CWP Outreach Guide
Outreach is done by promoting the community website to extend its reach. Examples include: staffing a table at a community event, sending a newsletter, posting flyers, and more.
Community engagement is done with the community for relationship building. The Community Website Partnership is engaging community teams to create dynamic websites… Community Teams often include both Volunteers and paid coordinators who provide skills and enthusiasm for a successful, well-utilized, vital website.
Champions for community websites get the word out to promote the site while building relationships with people as they inform and train how to generate content like directory and/or calendar listings. Through ongoing outreach and engagement for the site, new champions are created, strengthening support for the Community Team.
Community outreach and engagement works when you have a coalition of many people and organizations collaboratively sharing the workload.
Outreach and engagement both take capacity and effort. For teams unaccustomed to community outreach, putting so much emphasis on cultivating 2-way relationships may sound time consuming. However, outreach and engagement pays off in the long term especially in regards to energy efficiency.
Each Community Website serves as a resource hub, attracting diverse community members to exchange information, connect with their community, and create opportunities to increase community vitality.
With so much dynamic, changing, and time-sensitive user-generated content, ongoing and active outreach and engagement strategy is key to your success.
Community Teams may wish to strategize ways to effectively engage people in their communities. The increased vitality of each Community Website will be evident by:
- Higher number of new and returning users
- Increased visits (evident through tracking via Google Analytics)
Community Teams can increase traffic to your site by frequently updating user- generated content like:
- New photos
- Calendar items
- Directory listings
- News and stories and more
Here are some things to consider when making plans for outreach and engagement:
- Know the audience
- Be informed and ready to empower with information. Access training guides and videos via the Partnership Website here
- Start with existing partnerships and be open to new partners and collaborators
- Engage in-person, follow-up with phone calls, and emails
- Be responsive, learn, and improve
- Create fun outreach materials to share
Community Outreach Strategies include but are not limited to:
- Word of mouth (speaking to groups, clubs, networks, and individuals)
- Develop printed materials to share
- Distribute/ post fliers, brochures, rack cards, and/or business cards
- Social Media postings
- Links to sites on community partner sites
- Email (newsletters, reminders, updates to your team, or community organizations)
- Media Outlets (press releases, short blurbs, and advertisements in print; radio…)
List strategies that work for your community:
There are many forms of outreach and engagement, but not all of them may work for your Community or your Team. Here are a few examples of ways you might reach out to recruit new members of your team, let the community know about your website, or promote increased engagement with an existing website.
- Make a list of what might work for your community
Idea from the CWP Network: Try using multiple methods at once and setting micro-goals like JeffCo Connect, “Let’s get 6 new directory listings in the next 6 weeks by presenting to the Coffee Cuppers (Chamber of Commerce), posting fliers, and distributing business cards.”
Create Basic Outreach/ Marketing Supplies:
Identify if your Community Team could benefit from creating, and printing some outreach materials that can be used to market your site. The CWP has some great templates to get you started.
Here are some ideas for outreach materials:
- Business Cards (general for site, not necessarily an individual person)
- Fliers- full page for bulletin boards and smaller quarter page or rack card for counters and desks (and list of public bulletin boards to regularly post- libraries, general stores…)
- Press Releases and blurbs for local publications
Tips from the Hub for effective Outreach:
Social Media: Calendar and volunteer postings may be shared via social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Posts should include a call to action, brief descriptions, link to the community website, and hashtags (#) or tags (@) to relevant pages or collaborators.
Email newsletters, reminders, and information directing people to sites. Sites can be synced with Mailchimp or contact lists of site users can be generated. Try to include a photo and action items so that people respond
Including the Community website address and logo in each Team member’s email so that every time an email is sent, it includes the outreach for the Community site.
Table at events:
Set up an informational table/ booth/ tent at community events/ public locations. Supplies may include a computer/ tablet, banner, business cards, brochure/ flier, and table, chairs, tent.
Here are some suggestions for successful community engagement events:
- Plan: steering committee of 3-12 work together to plan agenda and coordinate details.
- Set Clear Goals: # attendees, purpose, outcomes. Example: “Convene 50 nonprofit leaders to meet, network, get informed about local funding opportunities and learn how to utilize volunteer feature of community website.”
- Invitations and promotion: event listed on the website, targeted emails, social media event and posts shared to groups, press release, mailing, fliers, personal, one to one invitations (phone call or in-person)
- Reminders: 1-3 email reminders with “please forward” to increase the pool of invitees
- Follow-Up: Thank volunteers and presenters, email all invited contacts with results of event (# attendees, recap, next steps, survey, etc.), continue to survey for input and buy-in, meet with steering committee to reflect and take notes for your next event.
Additional ideas for successful events:
- Free/ no cost to attend but donations are welcome (pass the hat)
- Sign-in/ registration collects complete contact info of all attendees
- may include opportunity to sign-up to volunteer or to join steering committee
- Provide name tags for attendees
- Food and drinks served (part of promotion)
- Get Input (paper surveys, post questions on wall, poll, etc.)
- Valuable and Informative Program presented with special guests or learning opportunities
- Network activities- Icebreakers, Ways to split into groups, Brainstorming, Team building, Celebration. Some of these ideas are described in the Network Learning Exchange Toolkit
General Outreach Tips:
- Make outreach fun!
- If one strategy is not working, try another one.
- Try to change things seasonally with themes, photos, and calls for folks to get involved
- Get at it! We know that consistent outreach gets results.
- Example of impacts with CWP….
Identify who does Outreach on your team:
Community Teams are often made up of both staff and volunteers. Volunteers are essential to the success of the CWP. Here are a few tips about engaging volunteers to support your sites.
Tips for Engaging Volunteers (gleaned from NTEN’s Digital Inclusion Toolkit)
- Training volunteers to be moderators, champions and trainers can help exponentially increase your site’s reach and vitality.
- Invite volunteers to participate in outreach events; they may become your best champions.
- Act on input you receive from your volunteers; they are often the ones closest to the participant/ user experience.
- Share success stories with volunteers; there’s nothing better than hearing how they are contributing to community-led action and community building.
- Celebrate and thank your volunteers at every opportunity.
Host (or co-host) an Event
A Greater Applegate Free Community Chili Dinner had 100 attendees!
Ideas to increase users:
- Host trainings for community members
- Post video tour on website
- Train community leaders to train community members
Search Engine Optimization Strategies:
- Step #1: Create a List of Keywords
- Step #2: Analyze Google’s First Page
- Step #3: Create Something Different or Better
- Step #4: Add a Hook
- Step #5: Optimize For On-Page SEO
- Step #6: Optimize For Search Intent
- Step #7: Make Your Content Look Awesome
- Step #8: Build Links to Your Page
- Step #9: Improve and Update Your Content
Additional resources and ideas from the CWP Network: www.communitywebsitenetwork.org
The Hub Team can help with links to:
- Help Ticket
- Frequently Asked Questions
Hey Community Team – we want to celebrate your outreach success, or a goal reached!
Share with the Hub Team, post to _ to share, or tell your story during a CWP checkin, or at the annual CWP Summit!