Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Sunglasses or drill bits? The Chilean miners who were rescued after spending months trapped underground owe their freedom to many people from different walks of life. Oakley donated expensive sunglasses to protect the miners’ eyes when they resurfaced into daylight. And a Pennsylvania company, Center Rock Incorporated, manufactured the drill bits used to bore the hole that eventually became the escape hatch. When comparing these two stories, one is much more touching and memorable than the other. The people at Oakley sent a product, and they have since been widely criticized for “cashing in” on the situation. In contrast, the guys from Center Rock traveled to Chile and worked around the clock to reach the captive miners. The interviewed employee teared up when he recalled seeing the drill come through the ceiling of the miners’ refuge.

Many organizations are engaged in giving back to the community. But as the contrast between these two examples shows, giving money or goods may not garner the kind of attention you seek. Put people on the ground who get their hands dirty and engage in human interaction—now that’s a story that will tug at the heartstrings and give audiences an emotional connection to your institution.

Contributed by Jenny