Marketing & Communications Resources

The Power of Storytelling (2023)

Many economic development organizations (including Economic Development Districts, Councils of Governments, Regional Planning Commissions, and Regional Councils) are often not well-known entities in their communities despite their pivotal roles in regional development. Telling the story of your organization’s role in successful projects and programs will build your community of supporters, encourage greater participation in your public engagement endeavors, increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of your role as an economic development leader, and build confidence in your organization’s abilities and impact among your many stakeholders.

Rethinking Your Website as an Important Branding Tool (2023)

Is your website doing its job? Is it providing the right information to your stakeholders? Is it easily found on search engines? Can users navigate it easily, finding the information they need? Does it look fresh and current? These are questions that should be considered as part of your public relations and outreach programs.

Sharing your RDO’s Impact through Effective Storytelling  (2022)                                                                         

RDOs across the country are making a difference daily in their regions, yet many communities are not aware of the critical roles RDOs have in bringing these programs and services to their regions. Savvy RDOs have crafted strategies to share their work with all of their stakeholders: residents, local businesses and governments, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions, elected officials at all levels, and others impacted by their work. The benefits of engaging funders and recipients of the RDOs programs and services is immeasurable. 

Branding and Public Relations for RDOs (2021)

Does your RDO have a handle on who you are, your value to the region, and how best to convey that value to your audiences? If not, it’s time to really take a hard look at your branding and PR and learn how you can integrate both into your organization’s DNA, building value and credibility along the way.

Effective Communication Tools for RDOs (2021)

RDOs are natural problem solvers, conveners, and facilitators. They can also be very quiet about the value they bring to their regions. Take some time to get to know the top communication tools that will move your RDO from “who are they again?” to “let’s call our RDO…” top of mind level awareness.

The following resources were developed prior to the launch of the Stronger Districts, Stronger Regions initiative, but continue to be useful tools for EDDs working to build better communications with their various stakeholders.

NADO Professional Development Webinar Series 2018: Social Media Basics for RDOs

Social media: just what is it and does it have a place within an RDO’s communications strategy? Once considered an electronic suite of tools to share information among friends, businesses and organizations of all kinds are using social media platforms to market their products and services.  With many options to choose from, it is hard to know what platforms make the most sense to use. The webinar showcases a marketing and public relations expert about the benefits to using Facebook, Twitter, websites, and other avenues to help not only market your programs and services, but also inform the public about the important work you are doing across your regions.

Assessing & Sharing Return on Investment with Stakeholders

NADO Annual Training Conference 2017: The Indispensable Regional Development Organization: Continuing to Make the Case for Why RDOs Matter

It is necessary to reflect on the important role that our organizations play in supporting improved quality of life in our regions and local communities. During these times of change, it is critical for RDOs to continue to serve as leaders in regional development and communicate their role and relevancy to a wide cross-section of stakeholders and funders. In this plenary, hear from executive directors of RDOs across the country who are keeping their organizations front and center on issues of regional importance and learn ways to continue to keep your organization relevant and indispensable for years to come.

Internal Communications

Monica Scamardo, PhD, NADO Annual Training Conference 2017: What You Need to Know Now to Be An Effective RDO Leader

New RDO leaders are often struck by how much they need to learn as they assume new roles with greater responsibility in their organizations. Watch this presentation to gain insights into what makes a strong RDO leader, including: building solid board relationships, proactively addressing staffing issues, and managing uncertainty.

External Communications

NADO Research Foundation and Formation PR+Brand: The Art of the Narrative: Creating CEDS and Other Plans that People Want to Read! (2019)

This webinar with the NADO Research Foundation and Formation PR + Brand shares tools and techniques that you can use to incorporate eye-catching and informative messaging, design, and imagery into your CEDS and other plans.  During this recording, learn how to harness the power of storytelling and tap into compelling visuals to draw in your audience with materials that make the CEDS come alive and speak to a variety of audiences.

Jennifer James McCollum, ACOG, SWREDA 2018: Modern Strategies for Communication Presentation
Lori Grimm, SWAPDD, SWREDA 2018: Modern Strategies for Communication and Workflow Management Presentation

We all want to work smarter, not harder. Explore the current advancements in online technology supporting that ideal. Get an overview of how some of the largest companies in the world are increasing productivity and minimizing the need for time spent on mundane tasks. Explore how conversations are changing the economic ecosystem and discover how your organization can benefit from these modern strategies. These presentations cover workflow management, communicating content, social media management.

Marketing Plans

Region 9 EDD of SW Colorado, EDA Denver Conference 2019: Marketing Your RLF Program

EDA-funded revolving loan funds (RLFs) are helping locally owned businesses with financial resources needed to launch and grow. Across the 10-state region, almost 60 RLFs are working to build strong economies. In this presentation staff from Region 9 in SW CO shares their experiences in creating strong lending programs that are making a positive impact in their communities.

