Organization selection essay general requirement
The purpose of this assignment is for students to identify the organization that will serve as their “client” as the basis for future assignments, and to identify a theory of change that will guide future strategy work on behalf of the client.
In the first few weeks of the semester, students should identify an organization to serve as their client (students won’t actually work with the organization, but should imagine themselves in the role of a consultant to the organization). The client will then become the focus of all future assignments in the course. The Email Marketing Strategy Memo, Web Strategy Memo and Social Media Strategy Memo will each require students to analyze and write for the selected organization, while the Capstone Project will require students to develop a comprehensive content strategy for the selected organizations.
When identifying an organization, students should consider the following criteria:
1.The organization can be a nonprofit, for-profit, governmental or political organization.
2.The organization should have a well-evidenced content strategy, meaning that it publishes content across a variety of media. At the very least, students should be able to access the organization’s website, the emails the organizations sends and posts on least one social media platform. Students may find it easier to complete future assignments if the selected organization employs a wider variety of digital platforms for publishing content.
3.Students will be expected to critique and provide recommendations to improve upon the selected organization’s content. Therefore, organizations with clear opportunities for improvement may make for a better selection than organizations with little room for improvement.
4.Students are welcome to choose an organization for which they work, either in their capacity as an employee or consultant. However, all materials submitted for this course must be original for the purposes of this course; students can use materials from this course in their professional work after the conclusion of this semester but CANNOT use outputs previously done for their professional work to satisfy the requirements of this course.
5.Students typically have an easier time completing future assignments in this course when the selected organization is one with which they have a personal connection (e.g., select a nonprofit that works on a cause important to you, a brand for which you have an affinity, a governmental agency that is making a positive difference in your community, etc.).
Once students have selected an organization, they will develop two deliverables: (1) a short essay describing the organization and why it presents an ideal opportunity to develop a content strategy, and (2) a theory of change to guide future strategy development.
The short essay should be 1-2 pages (double-spaced, Calibri 11, 1” margins) and should:
1.Identify the organization and its purpose (e.g., What is the organization’s mission? What kinds of products or services does it provide?).
2.Articulate which digital media platforms the organization currently uses to publish content (e.g., what websites does it operate, which social media platforms does it actively use, what kinds of emails does it send to subscribers, etc.).
3.Provide a brief assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s content strategy. Here, you may wish to consider dimensions related to audience, message, medium and strength of content.
4.Identify any formal relationship the student has with the organization, if applicable (e.g., indicate if you work for the organization, volunteer with the organization, etc.).
For the theory of change, students should develop a visualization using the theory of change template provided during Lesson Week 4, or another template. Regardless of the template used, the theory of change should identify one long-term goal; a small set of objectives (2-3 objectives is likely appropriate, although you may identify shorter- and longer-term objectives); and the strategies, tactics, inputs and evaluation metrics that will guide the future strategy assignments (i.e., three strategy memos and the Capstone Project). Students’ theories of change will likely evolve over the course of the semester, so this deliverable should be a reflection of your initial thinking about how the organization could benefit from the development of a comprehensive content strategy.
View the assignment guidelines for additional details about this assignment.
Assignment Guidelines: Organization Selection Essay
Hi everyone! The purpose of this short video is to walk you through my expectations for the organization selection essay. And just like with all of the assignments, there are detailed instructions that you can find in the assignment guidelines section of Blackboard. And of course, if you have any questions about those guidelines, or anything that I share in this video, you’re always welcome to reach out to me, and I’m happy to answer whatever questions you may have.
So the organization selection essay, essentially is where you are going to identify for me, the client that you will be working on behalf of for the remainder of the semester. By now you’re probably familiar that all of the assignments that are separate from the discussion forum activities are all related to the development of content and the assessment of content strategies for an organization. And you are able to select any kind of organization you want. But this essay is essentially where you are going to tell me, you know which organization you’re working on behalf of, and what you anticipate doing.
We’ll talk more about the actual selection of a client organization in just a moment. But I will say that there are essentially two deliverables for this assignment. So the first is a short essay. And I do mean short, where you sort of describe what the organization is what you think, are the opportunities to develop a content strategy for them or to improve upon their content strategy, you know, maybe there’s an opportunity that you’re seeking to help them leverage, maybe there is a problem that they need to overcome. Whatever the case may be, you’re going to sort of write that up in a short essay, short narrative, and explain to me why it is that you intend to develop content strategies on behalf of that organization throughout the remainder of the semester.
And then the other piece of this is going to require you to have watched the lecture on theories of change. But you are going to use the template provided or a different theory of change template to visualize what you see to be the goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, resources, and metrics. Now, all of that is found in that particular lecture. So you’ll want to consult that video for more in depth discussion. But the very short version of a long story is that I’m looking for you to tell me what your current thinking is, in terms of what is the goal that you believe that the client organization can work toward, through the development and execution of a content strategy? And then what would that content strategy look like?
I’ll give a couple of examples. But before I do that, I want to say that in terms of the types of organizations you can select, you really do have a lot of leeway. Here, you can pick a nonprofit organization, a for profit organization, you can pick a governmental organization, you can pick a political campaign, there’s really a lot of flexibility here. Last semester, I had somebody who chose to develop a project on behalf of a nonprofit, summer camp sort of organization, I had somebody create a content strategy on behalf of a member of Congress, I had somebody develop a content strategy on behalf of the, you know, member of their city council that they worked for. I’ve had people develop projects for major corporations like Wells Fargo, and Instacart. I’ve had people develop content strategies for small community-based nonprofits, you really are able to pick whatever organization you want.
