What We Do

Our mission is to ensure the American people enjoy clean and safe water, outdoors and at home. We do this by helping our clients and students use outreach and communication to achieve the following outcomes:
  • More Environmental Stewardship: We can help you develop programs to influence your audience's personal or business habits in the right direction. 
  • Stronger Law and Policy: We help both governments and nonprofits bring citizens into the legislative and policy making process. 
  • Increased Revenue. We can help organizations raise money from individual donors and pursue federal and foundation grant funding.
  • Better First Impressions. We can "brand" new or existing organizations to make a positive impression on supporters and stakeholders. 
Here are summary descriptions of our individual services:

Consulting Services

We work with clients to develop custom solutions to their outreach and communications challenges. Here are descriptions of our most-commonly requested consulting services:

Project Kickoff

At the outset of each project, Water Words That Work, LLC will schedule an administrative conference call with your team to:
  • Set up billing and time tracking arrangements
  • Assign primary points of contact and introduce other project team members
  • Review the scope of work and answer any questions you may have
  • Update and confirm the project timeline

Communication Checkup

Working closely with your staff, we will review your communication program to identify your strengths and weaknesses. To start, we will assess your communications activities against our “best practices” checklist. Then we will gather input on your goals and accomplishments from your board, committee, or coalition partners.

Outreach Jumpstart

We lead your team through a structured brainstorming session around options to meet your communication needs. We will  start by presenting you with a suite of sample activities that are relevant to your organization and your mission. Then we will brainstorm together until we agree on an approach that is a great fit for your organization!

Strategy Brief & Editorial Calendar

Once we have made the big decisions together, we will work with you to flesh out the ideas into a 12-15 page summary document that we call the “strategy brief.” Our strategy brief covers the following areas:
  • Overview: Summarizing your effort
  • Target Audiences: Who you will try to reach, and what you want them to do
  • Message Delivery and Response: How you will reach them
  • Goals: Quantifiable and measurable. The dollars you want to raise, petition signatures you want to collect, rain gardens you want installed, etc.
  • Message Guidelines: The core messages, types of images, logos, colors, and typography you should you include
  • Overall Approach: The phases of work and areas of responsibility for each team member
  • Budget and Funding Options: The budget and options for raising the funds to implement the plan
Our editorial calendar is a two year schedule of communications, such as newsletters, email newsletters, Facebook posts, and other communications. The calendar is a matrix that makes it possible for the organization to view outgoing messages by audience, topic, and delivery mechanism. 

Note: We must prepare a strategy brief before we can do any copywriting, graphic design, or website development work for our clients.

Implementation Plan

Over a series of 4 conference calls, we will work with you to create a project management tool. You can use this tool to guide the execution of your effort, coordinate your team, and measure and report on your results. The tool includes the following features:
  • Dashboard: At-a-glance project management and results reporting
  • Tasks: What gets done, who does it, and when
  • Budget: The dollars and hours required to complete the effort.
  • Projections and Results: A detailed forecast for how you will achieve your goals and a place to track what you actually accomplish
  • Team Workload: How many hours you are committing each team member for, and when 

Final Report

At the end of each medium or large project, we will bundle up our deliverables into single package. We will prepare a final report summarizing our accomplishments, lessons learned, and recommendations for future efforts. 

Market Research Services

We help our clients understand their target audience, how to reach them, and what message to give them. Here are descriptions of our most-commonly requested research services:

Behavior Benefits and Barriers Snapshot

What kind of program would appeal to your audience? We'll seek answers from our Due Diligence Test Panel. We will ask 50 representatives from your target audience to share their views on the environmental behavior of your choice. Panelists will share their thoughts on why they would - and wouldn’t -- do what you want them to do. They’ll reveal how they get information on your topic and what sources they trust.

Custom Online Survey

We will work with you to create a customized online survey, up to 25 questions. We will secure responses by sending two emails to a list that you provide us with. For an extra fee, we can gather input from our Due Diligence Test Panel. Once we have gathered the responses, we will compile the results and provide recommendations based on the feedback received.

Message Test

Does your message hit the mark? We'll seek answers from our Due Diligence Test Panel. We will recruit 50 members of your target audience read, watch, or listen to your public-facing message. Panelists will rate the piece on various criteria and share their reaction with you. We will provide you with a summary report and recommendations for how to improve the piece. This service is suitable for short messages like:
  • Brochures
  • Interpretative Signs
  • Press releases or Op Eds
  • Fundraising Letters
  • Web Pages
  • Print or Broadcast Advertisements
  • Electronic Petitions
  • Etc.

Google Keywords, Trends, and Analytics

How do you optimize your website and online outreach? We will use three Google research tools to provide you with insights:
  • Keywords. What terms does your target audience use when using the Google search engine? 
  • Trends. Is your target audience searching for your work more or less over time? 
  • Analytics. Who are your website visitors? How did they get there? What did they do while they were there?

