My organization, Wider Opportunities for Women, focuses on issues surrounding women’s economic independence and equity through three programs: NCWEE (National Center for Women’s Employment Equity), ESS (Economic Security for Survivors) and ESSI (Elder Economic Security Initiative). These three prongs complement each other by exploring multiple factors that affect women: access to high-paying, non-traditional jobs, the real monetary cost of sexual assault and stalking, and the rising levels of poverty within the aging demographic. They make great strides training companies in how to hire and retain qualified women in traditionally male-dominated jobs, providing technical assistance to law enforcement officers and state prosecutors as to how to properly record acts of economic aggression, and work closely with food banks all over the country to ensure that everyone has their most basic necessities.
Four weeks ago, I knew none of this.
My first week was a whirlwind of adjusting to a new job, a new commute, a new place, and an overwhelmingly new amount of information. But now, it’s fascinating how easily legislation just rolls off my tongue, legislation I knew nothing about until recently. As I’ve been learning what WOW does specifically and what it takes to be an advocacy organization, I always have in the back of my mind a question: how would I, as an advocate and a communicator, go about telling people like me from four-weeks-ago what we’re trying to accomplish here? What kind of messages would I find the most effective, and then how could I go about creating them?
A few weeks in now I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine. After I make myself a large cup of tea (they have so much tea for us in the break room), I sit down and start to scour the news and social media for any topics that I could Tweet about and post on Facebook. Something I’ve had to fine-tune is picking not just topics that are relevant to the work WOW is doing, but figuring out how we can see the topic through the WOW lens and what we can add to the conversation. A fine communicator, after all, creates, not regurgitates.
After choosing a worthy topic I then begin the long process of drafting a social media post. I’ve gotten a lot better at condensing and creating a catchy headline in 140 characters. When I first started doing this, it was frustrating trying to fit in all of my ideas into such a short amount of space – I would constantly be getting that little red negative sign and number, taunting me. What’s funny is that the opposite was happening with my Facebook posts: too short, not enough detail. It’s always an interesting exercise in storytelling drafting such different messages based on the same content.
I have also been granted the opportunity to write blogs for WOW. My most recent was about the United States winning the World Cup and Title IX’s legacy not just in sports, but in Career Technical Education. I hope to write another one on the lack of female representation in film production. I feel so fortunate that I’m able to pick topics I’m passionate about and relate them to the work done at WOW.
In addition to this, I’ve been tasked with working on maintaining WOW’s supporter database, Salsa. I’ve worked with Sarah (the office-designated “Salsa Queen”) with how to manage supporter duplicates, configure groups, and deleting obsolete entries within the database.
Communication comes in many shapes and forms. While I sometimes am able to be the mouthpiece between my organization and the world via social media, I’m also doing the behind-the-scenes work in making sure our catered messages get to the right people at the right time. Being able to work on both gives me a broader understanding on the scope of our projects, and I look forward to seeing how they’ll continue to develop through the rest of the summer.