioritizing a set of traits that comprise an identity, and then communicating in a way that expresses and prioritizes those traits. Which means that, in order to create a successful voice, a brand is required to take on some of the personality of, well, an actual person.

The "Nigerian Prince" Email Scams and the Power of Storytelling | Contently
Our predisposition to believing good stories comes down to human physiology and psychology. We’re wired for well-told narratives. They can be so alluring, enticing, and transformative that they can cause even the smartest readers to change their minds, relinquish money, and see the world through someone else’s eyes.

How to Argue | Love + Radio
Daryl Davis, a black musician, had made it his life's work to befriend white racists. Daryl's interview reveals what it takes to have a civil, critical conversation — with someone who holds opinions very different from your own. 

How to Rebrand Globally on a Nonprofit Budget | AdAge
"When you try to tell many different episodes, people start to not understand who you are, what you do and why you matter."

Culture Report

Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds | The New Yorker
If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views. This, they write, “may be the only form of thinking that will shatter the illusion of explanatory depth and change people’s attitudes.”

Stage Craft | The New York Times
"Facebook is not primarily understood among its billion and a half users as an attention brokerage, but that’s exactly what it is: a middleman between users and other users...Participants successfully contribute to the broader marketplace by inducing other participants to engage more; beyond shares and followers, success is rewarded off-platform, with the conversion of attention into relationships...into influence and political power. Social platforms are the most extreme and advanced expression of what may be the defining corporate strategy of our time."

Tristan's Three Things for Fun 

  1. One of the most interesting reads I've come across on the future of humanity. We could very well engineer our own demise, but not how you think.
  2. Or, hopefully, we could just hop over to one of those potentially habitable exoplanets NASA just discovered.
  3. Tank and the Bangas...remember the name. NPR's 2017 Tiny Desk Contest winners are fresh, soulful, and pure joy.
P.S. — I'm auditioning for Jeopardy! in April. Send me some of your favorite facts!

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Interested in sponsoring the newsletter? Have feedback, news, or an interstellar escape pod? Email

Explore how the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Skoll Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, the Gill Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Surfrider, and others used smart, strategic communications to deliver impact, drive change, and advance their missions. 

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