I will say, though, that the best organizations are those where one, there is a clear opportunity for improvement. So if you are choosing an organization that is just really rocking it when it comes to their content marketing, it’s gonna be hard for you to create content that differentiates it from what the organization is already doing. If I don’t see that there’s a sort of clear improvement or a clear opportunity, that it might be a little bit hard for you to make the case that the content you’re developing is worthwhile for that brand. The other thing is that you should have an organization that has room for improvement, but has some evidence of a content strategy to begin with. So if you are familiar with a nonprofit organization that doesn’t have a website doesn’t have any kind of social media presence, they don’t have an email list you can subscribe to, then that’s going to be really difficult, because you’re not going to have much to assess for your strategy memos. And it’s going to be hard for you to sort of see where there are opportunities for improvement because They’re kind of starting from scratch. So, in other words, envision yourself thinking about designing campaigns on behalf of this client organization, rather than seeing it as a startup and having to build everything from the ground up. There are exceptions to that. So if you’re thinking about an organization that maybe doesn’t fit that bill, then we can certainly talk about that. But I think you will want to choose an organization that has something to build from, but also room to grow.
The last thing I’ll say about selecting your organization is that you are more than welcome to select an organization that you work for, that you volunteer for, that you consult for, or have some other kind of formal relationship with. But you need to make sure that everything you do for this class is original for this class, not only would I be okay with you taking material from this class, and then ultimately using it after the conclusion of the semester, in your formal work with that organization, I think that would actually be fantastic. That’s like, ideal if you can take the content that you develop for your academic work, and put it to work for you in your professional life. However, you can’t do the corollary, meaning nothing that you’ve already developed for your organization, or nothing that you have been paid for, or will get paid for, can be submitted to me as part of the requirements for this course. So for that reason, I do ask that if you have a formal relationship, you’re going to use your own organization. You know, for example, the company where you work as your client for the semester, you need to disclose that in your organization selection essay.
Having said that, you’re going to pick your organization that will act as your client, and then you’re going to write a short narrative of what who the organization is and why you chose them. So for the purposes of this exercise, I am going to talk about my own organization, which is ANCOR, and ANCOR, like I said in my introductory video to this semester is a nonprofit trade association with about 1,600 members who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And in my organization selection essay, I would talk about their mission very briefly, but then I would really focus on what do I see to be the potential opportunities here. One is that although we have very compelling content and strong subject matter expertise, we don’t do a good job of proactively marketing that content to our audiences. Second, although we do a phenomenal job of creating resources for our members, we don’t always do a great job of reaching beyond that. There’s a lot that we could do if we were to be more strategic about how we engage with other organizations. But because we don’t have a cohesive strategy for that, we ultimately miss some opportunities. And then the third thing that really stands out to me about my organization’s content strategy is that the content has evolved more quickly and more efficiently than has the platforms on which that content is published. So for example, with our website, we are about to embark on a process of rebuilding it. Because it is dated, it has not been well maintained. It was not ultimately designed in a way that could allow us to sort of make iterative changes over time. And as a result, there’s a ton of really great information there. But it’s really hard for our members and other audiences to navigate and find what they’re looking for.
So I would describe all of that in my organizational selection essay. And then in the theory of change portion, I would sort of visualize what I’m thinking about for my capstone project plan. Now, this is ultimately going to evolve throughout the semester. And so you’re going to provide an updated version of the theory of change at the end of the semester as part of your capstone project. But for now, you want to be thinking through well of those three goals, which one do I want to focus on? Or maybe I want to focus on two of the three because they’re actually shorter-term objectives that contribute to a longer term goal. But then, of course, I always I already have ideas about how I might start to address some of those challenges. So then I’m going to start to sketch out some strategies. And then from there, I’m going to think about some of the tactics. So given the examples that I just shared about my own organization, maybe what I envision doing is rebuilding the infrastructure, the digital infrastructure on behalf of anchor so that it has a modern website that’s easy to navigate and has integrations with social media and email marketing. And maybe my other strategy is to engage more in storytelling. So people understand the value that community based disability services offer in the lives of people with disabilities and their families. So I’m going to then obviously develop a series of tactics that would enable me to do those things. Those tactics could be everything from sharing write ups of interviews on our medium page, to featuring stories on our homepage, to providing data points on Twitter that illustrate the need for community based disability services. All of those are very tactical things that ultimately contribute to a strategy that if successfully executed, would enable us to more effectively engage audiences besides our membership, and be more proactive in getting our messaging out there about the value of the services that our members provide.
That’s just one example. But that’s the kind of thing that I’m looking for understanding, of course, that because you’re just now starting to think about your organization, and you haven’t started to really dig into what your client is looking for. The theory of change is, of course, going to be more of a rough sketch of what will then drive your thinking in the future. And maybe you find that those objectives aren’t the right ones, maybe you find that the goal needs to change. Maybe those objectives are the right ones, but the strategies aren’t going to get you there. Whatever the case, it’s totally fine. My expectation, like I said, is that these things will evolve. But I do want to make sure that you’re giving some thought not just to, “well, I like this organization,” but also to if there is a clear opportunity for me to improve on what this organization is doing regarding its content strategy that I could really capitalize on and I want to drive forward over the course of the next several weeks.
If you have questions about any of that, I hope you will reach out to me and let me know like I said, my inbox and my you know discussion forum on Blackboard are always open to you. And ultimately what you will do is submit both of those deliverables—the short essay and the theory of change visualization—in a single document on Blackboard no later than the end of the lesson week for which it is due. I wish you the best of luck as you think about this assignment and how it informs future assignments. I am here if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing what you create. Take care, good luck and be well!
Organization selection essay general requirement