NADO Professional Development Webinar Series 2018: Communications Strategies and PR Plans for RDOs

Does your organization have a formal external communications strategy or public relations plan? Do you have working relationships with local media?  Do you share information with them on a regular basis, especially about the successes you achieve? Listen to a Public Relations expert who shares tips and examples for RDOs to use as they develop marketing and branding strategies that illustrate their important work and the organization’s overall relevance.

Crisis Communications

NADO Professional Development Webinar Series 2018: Crisis Communications – Time to be both Proactive and Reactive

Emergency situations arise without notice, leaving some RDOs in a panic when it comes to working with the local media to rectify or clarify situations. Learn from a Public Relations expert how to be ready for situations as they arise, and the best approaches to react in a timely and appropriate manner.

NADO Annual Training Conference 2016: Working with the Local Media in Difficult Situations

Sometimes being executive director of an RDO can place you in the hot seat with your local media. This presentation will look at situations that three NADO members have experienced that resulted in intense media coverage. Hear about the unique situations and how they were able to work with the local media to inform and educate their communities about specific situations.

Continuity of Operations

Gail Moreton, NADO ATC 2020: RDO Continuity of Operations Plans: Is Your RDO Ready for Disaster?
Pat Steed, NADO ATC 2020: Continuity of Operations – Why COOP?
Continuity of Operations Plan Examples:

Getting the Word Out: What Do You Do?

NADO Annual Training Conference 2020: Virtual Advocacy Strategies and Successes

Listen to a discussion about adapting your advocacy strategies and priorities during the COVID-19 era. Learn how Congressional offices and constituents have continued to engage through virtual meetings and virtual site visits; hear about approaches that RDOs have used to continue to engage effectively with their Representatives and to bring attention to critical issues for their communities; and learn about NADO’s advocacy approaches, successes, challenges, and continued efforts since the onset of—and in response to—the COVID-19 pandemic.

NADO Annual Training Conference 2017: Advocacy for Regional Development Organizations

Outreach and engagement on public policy remains as important now as ever. Learn tips and strategies to help regional development entities inform and engage key policymakers and federal officials. In connecting content to real-world scenarios, NADO members share examples of successful advocacy with federal stakeholders on regional projects and programs.


Contact Karron Grant

Applications cannot be saved and returned to at a later time. It is recommended you compile all of your information in advance in a word processor and cut and paste into the application below.

2023 Impact Awards

The primary applicant must be a NADO member. Project partners, both NADO and non-members, can be recognized under "Project Partners" below.

Primary Project Contact:
This person will be the designated point of contact for all future awards-related correspondence.

Organization Address

Project Location (if different from Organization Address)

Executive Director

Additional Organizational Information
Please upload your organization's logo which will be included on the winning project award certificate.

Project Information
This title will be printed on the award certificate for winning projects and in all 2022 NADO Impact Award materials and cannot be changed.

Project Summary & Questions
Please craft clear, thoughtful, and engaging responses to the following questions. Use the following sections to tell us how your project has made an impact, such as its use of creative funding mechanisms, efforts to create efficiencies or reduce costs, unique partnership models, and emphasis on building resilience and/or enhancing your region's quality of life.

For award-winning projects, the information provided below may be used verbatim to inform project descriptions that will be published in the 2023 NADO Impact Awards materials and included on the NADO website.

Please submit at least one photo showing your project in action. Please keep file size to a minimum (<2Mb) and use JPEG format. If uploading multiple files, ZIP files prior to submitting. If you have trouble uploading images they can be directly emailed to Brett Schwartz at [email protected]. Include the project title they correspond to in the subject line of your email.

Note: Submitted photos may be used in NADO Impact Awards materials and in other NADO published materials with credit to your organization. Please also consider submitting photos for NADO's 2023 Photo Contest, which will be held this summer.

Your application is not submitted until you are directed to a confirmation page. If you have any questions or are unsure if your application has been submitted, please contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected]

Contact Melissa Levy

Contact Krishna Kunapareddy

Contact Andrew Coker

Contact Lara Gale

Contact Katie Allison

Contact Jack Morgan

Content Questions Form

Registration Questions Form

Hotel Questions Form

New Speaker Inquiry

Job Listing Inquiry

Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

Contact Danny Tomares

Contact Dion Thompson-Davoli

Contact Ciara Ristig

Contact Bret Allphin

Contact Brett Schwartz

Contact Carrie Kissel

Contact Scott Brown

Contact Jamie McCormick

Contact Joe McKinney

Contact Krystal De Leon

Contact Brittany Salazar

Contact Laurie Thompson

Contact Mirielle Burgoyne