Providing an accurate and succinct message to a target audience is an essential and often difficult task for a non-profit organization. This is especially true if the organization’s messaging and subject matter is technical and/or not known by the public at large.
SIM-one – Ontario Simulation Network is an excellent example of a non-profit organization that understands how to connect with its audience. SIM-one advocates for the advancement of simulation in health professions education as a means to improve patient safety and the quality of care. For those of you not familiar, simulation is an experiential form of training that replicates real-world situations. When applied to healthcare education, simulation can include the use of role-play, manikins and virtual reality.
Recently, I helped SIM-one produce online content for a communications campaign that showcased the benefits and innovative uses of simulation in healthcare education. When completed, the content included articles that examined how simulation is being used amongst stakeholders in the SIM-one community.
The SIM-one digital communications campaign was a great success!
The SIM-one communications campaign was by all accounts a great success. To date, analytics from SIM-one’s email marketing platform show an amazing click rate of 10.6%, which is more than three times higher than the industry average for non-profits, according to MailChimp. What’s more important is that in the long run this online content will lead to prolonged internet search traffic as well as enhanced awareness of the benefits of simulation.
What Can We Learn From SIM-one’s Communications Efforts
So what’s the secret behind SIM-one’s success? And what can we glean from SIM-one’s online content? The answers, I believe, are the following:
Your content has to be supported by evidence
Though persuasive writing is an important skill to have, it should be supported by current and authoritative evidence. Without the use of evidence, your content is non-factual opinion and will be rightfully perceived as such by your stakeholders.
SIM-one has always gone to great lengths to ensure that its content is supported by the latest evidence. All of SIM-one’s articles are supported by evidence in the form of:
- Research from reputable academic journals
- Quotes from well-known figures in the simulation community
- Real-world case studies
For example, in the SIM-one article, “SIM-integrated education model producing more competent surgeons in less time“, plenty of evidence was provided in the form of article citations and quotes from a leader in medical education. Including such evidence gave credibility to the article.
Your content has to be accessible to all stakeholders
You should always use accessible language when writing online content. This means avoiding too much jargon and including explanations for some terms. Though your content may be intended for a specialized audience, there’s a very good chance that it may be shared with other individuals not familiar with the subject matter via email and social media.
The SIM-one community is comprised largely of educators, researchers and mangers in the healthcare education field, who are fully versed in “simulation-speak”. However, knowing that the levers of power and funding are often outside the simulation community – individuals who may not be familiar with simulation – SIM-one consistently makes sure to include language that is, and create articles that are, accessible to decision makers and the general public. A good example of this is a recent LinkedIn post by SIM-one’s Director of Education Dr. Bruce Ballon, which was widely read and accurately explains the nuts and bolts of simulation.
You should seek input from your community
SIM-one is a community-centric organization that encourages collaboration amongst its many stakeholders. As such, it’s crucial that SIM-one’s content feature real-life examples from the community. For example, SIM-one stakeholders were heavily involved in an article promoting SIM-one’s SIM Marketplace service.
Involving your community in your content creation can do wonders for building long-term relationships. Community involvement keeps your stakeholders engaged as well as supportive of your endeavours. This reciprocity was witnessed firsthand during the SIM-one’s recent communications campaign when supporting stakeholders helped promote the content via social media.
Your content should reflect your values
SIM-one lives and breathes its core values, which includes creativity, collaboration and being open to innovative ideas. These values are reflected in the SIM-one brand’s vibrant colours and reverberate to the organization’s everyday practise of engaging its community. These values are present in SIM-one’s online content. More than using keywords, the subject matter of SIM-one’s content focuses on collaboration, innovation, best practices and civility… words that are very descriptive of SIM-one as an organization.
Remember that your communications content should reflect your values, and that your values – in turn – should be authentic. This is the secret ingredient behind a successful brand.
Do you work for a non-profit organization that seeks to advocate its cause through effective digital marketing and public relations? Contact John Gilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.