Fellows Leverage Expertise and Bridge Sectors for Innovative Solutions
There are many organizations in greater Boston doing good work—fighting homelessness and poverty, supporting the arts, and more. But without a successful communications strategy, those good works may go unnoticed. Perhaps that is why the 2012 fellows in the Center for Collaborative Leadership’s Emerging Leaders Program focused primarily on communications efforts for their community partners.
The fellows presented their final projects to their clients on October 3 at the Federal Reserve in Boston.
Karl Henry Francois, a portfolio manager for Citizens Bank, was part of the team that worked with the Boston Tenant Coalition. ELP fellows have previously worked with the organization, which is a coalition of homeless and advocacy organizations that promote affordable housing in Boston. This time, the focus was on using the organization’s website to brand it as a leading source for expert analysis.
“Our scope was to leverage all the findings from prior projects and give them some recommendations about how to be more visible in the community,” Francois said.
Among the suggestions: Developing a consistent approach for marketing materials, and using blogs and videos to create a more robust website.
Another team worked on a social media-focused communications plan for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. The fellows created and distributed a survey to evaluate the effectiveness of the program’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
“Our results suggested that the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program should use social media to connect with their audience, but it needs to be in a very tailored way,” said ELP fellow Jenna Dodd, a senior financial analyst for The Boston Globe.
“We learned early on that when using social media, it’s not enough to just have a presence. It’s very important to keep your followers engaged, create conversations, and keep content fresh.”
Respondents reported using Facebook every day, so the ELP team suggested BHCHP develop a presence on the site to increase their current followers; knowledge.
Another team worked with UMass Boston’s Center for Social Policy to develop a video that would commemorate 20 years of the center’s work to fight poverty and homelessness, and increase workforce development. Other teams identified the best practices in designing and implementing corporate wellness programs for the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, explored arts and economic development strategies for Uphams Corner Collaborative, and enhanced alumni engagement for the Center for Collaborative Leadership.
After a fellow from each team made a presentation, a panel weighed in on each group’s recommendations. Aaron Gornstein, the undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development, and Donna Latson Gittens, the founder and principal of MORE Advertising, both advised the fellows to consider social media a supplement, but not a substitute, for traditional media and community organizing.
“Traditional media is not going away. Continue to use it. It’s getting more local. That’s where the audience is, and that’s where you need to be,” Gittens said.
“I like they way you described coming up with a deliverable that was going to meet a concrete need,” added John Auerbach, commissioner for the Department of Public Health.
The fellows themselves recommend that businesses and nonprofits nominate their employees for the ELP program.
“The Emerging Leaders Program has been a terrific experience. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with professionals from a variety of different industries, different backgrounds. We also got exposure to a number of leaders throughout the Boston area in all different types of industries, all different types of stories. [We] hear about their leadership styles, the different challenges they face, and how that might be applicable to us,” said Kelly Dougherty, the executive director of the CardioVascular Center at Tufts Medical Center.
University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret will be speaking to the 2013 ELP cohort on Thursday. The 2013 cohort will present their team projects on June 11. For more information about ELP, call 617.287.3890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s nine colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.