How to get a designer's best work for a logo, website, ad - anything


A long time ago, I had to learn from scratch how to manage visual designers, after having started out as a composer and audio producer, with no training in graphic arts -- back then I thought of it as "the blind leading the deaf."

Luckily, I found that most of the skills I'd developed while working with sound carried over to other disciplines, too. There's one skill above all that I believe managers need to master in order to get the best work from a designer or any creative professional:

Talk about why, not how.

Leadership Lessons from Obama for America's COO

Spencer Critchley

Last week I was in Washington, DC for a couple of days, connecting with old political friends -- and one new one. The new one turned out to have some very interesting things to say about leadership, from a unique perspective: playing a key role in assembling Barack Obama's first presidential campaign (this is not to say that the old friends weren't very interesting, too).

While Henry DeSio was serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Obama For America 2008, I was on the ground working on communications teams in battleground states. I never met him back then, but I'm glad I have now. He's working on a book about his experiences, and the lessons that can be drawn from them.

A great hashtag, doing good: #ReplaceBikeWithCar

Satire is great. It allows us to critique and discuss topics too challenging to confront directly. Whether it's Mr Swift's Irish baby pie recipe or Mr Colbert's staunch idealization of Bill O'Riley, satire is the tried and true tool of political humor. To that end, last week the meme #ReplaceBikeWithCar was born. To contrast the often, but overlooked danger and detractors of cars, with the inherent, but much maligned safer, slower, and more efficient bicycles, folks took to Twitter.

How Open Should We Be?

People seem to either love or hate the open office concept. Once hailed as a sign of modern hipness, it's now sometimes called intrusive and non-conducive to productive work. It seems that instead of maximizing collaboration, the open office sometimes just provides interruptions and distractions. At least that's what Jason Feifer thinks, in his article Offices for All!

The Shape of Design


I recently watched a charming and lovely animation on Fast Company called Shape, created to explain to young people why design is important. Designed and directed by Johnny Kelly for Pivot Dublin, and a Dublin-based initiative MAKESHAPECHANGE, this six-minute film attempts to answer questions about the how and why of creating things. Although it's to be used in Dublin classrooms, this six-minute film is just right for everyone - highly recommended.

How Nonprofits Can Succeed with Content Marketing

For a recent article in Nonprofit Communications Report, I was asked by writer Dawn Wolfe for 3 keys to successful content marketing for nonprofits.

I thought it would be worth sharing them here, via excerpts from the piece (a subscription is required to view the full article online).

What is content marketing? It's self-published content that is genuinely useful and/or entertaining, which you us to attract people to your website and socal media presences. It's a core part of inbound marketing.

My 3 keys? Brand, persona and focus.

Great, up to date advice for raising money with social media & the web

Spencer Critchley

By now, just about every nonprofit of any size seems to be using the web, email and social media. And yet many are behind the curve on using online tools effectively.

In particular, we find that many nonprofits use email as if it's just a digital version of a paper newsletter, and the web and social media as if they're just digital bulletin boards.

But in working with any medium -- the web, TV, radio, newspapers or, reaching way back, fax -- it's always been important to understand it for its own strengths, not in terms of whatever came before it.

Type-Finder: An Online Tool for Finding Typefaces

If you need to quickly find a great typeface for your project, here's a terrific online tool that can help - and is kind of fun as well. (That's always good.)  Type-Finder takes you through a series of questions that let you define the use of your typeface, and then displays a list of fonts that it thinks will match the use. For example, your first question is "Where will this font be used?" You choose from web, print, or both. "How will it be used?" Headline, paragraph, or both.

Empathy: The overlooked key to nonprofit marketing

Don't Mess With Texas PSA

It's an occupational hazard of the nonprofit world to know too much about the problems you're trying to solve. When you're an expert, facts have great resonance for you.

Why is this a hazard? Because when you're trying to reach people, facts are not much use. Then, you need to know not facts, but feelings. That's because it's emotions, not information, that drive our beliefs and behaviors.

So, for a nonprofit communicator, it's critically important to practice the skill of imagining how the world looks to the person you're trying to connect with: to be empathic.


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