Why Face Time Still Matters

Education and non-profits are truly in “the people business”, or, as I sometimes say, “the relationship business.”  Your products are social goods, improved educational opportunities, the future workforce, the future leaders, and more–each of which come in different colored, sized, and shaped packages.  Our brands are not as easily identifiable as Pepsi’s, Nike’s, Apple’s, or Ford’s, but yet at the same time, our public school brands are shaky because they rely upon the overall strength of the statewide and national public school brand–even if our neighborhood schools are strong.  And, unless they’re Goodwill or the United Way, non-profits’ brands often get muddled with those of organizations with similar names or missions.  Who’s going to differentiate your organization’s brand from others?  You–not behind a computer, but in a face-to-face meeting with those you need to influence.

That’s why face time still matters.

I have seen organizations–despite having beautiful collateral materials, a finely-designed website and a good social media presence–struggle to meet their goals, and they wonder why.  When I ask them, “How are your relationships?” there’s a pause.  “Well, what do you mean?” they ask.  “When was the last time you sat down and had a face to face conversation with your stakeholders?”  Another pause.  “Well, we sent them an eblast recently.”  I pause.  “No…an actual, in-person, face-to-face conversation.”  An awkward shift in the chair.  “Well, that’s too time-consuming.  We don’t have the time or the resources to do this.”  To which I respond, “You don’t have the time or resources NOT to do this.”

That’s why face time still matters.

Your stakeholders live in a world that is HEAVY on electronic communication.  And, while I agree that your organization needs to–no, must–have a fantastic presence on a variety of electronic communication platforms, the fact remains that you are in the people business, and you must break through all of the clutter to have your organization heard.

That’s why face time still matters.

True story:  A superintendent attended a neighborhood association meeting, at which a charter school board member also attended.  The charter school board member said that he heard that the neighborhood school was low performing, in poor physical condition and that only “gangster students” attended the school.  The superintendent diplomatically informed this individual that that couldn’t be further from the truth, and invited him to a school tour.  Following the school tour, the charter school board member told the superintendent that he was so glad to learn more about the school and intended to switch his children’s school the next school year.  Could an electronic newsletter, website, or social media have replaced this conversation and eventual outcome?  No.

That’s why face time still matters.

Individual donations–through planned gifts and major gifts–continue to be the largest source of donations for non-profit organizations.  Genuine and authentic relationship building with current and prospective donors occurs through conversations and relationship-building that can only occur in person.  How can a non-profit CEO or board member learn about the motivations and inclination of a donor through one-way electronic communication?  How can a non-profit organization get in front of busy individuals to show them the value of their programs and share their success stories beyond an annual report (that will only be glanced at)?  The time spent in person with prospective donors will more than return itself in their investment.

That’s why face time still matters.

You and the amazing people who represent your organization (and don’t forget students) are the biggest link between your stakeholders, critics and supporters and your organization.  When you are mapping out your organization’s marketing, public relations and/or communication strategic plan, don’t forget the power of YOU.

That’s why face time still matters.

Does your organization need assistance with developing an integrated marketing, communication and/or PR strategy that also incorporates face time?  Contact us for more information about how Sounding Board Marketing & Communication can help!  Also, be sure to check out our guide, Unleash Your Best Communication, which will show you how to audit your internal and external communications and develop your own communication strategy, with a complete communications audit workbook in a downloadable format.  Get the PDF guide

About Heather McGowan

Heather McGowan increases public confidence in public education and improves opportunities for non-profit organizations to succeed through proactive communication and marketing. She provides strategic marketing and communication services that exceed her clients’ unique goals and delivers results that motivate audiences to act, change, and/or otherwise change behaviors for a greater good.

Comments and Feedback:

  1. Excellent article. I’m facing many of these issues as well..

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