Regional Director, Communications
American Red Cross
Although I inherited an unfocused “community relations” program, I preferred to lead business efforts having a more direct impact upon the organization’s success. So, I undertook an extensive reorganization by setting new priorities, focusing on the impact we needed to make and then realigning resources. In building a successful marketing and communications department, I saved $110,000 from the annual operating budget and actually accomplished more with fewer resources.
As the Red Cross encountered increased competition, I differentiated the organization from our competitors in the local community. My team and I then developed key messages upon which to anchor all of our communications. We prepared for disaster response by defining the public affairs responsibilities for every member of the team, ensuring that our disaster communications would be effective and well-coordinated. Then, when disasters did strike, we responded immediately and were able to 1) assure the community that the Red Cross was there, 2) inform people how to get and give help and 3) advise the relief operation on the effective delivery of services.
Embracing new technology, I led the chapter as we became an early adopter of social media tools. I made sure, though, that our focus was first on strategy, then on the tools and tactics. I understood the new reality that social networking had forever changed the way we communicate with each other.