For Karen Bennett, TELE has changed more than just how she markets workshops or forums. Since attending a workshop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire last year, she and her staff have incorporated TELE into many aspects of their programming work.
Karen is an extension forester at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. She and her team provide programming for private landowners, professionals that work with private landowners, and other natural resource professionals. Karen’s team of service foresters and associates teaches landowners how to care for their woods through workshops, printed material, online materials, and social media. Their success depends heavily on using the right language to market their services to landowners. In this, Karen says, TELE has helped them become more effective.
Over the past year, UNH Extension has used TELE to rethink their branding and how they interact with landowners. For example, the team redesigned the tri-paneled exhibit they use when attending fairs and large meetings. Now the exhibit is eye-catching and uses simple messages. They also rewrote the handout that accompanies the exhibit. Karen noted that in developing these materials, “we really thought through our audience.”
Karen also points to her county service foresters, who have incorporated TELE into their work. She says before the TELE workshop last year the foresters probably used techniques like audience segmentation without realizing it. They can all quickly recognize what type of landowner they’re talking to and will provide information accordingly. “But I think the training helped reinforce good behavior and gave them some new tools to get even better,” Karen says, “So I think with regards to individual interactions with people I think the TELE training helped us become more effective.”
Using TELE to think more about a target audience and language has had its challenges. Karen admits that it takes time and effort to change habits. But she also notes, “A lot of what you can do can be done very simply. You can write a story and talk about nonindustrial private forest owners or you can talk about woodlot owners. That’s the difference.”
Karen is now looking to write a comprehensive communications plan for UNH Extension based on TELE principles. When it comes to incorporating TELE, Karen’s motto is: “Just do it….It doesn’t have to be all pervasive or invasive. TELE should just reinforce good habits and give you tools to help you get better.”