Communicating Connectivity: Telling the Stories of Digital Adoption and Equity

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The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a benefit program that provides eligible households with critical broadband service subsidies, is predicted to run out in early 2024. For digital inclusion practitioners and broadband providers, this is a real problem, but how can they play a role in continuing this crucial program? The answer lies in the power of storytelling.

Throughout this year, team members Danielle Leopold Bogage and Lauren Gaydos have worked to educate those in the broadband world about the need to effectively message the importance of connectivity and funding access and adoption efforts to policymakers and community leaders through their “How to Tell Your Story” workshop. This included a stop at the Broadband Communities Summit where Dani and Lauren spoke to broadband providers, housing developers, nonprofits, state and federal broadband officials and consumer advocates about messaging around deployment and avoiding jargon.

During Digital Inclusion Week this month, Dani and Lauren hosted a webinar with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and Network:On for digital inclusion practitioners and advocates to discuss messaging on digital adoption and equity. It’s essential to build an effective narrative, and Lauren and Dani shared some highlights from their presentations and advice for how to tell your story.

Think about your audience.
“Everyone has a different understanding of the technologies and challenges at play, so explain your work in ways they can understand: avoid jargon, tell them what different speeds to technologies mean and what they enable,” Dani explained. People need to understand what you’re talking about and walk away with reasonable expectations for broadband policy.

Talk about what broadband access and adoption means. Preaching about fiber in the ground or new wireless towers means nothing to the average person, Lauren cautioned. “But connecting a whole neighborhood so parents can work remotely and kids can access homework online, or give a hospital telemedicine capabilities? That has a huge impact, and that’s the story you want to tell.”

Now is the time to make your story heard. “The pandemic revealed deep-seated digital divides and created momentum for some of the first comprehensive broadband policies in the U.S. Now is the time to build on this momentum and keep broadband top of mind. Major broadband funding is set to have milestones over the next year and the public needs to know that progress is being made to get them connected,” said Lauren.

At the Glen Echo Group, we refine your message, identify your audience and come up with the right mix of tactics to reach them. Whether you’re looking to impress policymakers in your state or create a visual campaign seen by your community members, you have a unique narrative to share. If we want policymakers to extend these critical programs, they need to see just how impactful they are in local communities.

“If you don’t tell your story, somebody else will,” Lauren stressed, “or someone else’s story will drown out yours. With so much funding on the line, it’s critical to be heard.”

Catch Dani and Lauren’s Digital Inclusion Week “How to Tell Your Story” Webinar here and reach out to us with any questions on storytelling best practices.