With increasing frequency, nonprofit CEOs ask me what skills they should look for in hiring a marketing and communications (MarCom) professional today. CEOs understand that while certain skills and experience are a constant, the advent of the technology revolution requires mastery of an entirely new skill set and the facility to quickly adopt and smartly apply the next important emerging digital applications. Determining which skills your nonprofit will benefit from most, depends to some degree on your organization’s primary function (fundraising; relief work; education; etc.), on its size and organizational structure (management reporting ladder; key functional areas; etc.) and a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish with your marketing and communications efforts.
There are, however some important new and old skills you should be looking for in any marketing and communications candidate today. Here are my top ten.
- Demonstrated hands-on experience applying social media techniques for outreach, engagement, and/or fundraising. Appreciation for these tools as valuable additions (not replacements )o the network of communications channels nonprofits should employ.
- Inquisitive, fearless, confident personality – someone who not only can use all the tech tools available but who already is anticipating the next wave of them and thinking aloud with you how to put them to the test.
- Knowledge of key target audiences – a keen understanding of and appreciation for the target – how they behave; what they want and need; what forms of communication they prefer for specific interactions. Demonstrated experience matching target interests/needs with an organizational offer.
- Enthusiasm – for your cause, for their career, for the team effort.
- Flexibility – demonstrated ability to modify, change course, adapt, relinquish even a great idea when the situation calls for it.
- Excellent communications skill – demonstrated ability to orally and in written form communicate ideas effectively. That means knowing how to write a cogent memo, fundraising appeal, analysis of needs as well as well-crafted email and web content and effective tweets.
- Appreciation for and champion of the organization’s brand and reputation.
- Knowledge of and effective relationships with local/regional/national and other relevant media as appropriate – including online bloggers, editors and news aggregators.
- Demonstrated ability to think strategically and to integrate the organization’s mission, vision and goals into a workable, strategic marketing and communications program.
- Goal oriented in a way that is inclusive, collaborative, and focused on the achievement of the established goal not the self.
Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional who currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.