For the second installment in our Science of Communication speaker series, co-sponsored by the Communications Network and Spitfire Strategies, Harvard behavioral economist Sendhil Mullainathan proved why when he talks, you should listen.
Mullainathan, whose work touches on how people’s brains process messages, has a sobering message for those of us whose jobs depend on getting people to listen, pay attention and–most important of all–act on what they’re hearing.
Chances are good that your organization is sitting on a pile of data. How do you take those vital nuggets of information hidden in files and trapped behind your four walls and shape them in ways that help advance your organization’s work or mission? How might you mash it up with other data to create new knowledge? And how can you bring all of this to life through data visualization?
To provide answers to these questions, we recently held a webinar, Seeing is Believing: Data Visualization for Philanthropy (Replay available below.)
Today, there are a lot of communications people wringing their hands about the dearth of traditional media outlets and trying to find new ways to reach out to journalists who are interested in their organizations’ work and mission. Tried-and-true distribution channels are being replaced by a bewildering multiplicity of Internet outlets. Editors and press contacts are now bloggers and Twitter feeds. Press releases can seem like ticker tape floating over a digital parade. The challenge of placing well-edited, well-researched, in-depth material in front of the right audience can feel like trying to outpace an iPad with a manual typewriter.
These changes also provide opportunities for new approaches. Take The Commonwealth Fund, which is investing in several new — what might be called — “media relations 2.0″ strategies. In one case, it is piloting a program to provide content for small-town newspapers. In another effort, it is complementing pitching new journalists with educating them. As a third way, the Fund is partnering with a venerable journalism institution to provide cutting-edge health care reporting online. In each case, the focus is on cultivating and maintaining cadres of professional, trained health care journalists and relationships with traditional, trusted publications. As part of The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency for all, these programs are designed to put well-researched information about health care issues in front of a broad audience.
As communications professionals, storytelling is what we do. We do it because it is one of the best ways to evoke an emotional connection to an abstract issue – to put a human face on the messages we convey. However, it’s how the story is framed that matters. Studies in neuroscience and psychology show that while stories can evoke a quick emotional response, carefully framed narratives that appeal to reason are also needed to inspire action.
To help people understand this new research and learn more about how to use it in their communications practice we recently held a webinar, The Art and Science of Storytelling. (Replay available below.)
Guest Post: Rebecca Arno
In her recent post about the survey results from last October’s Fall Conference, Minna Jung, our vice chair, mentioned that I was planning to share some additional insights about the Communications Network’s revised mission and strategy that we previewed in Seattle and subsequently discussed on our blog.
Last week, I sat down with long-time Network contributor, Susan Herr, principal of Trigger Creative, to talk about our new mission. Because of comments and questions we heard during and since Seattle, we decided to record two separate conversations.