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Getting the word out – One-stop communications shop is goal

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By Todd Cohen

The Communications Network, a 20-year-old volunteer group of foundation communications officers, is gearing up to help foundations be more strategic about how they communicate.

The group, which has 150 to 200 members from 60 to 70 foundations, has hired Pat Lewis, a veteran journalist and communications officer, as its first executive director.

A key goal is to help foundations develop communications strategies to be more effective grantmakers. To do that, the group aims to create a kind of one-stop shop for resources any foundation can use to develop and assess its communications strategy.

The network, which has received $150,000 in grants, will provide media training; conduct leadership retreats; publish a newsletter; help foundations assess their use of technology; provide online resources, such as standard formats for news releases and other materials; and conduct research on communications issues.

The group has created a Web site at comnetwork.org, says Lewis, whose previous jobs include director of speciality press at the White House, director of public and media outreach at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and communications director for the Interfaith Alliance.

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