Communication Nation: Choose Your Channel

Posted on March 7, 2024

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By Joann Buckley Collins 

In 2024, there are more ways than ever to communicate with your constituents about your event. So how do you choose what’s the best way to get your message across? Do you follow the trends or stick with more old-fashioned methods? Should you set up a presence in the metaverse, or should you start training a flock of carrier pigeons?  

Firstly, developing a communication strategy is not about picking the “best” channel. Because there is no singular best one-size-fits-all platform. Instead, build a multi-pronged approach that combines different outlets. You can use this multi-channel approach not only to reach different audiences with different messages, but also to reinforce the same message to the same audience.  

Anyone with an email inbox can attest to the fact that we are bombarded with a multitude of messages from all sorts of organizations. We can’t possibly read and digest every single one thoroughly. But there are two things to take away from that observation.  

  1. Too much content is too hard to wade through, and will turn your audience off.  
  2. And, conversely people don’t read, and often need to be told something multiple times in multiple ways to get the point.  

These two might seem like they are at odds with each other, but if you keep both of these things in your mind you can realize that there is a middle ground between too much and not enough. That’s the sweet spot you need to find for your audience.  

Different channels have different advantages, depending on the demographics of your audience as well as the nature of your content. When you are trying to recruit people to join your event, you might want to try a combination of email, social media and direct mail, in addition to online advertising. When you want to encourage your participants to fundraise, perhaps email, text messages and phone calls are the best mix. When you want to get logistical information to your participants to prepare them for the event, it might be social media, email and text message that provide the magic medium. And then, when you need to convey important in-the-moment announcements to your participants and volunteers during the event, a mix of signage (yes, signs are a communication channel, too!), loudspeaker announcements and text alerts will get the point across.   

Building a multi-pronged combination of communication conduits is also important because some methods will be a no-go for some of your people. They may opt out of emails, block text messages or completely eschew social media. So, you can’t reach everyone with one avenue alone.  

What the exact right blend is will vary depending on your organization, the nature of your event and who your constituents are. At Event 360, we work with a variety of clients on many different types of events. For some, Facebook is the perfect place to communicate with their audience. For others, it might be Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) or Discord.   

When building the balance of your approaches, you can use A/B testing to figure out if your supporters respond better to email or text. If the answer is text, that doesn’t mean you should stop emailing, but that will affect how you coordinate your communication strategy between the two methods.  

When it comes to social media, consider outsourcing some of your communication to your most loyal supporters. Giving a (virtual) megaphone and some guidance to your constituents on how to communicate on your behalf will expand the reach of your message. Be sure to reward them with perks and regular thanks when they follow through.  

Online communities like Facebook groups, Discord channels and Reddit threads can also be welcoming places for those loyal participants to get your content and announcements out there, answer questions and provide support. Make sure you’re doing some sort of moderation, even if it’s just popping in from time to time to keep an eye on things, to make sure that the information your participants are spreading is not turning into misinformation.  

Whatever the channels you’re using email, Facebook, Instagram, text message, phone, direct mail, social (I could go on and on…) keep your content clear and concise. And customize and conditionalize it as much as the medium allows. Every person in your audience does not need to see every single message that you’re pushing out. Talk to new participants differently than you talk to those who come back year after year. Talk to your high fundraisers differently than you talk to those who have $0 in their fundraising account. Talk to team captains differently than individuals. You get the picture.  

It may feel like a lot to keep track of but take it one piece at a time. Plot out the main building blocks of information you will need to convey over the course of the event season. For each, consider the message, the media you will use, and the audience. As you build your communications strategy puzzle it will all start to come together to build your grand plan and help bolster the success of your fundraising event, as well as strengthen bonds between your organization and the people who support you.  


Joann Buckley Collins

A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Southern California, Joann Buckley Collins has been writing and implementing communications for nonprofits for more than 20 years. She’s been Event 360’s Senior Copywriter since 2004, bringing her expertise as both a writer and a strategist to our clients. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.


 

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