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By Edith Asibey and Bruce Trachtenberg
In what can only be described as a cautionary tale for people involved in public interest communications, a recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine describes how the push to encourage women to be screened for breast cancer has done a great job raising awareness about the disease but little to save lives.
The following is a modified version of a post that appeared earlier on the James Irvine Foundation’s blog.
Guest Post: Kevin Rafter
As others have posted about on this blog, the meeting last week at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided an opportunity for a group of foundation staff, evaluation professionals and social media experts to talk about measurement and evaluation of social media. As someone who thinks about evaluating my foundation’s communications efforts and putting those evaluations in the context of our broader organizational goals, I found the meeting quite productive and helpful.
Also, because I’m an evaluator and not a communications professional, it’s rare that I get to offer my thoughts on communications outside of my own foundation. So I’m grateful for this opportunity to share some observations — both from an evaluator’s point of view and as someone who believes communications are important to effective philanthropy — with a pretty big and important audience of communicators who work in philanthropy.
Are we finally getting serious and asking important questions about the role social media (or media in any form) can play in helping foundations achieve their goals? Signs seem to be pointing that way.
For instance, last week, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) held a day-long conference focused on how foundations can determine if social media is moving their work forward. Over the course of large group and small group discussions and presentations, the questions that kept communications professionals and evaluators engaged were “what do we measure and what will success look like from using social media?”
Many of us find it difficult — even intimidating — to keep up with all the fast-changing digital tools available to do our jobs. It often seems that new ones pop up every day. With many of them available for free, the choices can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are organizations out there like the Sunlight Foundation who make it their business to stay on the bleeding edge of web/mobile tools that help them do their work better. That’s why we recently invited Liz Bartolomeo, the foundation’s media director, to have a conversation online with our regular webinar host, Andy Goodman, about the best tools for outreach, engagement, productivity and research. During the course of their 60-minute conversation, Liz and Andy discussed the tools and described how they can be mixed and matched for unique purposes. (Links to many of the tools discussed on the webinar are below.)
You’ve probably heard countless times that a picture is worth a thousand words. But how often have you actually heeded that advice and opted for a picture instead of a paragraph to create powerful messages for your organization? By choosing words over images are you creating an unintentional blind spot in your messaging? What can communicators – usually hired for our excellent writing skills – learn about using visuals?
To answer these questions we recently held a webinar, Avoiding the Blind Spot: Telling Your Story With Pictures. During the webinar Liz Banse and Scott Miller of Resource Media shared the neuroscience behind image processing, strategies for effectively communicating using photos and video, examples of extraordinary visual storytelling and practical, low-cost tips for better visual communications.