Literature Review

What market research is already available on this topic? We will work with you to find out. First, we will work with you to define the questions we want answers to. Then we will scour the web for relevant and reliable sources, such as surveys, research reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, and white papers. We will review what we find and synthesize it into a ~10 page report.

Revenue Roadmap

Serious outreach costs real money. Where can you find it? We will review your outreach project and the budget you need for it. Then we will dig through databases of federal and foundation grants looking for matches. We will provide you with a report on potential funding sources and tips for how to get started pursuing each one.

Supporter/Member Survey

How do your members perceive your organization and how could you find more like them? To find out, we will prepare an online survey that explores their relationship with you: How they found you, what they value about your work, how often they want to hear from you, and more. We will prepare a summary report and make recommendations for how to improve your member services -- and where to find others likely to join.

Outreach Options Inventory

How can you reach your audience? How much will it cost? We will scope out your options for public relations, social media, online advertising, direct mail, and grassroots outreach. We will compile findings from the US Census, mailing list brokers, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other resources. We will provide you with a summary report that you can use to make smart choices about how to deliver your message.

Target Audience Dossier

If you have a list of names and addresses -- from a G.I.S. layer or other sources -- we can provide invaluable insights about those households. Working with our data mining partners, we can uncover phone numbers, email addresses, and demographic and lifestyle traits for list members. We can use this information to identify the top 50 prospects, and help you uncover any existing personal connections you may have with them.

Website User Test

Are your website visitors finding what they came for -- or are they getting lost? To find out, we will invite Due Diligence Test Panel members to complete a virtual “treasure hunt” on your website. Once the panelists have completed their assignments, they will rate your site on various criteria and provide insights into how you can improve their experience.

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Training Services

We offer a comprehensive suite environmental outreach and communications training courses. Students can earn C.E.U.s and certificates.

The Core Classes:

CORE 101: Water Words That Work

Make a splash with your communications! In this course, students will discover what words and pictures turn their audience on, what turns them off, and why. After completing this class, students will approach their next website, brochure, email blast, sign, social media post, advertisement, presentation, or other public-oriented message with confidence.

CORE 102: More Than A Message

Even the strongest message won’t deliver itself! Learn how the pros plan their campaigns, measure their accomplishments, and do it even better next time. This course provides big concepts and practical tips to target specific audience, deliver your message, and prompt the action you want.

CORE 103: Perfect Outreach Projects

On time, on budget, on message. So easy to say. So hard to do. In this training series, students learn how outreach projects can go wrong -- and how to reduce the risk of a self-inflicted disappointment. The Perfect Outreach Project series provides a practical introduction to the art and science of "project management" -- leading teams of people to successful outreach outcomes.

CORE 104: Capstone Project and Certificate (Coming Soon)

Before enrolling in the capstone project, a student must have successfully completed CORE 101, 102, and 103. In the Capstone, students will work with Water Words’ consultants’ to develop an outreach strategy for a situation at their own workplace. Those who successfully complete the capstone project will receive a “Communication for Community Leadership” professional certificate.


EL101: Outreach Fundamentals

Outreach Fundamentals is our "greatest hits" crash course for staff and board who involved in environmental communication and outreach. We will provide a high level overview of the most critical components of a successful outreach effort: developing clear and compelling messages, planning successful (and measurable) campaigns, and managing teams and committees to stay on schedule and on budget.

EL102: Breaking Through Barriers

Foreign languages. Cultural differences and isolation. Low education levels. The Breaking Through Barriers series provides big concepts and practical tips to help you overcome these barriers and reach out to "underserved" audiences from all walks of life.

EL103: Move Up to the Majors

For every $1 that a foundation gives to a nonprofit organization, private donors give $5. So why is your organization stuck on the foundation fundraising treadmill? The "Move Up To the Majors" series provides big concepts and practical tips for setting up a fundraising program to tap the deep pockets of wealthy and generous individuals in your community.

EL104: Combat Communication for Conservationists

Conservation and controversy go hand in hand. Sooner or later, the mud will fly and your work and your reputation will be on the line. In this training, you will hone messaging skills you need to set the record straight and come out on top!

Plenary Sessions

Each plenary session lasts ~45 minutes and is designed to both educate and inspire your conference attendees.

Plenary #1: The World Outside: What They Say About Why Your Work Matters

Take a journey through conservation insights from social scientists and market researchers. The findings are sometimes heartening, sometimes frustrating — but always fascinating! We will explore what polls, surveys, focus groups, and other research tools teach us — and how they mislead us — about the public’s attitudes towards you and your work.

