If Oregon and Washington saw a big environmental win, chances are good that Columbia Riverkeeper led the way. Calling on the federal government to clean up a toxic nuclear site at Hanford Island? That was them. Spearheading campaigns to cut back on oil refineries? To shut down the Snake River dams? Also them.

One of Columbia Riverkeeper’s secrets to their success? The dedication of their communications team, which is quick to pounce on media opportunities and keep their followers engaged. But, with a small team, they couldn’t possibly do it all. Their team reported stress trying to keep up with everything, from social to updating their website. 

What could Mixte do? To help Columbia Riverkeeper determine this: where should their time and energy be going to manage their communications?

Our Objectives

Conduct an audit of Columbia Riverkeeper’s current approach to communications and develop a plan to help the team determine what to prioritize, what to stop doing and what to start in order to take their communications to the next level. We also knew this audit needed to provide a roadmap for what kind of support the communications team needed to bring on. But, to get there, we had to know where the team needed the most help. 

Here’s how we did it:

  • We met with staff, stakeholders, partners and long-time volunteers to chat about Columbia Riverkeeper’s communication success and challenges. 
  • We dug into what Columbia Riverkeeper was putting out in the world: what they were saying on social media, in press releases, on their website, and more. 
  • Putting all of that together, we built a report and roadmap that showed where Columbia Riverkeeper’s communications should put their time and attention over the coming months. This report also included recommendations for what kind of skillset a new hire or intern should have to best help grow their team. 

The Outcome

Columbia Riverkeeper does many, many, many things well when it comes to communications, like attracting media attention and keeping their current followers engaged. In our time together, we saw that where the communications team needed the most help was managing a lot of the small, day-to-day tasks, so that they could be free to spend more time creatively thinking and planning. 

We identified critical areas for the team to address, like updating their website so that visitors received the most accurate, up-to-date information, and developing audience personas so that, when advertising in print, broadcast or social, the team knows exactly where to invest time, money and the right message to attract the followers they want to reach. 

This report gave the team a roadmap for how to not only move forward but how to do so sustainably. The Columbia Riverkeeper team not only uses this plan regularly for building out their goals but it’s allowed everyone to more critically think about what’s working and what could be improved. Materials are even shared with their colleagues in the environmental justice space, giving them an example for how to run their programs.