#PRConf15 Guest blog one: Community Comms Collective

Written by Gail Marshall, co-founder and co-director at Community Comms Collective

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 21:  during the annual Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Conference on May 21, 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

Noush Issac, Communications Manager at Kaibosh Food Rescue. Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

One of the (many) privileges of being part of the Community Comms Collective is discovering small, under-the-radar, not-for-profits doing amazing work in the community. The comms collective model has a lot to offer these groups. They rarely have in-house communications expertise, and often have few resources. And yet they do good, real good. The ‘boost’ collective volunteers offer these organisations is valued and a win-win. We often talk of the Community Comms Collective ‘buzz’ our volunteers get from helping people help others.

In many ways, Kaibosh Food Rescue breaks the mould when it comes to the organisations we help. It is very much above the radar in Wellington and in the communications space it has a talented and energetic Volunteer and Communications Manager, Anoushka Isaac. General Manager Matt Dagger leads the organisation steered by an impressive Board and supported by more than 80 long-term loyal volunteers. But, like most charities, Kaibosh is small in terms of paid staff (one full-time and five part-time staff) and its day-to-day running costs are covered by a juggle of different funding streams (donations gratefully received at www.kaibosh.org.nz). Despite this, the team at Kaibosh don’t rest on their laurels. They have dreams – not of national or global expansion – but of having greater capacity to service the Wellington region and of doing more to support their vision of zero food poverty and zero food waste.

As hungry as Kaibosh is to do good, Noush is proactive about developing her communications skills to help that happen. She has attended workshops we’ve run over the last two years, and laps up the support and guidance of her mentor, Community Comms Collective volunteer Emily Turner. Their latest win was a story on Campbell Live about Kaibosh – rather timely on the eve of both the PRINZ conference and the news that John Campbell was walking. It was no surprise that Noush was willing and keen to involve Kaibosh in a brainstorm session as part of the PRINZ conference.

A diverse range of 10 communications professionals from across New Zealand took part, reflecting the vibrant mix at the conference itself. The delegates (myself included) were quickly seduced. Kaibosh’s slick operation was compelling, but it was the bigger story – about the community groups who receive the food, the volunteers who sort the goods, the businesses who donate, the social and environmental benefits, that drew people in. There is definitely a place in the speaker circuit for Noush’s storytelling.

The session’s focus was on helping Kaibosh tell its environmental story. Communications to date have been weighted on the social good story – the feeding people message – and they felt they needed better balance. The discussion covered broad territory – the rationale for this ‘shift’ was challenged (what did Kaibosh hope to achieve by doing this?), we discussed audiences and stakeholders for environmental messaging, and we talked actions. And we had a bit of fun – dreaming up ideas for future campaigns and public relations activity.

We left Kaibosh with plenty of food for thought for future communications. Hopefully there will be minimal food waste when Noush and Emily and the rest of the Kaibosh team have finished sorting through it.

w communitycomms.org.nz  t @community_comms   f CommunityCommsCollective
w kaibosh.org.nz   t @kaibosh_nz   f Kaibosh.nz

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