Leave it to Chris Brogan to write what I’ve been thinking about. In his post, Grow Bigger Ears in 10 Minutes, Chris walks you through a process for listening to conversations online. You need to do this. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time to tune into online conversations – using Chris’ system.
And, you need to do something else: talk to people. In person – about what’s important to them and how you and your organization connect with their life.
Talk to lots of people, face to face, on the phone or via skype – especially if you rely on members or donors for their volunteer and financial contributions.
One person may give the impression that everything’s almost okay while another in their circle will give you the real story. And then, a third person will add their perspective from the organization’s point of view. You need to hear all of it.
In my corporate life we used to have focus groups. Several people would come in for lunch and a few dollars. We’d sit around a table and have a kind of contrived conversation. We didn’t really know what was on their mind, we only recorded what they told us.
Here at CoryWest Media, we tell our clients to let us talk to their best customers – when we want success stories.
But, the loudest stories we want to hear the most are the quietest and the least trackable: people who say they like you, but don’t want to offend you by telling you why they really don’t like you.
Tracking conversations online is huge, but for organizations who don’t have a place for online conversations, commentary comes out at the fitness center, in the grocery store, at the coffee shop and my favorite place – a friendly family room. If you want to know what people are saying about your organization, test out these hearing aids.
Hearing Aids to Improve Community Public Relations
1. Call people you miss – ask them where they went and why.
2. Find out what people are looking for – exactly – before you invest time and effort in anything new.
3, Look for patterns and holes in your process. Where do people tend to drop off?
4. Is there a problem with conveying your message – or how it’s being delivered?
5. How can you get closer? Where’s the living room?
6. Put on a pot of coffee or set out a cooler and invite people over to talk regularly.
7. Detect where your people are talking online and unlock their keyword codes. They, go back to Chris’ model and add that information in.
8. Appoint or recruit ambassadors to represent your organization in the community.
9. Be a face people recognize and connect to something you stand for: your business, your family and your communities.
10. Let’s keep the list going – add your ideas in the comments and I’ll bring them back up here in the post.