handling controversial topics

S1E9: Behind the Scenes of Communications at a Nonprofit

In this episode of the Candid Conversations small business podcast, your co-hosts Dan and Sagan interview Amy Tuckett of the Women’s Health Clinic. Amy shares what it’s like to be a communications specialist at a nonprofit, how to best handle controversial topics, and her top two tips for marketing your business effectively.

>> Listen to Candid Conversations on iTunes <<

This episode is proudly sponsored by the Gas Station Arts Centre

Show Notes

0:00 Introduction to the podcast

0:35 Sponsor thank-you Wondering how to best handle controversial topics? Curious about what life is like as a communications specialist at a nonprofit? Want to learn more about how to be a better feminist, tips on handling controversial topics, and ideas for best practices with marketing your business? Get all that & more in this podcast episode!

00:40 Update on our business

Small Business Case Study: CandidPodcast.ca/casestudy

“It’s fun to put together the case study every month, because we get to take a look back at what we’ve accomplished over the past month.” – Sagan

“A lot of our jobs have come from word of mouth. People are willing to give us a try, which is awesome, and it’s giving us a little bit of capital in the bank account so we can focus on growing our DIY product line.” – Dan

“Doing it this way just makes so much more sense for our business values, where we want to make sure we’re providing tools to make our clients’ lives so much easier.” – Sagan

5:40 Introduction to Amy, Communications Team Leader of Women’s Health Clinic

7:00 How Amy decided that being a small business owner was NOT for her

“So many pieces around owning a small business aren’t for everyone. It’s good to be able to look into that and decide whether it’s right for you or not.” – Sagan

“I think one of the hard things, for instance with being a massage therapist, is that when you go into it, you don’t realize all the evenings and weekends that you’ll have to work, that you don’t get benefits or vacation. All of those things factor into it. You have to weigh that, and for me I wanted more stability.” – Amy

8:20 What does a typical day look like for you in communications at a non-profit?

“One thing is that I always feel like I can do better. So the list just keeps growing and growing! When I’m not as busy, a lot of times I’m in strategic planning meetings, in addition to the regular day to day social media and communications.”

9:25 Do you do any of the communications after hours?

“I try and limit that a bit—WHC tries to do work-life balance! But I do check my phone a lot, and I do find that it’s a 24/7 job.” – Amy

“It’s hard to set boundaries for that kind of thing, when you’re in charge of so many different areas where it feels like it’s urgent—on social media, with press releases, with emails, etc. When I worked at a non-profit, I felt like I needed to be working in the moment at every moment.” – Sagan In this candid podcast episode, we chat with Amy of Women's Health Clinic about what it's like behind-the-scenes as a communications specialist, from handling controversial topics to marketing best practices to achieving work-life balance and more. Click on over to get the goods now!

“If you’re a small business owner and you work for yourself, or you’re a communications person working for a nonprofit, I don’t know how you get around that or how to find that work-life balance. That’s something I really struggle with, because you feel like you need to respond right away, and people do judge you based on how you respond.” – Amy

10:55 What are some of the other challenges you face as a communications manager?

“You almost need to have backups of backups, because a situation can escalate very quickly.” – Amy

12:05 What’s it been like to deal with potentially controversial issues, and how do you handle that as a communications manager?

“I like to consult with people who have the expertise. You have women in WHC who have been there for years, who worked with Morgentaler. We have so many women who really guide the expertise and the nuance. When dealing with controversial issues, a lot of times they’re controversial because there’s a lot of nuance there. Consulting with women who have that expertise really helps with those controversial issues.” – Amy

“We generally don’t respond to anti-choice press in the media; there’s no point in doing that because abortion is a legal procedure, and that’s been our message. However, we also like to turn messages around.” – Amy

13:55 How do you handle social media around these topics?

“We do a lot of advocacy around things like abortion. Sometimes on social media we do get trolls, and anything that’s anti-choice we delete, and we tell people we’ll delete them, because we want it to be a safe space. So I don’t feel bad about deleting those at all. They can have that discussion somewhere else, but it won’t happen on our Facebook page. A lot of that is controversial, we’ve had some threats via email that we report to the National Abortion Federation as well as the police, but for the most part the trolls stay off our page.” – Amy

15:25 What would you recommend for people handling comments that aren’t constructive?

“There’s a difference between trolling or anti-choice rhetoric, versus getting called out. When I was the social media manager for the Women’s March, one of the things we didn’t come out with was a strong enough statement in support of sex work. They rightfully called us out and said we needed to make a statement that sex work is work. Being self-reflective and knowing the difference between trolling and being called out is important. You need to listen, own it and apologize, and do better.” – Amy

“So often with feminism, we don’t go far enough with it. We aren’t as intersectional as we should be, and that can be a real problem. Especially as a white, straight, middle-class woman, it becomes such an issue if we aren’t taking the extra step. So it’s so important that we ARE called out when we don’t take the extra step.” – Sagan

“Making sure we have space for that, for people to call us out, and for us to hear them and do better, and for other people to hear them, so people aren’t constantly educating others and putting all this effort into educating someone; that isn’t helpful either. I think making sure we’re providing space for people as well, without shutting them down. But a troll is also a troll!” – Amy

18:15 Shoutout to Winnipeg Improv Festival

19:15 What kind of checks do you have for educating and apologizing etc.?

“It’s different for every situation, which can be frustrating as a communications manager. Sometimes you have to go with your gut.” – Amy

Dan with his life partner Carly at the 2016 feminist dance party

21:40 What do you love about your job?

“It’s funny, I never really saw myself working at a nonprofit. But I get to do everything! It’s fun. I never get bored, which is great, because I’m the type of person who needs to be doing 15 things at once, and I enjoy that.” – Amy

24:10 What are your 2 best tips for how to do effective marketing for your business?

“The first tip is, know your audience! You need to know who you’re speaking to, because they’ll be the champions for your organization. The other thing I really have to recommend is partnerships. Partnerships are so important not only for nonprofits, but also for business, to have all those people behind you. You can really learn from other people, and spread the word about what you do and what they do with partnerships.” – Amy

27:15 What kind of tips would you have for anyone trying to get into your line of work, communications at nonprofits?

women's health clinic

Amy and Sagan, representing WHC with their Kal Barteski shirts!

“CreComm was really important for helping me get into this industry. I can’t say enough good things about that program! Strong design and writing skills are really important. When you’re in a nonprofit job where you want to do everything, you have to be able to do all those things yourself, because there aren’t a lot of checks and balances. If you want to get into it, you should totally go for it—it’s a very rewarding career.” – Amy

29:40 What’s coming up next for Women’s Health Clinic?

Feminist dance party!

30:50 How to find out more about WHC

31:40 Thanks for listening!

If you enjoyed this episode, leave a review on iTunes or Tweet your thoughts at us, @JuxtaComms

32:10 Outtake 🙂

Awesome Resources + People Mentioned In This Episode:

Don’t Be a Stranger!

Hang out with us! We’d love to chat with you.

For example, you could…

  1. Tweet at us (@JuxtaComms) to let us know what you thought about this podcast
  2. Email us (hello@candidpodcast.ca) with any small business questions you’d love for us to answer
  3. Review this episode on iTunes and share it with your friends so that even MORE people can benefit from the amazing guests we feature!

Pssst… want to grab Dan and Sagan for an interview on YOUR podcast or blog? We’d be honoured! Shoot us an email and let’s chat.

Thank you to our sponsor, the Gas Station Arts Centre! 

Find out what Amy’s up to now in our book, A Year in the Life of Candid Conversations: Behind the Scenes of Creating a Podcast From Scratch.

  • Share post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *