Going Beyond Your Logo Colors

The benefits of an extended color palette.

By Chad Quinn, Social Media and Communications Director, Association Management Group (AMG)

Chad Quinn

Chad Quinn

It’s easy to get stuck in a color rut because of your logo colors.

For instance, several years ago I began working for an organization whose logo was two colors, let’s say red and black, and E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G they produced, from their website to their annual report, relied on those two colors, and only those two colors. Text was either red, or black. Graphic elements were either red, or black. There were no other colors.

With all of the millions of colors available, why?

To begin with, there is value in consistency – which is what a limited 2-color color palette can provide. However, expanding your color palette to include some complementing colors can add some excitement and help extend a brand. This can be especially helpful when you need to highlight special initiatives or events for your organization. It also helps to keep things fresh and provide guidance and direction to the organization.

What are the benefits of having an extended color palette?

Quite simply, to allow your organization to have a distinct identity. A logo is your primary identifier; therefore there are advantages when it stands out. In the example above, the organization only used their logo’s two-color palette – doing so didn’t allow their logo to stick out in any way from the sea of red and black. It also didn’t leave much flexibility, or creativity, to branch out when needed. This often led to people going rogue — developing content that most often looked off-brand and inconsistent with other materials.

As an example, expanding your color palette not only allows for more visual interest, but it could help in delineating between products, departments, or meetings.

For the organization above, we introduced additional colors to the palette which not only provided consistency across the organization, but also easy to recognize colors specific to their products and events, such as (keep in mind, this is overly simplified):

  • Yellow symbolized educational products
  • Purple symbolized governance related items and initiatives
  • Green symbolized their Fall conference
  • Orange symbolized their Summer conference, and so forth

Branch out into other colors.

What colors compliment your logo’s colors? Choosing the right color palette is important, but it can often be intimidating. Although there are many tools readily available that can make anyone feel like a graphic-designer (cue the Holiday Inn commercial), there is no substitute for experience and the science behind color theory.

Enlist the help of an experienced designer to guide you.

This illustration shows some of the attributes associated with certain colors.

There are many ways to define your color palette, from personal preference to online color wheels – but in reality, your organization’s mission, tone, aspirations, and more, really [should] define it. Some colors are considered aggressive, others are soothing and calming, some are more modern while others are more traditional. What image do you want to portray?

Do some research. This is a great article on color theory, and here’s one that talks about brand identity and another with a great infographic about what your logo says about your company. And there are many more great articles and resources, but…

… this is a process. One in which your designer will ask a lot of questions. One where you may want to hold focus groups made-up of leadership, long-time employees/members, newer (more “green”) employees/members, vendors and other “outsiders” (such as people unaffiliated with your organization in any way – that “outsider” perspective can really be valuable in helping to cut through preconceived notions and entrenched ideas from those who are “too close”).

Keep in mind, a good color palette should not be too trendy. Ideally, it should be able to last three to five years before another refresh without feeling stale. It should also be flexible and, most of all, provide consistency for everyone within the organization whether they are involved in high-level marketing initiatives or producing a white paper or PowerPoint presentation.

The color palette discussion will likely lead to additional discussions… such as, what are your organization’s approved fonts, how should industry-specific language and terms be written and used, and much more. The result of which will be a complete style guide that sets guidelines and keeps everything, and everyone, consistent and on brand.

We can help. AMG has an award-winning in-house creative team ready to help guide you through the process, contact us at: info@amg-inc.com.

3 Time Management Tips for Starting the New Year Off Right

By Bruce Wardle, President and CEO, Association Management Group (AMG)

Bruce Wardle

Getting back to work this week might be tough. Especially given that many offices were closed the week between the Christmas holiday and New Year’s, and many more people choosing to take that time off to spend with family and friends. Getting back into the swing of things and starting the New Year can be tough.

Wouldn’t it be great to look back at this first work week of 2017, and think: “Wow that was a great week!”

For his book “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management” author Kevin Kruse interviewed hundreds of people, including billionaires, famous entrepreneurs, and elite athletes to see what were the time-management secrets of ultra-productive people and what are the “secrets to extreme productivity.”

Here are three takeaways from the book I’ve found useful:

1.) Establish your MIT: Kruse strongly asserts that to achieve peak productivity, you must identify your “Most Important Task”. He explains: “The key to productivity all comes down to understanding what is most important to you – and what activity will provide the greatest leverage to getting there – right now.”

This is especially useful when coming back to work after a long break. There are so many emails to check, so many client tasks to double-check, so many projects to follow up on, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You could be working on any of those things – but there’s only one MIT. Identify it, and you can be sure you’re using your time in the best way possible.

2.) Clean your email inbox: Chances are you’re coming back to hundreds of emails. But Kruse gives a tip that will quickly get you to inbox zero, which he calls: Email bankruptcy.
First step, identify all emails that arrived 48 hours before your holiday began until now and create a folder called “Old Emails”. Then, take every email before that 48 hour mark, and move them into that folder and you almost have a clean slate. Consider [the “Old Emails” folder] an insurance policy, an extremely large junk drawer that you can go through if needed.” Of course, you can revisit the “Old Email” folder once you’ve caught up. This is just an organized way of making the task more manageable.

Finally, go back to all the emails from 48 hours before your vacation until now, and do one of the following: 1) If you can answer or act on it in less than five minutes, do so. 2) If you need to delegate, forward it with a short summary. 3) Don’t need it? Delete it. Clear that email slate and make 2017 the year of inbox zero.

3.) Go home at 5:30: This is by far my favorite tip from the book. As Kruse puts it: “There will always be more to do, and always more than can be done… Super successful people don’t just burn hour after hour trying to cross more items off their task list. Instead, they think through their priorities, scheduling time for each. Once time is up, they realize: Enough is enough.”

For you, it may not be 5:30; it might be 6:00. Or maybe it’s 6:30. The point is, make a clean break.

Another one of the author’s suggestion I like is to take a prioritized action, even if it’s simply going home to your family, and treat it like a doctor’s appointment. It’s non-negotiable.

From all of us at AMG, I wish you a great beginning to 2017 and a productive, prosperous and joyous year.

I KNOW My Members are Engaged!… [Right?]

Building an Engagement Scorecard Model so you KNOW Your Members Are Engaged.

By Leah Reily, Managing Director, Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA); Managing Director, Dermatology PA Foundation (DPAF)

Leah Reily

In the association world, much, if not all, of what we do is geared towards increasing member engagement. At the end of the day the success and longevity of your organization is built on a longstanding relationship between you and your member. At a recent AMG Membership Quality Circle, we discussed engagement scorecard models.

An engagement scorecard model is a tool that can be used to track and score the level of member engagement in your organization. Models can be built for either the “30,000 ft.” organizational level or – if you are feeling adventurous – for each individual member. Implementing a data driven decision making strategy is key to helping your staff and leadership make informed decisions for the benefit of your members making score cards a powerful tool.

Building an engagement scoring model requires careful team-based planning, so we’ve provided some basics for building your scorecard. For the purpose of this blog, we are gearing the discussion to building an organization level model. Models that measure the engagement level of individual members are valuable, but require a great deal of staff resources and technological functionality to be successful and accurate.

Build Your Task Force: First, decide who needs to be involved in the process of developing your model. Include vital staff that manage your major programs, such as a staff member who is knowledgeable about your technological software and systems, and your membership committee.

Define What Engagement Means To You: You need to develop a clear and concise definition of engagement as it relates to your association culture. During this process you should poll your task force members separately and use their answers to form one overarching definition. Be sure to consider your offerings, the needs of your stakeholders and measurable interactions during the process of building your definition. Here are a few example definitions:

“Member engagement at ANA is the investment of time, money, attention, and participation, by both the association and its members in order to provide meaningful, long-term, mutually beneficial experience and relationships that advance the profession.”*

“Member engagement is how often a member participates in or provides time, talent, attendance and financial resources to events or to the greater need of the organization.”

“An engaged member is someone who feels welcome, understood and vocally empowered in their relationship with our association.”

“An engaged member is a member of a committee or task force who has attended at least 5 events.”

Determining Performance Measures (PM): You need to determine the programs, referred to as performance measures (PM), you will measure. Don’t get too complex or fancy. Your categories should be accurate, sustainable and measurable. Can your staff track the data on a continuing basis without excessive human resources? Bad or inaccurate data can cause your team to lose faith in the results. Ensure that measuring and tracking each PM will result in actionable outcomes. Ask yourself what change you might make to processes and programs if the engagement level for each categories was high, medium, or low. If there is no clear adjustment you would take as a result of your measured data, it’s probably safe to nix that PM. Here are examples of performance measures organizations might consider:

  • Conference registrations
  • Workshop registrations
  • Webinar registrations
  • Bookstore purchases
  • Online course purchases
  • Member referrals
  • Donations
  • Leadership/Committee participation
  • Social community participation
  • Social media followers
  • Sponsorship sales
  • Website metrics

As we are focusing on building an organization level scorecard the categories above would be acceptable, however we might adjust them if measuring individuals. For instance, website metrics can easily be applied to the organizational model but would be inappropriate for measuring individual engagement.

Performance Measure Cheat Sheet: Now that you have selected the performance measures you plan to include in your scorecard you should develop a short informational sheet for each measure. This will help your task force and leadership understand the goal and mechanisms of each PM and the scorecard overall. Your sheet should clearly outline the mechanisms of each PM:

  • Define your performance measure
  • Outline the interactions that take place between the members and the system that allow you to track and measure that activity
  • Document what actionable outcomes and ROI you anticipate from the PM

Build A Scoring Rubric: You are ready to build your scoring rubric. To do this you need to assign a flexible scoring mechanism to allow you to provide an overall measurement of engagement. This scoring system will allow you to convert the raw numbers collected for each PM into your scoring rubric. Pick a scoring rubric that is flexible so you can make changes or adjustment in the future. As an example we will select a rubric of 0-10 points. A score of 0 means we have low/no engagement and 10 means we have high/perfect engagement. For instance:

We have selected “event attendance” as one of our categories. We host 4 events every year and each conference has a capacity goal of 1,000. Every 100 attendees would equal one point on our rubric.

Conference Name # Of Attendees Engagement Score
Event 1 200 2
Event 2 450 4.5
Event 3 150 1.5
Event 4 900 9
Average Event Engagement Score  4.25

 

Based on this score, we might look back at our engagement scores for events over a number of years and determine that Event #1 and Event #3 should be revised or discontinued.

Use this step to build the scoring mechanism for each PM. They should all be calculated into your engagement score to determine an overall measurement of your organization’s engagement health, but the conversion from your data to your engagement score would be unique to each PM.

Now Track, Measure and Share Your Success! Once you have collected data for a couple of months, or a year you can start to implement changes and improvements based on your results. Also, be sure to communicate with your membership the outcomes and ROI that have resulted from the time and effort your leadership and staff put into your scorecard.

 

*ASAE Resources | What Does Member Engagement Mean in Your Association?

Holiday Greetings From AMG

By Bruce Wardle, President and CEO, Association Management Group (AMG)

Bruce Wardle

As 2016 draws to a close, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to our loyal clients, as well as the directors and Boards we serve, for helping to make our mutual achievements and prosperity possible this year.

At Association Management Group (AMG), our dedicated staff is our greatest asset and I’m proud of their continued dedication to providing the exceptional service that you have come to expect.

This past year, we celebrated our 33rd anniversary, an important milestone that our nonprofit clients, and their individual volunteer leaders, have helped us to achieve through their continued patronage and trust.

As always, we remain dedicated to our mission of helping our clients achieve their strategic goals while supporting their members. It is our pleasure to serve you. On behalf of all the staff at AMG, I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and a joyous New Year.

Sincerely,

Bruce Wardle
President and CEO, Association Management Group

The Season of Giving

In this season of giving, often you need look no further than your association to give back. Most associations have a direct line to charitable causes near and dear to their member’s hearts through fellowships and foundations. Here are a few causes that AMG’s associations hold dear.

The American Ambulance Association  |  Stars of Life Event
The Stars of Life event honors Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals working in our nation’s ambulance services. Often overlooked as a crucial part of our healthcare and public safety systems, the men and women working in the field of EMS are trained to handle the worst imaginable medical emergencies outside of the hospital environment and work daily in their communities to identify public health problems and issues. Across the country, EMS professionals respond to everything from drug overdoses to neglected children to the terminally ill with often no access to healthcare outside the 911 system.

