As communications strategies in the third sector are becoming more sophisticated, so content marketing is gaining popularity. Charities are placing greater emphasis on creating high quality content that attracts and engages, rather than simply paying for eyeballs with advertising.
The challenges of charity content marketing
We think a lot about how charities can communicate most effectively, particularly in light of the distinctive challenges they face.
Charities often need to present subtle ideas in a context of complexity. This is difficult in a media environment that increasingly seems to favour polarised and over-simplified voices.
Charities often deal with highly sensitive or painful topics that can provoke strong reactions which can spread faster than ever before.
And, of course, charities are looking to have a real lasting effect on behaviour and outlook at a time when people feel ever more distracted and less mindful.
Enhancing stories by mixing text and images
Increasingly storytelling techniques are being used to successfully meet these challenges. Told well, stories resonate on a personal level, shift perspective and cultivate empathy.
But we’ve also come to understand how combining text and image can enhance those narratives and make them even more potent.
Such integrated content becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Stories stand out. They look appealing.
More importantly, they encourage readers to pay greater attention. They awake readers from the torpor of distracted skim reading.
Of course these graphic essays require more work to produce and to consume. But they reward that work with a richer more aesthetically stimulating experience that lasts longer in the memory.
And because text and images engage different parts of the brain, the combination enhances understanding and empathy.
Scott Torrance has published an elegant experiment on Medium. He presents one set of ideas in three different articles:
The first explains his thoughts using only text.
The second predominantly uses graphics.
The third article uses a combination of the two.
I encourage you to have a look at each of them. Decide which you think communicates most effectively and which provides the most enjoyable experience.
How might you integrate illustration with storytelling to better communicate with your audiences?
For some examples of how others are doing just this, look at the work of our team for organisations like the Red Cross, MSF and Oxfam.