Public Health Council of the Upper Valley: Background and Conceptual Research

Literature Review

Our strategy for the literature review was to find case studies of non-profits using new media in innovative ways to further their brand and raise awareness about their organization. The literature we consulted contained important insights into how digital marketing plays a very different role for non-profit organizations than for-profits. The following articles address important concerns that our research seeks to address. Firstly, how digital models persuade and interpellate their audiences. Secondly, how are the events that PHC shares received by the upper valley community?


Attouni, Mohamed Aabeid Khalfalla, and Che Su Mustaffa. “How Do Non-profit Organizations in Libya Adopt and Use Social Media to Communicate with The Society.” Procedia — Social and Behavioral Sciences 155 (2014): 92–97. Web.

This article investigates the role of social media in non-profits, specifically how they compare to older forms of marketing. The co-authors confirm the theory of “Media Richness and Diffusion”, which states that social media’s content-rich outputs are ideal for the dissemination, collaboration, and raising issue awareness that are central to marketing a nonprofit message. They limit their study to Facebook, and view it in the context of non-profits in Libya. This was especially interesting as social media played an important role in the lead up to the Libyan revolution that overthrew the dictatorial regime in power at the time. The article was invaluable to our proposal for PHC as it reaffirmed our sense that social media should be the primary motor with which they communicate with their community and partners.


Blery, Evangelia K., Efstathia Katseli, and Nertilda Tsara. “Marketing for a Non-profit Organization.” International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing 7.1 (2010): 57–68. Web.

This article was important in recognizing the unique importance of people/audience when marketing for a non-profit organization. They pioneer the proposal for the “New Marketing Mix”. In addition to the classic “four P’s”, the authors offer a fifth one: “People”. This informed our marketing strategy for PHC in important ways. We aimed to keep the content shared on online social spaces as user-friendly and as “bite size” as possible. This study also inspired the potential for emotional rhetoric when marketing PHC’s message. If persuading people of PHC’s efficient healthcare network becomes a central goal, appealing to their emotions will be a compelling way to go about accomplishing this.


Morris, Michael H. et al. “Antecedents and Outcomes of Entrepreneurial and Market Orientations in a Non-profit Context: Theoretical and Empirical Insights.” Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, Vol. 13, №4, 2007, pp. 1–25.

The “Non-Profit Challenge” is an area of research that discusses the conventional fallacy, which claims non-profit organizations do not require legitimate entrepreneurship — as their primary goal is not to generate a profit. This study was important in reshaping our preconceived ideas that marketing for a non-profit should somehow exempt us from using entrepreneurial initiative. We could not have been farther from reality. If anything, non-profits demand higher levels of entrepreneurial leadership as they are more uniquely focused on “market-orientation towards their clients” (28) than for-profits.


Paulin, Michele, Ronald J. Ferguson, Nina Jost, and Jean-Mathieu Fallu. “Motivating Millennials to Engage in Charitable Causes through Social Media.” Journal of Service Management 25.3 (2014): 334–48. Web.

This study was interesting as it discussed the implications and effects of marketing a non-profit message/social cause to millennials. Millennials differ from other generations in their preference for social causes that appeal to the benefits of others rather than deriving benefits to the self. An important portion of our strategy is how to effectively raise awareness for proper health care practices outlined and offered by PHC. Millennials represent a significant part of PHC’s intended audience and could be indispensable to levels of brand awareness in the community moving forward. This study also raises the issue of market segmentation and how to utilize social media platforms according to the known audience that frequents them.


Shaver, Dan. “Online Non-Profits Provide Model for Added Local News.” Newspaper Research Journal, vol. 31, no. 4, 2010, pp. 16–28.

Daily UV is one of PHC’s primary platforms that they use to promote events and partnerships. We were told that it is an effective and popular place for members of the Upper Valley community to receive updates on local happenings and PHC coordinated functions. This article discusses the ever-present role of local news sources in non-profit marketing. These sources of local news are able to provide sectionalized news and support from a range of foundations. This insight caused us to reevaluate using social media as PHC’s sole marketing recourse. Instead, we consider social media as their primary one, and use outlets like the Daily UV to complement this online strategy.

Application of Course Concepts

A salient concept we have explored in the course relevant to this Social Impact New Media Project is that of rhetoric — specifically, the ways in which various modes of rhetoric carry across their points. Thus far, we have primarily focused on the impacts of written, visual, and procedural rhetoric (Bogost). Given the constraints of the platforms we intend to utilize, written and visual rhetorical appear to be most relevant to achieving the desired outcomes for our organization. PHC’s current social media strategy focuses heavily on written rhetoric, as they use large amounts of block text on their website, email newsletters, and Facebook page. In our final recommendation, we propose increased usage of visual rhetorical techniques through heightened incorporation of photo and video content. Furthermore, we propose ways to improve their use of written rhetoric. Background scholarship pertinent to these final recommendations are discussed below.

