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The Gerald & Joan Blog. Excerpts from our stories.

One Month To Go...

Crystel Hardin

Only 31 days until Labor Day....

I'm going to state the obvious and say time flies when you're preparing for a baby. I'm sure it has something to do with extra weight and extreme temperatures, but it definitely takes longer to accomplish things these days!

Despite my sluggishness, the nursery is almost finished, we have completed one childbirth class and we are halfway through the other one, and we are steadily checking items off our to-do list. I feel fairly certain he won't come before his due date (I think he's going to take after his mom in this department), but even if he did, we have the necessities all lined up and ready to go -- car seat, clothes, pack n play, crib...only diapers are missing. We want to cloth diaper, but we can't decide if we should start out that way or if we should transition from disposable to cloth after six weeks. Ah, decisions...So many decisions.

This week I'm sharing photos of my adorable husband with his siblings. He was the world's best big brother, and he's going to be such an amazing dad. 

P.S. Happy (early) 30th Birthday, Julie (and Gerald too)!

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Seven Simple Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits

Crystel Hardin

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I'm aging myself, but social media didn't exist until my senior year of college when MySpace and Facebook burst onto the scene. I remember being skeptical of both platforms at first, but less than two years later, I launched my first nonprofit Facebook page. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest all followed.

Since those early days, I've learned some simple strategies that nonprofits can use for managing social media. The main issue with social media management is time -- it takes a lot of time and effort in order to see results. Nonprofits should practice a lot of patience as a social media plan is put into place, and the social media manager should be ready to tweak the plan on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. 

Here are seven simple strategies nonprofits can use to help ensure their social media is effective: 

1. Select key topics that can help generate interesting social media content. For example, a health and fitness nonprofit might choose the following topics – local/regional health and wellness news, healthy recipes, fitness tips, local fitness events, children’s health and wellness, senior health and wellness, etc. It’s important to be really creative with these topics. They should interest our various audiences (donors, volunteers and the community at large) and be worthy of sharing!

2. Generate a weekly or monthly calendar of social media posts. The key to social media is consistency. Donors and volunteers will see content if it’s posted on a consistent basis. If possible, we want to create a calendar that has at least one post each day. We recommend varying the post times to see which time of day is best for specific audiences.

3. Schedule posts using Hoot Suite or a similar service. By utilizing a service like Hoot Suite, we can set up multiple posts at a time.  It’s best to set a calendar reminder until this process becomes routine.

4. Drive social media posts back to the organization’s website on a regular basis. At the end of the day, we want to encourage our audiences to visit our website where they’ll learn more about our work, sign up to get involved as a volunteer or make a donation. In order to do this, we need to create inspiring posts that point back to our website. Ideally, most of our original content should originate from our website blog. For example, a nonprofit that builds homes for low-income families might share a first-person narrative from a homeowner or volunteer. When paired with some great photos, the story makes a great blog post, e-newsletter feature and social media share!

5. Communicate with audiences on a daily basis. We should put the “social” back in social media by taking time each day to connect with each of our social media channels. We can share community partners’ news and updates if they are relevant to our audience(s), interact with volunteers and donors, respond to questions and feedback in a timely manner, tag when possible and encourage reposting!

6. Monitor progress. It is very easy to set up a series of posts and move on to another project. Unfortunately, we don’t learn from that! By spending some time each week or month reviewing our analytics and creating a simple tracking spreadsheet, we are able to measure what works and what doesn’t work. We can track new fans/followers, popular posts/content, the best time of the day/week to post, etc. in a weekly or monthly spreadsheet, and then we can review it and tweak our process on a quarterly or semi-annually basis.

7. Put social media assets to work. Every nonprofit has social media savvy employees and volunteers, so why not encourage them to share our content with their respective networks? This is a great way to spread the word about our organizations and allow our most valuable assets to take pride in their work! Before getting started, we recommend setting up a clear social media policy about what’s appropriate to do/share during work hours. Also, a social media training session is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page!

Know a nonprofit that needs help building their social media plan? Gerald & Joan can help!

 

 

The Pie Girl

Crystel Hardin

Wasn't Jonathan's grandmother Sadie the cutest pie girl in the world? She was only seventeen when she married Jonathan's grandfather and started working in Memphis. Serving pie was one of the few jobs she was allowed to do, and she fit the bill perfectly! Who wouldn't want a slice of  pie from her cart? I love the photos of her posing with her coworkers. They are too fun.

If you know Sadie, you'll agree that she hasn't changed a bit -- she looks exactly the same and she still works just as hard as she did at seventeen! 

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Strategic Marketing Elements for Nonprofits, Part 2

Crystel Hardin

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As I mentioned in the first part of this series, I recently expanded my services at Gerald & Joan to include brand consulting because I love helping clients achieve clean design and tell their stories in an inspiring and efficient manner. I have also seen so many cases where the design and marketing falls to poor, overworked staff members who would be much better off using their talents elsewhere.

As these well-meaning folks don't have a clue where to start with marketing but know they need help, I wanted to highlight three additional elements of strategic marketing for nonprofits –website and social media content management, email marketing and public relations:

Website and Social Media Content Management: Websites are truly no-brainers in today’s world. Every brand must have one, and it should be updated on a regular basis. I prefer a simple, easy-to-navigate website that uses great graphics and images. For nonprofit websites, I like to see a current staff list with email and phone contact information, a calendar of upcoming events and ways donors/volunteers can get involved. A blog is also a great way to encourage visitors to check out the website on a regular basis, and it gives nonprofits content for social media. Social media goes hand-in-hand with website management, and it should be used to drive traffic to the website. Every brand should have social media because it’s a really easy way for potential partners to find out more about the nonprofit and stay engaged on a regular basis. For these reasons, each social media channel should have consistent branding (clean logos, a great cover photo, updated organizational information and some great photos) and regular posts that engage and excite the specific audience. If possible, a good percentage of the organization’s posts should drive the audience back to the organization’s website.

Email Marketing: In my career, I’ve send out tons of weekly and monthly email blasts. Both can achieve good open rates, but nonprofits (and for profits for that matter) must know their audiences and how often they want to receive news and updates. If they don’t have a good feel for this, they’ll lose subscribers. I recommend offering sign up options for subscribers – perhaps a weekly CEO update and a monthly volunteer newsletter. Emails should be short and to the point, and then they can link back to longer features on the organization’s website. E-blasts also serve as great content for social media!

Public Relations: My college degree has a PR emphasis, so I learned at the age of 22 that PR and nonprofits can work really well together. Journalists love a great story, and nonprofits can offer great stories. Unfortunately, nonprofit employees don’t always have PR backgrounds, and therefore they don’t know what to pitch (all nonprofit “news” is not worthy of a reporter’s time), when to pitch it (events can’t be pitched too early or too late), how to pitch (there are preferred methods to pitching) or who to pitch (there are tons of reporters at every news outlet). Journalists also appreciate well-written press releases and news advisories that make good use of AP Style and working with a single organizational contact that can set up interviews for them quickly and efficiently.

Readers, if you know a nonprofit that could benefit from any of these brand consulting services, please send them my way. I would love to put together a plan that meets the unique needs of their organization and helps them make great use of their marketing budget.

Click here to contact me!