by Fred Peters
Tyler Junior College
There seems to be a lot of communication taking place these days on the topic of change.
No doubt, you’ve read an article, book or blog about it recently. I subscribe to a weekly Change Blog, and I have enjoyed reading about how others have used the forces of change to their great advantage. (A perfect example.)
Many of the articles have themes similar to that of the best-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese? They describe the shock and dismay of change and the human tendency to resist it.
Things that may cause stress make great topics for blogs and paperbacks, and change certainly fits the bill. Speaking of bills, one of my favorite expressions about change is, “Change is good, but I prefer dollars!’
And, of course, “dollars” are at the root of most change in the workplace these days. We’re all being asked to do more with less, and multitasking has become a staple of our existence.
Our cheese has moved, and while we struggle to find it, we’re taking on additional duties that we never prepared ourselves to assume. We can easily feel out of place and underprepared for others’ expectations.
AN “AH-HA” MOMENT
While diving into a new work responsibility recently, having surrounded myself with grant-writing training manuals and a long list of grant experts who are about to become my best friends, something suddenly became quite clear: It’s still all about crafting an authentic story.
My communication skills aren’t ancillary to my new duty, they’re at the very core of it!
After all, the only real difference between a marketing pitch and a grant proposal is the profoundness of the feedback. You may never know which customers didn’t buy your story, and ultimately your product, but grant pitches are made one at a time. You either win the grant or you don’t. If you don’t, your story needs refinement!
IT’S THE STORY, STUPID!
So for those of you now managing websites, blogs, fundraising, speech writing, grant writing and front-desk personnel – in addition to your previous responsibilities – take heart. Seize the craft of creating an authentic story in all of your duties.
Hone it. Sharpen it. Test it.
Ask yourself how well you’re describing your institution to the public, how credible you appear to your audience, whether your story can be differentiated from those of your competitors, and whether the feedback of your audiences is being used to make your story more impactful.
All of these questions are relevant in pitching the perfect grant proposal or in delivering a compelling case for student recruitment (even managing the front desk!).
So while everything is changing, one thing appears to remain the same: the story. You are challenged to build a case to convince someone to do something they don’t have to do!
Spend time testing and shaping your message so that it reads with ease, transparency, inspiration and culpability. Then read it again!
Like the movie director working on a remote island with an infinite budget: That was perfect! Now, let’s do it one more time!
Yes, some things don’t change. The story of your institution, when told to the right audience, in a meaningful and authentic way will prevail every time.
Fred M. Peters is treasurer for NCMPR and now serves as director of public affairs and grant development at Tyler Junior College. He enjoys food, baseball and food – quite possibly in that order. He is known for busting deadlines because of his desire to rewrite everything. In fact, he’s probably rewriting this blog now, so check back soon for the latest revision.