The elevator pitch is a key tool in your organization’s internal communications tool kit — not just for you, the CEO, but for everyone in your organization. Does your staff know the elevator pitch for your organization? For the work they do each day? Can they speak comfortably about your business at a barbeque?
We tackled this internal communications question at the staff development day for a large nonprofit family services agency. For part of the day, 100 employees who work day in and day out helping families and children worked on describing their work and the agency’s mission — in the time it takes to ride an elevator. They are a busy, dedicated group, working to support parents and children struggling with socio-economic challenge, family instability and generations of poverty. They help families adopt children, and support them through the years. They provide programs to support teen moms, so they can complete their educations, and they provide high-impact early intervention programs. In short, they are doing serious, hard work, yet, in the bustle of their individual responsibilities, some staff members weren’t aware of what that their colleagues were doing. They hadn’t had time to consider just how how their work supports the overall agency mission. Could they describe their work in a couple of sentences?
The CEO knew this was a challenge, so invited me to conduct an “Elevator Pitch” workshop.
This was an excellent idea for the agency and for EGLahr PR & Media. After all, as we insist, your employees are your first ambassadors and spokespersons — at the neighborhood picnic, at church, at the birthday party or the baseball game, when people ask, “So what do you do? Where do you work?”
By the end of the day, each of the eight agency departments had developed their own elevator pitch and presented it to the agency’s board of directors. It was no easy task, staff members learned, to boil down their work to several quick sound bites, to wipe out the words “empower” and “support” and to actively describe what they do, free of jargon, lingo and the vernacular of social services. They worked with note cards and whiteboards and graciously put up with my saying, “that sounds great, but what to you DO?”
The results of this day were wonderful. The CEO reported back that other trainings have involved speakers addressing particular topics, but this one involved THEM and the work they do each day. They rolled up their sleeves and discussed their jobs, their clients, their challenges and rewards of their jobs. They wove their department pitches into the agency’s mission. Geographically far-flung departments got to know each other, and everyone learned how they might better reach out to their own colleagues for support and assistance.
The work of these teams will help guide the agency’s future internal and external communications, PR and marketing, a new website, annual report, collateral materials and other outreach initiatives.
Congratulations to my client and thanks for including me in Elevator Pitch Day.