Guest Post: Rich Polt

Rich Polt of Louder Than Words is one of the consultants working pro bono for FORGE due to FORGE’s commitment to transparency. I’ve been acting as a kind of resource broker for FORGE and have made the one stipulation that anyone who engages with FORGE via the conversation unfolding here, do so in a transparent way. All reports and advice will be shared with the broader community.

Here’s Rich’s first report:

By Rich Polt

A quick introduction … my name is Rich Polt. Five years ago I started a boutique PR agency in Boston called Louder Than Words. For those of you who have been following the FORGE saga, Sean recently recruited us to participate in this bold experiment in the power of social media. Together with my colleague Erica Salamida, Curtis Chang of Consulting Within Reach, and potentially others TBD, we will contribute our time, insight, and our rolodex (do those actually still exist?) in an effort to help FORGE get beyond its current fiscal woes and on to a path of sustainability and continued impact. Well that’s the goal at least.

So you understand the spirit from which our advice comes, allow me to briefly elaborate on our agency’s work. Louder Than Words works with any organization (for profit or nonprofit) that is mission-driven and doing good in the world. Our role is therefore to help clients “communicate good.” We do this through strategic counseling, messaging development, and constituency outreach (often the media). Early this year I blogged on Philantopic (a great site from the Foundation Center) about communicating impact. I said that most organizations fall somewhere along a continuum of appealing to the mind (with data) and appealing to the heart (with imagery and stories). As I said at the end of my post: “I’m certainly not advocating for stories without data or data without stories, but I do believe that to truly convey impact among diverse and widespread audiences we need to appeal first to the heart.” If you’re interested, the entire post can be found here. I also wrote a related blog on this site here.

It’s this belief in the power of inspired communications that serves as the foundation for the work we do. From our perspective – and many a reporter’s perspective – there is nothing better than an inspirational story filled with highs and lows, overcoming obstacles, serendipity, and happy endings. When I read Kjerstin’s post and dug further into FORGE’s Web site, I was floored by what she and her team had been able to accomplish in such a short period of time – with such limited resources. What I immediately saw was the many inspirational stories that FORGE can already tell through its work with refugees, and the other compelling story that is unfolding before our very eyes as the organization struggles for its very survival. This is why I was drawn to FORGE; why I was compelled to write my initial comment; and why I eagerly volunteered our time to help affect this process.

In the coming days and weeks we will be blogging about our interactions with Kjerstin and team. In the spirit of this experiment, we will be transparent about the process, and open to critique from the community. Our next post will be about our initial conversation with Kjerstin and Curtis in which we discussed FORGE’s messaging. Stay tuned…