I’ve worked with Welcoming America, a national organization working to weave immigrants into the social fabric of their adopted home towns, and its affiliates since 2007, supporting statewide efforts in Tennessee, Nebraska and Colorado with communications planning and ad development, as well as developing the visual identity and tagline (“Building a Nation of Neighbors”) for the national organization. In 2011, as Welcoming America reached an inflection point of growth and exposure for the organization, it asked for my help developing a brand framework, key messages, communications plan, as well as a communications toolkit and set of advertisements it would make available to local affiliates.
Context and Objectives
With the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform receding and legislation modeled on Arizona’s SB1070 legislation making its way through state houses across the country, many individuals and organizations supportive of immigrants began to take a closer look at the need for increased efforts in the area of immigrant integration. As the demographics of American cities and towns shifts, Welcoming America finds its model—based on fostering constructive dialogue and real conversations between immigrants and their US-born neighbors—in increasing demand from nonprofit organizations and city governments across the country. At the same time, a major documentary about one of the first Welcoming efforts, Welcome to Shelbyville, presented a moment of opportunity for the organization to capture attention for its work.
Strategic Approach and Execution
Based on our earlier work together, Welcoming America contacted me early in 2011 for assistance with developing the brand of the organization and helping them think through how to capitalize on opportunities with a strategic communications plan.
I led them through a process that helped articulate the organization’s brand, defining them as smart, professional, skillful mediators interested in building successful communities in order to appeal to a broad spectrum of target audiences across the country. After finalizing the brand framework, I created a set of core messages focused on the reason Welcoming America exists and the impact they have in the communities where they work.
I also helped them develop a strategic communications plan including social media, earned media around Welcome to Shelbyville, and support for their local affiliates to help guide their communications activities throughout the year, offering ongoing counsel and support to the organization as they implemented the plan.
As part of Welcoming America’s communications support for its local affiliates, I also produced a series of template ads which were made available to them, as well as a communications toolkit explaining key concepts in strategic communications, developing the communications component of a local Welcoming initiative, and presenting the national organization’s core messaging for their use.
2011 was a year of tremendous growth for Welcoming America, as the organization added 5 new local affiliates, and grew the organization’s staff from 2 to 6 individuals. Welcoming America and their affiliates received national media attention in outlets ranging from CNN to the New York Times, The organization also received considerable coverage for the airing of Welcome to Shelbyville on PBS’ Independent Lens, which was accompanied by local screenings across the country.
I also worked closely with Uniting NC, Welcoming America’s affiliate in North Carolina, to run an innovative crowd-funding campaign to pay for a statewide showing of billboards I created. The billboards, received considerable press attention, including in The Huffington Post, The News & Observer, Fox News Latino, on local TV and radio, and in an AP article that was picked up across the Southeast.
By combining high-level strategic thinking with solid creative materials and tactical innovations, I was able to help Welcoming America and their local partners gain well-deserved attention for their important efforts to help immigrants feel more welcome in their adopted hometowns, strengthening communities as they build a nation of neighbors.
Laguna Honda Hospital
Laguna Honda Hospital has been caring for San Franciscans for more than 100 years, and 2010 marks the opening of a new state-of-the-art facility that will replace a building built in the 1920s. It’s a very exciting moment for the residents of Laguna Honda, and for the whole city of San Francisco, which proved how much it cares for it’s own by passing a bond measure to pay for the new building.
It’s always good to work on something in your own community, and I was excited when Mission Minded asked if I’d help them produce a video to introduce the new building. The challenge was creating a video that highlighted how the new buildings would help foster a stronger sense of community at Laguna Honda when the residents hadn’t yet moved in.
Working with Director Jake Kornbluth and Director of Photography Eriq Wities, I wrote and produced a video that explains Laguna Honda’s role as a safety-net hospital here in San Francisco. It highlights the opportunity for a renewed sense of community embodied by the new buildings through interviews the city leaders who led the project, the hospital administrators and nursing staff, and the President of the Residents Council.
The end result is a video that marks a place in time and lays out a vision for what the new Laguna Honda can be. I’m proud of the work we did on this video, and even more proud of my city for helping make the new Laguna Honda a reality.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been a leader in responding to the epidemic since it began in the 1980s, and they have the kind of name recognition and generalized good feelings that go along with that. The challenge, for the Foundation, was that many of their key audiences, including donors, couldn’t quite put their finger on exactly what the Foundation actually does.
Which is a shame, because the Foundation has an audacious (yet completely achievable) goal of cutting HIV infections in San Francisco in half by 2015, and a simple three-step plan based on sound science to get us there. All with the long-term goal of making San Francisco the place where AIDS ends first.
Taking that plan as our starting point, my colleagues at Mission Minded and I wrote and produced the above video to clarify what it is San Francisco AIDS Foundation is doing today and make its work concrete for their supporters.