Content is king

I arrived late to today’s session due to an appointment and felt a bit anxious that the next topic might have been coding, in which case I probably would have run for the hills. The thought of missing even a second’s tuition on something so seemingly techie would have sent my anxiety into overdrive. Thankfully the screen was filled with Facebook which I feel more at home with, having dabbled with business pages, advertising and content creation in my previous role. We were introduced to some powerful content creation tools, Canva which I had a log in for but hadn’t really explored and Adobe Spark which was new to me. It has certainly given me some ideas beyond using PowerPoint and Photoshop and I look forward to road testing them properly for this week’s homework.

Now to put all this talk of content into real life. We are still working on how best to help our charity case study Reading Refugee Support Group. I think l have finally nailed the customer persona of our preferred donor who I shall call Compassionate Chloe. Aged 25-44, Chloe is a graduate in politics, the arts, English or International Development. She is a young professional working for a charity, an NGO or an organisation with a social conscious. Chloe has fundraising form and has already raised money online to support other social courses. She lives locally to Reading, is enthusiastic and leads an active lifestyle, whilst also being tech savvy. Chloe is empathetic, politically aware, has faith and believes in inclusion. Chloe can mostly be found on Facebook and Instagram but will also digest local news on Get Reading.

Our task now was to think about a content calendar and the types of content we might create for our charity. Cue the brainstorming board and colourful post it notes. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Meet the team – interview with Director Nick (video content)
  • Soundbites from interviews with case workers (video content)
  • Leverage national news stories about the refugee crisis but give them a local angle
  • Educate – what is the difference between immigrants, asylum seekers & refugees?
  • Where does the money go? – how many paid staff, volunteers, how many families does the charity support each year (infographic)
  • How can you get involved? 5 fundraising ideas…
  • Case study of a fundraiser and their journey
  • Award of grants & where that money is spent
  • Testimonials from refugees with pictures
  • Link content to national events such as Refugee Week and National Black History Week
  • Organise a meet up for supporters to meet refugees at the Monday drop off session
  • Case study of homework club where local 6th formers tutor refugee children
  • Facebook live event for the flagship event during the panel session

The ideas are starting to flow but will we be ready to pitch back to the charity’s Director Nick in just four weeks time?

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That realisation that you are someone’s customer persona

WordPress training over and time for a little brainstorming. One of the biggest challenges our charity, Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) faces, is that they don’t know who their customer personas are, i.e. they don’t know who it is they are talking to when trying to raise valuable funds. Louize took us through what a customer persona is and used the example of who her customer persona is for her small business course. Armed with the information, we split into two groups to discuss firstly, who the customer persona is for our returners course (this must be a useful bit of market research for our course tutor!) and secondly, what we think the customer persona of the RRSG donor is. The latter was something that was incredibly hard to define and so some additional research is required. When discussing the returner customer persona, it was surprisingly hard seeing my own profile as a series of post it notes but also on reflection quite inspirational too.

post-it-brainstorm

Defining our donor customer persona

All of us there want to change where we are today and thanks to this digital skills course, there is definitely hope that it is possible.

WordPress my old friend

On arrival today we were introduced to Issy Wiggins-Turner from Where’s your website? who was there to do our WordPress training.

issy-wiggins-turner

Selfie with WordPress trainer Issy Wiggins-Turner

Two hours later and we would have all the tools at our disposal to create and manage our own blogs using WordPress.com, easy as pie (well not quite!).

Ironically it has been five and a half years since I started my own WordPress journey, with my blog entitled ‘I did it Mummy’, during a previous period of unemployment. I have always enjoyed writing and maybe during this current period of unemployment, I can find the same comfort from blogging that I found back then.

A baptism of fire

Introductions over and we were presented with our real life project, a local refugee charity called Reading Refugee Support Group, with the aim at the end of five weeks of pitching back our ideas on how the charity could improve its digital footprint and ultimately reach more potential donors.

We were given time to conduct an audit of the charity, followed by an informal session with Director, Nick Harborne. It was clear from the outset that the five biggest challenges that the charity faces are; lack of regular donations, lack of resource, competition for funding, poor branding and lack of public awareness about the refugee crisis. Director Nick certainly had heart and his main aim was to support refugees/asylum seekers in Reading. Quickly I realised that all the heart in the world isn’t enough to support a charity. The backbone of a charity is its ability to appeal to regular donors and encourage big fundraising initiatives in order to meet a charity’s overall mission. This is where our focus must be, if we are to provide genuine help. This particular charity has more barriers than most. People don’t see the refugee crisis as a local issue. It is not a problem that most individuals have any experience with or affinity for, despite that iconic image two and a half years ago of three year old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, lying dead on a beach, having drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.

alan-kurdi

Now it is up to seven strangers and a very talented course tutor to provide a positive steer for the charity. Thrown in at the deep end, yes, up for the challenge, definitely!

And so the adventure begins

As I stepped into the GROW office at quarter to ten, I wondered whether I would be the first person there or amongst others eagerly waiting to start their own adventure on Digital Gum’s Digital Skills for Returners course.

grow

So it turned out I was the first person to arrive, which of course gave my internal chatter an excuse to pipe up and question, did this make me look too eager? Should I have stayed in the car another five minutes? Why is that I don’t drink hot drinks? At least I could have made myself busy for five minutes making a cup of tea whilst our course tutor finished preparing the room.

Time keeping has always been important to me. As a young child I could never understand why we always arrived half an hour late, when we visited my grandparents. Now of course it is my parents who arrive half an hour late when visiting their grandchildren.

Anyway I was here now and ready to start my adventure. Our chairs had already been allocated by course tutor Louize, thanks to a named envelope which I decided to open. Enclosed was a thoughtfully chosen postcard with the strapline ‘And so the adventure begins’; a name I instantly stole for my first blog post title or magpied as my children would say.

and-so-the-adventure-begins-postcard

Louize was very keen to give the session that ‘first day of school’ feel with a range of goodies including; a Digital Gum tote bag, with a notepad (branded of course), pencil case and some funky bits of stationery; a little piece of heaven for a stationery geek like me!

Next up, an introduction from our course tutor Louize Clarke and the inevitable ice breaking round the table introductions.

louize-clarke

Meet Louize Clarke, Digital Gum Creator

I was in good company, four other ladies, much like myself, who had made sacrifices in their careers for their children, a father who had done the same and a very talented lady from Portugal to complete the team.

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