Once a year, the American Ambulance Association brings our country’s top EMS professional to Washington, DC to meet with their elected representative on Capitol Hill to be recognized for their selfless service. The American Ambulance Association is proud to honor our nation’s EMS providers and to offer our gratitude for the care, compassion, and inspiration they provide. We encourage you, in this season of giving, to say a simple thank you the next time you see an off-duty EMT or Paramedic in your community. It will mean so much to them.

America Association of Political Consultants  |  The AAPC Education Foundation
The AAPC Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, non-profit organization founded in 2006 to support the American system of free elections, protect the freedom of political speech and to promote these principles among those involved in the electoral process. The Foundation is engaged in research and educational projects to advance these principles and also provides scholarship support for students preparing to enter the profession of politics. The AAPC Foundation’s program is focused on providing scholarships to students interested in the field of political consulting and academic outreach to inform students about the profession. For students who aspire to be among the trailblazing professionals that AAPC represents, AAPC’s Pollie Awards & Conference provides a one-of-a-kind experience to absorb incomparable insight into world of political consulting. A tax-deductible donation to the Foundation gifts a meritorious student with a fully-funded trip to the 2017 Pollie Awards & Conference where he/she will be exposed to the best work, and people, in the industry.

Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF)
As AHF is really about providing wonderful food to people who are most vulnerable, hospital patients and the sick, AHF is as passionate about making sure everyone has something to eat. At this year’s AHF Annual Conference our members made more than 8,500 PB&J sandwiches during our Spread the Love Party, all the sandwiches were distributed to homeless shelters and foodbanks in Dallas. Because we had so many members sign-up to serve at the local foodbank we had to add a second shift. After the exhibit hall is broken down, all our members who have brought food to showcase and have extra, donate the extensive food unused to the local foodbank. And finally, AHF donated a considerable sum to the Shriner Hospital for Children in Dallas. AHF’s members are dedicated to giving!

NICSA  |  William T. Blackwell Scholarship Program
The NICSA/William T. Blackwell Scholarship Fund recognizes outstanding students of the NICSA family with financial and social support for post-secondary education. The program is designed to support students pursuing degrees in the global investment management industry during their junior and senior years of college. Blackwell Scholars are provided with two years of scholarship support, a mentor from a NICSA member company and access to career networking and internship opportunities. William “Bill” Blackwell is remembered for not only his long career at State Street Bank in Boston and a President of NICSA but also for the honesty and integrity that he displayed in his business and personal life.

Section on Women’s Health (SOWH)  |  Global Women’s Health Initiative
SOWH members believe in improving women’s, men’s and children’s health worldwide through evidence-based physical therapy. However, patients with problems such as pain, incontinence and sexual dysfunction may not have ready access to—or even know about—these specialized physical therapists in their countries. Several years ago, a core group of SOWH leaders responded by founding the Global Women’s Health Initiative (GWHI). They then partnered with the Section to raise awareness and publicize assistance available to address such difficult-to-discuss health challenges. In addition to creating message media campaigns, GWHI is working to expand its international partnerships and shape solutions that tackle these urgent health care needs, especially in developing nations. SOWH continues to support GWHI by sharing its progress and mission, and showcasing the organization as a charitable giving opportunity for members and others. Please go to www.gwhi.org for details or to donate to a cause that can help so many individuals who suffer in silence.

Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) & The Dermatology PA Foundation (DPAF)
The SDPA launched its brand new 501c3 charitable foundation in 2015, the Dermatology PA Foundation (DPAF). The DPAF in its inaugural year raised more than $23,000 towards specialty summer camps that provide a unique and meaningful experience to children with severe and life threatening skin diseases. The DPAF supported two camps this year: Camp Wonder hosted in California by the Children’s Skin Disease Foundation and Camp Discovery hosted by the American Academy of Dermatology. Children that attend these camps require around the clock medical care and nearly all staff are volunteer licensed medical practitioners. To get each child there and ensure their experience is one to never forget they, their families and volunteer staffs require financial support. These camps provide children who would normally be unable to take part in this fun life experience with the opportunity to make friends and have fun in a safe and judge-free, stare-free, space. It’s an opportunity for campers to take a break from being sick and instead simply be a kid.

