Marketing and communications are essential for promoting your project, generating interest and updating supporters on your progress. It is the backbone of all your other engagement activities – without it no one will be aware of what you are doing, let alone actively engaged in the process. For everything you do, you should always be thinking about how you will tell people about it in advance to maximise involvement, and later how you will update your supporters and the wider community on what has happened. This means constantly looking to expand your mailing list, taking down quotes, saving photos and asking your supporters to share all your communications and marketing materials wherever possible.
The following sections offer ideas and examples for a wide range of different marketing and communications channels. However, general considerations for maximising the engagement of citizens through your marketing and communications include:
- Appeal to your audience. Make sure your marketing and communications materials appeal to the full range of interests across your community. It is likely that different supporters of your project will be motivated by different aspects, ranging from the environmental benefits and opportunities to socialise and connect with the community, to making a return on their investment and gaining an understanding of the financial performance – acknowledge this and cater for everyone as much as possible.
- Writing style. It is important to keep communications clear, concise and presented in a way which will instantly grab people’s attention. Try to tap into local concerns and priorities, and keep it balanced and upbeat. Avoid using technical jargon, and review what you have written to see if it is all relevant and necessary to include – it is fair to say that once you have written something, you can usually delete half of it! Think about what the key messages are that you want to get across and put them at the beginning and in the headings. Then say what you are going to say in the introduction, say it in the body and recap in the conclusion – that way your messages will stick in people’s minds and are less likely to be forgotten. For more tips, sources like the Energy Saving Trust have lots of communications guidance online.
- Who has responsibility. Regular marketing and communications can be a time consuming process requiring some skill to do it well, and so it can be worth allocating this as a specific task for someone with a particular passion or skills for this kind of work.
- Use a variety of channels. Although each of these communication channels are vitally important in their own right, you will have the biggest impact and reach the widest audience by using a combination of them all.
- Test it. Seek feedback on your marketing and communications activity and materials in order to find out what works well and what doesn’t. This will enable you to refine your approach to appeal specifically to your target community.
- Share with other organisations. You can reach even further by approaching other organisations and asking them to share your updates, adverts and press releases through their own channels.
- Practise makes perfect. Communication almost always requires writing. Not everyone feels comfortable doing it, and it can be a bit of an art form. But the more you write, the more you will improve, and you will also gain a great outlet for venting the frustrations and shouting about the successes that come from your project. Keep doing it and you will get quicker and better as you go!
Click on the categories below to explore practical suggestions and detailed case studies by theme.