How to move forward
- What was this session about?
Supporting affiliates in their communication work.
- What are the next steps to be taken?
- Who is the person to reach out to?
see the Commons category
- Original Description
- Wikimedia Foundation's Communications Team will share and explain 10 things you can do right when you return home to begin improving your communications work. These best practices can be applied to both long-term and short-term communications efforts, and are meant to be used by affiliates in a variety of settings and skill levels.
- Session Format
- Desired Outcome
- Participants will leave with ten tangible actions they can take to improve their affiliate's communications efforts.
- Anticipated Long-Term Impact
- Increased visibility for the work of affiliates in the media and general public.
- Jeff Elder (WMF), Gregory Varnum (WMF)
- Summary of the session
Gregory Varnum and Jeff Elder opened the session on “10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Communications”. Greg pointed out that the Communications Team has built the “Resource Center” on Meta which can be a resource for communication-oriented affiliate members.
Both speakers then present the “10 things”:
1. Conduct a communications audit
- Review what is happening with communications work or media coverage in the scale of last year. You can reach the WMF Communications team. They can help you find news coverage and whether this is positive or not. Having a positive news story does not mean it is 100% positive. It is not unusual for a news article to balance the good and bad (this is in total an effective positive side of journalism). Audit can help identify patterns.
2. Write a plan
- Writing a plan can be really useful (there was a session at the pre-conference, the slides are here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_Conference_2016_-_Building_a_Communications_Strategy.pdf). Plans are effective if they have a timeline (even for the duration of a project, does not need to be a year's plan). Identify the channels and methods (Social Media, TV, radio, papers, etc.). Know your audience and understand it - use language that corresponds to the knowledge of the target audience. Avoid e.g. the terms “admins” and “oversighters” in external communication, as outsiders will not understand it as they should.
3. Focus on building media relationship with 2-4 media outlets
- Identify media outlets that are cooperative and identify your primary message. If you are working with your chosen outlets, reach out to them appropriately and consistently (means: no contradictory messages). It can help to ask for a meeting with the editorial board and discuss your planned “big news” events or initiatives in advance.
4. Explore new communication channels - be bold, like a Wikipedian!
- Think of new outlets, blogs, specialised blogs, podcasters, see what is working in your area. What do you do to get your news? Ask yourself this first. Part of this search: it is OK to fail and retreat. Document what did not work and why.
5. Utilize movement-wide resources
- The Wikimedia blog is there for the general Wikimedia community, use it! From longer stories to digests. The WMF Communications Team can help you. There is a facebook group dedicated to spreading news at https://www.facebook.com/groups/511418892316698/
One participant asked if blog articles can be in more than one language. Greg answered that this was possible and gives the example of “Wikimedia Digest” which is translated into 17 languages.
Another participant asked how the process for submitting blog posts is. Greg answered that first talking to the Communications team is essential, so the team could help in the best way. Translations need to be done by the submitting person too. Greg explained as well that a few years ago the team had a contract only to communicate about the WMF itself, so the Communications team could not to help affiliates all the time. Now the team has double (11 people now), and thus the team now have the resources to help affiliates. Greg gave the example of working together with affiliates for Wikipedia 15 which was, as he said, a huge joint success.
6. Build communication resources that will be frequently used
- Press kits with basic information about projects / affiliate / Foundation / etc. are useful. Over time you will find the press addressing the same issues to you. You can borrow from CRC (FAQ). CRC also has tips on social media.
7. Organize a communications team within your organization/group
- Is it a person (not recommended) or a group? May be hire staff. Ensure continuity and diversity (don't show just one face, but a list/database). Use volunteers. Make a press group mailing list.
8. Collect stories for future use
- You can use them in situational contexts, if you collect them - written, video, photo, graphics, audio. "What does Wikipedia mean to you?" got almost 2000 responses / comments on Facebook. You can react with stories which contrast with the general feeling of projects and participants. WMF doesn't send as much press releases as it used to - they created a habit of journalists checking the blog and journalists do subscribe.
9. Talk to your audience!
- They will respond with what they want to get served. Think of it as two-way communication (example of Price dying and the tweet about users improving the articles on the deceased singer)
10. Talk to your colleagues
- Talk to your Wikimedia colleagues from other affiliates.
Greg and Jeff closed the session.