Women in Government Relations (WGR)  |  The Judy Schneider Fellowship
The Judy Schneider Fellowship was established in 2015, in conjunction with Women in Government Relations’ 40th anniversary, and is named in gratitude and appreciation for the immense impact Judy Schneider has had on WGR and the thousands of women she has mentored, developed, and trained. A DC legend, Judy Schneider, a specialist on Congress and a former House and Senate committee staffer, has taught hundreds of Members of Congress and their staff on Congressional procedure. She has worked passionately to ensure that WGR members are smart, savvy government relations professionals, breaking down the ins and outs of congressional procedure in both the Senate and House. The Judy Schneider Fellowship is awarded annually to a resident of the District of Columbia, Virginia, or Maryland, with no more than three years of professional experience, and an interest and/or experience in the government relations profession. It is aimed at creating the next generation of talented, ethical, savvy, and passionate advocates.

‘Tis the Season… for Fraud?

By Scott Hall, Director IT Solutions, Association Management Group (AMG) and Chad Quinn, Social Media and Communications Director, Association Management Group (AMG)

Chad Quinn

Chad Quinn

Scott Hall

Scott Hall

This time of year is always full of so much joy. The holidays bring the anticipation of cooler weather and the potential for time off with family and friends. They also often bring end-of-the-year rushes at the office… and, unfortunately, often unscrupulous people who try and take advantage of the chaos and merriment.

In this digital age, it is easier than ever to fall prey to scams. That is why at AMG, we are always vigilant against potential fraud, especially around the holidays. We work with our staff, and warn our client boards, to be wary of solicitations via email and to verify the source of the messages. A few of the common types of attacks that we see include:

  1. Requests for Money: Letter or emails requesting urgent action to pay an outstanding invoice –Scams of this sort fall into two categories primarily:
    • Payment of outstanding Invoice: often this scam is sent to a high-ranking board or staff member, and, by all appearances, appear to be legitimate. The problem is, the vendor doesn’t check out.
    • Urgent Wire Transfer: This type of request is often sent via email and appear to come from the President or Executive director. Often the individual needs the money to be wired right away due to a travel emergency.
  2. Malware & Ransomware: The ploy here is to get you to download, open, or install software or an infected document onto your computer. Doing so opens you up to further exploitation and avenues of attack. The two primary goals here are:
    • Malware: This is the most benign of the two. With malware, your computer can become infected Email sent from seemingly familiar email addresses and acquaintances that contain dangerous links.
    • Ransomware: The biggest risk that comes from opening and installing unknown files and software is ransomware. In short, ransomware encrypts and locks up all of the files on your machine and demands that you pay a “ransom” to unlock your files and machine.
  3. Social Engineering: Social engineering can occur in one of two ways, via the phone or email.
    • Phone: The party contacting you says that they are looking to help you. They may claim to be from “Dell”, or “Microsoft” and claim that they noticed an issue with your machine that they can help with. All you need to do is provide them with a credit card and remote access to your machine so that they can fix the issue. At best, you are out of the money you paid them. At worst, that helpful voice at the other end installed a backdoor, virus, or malware onto your machine.
    • Email: Normally called phishing, this avenue of attack tricks you into thinking that you are dealing with a legitimate company or individual. The purpose of the attack is to trick you into giving up your user name and password to your email, bank, credit card company, etc. That information can then be sold or used to rack up charges under your name.

So, how do you stay safe? Slow down, breath, and think it through. These scams only work when someone is in a rush. The trust you put into seeing the name of a friend or co-worker pop up in your inbox. That comforting voice on the other end of the phone. Just take a second and breath.

If it is a phone call, call back on the main line of the company’s website, not the number provided by the caller. Same goes for email. Go to the Website and get the contact information there. When in doubt, delete… don’t chance it.

As we look forward to the new year, and to closing out 2016, we must continue to stay alert to the potential for fraud… because, after all, this truly is the season to be merry.

Keeping Content Fresh for Your Audience

By Kent Hamaker, Director of Education, Communications, and Benchmarking, Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF)

content

Kent Hamaker

Keeping your association’s content fresh is incredibly important; it helps keep members engaged and leadership happy. The older your information content across platforms, the less relevant your organization appears. Of course keeping your content fresh is easier said than done. Here are some effective strategies to keep you ahead of the “sell by” date.

