If you’re not sure what SXSW is you can find out more here. While it’s about great music and films it’s also about Nonprofits and great panels unlike anything you’d find anywhere else. OK, sure, you might find these panels elsewhere but where will you find 20+ panels and events happening in any given hour? SXSW is the place to go fill your brain with good information.
Nonprofits aren’t the only people at SXSW Interactive of course. This means there are a number of panels and events aimed at a larger or different audience. The Tell/Sell Panel was one of them. Meant for professional bloggers and journalists the panel focused on what makes a sellable blog or story. It should be easy for anyone to see that this is a valuable question for nonprofits as well. While we might not be looking to publish a book about our life story, we are looking to “sell” our story to our constituents, funders and others we hope to support our cause and looking outside of our nonprofit world at the bigger picture of what works and what doesn’t makes a lot of sense if we wish to expand our audience.
So here’s the 7 top take aways from this panel:
- People like lists. They especially like lists of 3 or 7 total items. Why? Who knows, it’s just what research has shown are the golden numbers. I should note that while I intended to make this list exactly 7 items long it turns out it was without me trying… I guess it really is the magic number!
- Make bulleted lists rather than huge chunks of text. It’s easier to read and digest.
- PICTURE (S)! Include them. No one likes to stare at just words.
- Some topics require more space and more time. Don’t worry too much about the length of your post if the topic needs more information to really make sense. Obviously don’t be overly wordy if it’s not necessary. Tell your story in the words it takes.
- Don’t write anything if you’re worried about what someone will think. Editing a controversial post to make it “acceptable” will destroy it’s content, feeling and meaning. If you’re worried it might offend someone it’s probably a good post so go ahead and be controversial if that’s what needs to be said!
- Basic storytelling applies to nonfiction, blogs, etc. Beginning, middle and end. Conflict is necessary.
- Think about how to market your story so your publisher (or in our case your funders, your constituents, your supporters, etc) can sell it for you. What products/organizations/businesses/etc have you mentioned? Those people can be marketing partners.
It may seem crass to think that we’re trying to “sell” our work but if we don’t think about what we’re doing or trying to do in that light we won’t actually sell it to anyone. We really do want “buy-in” for what we’re “selling” which is our mission. With out that buy in we can not have impact.
Last word: “Don’t let outside forces determine your brand” Trying to keep everyone happy will destroy your organization and ruin your passion. Know who you are and be a rock star!