Conversation with Joshua Schrader came naturally, both of us honoring our morning cravings. I clutched my espresso, he a smoldering cigarette. As early risers, we would cross paths outside the NEHA office before the business day began in earnest. Josh intrigued me because he was not of my world (i.e., my traditional public health world). At that time, he led NEHAs sales and training support, a business unit that sells our products and services. Josh often regaled me with stories of exploit and adventure from the previous weekend, which evidently were dedicated to his passion: music and deejaying in front of large crowds. What he described was a world that I knew nothing about, something akin to a parallel universe.
I'm struck by the number of universes I know nothing about, including how best to connect with our constituents. I am painfully aware when these connections go wrong, like when we accidently used the incorrect environmental media in a news alert. We used the term "air" when we should have used "water." Ouch. I was (appropriately) lit up by you folks. I did learn, however, that you were reading (and paying attention) to what we were sending out. I just wish this knowledge would have come to me in a less painful and embarrassing manner. Alternately, I am oblivious to when and how communication works--that parallel universe thing.
For the record, I receive analytics on our social media and its growth. We track open rates for our E-News and the number of unique visitors to our Web site. It's all very interesting, but I have little clue as to what these numbers mean. My biggest success has been an op-ed I recently published in U.S. News & World Report. Barack Obama's direct reports contacted me to convey thanks for the op-ed. What does that mean? Well, depends on who you talk to.
This train of thought leads me to communication. I'm struck by the notion that distribution vehicles--such as e-mail, text, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram--are more important collectively than are content or brand. Where I struggle, even in conversations with experts, is on what distribution technique(s) do we use for a particular set of circumstances? Perhaps an e-news alert is appropriate for a legislative priority, but how does that ensure our association is seen as a value proposition to you and potential members? This question keeps me up at night.
While distribution vehicles are interesting, they need to be populated with content. Twitter...