  1. Trim the fat. First things first. Inventory your current website and make sure all old and/or irrelevant content is removed. Events come and go quickly and it is easy to fall behind. Set a schedule to regularly clean house.
  2. Be Frequent. Do you have a monthly eNewsletter? If not, you should. This is a perfect vehicle to force you to produce new and fresh content. The content here should speak to the most recent needs of your current membership.
  3. Crowdsource. Your members, industry colleagues, and media partners are your greatest source of information. You have many Subject Matter Experts at your fingertips. Ask them to contribute to upcoming blog posts, magazine and newsletter articles. Reach out to them to present for your upcoming webinars. Repost their social media content.
  4. Visualize. The more you incorporate images, the fresher your content will come across. A study by 3M found that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. A few more neuroscience facts:
    • We retain 80% of what we see, 20% of what we read, and 10% of what we hear.
    • Visual content generates 94% more views.
    • 80% of text on most pages does not get read.
    • Tweets with images get 150% more retweets,
      18% more clicks, and 89% more favorites.
  5. The power of story. Nothing is more powerful than a human being telling his or her story. Anthropologists have long recognized that we are hard-wired to tell stories; people want to be immersed in a story, to carve out a role for themselves and make it their own. Storytelling has the power to inspire us like nothing else. Provide your members a platform to tell their stories regularly. For instance, for your magazine or website recruit your members to share why they are a member of your association, do a “Day in the Life of…” feature where you follow them around, take photos, and write what happens during a regular day on the job, or offer them an opportunity to share their own success stories.

Keeping your content fresh is important for keeping your membership active and feeling like they are part of a vital community. Don’t be afraid to try new strategies based on the needs of your particular organization. Encourage feedback from members and be open-minded with new suggestions. Enjoy the process and best of luck.

soexample

Examples of AHF’s magazine and enewsletter

What is Reddit?

(And Why EMS Leaders Should Care)

By Amanda Riordan, Director of Membership, American Ambulance Association (AAA)

Amanda Riordon

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published on one of our client sites, the American Ambulance Association (AAA) with an intended audience of emergency medical service (EMS) companies. However, the explanation of what Reddit is, and how it could be useful to AAA’s audience is likely very appropriate for your own organization.

If you were asked to name the top 10 most popular websites in the United States today, I’m willing to bet that you could guess most of them: they are, in descending order of Alexa page view rankings, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Twitter, Reddit, Ebay, and LinkedIn.

“Wait,” you may be asking, “what is ‘Reddit,’ and how can it be in the top 10 most popular American websites if I’ve never even heard of it?”

As a self-appointed cultural ambassador for the millennial-heavy EMS workforce, I’d love to give you a basic introduction. Seasoned Redditors, feel free to skip this post. But those new to Reddit, or even social media in general, please hang in there—it is increasingly important for ambulance executives of all age groups and technology skill levels to “get” what is going on in influential online communities.

What is Reddit?

Reddit describes itself as “the front page of the internet.” What does that mean?

Reddit (usually styled lowercase as “reddit,” but I’m capping for clarity) is an online community platform allowing users to anonymously share, comment, and vote on links, images, personal stories and more in topic-specific “subreddits.” A user’s self-selected subreddits are merged into a personalized feed, which is often very different than the generic Reddit Front Page generated from the posts voted best across the whole site.

Wildly popular with millennials, Reddit is one of the most engaged and active digital communities in history. Reddit communities’ collective taste-making influence drives modern pop culture and politics in unprecedented ways, and the popularity and sway of the site is only growing.

I am sticking mostly to practicalities in this post, but highly recommend reading a little bit about the history of Reddit (2014 Mashable article, 2016 WSJ CEO interview), if you have a moment. The Wikipedia entry also gives a great overview.

Why should EMS leaders care?

Large swaths of your staff are routinely participating in Reddit communities, likely many times per week. For all that we hear about generational conflict in EMS organizations, wouldn’t it be great to gain some firsthand insight into the candid thoughts of EMTs and Paramedics across the country? Of course this only works if leaders approach Reddit (and the subs and threads of varying merit within) with an open mind—because of its inherently populist and anonymous nature, there is an ever-changing mix of valuable and abhorrent content that sometimes takes a little time to sort through.

Additionally, more and more people are electing to get their news, pop culture, and entertainment first through Reddit or other social media, instead of mainstream news sources. EMS leaders relying solely on information from TV newscasts or even the websites of traditional print journalism outlets are missing the backchannel dialogue and meta commentary that is shaping the way our industry is perceived.

Can Reddit participation help with EMS advocacy?