We have had the opportunity to explore the merits (as well as drawbacks) of e-reading through the scholarship of Naomi Baron. We feel that PHC’s current use of written rhetoric does not take full advantage of the medium through which it is shared. Much of PHC’s text on their website and newsletters is static and does not make use of hyperlinks. As we have learned in class, this use of hypertextuality is a key element of new media that allows users to access an increased amount of content within an organized framework. Furthermore, a purported benefit of e-reading that Baron highlights is the ability to quickly search for and find content that is desirable to the reader. In order to maximally reap the benefits of such practices, we will find new ways in which PHC can organize or categorize their postings so that they are more streamlined and easy-to-digest.

While we have focused above on how PHC can improve its content posting techniques, another factor to address is where the content they post is coming from. Given that a major benefit of new media is the fact that it is networked (Lister et al.), drawing from an array of content-creators could be effective for PHC. While PHC does publish effective and informative content, they could expand upon this to highlight the perspectives of experts within specific fields pertaining to their health “priorities.” This could be done by having partner organizations contribute content as guest contributors or, to a lesser extent, by simply hyperlinking to relevant pages on their partner’s website. Given that PHC views these partners as leaders in their respective fields, having content originating from these organizations could add legitimacy to the messages PHC wishes to convey.

Sources Discussed (Hyperlinks provided)
Baron, Naomi S. Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015. Print.

Bogost, Ian. Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. Print.

Lister, M., Dovey, J., Giddings, S., Grant, I., & Kelly, K. (2003). New Media: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge.

Best Practices

Relating some of the academic concepts discussed above to the media practices of actual organizations, we provide pertinent examples of best practices below.

Global Health Council: newsletters and effective use of text

While it may not be ideal to have large amounts of block text on social media accounts — and in some instances — websites, there are certainly times when organizations need to make significant use of text to drive home a message. Global Health Council’s “Strategic Roadmap,” which provides an update on their goals and missions exemplifies an appealing way to get a text-heavy message across to an audience. Sending out a document such as this one allows an organization to deliver their message in a separate medium without clogging their social media accounts and websites full of text. In fact, Global Health Council even has an archive of old publications they have made. While many organizations may not produce publications as robust as those of Global Health Council. this strategy of creating and archiving publications can still be harnessed at a smaller scale or in a less polished manner.

Health Education Council: making use of hypertextuality

Here we see the effective use of hyperlinks by the Health Education Council. While many organizations webpages nowadays have links to their social media accounts, there are certain ways that are more effective. Here, Health Education Council has a colorful and large ribbon near the top right of their website that links to their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. This not only provides an aesthetically pleasing way of hyperlinking, but can also help drive increased traffic to their social media accounts.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: networked media and guest/expert contributors

What we would like to highlight here is the nature of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHoP’s) content contribution. In this article about Whooping Cough, CHoP chooses to include a guest contributor, Dr. Kristen Feemster, who attempts to bring awareness to the condition. By including a name and a face to the article, CHoP is able to make the content more compelling and more reputable (given Dr. Feemster’s specialized expertise in the field). A similar approach could be embraced by PHC in order to advocate for their PHC Priorities.

In-Depth Case Study: United Way Homepage

Seeing as PHC’s goal is to create connections between local public health organizations and help them coordinate priorities and campaigns, we aim to base our social media strategy on those of similar public health organizations. One of these similar organizations is United Way, a global nonprofit that connects other nonprofits, employers, government agencies, and other organizations in the pursuit of improving education and public health. Their presence spans over 40 countries and nearly 2.6 million volunteers. United Way’s online social media networks include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as an informative and organized website. Because United Way is a large and reputable public health-oriented organization, we view their online strategy as an exemplary model for PHC.

United Way Facebook page

Viewing United Way’s social media pages has reaffirmed our recommendation to utilize more visual rhetoric in PHC’s online presence. On all three of their platforms, it is apparent that United Way has made a rule of posting an image with every post. These images include topically relevant stock photos, infographics, images taken from partner pages, photos of volunteers, and photos from past United Way-affiliated events. United Way’s Twitter and Instagram accounts also prominently feature photos with every post (Instagram requires this). On Twitter, the accompanying images may even be just a picture of formatted text, demonstrating that it is important to have a graphic component regardless of the significance of the content. Both their Facebook and Twitter account have a following of around 100–200 thousand, with consistent engagement on each post. Any given post on Facebook or Twitter garners likes or retweets ranging from single digits to the low thousands — but it is important to note that each post does create engagement and that followers appear to be reading and sharing on a daily basis. It seems that United Way limits its Facebook postings to one a day, but will post multiple times daily on Twitter. This pattern matches with the nature of the SNS, as tweets appear in a purely chronological order whereas a popular Facebook post may appear on users’ timelines for extended lengths of time. Both strategies seem to be effective for their respective medium.

United Way Twitter profile

United Way’s commitment to visual rhetoric is further demonstrated on their website, which features bright, saturated colors (red, white, and blue, coincidentally), stock photos of healthy people, and easy-to-read infographics. In contrast to PHC’s text-heavy, visually darker website, United Way’s is more welcoming to both its potential partners and the general public. We recommend that PHC make minor aesthetic changes to its website to accommodate more image content and a less text-heavy layout.

To see our analysis of PHC’s current media strategy as well as recommendations for improvement, take a look at our second Medium post

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