Outreach

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(written by Hayeon Lee, Olivia Park and HyunJoo Lee in 2010)
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Whether it is a rally, press conference, community forum, or march, outreach is a major component of planning. So what is outreach? It is relaying information about an event to a target audience for the purpose of mobilizing them to participate. Outreach involves educating potential participants about the event (issues it may involve, purpose, importance, etc), convincing them to participate, actually mobilizing them, and building relationships with them to ensure their support and participation in future events. It is sort of likes sales. How does Mac sell their Iphones? Through marketing tactics that include messages that say why their phones and plans are better, placement of ads, special promotions, and calling or emailing you so that you are reminded about their superiority. Consistent messaging – this is essentially what outreach is. You have to be clear about what you want to achieve, have a good and consistent message, and invest in customer care. Below are some basic steps you need to take for an effective outreach plan, and some tips to keep in mind.


Contents


Steps to Effective Outreach

  1. Identify your target audience – who are you trying to mobilize?
  2. Create a convincing message - why would your target audience want to participate in the event? You have to build a convincing argument as to why your audience would be interested and should participate in the event. You can connect it to an issue your audience is interested in, highlight benefits from their participation, or appeal to a value your audience has. Having a clear and convincing message is vital to creating effective outreach materials (#?).
  3. Decide on your turnout goal – so you have who and what. Now, ask yourself how many do we want to mobilize. This goal must be matched with your capacity and be a realistic number.
  4. Create an outreach list – once you know who and how many, you are ready to create an outreach list. An outreach list is a listing of all the groups and/or individuals you will try to mobilize. This list must include names and contact information. Avoid having a listing of organization names for example. When you outreach, you need individual names because then, you can confirm who is actually coming, do appropriate follow up, and effectively ensure turn out. A recommendation is to have 1 person manage this list, meaning that while many can help contribute, having 1 person manage will ensure clarity on which list is the final one and the clear delegation of tasks to individuals who may share the overall outreach responsibility. Many groups use google docs to compile their outreach list, but again, identify 1 person responsible for the finalizing and managing of the list
  5. Create outreach materials – a flyer is a must for outreach. If you have members who use internet, an email-version of this flyer would be helpful. Other outreach materials can include: invite-letter, fact sheet about the issue the event is connected to, brochure, registration form, etc. Outreach materials can vary, but it has to include the title of the event, date, time, place, purpose, who is organizing, contact information of the key organizers (either for RSVP or questions), deadline for registration or RSVP, and the website for the event and/or sponsoring organization.
  6. Identify your outreach activities – how are you going to distribute the outreach materials? How are you going to publicize the event? Have a clear plan of what outreach activities you will do. For example, you can send an email blast to members about the event, pass out flyers at churches or subway stations, post flyers in the neighborhood, place radio and newspaper ads, mail an invite to your members, hold a press conference. Just remember that depending on who your target audience is, your outreach activities may change. For example, if you want to mobilize low-income Latino immigrants, you might want to do activities in neighborhoods where they live or place ads in Spanish newspapers. If you want to mobilize seniors, you may want to visit senior centers or phone bank voters over the age of 65. Just because you can do an outreach activity does not mean you should. Be targeted about what activities are done and prioritize them.
  7. Have clear roles and responsibilities – outreach can be a great opportunity for team-building and team-work. For example, if an organization has different program areas or membership groups, individual staff may be responsible for outreaching to their specific area. But the staff member is working as a team to achieve a specific turnout. While the work can be decentralized, make sure you do have a point person that is coordinating and managing the entire outreach plan. Much like having 1 person manage the outreach list, have 1 or a small team of individuals responsible for ensuring that deadlines are met and that the team is on track to meet the turnout goal. This “outreach coordinator” also is important to make sure that individuals with specific responsibilities are held accountable and to provide support to any team-member who may need it.
  8. Make sure that once outreach is done, there is good follow-up – a lot of times, we think the job is done if for example we have distributed 10,000 flyers for a specific event or called 200 people. That is not outreach. Instead, it’s just the first step. Outreach is not just letting people know but turning them out. How do you do this? Follow up. To ensure people actually come out, you need verbal, ideally in-person, confirmation that they will come. But again, even if they confirmed, you need to continue to remind them about the event and make sure s/he is prepared to actively participate. This is where the relationship-building comes in. What some groups do to ensure commitment and relationship-building is before the actual event, they organize a dinner or orientation for all the confirmed participants. During this time, you can go over logistics, purpose, etc. but also create the opportunity for participants to get to know one another, learn more about the organization, and build trust and interest. When you do follow-up for example about the logistics of an event to a confirmed participant, call them instead of emailing them. If you do the latter, personalize the email; don’t send a generic email template. You want people to feel special and willing to invest in the event, and the only way to do this is to build a relationship with that person. In sales, they say that salespeople need to market themselves and are selling their personality with the product, meaning that customers are more likely to buy something if they like you. Outreach is similar to this. If the community member does not like the organization or the staff, why would s/he be motivated to support your event? Building relationships is key to effective outreach.

Using KRC's Google Calendar to Promote Events

At our website we have a handy function that allows you to quickly promote events in the front page of the website, but it gets rarely used.. so I made a quick screencast explaining how to use it - check it out.

Content covered:

  1. How to add new events to go to KRC's webpage
  2. How to add details (address, description & link)
  3. If you don't have access to the "Public (English)" or Korean calendar, get someone else to give you access
  4. How to give access

민족학교 웹사이트 행사 달력 란에 행사를 올릴 수 있는 방법을 설명하는 간단한 비디오를 만들었습니다

Tips

  • At least 1 month before the event, finalize your outreach plan. This includes who you are outreaching to, the turnout goal, how you will outreach, who will do it, when, and where, plus deadlines. You need time to develop materials and actually do the outreach activities. Rushed outreach is bad outreach. You are building relationships and as we know, relationships take time.
  • Have centralized staff. This cannot be stressed enough ? you need centralized staff responsible to keep people on track and meet the turnout goal.
  • Have centralized communication, internally and externally. For the latter, there are some materials or updates for the participants that you can centralize. For example, a participants guide has been created for the event. Create a listserve of confirmed participants and email it all at once. Staff doing outreach can call to confirm the guide was received by the individuals. As for internal communication, create a google group or listserve with staff members doing outreach. If the outreach coordinator wants to remind the team about outreach confirmation deadlines, or that the dates and place of the event has changed, the information can be emailed instantaneously. A caveat is that you cannot rely solely on emails. You need follow up. So remind the team in staff meetings or face-to-face. Effective outreach depends on meeting deadlines so make sure you have a system in place to ensure this.
  • Build off of previous outreach lists and use the current outreach list for other purposes. The outreach list you create for a specific event can be helpful in future events or for other purposes within your organization. For example, the outreach list can include individuals new to the organization. You can include them in your next membership drive or you can invite them to the next organization fundraiser. Don’t think of the outreach list as a stagnant, temporary thing. List-building is an important part of organizing and building capacity and this includes outreach lists.
  • Below are some examples of outreach tactics:
    • Flyering at markets, churches, busy intersections
    • Posting of flyers at key spots like youth centers, bus stops, churches, businesses, other ally organizations, college campuses, etc.
    • Placement of ads (TV, radio, newspaper)
    • Media events like press conferences or op-eds
    • Presentations
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