Many ambulance execs are unfamiliar with the fact that top politicians as diverse as President Obama and Gary Johnson choose to interact directly with Redditors, personally fielding user questions in the r/IamA sub. Reddit’s political commentary subs are also famed for the sometimes prescient, sometimes wacky user analysis of current affairs and election hoopla. Start with r/politics, the largest sub, to get a feel for the Reddit politosphere, then find your niche in some of the more targeted subs below. Not seeing your interest? Search the site for hundreds of other options ranging from radical to reactionary—or start your own.

What is Reddit?

How can I get started on Reddit?

We all have that kooky relative who doesn’t “get” Facebook, and so posts inappropriate rants or the equivalent of text voice mails on our walls. Don’t be “that guy” (or gal) on Reddit—although most people are nice, not everyone is patient, and some users may report your post to moderators for removal. Also, it is just good manners to follow the norms of any community in which you participate, be it face-to-face or online. Here are some easy steps to ensure that you become a valued contributor to the Reddit community.

  1. Create an account. Note: Do not use a variation of your real name or company name in your username. This is not Facebook, or even Twitter. It is crucial that unless you are a world leader (u/PresidentObama), celebrity (u/GovSchwarzenegger, u/williamshatner), or other very public figure (u/thisisbillgates, u/ColChrisHadfield) that you keep your personal information as private as possible for your own safety.
  2. Curate your subs.
    • Login to reddit, then visit your subscription page to remove yourself from any default subs that don’t interest you. For me, this meant immediately axing everything related to sports (sorry, I mean, “Go Sox!“).
    • Next, find and subscribe to many subs that interest you. There are thousands of subreddits for everything from r/cooking to r/gardening to r/motorcyles to r/parenting to r/books, and that is just scratching the surface. Typically large, general-interest subs will list more niche subs in their sidebars to make them easy to find.
  3. Lurk and get used to voting. Read your feed, or peruse a specific sub in-depth, upvoting posts and comments based on quality, not your level of agreement with the poster’s opinion. Typically, it is best to lurk (read without posting) for a month or two before you leap into the fray to get a sense for how each community interacts.
  4. Start posting and commenting. Now that you have some context for the types of conversations going on in your favorite subs, you’re ready to start submitting new posts and commenting on the posts of others, in addition to voting. It is really important to read Reddit’s content rules and Reddiquette guidelines, as well as the sidebar rules for your particular sub, before posting. Also, it is pretty much universally forbidden to share with the group any personally identifying information, even about yourself. Don’t get overwhelmed—most of the rules are common sense, and the time investment will pay off when you experience the thrill of sharing ideas and news with like-minded people from around the world.

Are there EMS-specific subs?

There are many EMS-focused subreddits, ranging from the (mostly) serious to the ridiculous. Here are just a few:

  • r/EMS – by far the largest, with 21k subscribers as of today. Diverse mix of jokes, personal stories, protocol questions, opinions on employers, and more.
  • r/RealEMS (2k subscribers) and r/TalesFromEMS aka r/TFEMS (3k subscribers) smaller subs focused on the perceived “real” side of EMS.
  • r/911Dispatchers – (2k subscribers) – Sub targeting dispatch professionals.
  • r/EMScringepics, r/LookImAFireFighter, etc – smaller subreddits where some popular EMS sartorial choices are mocked. Very definitely Not Nice, but may strike your funny bone if you have a certain sense of humor.
  • r/firefighting (11k subscribers) – sub serving firefighters, but often touches on EMS topics

Hint: Sort by “TOP” then choose a timeframe to catch up on the best (or at least most popular) posts in a particular sub.

My service is mentioned on Reddit in a negative manner. Should I respond?

If someone posts something negative on Reddit (or Facebook, or Twitter, etc, etc) about the organization to which you’ve dedicated so much time and love, it can be very tempting to fire off your side of the story in response. However, it is almost always inadvisable to go in “guns blazing” on an anonymous message board, particularly if you aren’t very familiar with the norms for the specific sub in which you would respond.

If you really feel you must set the record straight, I suggest asking three other sensible Redditors and your attorney to review before posting, to make sure that you don’t accidentally open your organization up to a lawsuit or media nightmare. You may also want to create a separate “throwaway” username before replying, as anything you’ve previously commented or posted under your usual username is publicly visible. No matter how innocuous your past activity may be, it can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion (see: Ken Bone Reddit controversy).