45 Minute Plenary #2: Taking Their Temperature: What Market Research Says About "Climate Change," "Global Warming," and Related Terms

The most crucial conservation challenge of our times is a language landmine! In this fascinating plenary, we will explore how small choices of words can make a big difference in how the public perceives the problem and your solutions. You will discover how industry spin doctors have manipulated the public debate to stall legislative action and what that means for your efforts to help communities prepare for stronger winds, longer droughts, and higher waters.

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Outreach Outsourcing

Graphic Design & Copywriting

Water Words has a stable of freelance graphic designers and writers who can produce a wide range of marketing print, broadcast, and digital marketing materials. Here are descriptions of our most-commonly requested outsourcing services:

Audio-Video Production

We can produce short videos and audio pieces, suitable for use as television and radio commercials, public service announcements, and sponsored videos on YouTube and Facebook.

Email Blasts

We can write and design blast emails that you can send to your list. For an extra fee, we can send emails over your signature from our own email blast account.

Direct Mail

We can write and design letters and postcards for you to mail to your target audience. We can also arrange for printing and mailing. For an extra fee, we can purchase mailing addresses for households and businesses that match your target audience.

Public Relations

We can create lists of journalists and media outlets that reach your target audience, and send them press releases, op eds, and other messages on your behalf.

Online Promotion and Advertising

We can identify online communities your target audience is likely to join and post messages there on your behalf. And we can reach your target audience with sponsored Facebook posts, banner ads, and Google search ads.

Grassroots Outreach

We can deliver messages to your target audience by approaching their homeowner associations, PTAs, clubs, churches, and other organizations they may be part of. 

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Website Development

We build attractive, low cost, low hassle websites that are mobile-ready and search engine friendly. We develop sites using the Google Sites platform, which has several features that make it a good fit for our clientele:
  • It’s Free. Google hosts the site for free (according to Google's terms of service). Once the site launches, your only expense is to register your domain (www.yourdomain.org). 
  • "Cloud" Software. You can have multiple editors, who can all manage the site from any computer. It’s similar to managing a Facebook profile.
  • Maintenance Free. You have none of the hassle or expense of backups, upgrades, debugging, or hacker attacks that you would have with “open source” software like WordPress or Drupal.
  • Document Management. You can easily upload up to 100MB of PDFs and other documents you wish to share for no additional cost. 
  • Interactivity. Easily display maps, videos, slideshows, sign up forms, petitions, and more.
  • Mobile Friendly. The site will automatically adjust itself for phones and tablets.
To develop your site, you will start by choosing one of our six templates a starting place. Then we will schedule 6 90 minute sessions to work with you to:
  • Tailor the site’s overall appearance and organization to your liking
  • Help you understand your visitors’ likely habits and how to prepare content accordingly
  • Train you to add, remove, and reorganize text and photos
  • Help you optimize your pages to turn up in more Google searches
  • Help you craft your pages to look good on phones and tablets
  • Launch the site on your domain, set up web tracking, and configure Google’s webmaster tools
Note: If you need the extra capability of a WordPress-powered website and have the resources to manage it, we have a great partner to refer you to.

Branding Services

Make a first impression they will notice and remember. Here are descriptions of our most-commonly requested branding services:

Written Brand Materials

We will help articulate your organization's work with a suite of carefully selected words. The written branding package includes:
  • Name
  • Slogan
  • Formal written mission statement
  • Informal, spoken elevator speech
We will come up with 6 first-round candidate names and slogans and 3 first-round mission statements and elevator speeches for your review. We will meet with you up to three times to edit and narrow the candidate pool to three of each for testing with a group of your choice. Once you have the test results, we will meet with you twice to select and revise the final choices.

For additional fees, you may:
  • Order additional suites of initial candidates
  • Arrange to test semifinalists with our test panel
  • Arrange for additional meetings to review and revise semifinalists and the final choice

Logo & Color Palette

We will help you lay the visual foundation to make your organization look great! We will work with you to develop a logo and a palette of complementary colors to use in your materials. Our logo package includes:
  • A suite of at least one dozen initial candidates
  • Three rounds of revision to your "semifinalists" -- your top three of those initial candidates
  • A test of the three semifinalist candidates with a review group you provide
  • Three rounds of revision to your "finalist" -- the top choice of the three
  • Final logo files in AI, EPS, JPG, TIFF, GIF, PNG formats
  • A suite of recommended colors to compliment your logo
For additional fees, you may:
  • Order additional suites of initial candidates
  • Order extra rounds of revision to your three "semifinalists"
  • Arrange to test semifinalists with our test panel
  • Order extra rounds of revision to the finalist

Identity Package

We will bring your branding materials to life with a professionally designed business identity package. Our identity package includes:
  • Business Cards (Up to 5 names and titles)
  • Envelopes
  • Stationery
  • PowerPoint Template
We will deliver the files in industry-standard formats and you can print them anywhere you choose.