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Since January, our cohort of Orlando Fellows has attended a monthly institute – all focused around different themes. We’ve heard from experts on the concepts of life entrepreneurship, fundraising, and communication.
Since January, our cohort of Orlando Fellows has attended a monthly institute – all focused around different themes. We’ve heard from experts on the concepts of life entrepreneurship, fundraising, and communication. The weekends are long (we’re in sessions all day Saturday and all day Sunday), but each institute is full of practical information that equips us to be stronger leaders within our community. (Plus, it doesn’t hurt that our meeting location is pretty much one of the best office spaces in downtown Orlando!)
At our most recent institute, we learned about communication. The Orlando Curriculum Co- Chairs, Brook Hines and Sarah Elbadri broke this broad theme into smaller, more manageable sessions, which included, branding, strategic communication, the power of visual design, and PR.
Here are a few takeaways from the different sessions: Brook, who works in public relations and communication, helped us realize that a brand is more than a logo; it’s an identity. The idea of “charismatic branding” resonated with me the most. Essentially it means creating trust in your audience through a combination of reliability AND delight. Later on, she also gave us the 101 on PR. She provided us with examples of press releases, media advisories, etc., as well as this gem of a resource in regards to the best blogs here in Florida.
Dave Plotkin, a media specialist and teacher of digital art and design, has done lots of design work for various political candidates. He talked us through his different projects and all he’s learned along the way. To reiterate one of his main points, Dave shared this video with us. It kind of blew my mind. Messaging, especially when done thoughtfully and intentionally, can be very, very powerful.
Brad Elkins (who flew in from the DC area to share his vast wisdom with us for a few hours) drew on his experiences with the Truman Project and got us all thinking about how to communicate a powerful and persuasive narrative. Key takeaway here? The most influential messages connect with people on a personal level. You need to take the time to build relationships, try and understand the other person’s point of view, and utilize that to convey your point.
Our last session wasn’t focused so much on communication (directly) but more on the capstone projects we’ve been tasked with completing. As a Fellow we have the opportunity to bring an idea to fruition, drawing on all the information and resources we’re learning. During this institute, some of the folks from Purple Rock Scissors helped us think through the steps that go into project development. While their specialty is obviously a digital product, the concepts they discussed can be universally applied to anything. Important things to be in the know about: MVP, S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive), and conversion funnels.
Marissa is a member of the 2015 Orlando Fellows Cohort. She works at a college here in Central Florida, and focuses her work on student leadership development and community engagement.
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