My service is mentioned on Reddit in a positive manner. Should I respond?

In this case, it is a hard maybe. The tricky thing is that you want your organization to avoid being perceived as “Big Brother,” particularly in response to anything (good or bad) that might have been posted by one of your own employees. Given Reddit’s higher level focus on anonymity than, say, Facebook, even a “thanks so much, so glad to be your favorite employer!” reply can seem creepy or intrusive, depending on context. It may be best to just privately enjoy the knowledge that thousands are reading your unsolicited praises (and likely looking for job openings at your service).

If there are no HIPAA or human resources concerns involved, you can enlist the help of seasoned Redditors in crafting a response that is right in tone for your service.

Can I market my ambulance service on Reddit?

Commercial self-promotion of any kind is very much frowned upon by the Reddit community. Viral marketing, or any post planting or vote manipulation that can be perceived as viral marketing, even more so. For a glimpse at the level of energy around this issue, please see r/HailCorporate, or consider the vitriol directed at users who create alternate “sockpuppet” accounts to upvote their own posts. Any kind of advertising outside of appropriate subs that specifically allow it (or actual Reddit ads) is risky at best, and may completely backfire.

Can I post job listings to Reddit?

Read the sidebar rules of the subreddit you’re considering posting in to see if commercial offers are permitted (for example, counter-intuitively, r/jobs forbids job postings). Your may wish to consider posting to one of the subs dedicated to job seekers, including r/jobopenings, r/youngjobs, and r/jobbit, or your closest local job sub.

Another thing to consider is buying an ad on the Reddit site, then running it in EMS-specific subs, particularly if you’re open to paying relocation for medics from other areas, or if you are willing to train individuals coming from other industries.

Note: recruitment is not yet a primary Reddit focus, so you may or may not have much luck at this point. However, as  more people join Reddit and rely on it new and different ways, this is likely to change.

Glossary

  • Default sub—Default subreddits are subs considered to have the right mix of popularity and quality to be automatically included in new users’ subreddit subscriptions. You can remove default subreddits that you are not interested in following on your subscription page after you create a login.
  • KarmaWhen a post or comment is submitted, other users can vote it up or down. “Karma,” divided into post karma and comment karma, is a loose indicator of the quality of a thread. You can track your own karma on your profile page, but it has no monetary or other value. In theory, voting is supposed to be based on the quality and relevance of the post or comment, but this doesn’t always play out perfectly. Some users have high overall karma scores because they post very relevant articles or incredibly insightful posts, others because they draw sketches or write poems related to posts, and still others because they are known for submitting posts or comments that the community finds funny.
  • NSFL—an initialism for “Not Safe for Life.” This is used in the title of a post to indicate offensive content that shows or makes reference to gore, death, serious injury, the abuse of animals or people, etc. I would very strongly suggest that even the most hardened EMS folks stay away from most of these posts and the comments sections about them—NSFL posts do not bring out the best in humanity.
  • NSFW—an initialism for “Not Safe for Work.” This is used in the title of a post to potentially sensitive content involving any kind of nudity or sex. Depending on context and the subreddit in which it is posted, this flag can be used for posts covering everything from a news photo of the Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction to actual pornography. Use your best judgment.
  • OP—like most other internet forums, on Reddit “OP” refers to “original poster,” and is a generic term used in comments to refer to the creator of the thread you’re currently reading.
  • MemeMost folks have probably heard of memes (pron. “meems”, not “meh-mehs,” “me-mes,” etc), or may even have shared some around the office or on Facebook. Reddit has a variety of inside jokes and memes specific to the community. If someone replies to a post with something that seems like a total non-sequitur, but others seem to find it funny, you may want to Google for inside jokes or check Know Your Meme for answers. Be forewarned: while some are funny or insightful, many memes and Reddit inside jokes are crass, prejudiced, or just stupid.
  • Reddiquette—Reddit’s own set of community manners. Read it here before posting!
  • Sub / Subreddit—Although originally not officially recognized, “sub” or “subreddit” are now almost universally used terms refers to self-moderated community centered around a particular topic. Here are just a few examples of the tens of thousands of subs you can choose to subscribe to, depending on your interests.

 

 

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