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The Health Humanities Lab collaborates with students from Duke I&E

By Ethan Holland

This post was written by a student in Dr. Aaron Dinin’s Building Global Audiences(I&E 250) class. You can learn more about their class project and why they’re blogging about it here.

Two weeks ago, the Health Humanities Lab (HHL) project team in Dr. Aaron Dinin’s Building Global Audiences class was researching HHL competitors in order to understand who they are.

For reference, when we think about competitors for a project like the HHL, we don’t necessarily mean it in a “cutthroat” sort of way. We simply mean that the HHL’s target audience has a limited amount of time it can spend on health humanities projects, so time they’re spending on other projects is time not being spent with the HHL.

Building on our work from two weeks ago, this week we examined strategies the HHL can adopt from its competitors. Here are the Top 3 strategies we identified:

Strategy 1: Promote Other Health Humanities Events

The first strategy we identified is the opportunity to actually promote health humanities events hosted by other organizations. Sure, promoting other health humanities events might seem like it’s actually helping the competition, however, doing so will help the lab build its reputation and provide value to its followers. In other words, the HHL can “piggyback” on the work of its more established competitors to help build its own credibility.

In addition, the type of person the HHL wants following its social media is also the type of person who will see value in hearing about related events. Plus, cross promotion may encourage other organizations to promote HHL events down the road.

To be fair, the HHL already cross promotes some events, but there’s opportunity for improvement. For example, the HHL recently promoted the upcoming 2017 Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine Symposium on their Facebook page. While this is a helpful type of promotion, social media is not always the most effective way of reaching faculty and the medical school. Furthermore, any promotion of other events should include a short blurb describing the HHL and including a link to the website (for more health humanities content visit our website…). But the HHL’s Mayo post didn’t include that.

By posting links to health humanities events on the HHL website, in listservs, on social media, and around campus, the HHL can further develop as the meeting point of health and humanities and while bringing more attention to itself with the HHL’s desired audiences.

Strategy 2: Restructure Website Using HHIVE as a Guide

Looking at competitor websites is a great way to find flaws in your own website. As an example, we analyzed the HHL’s UNC Chapel Hill counterpart, HHIVE (Health and Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Venue for Exploration).

HHIVE not only has more content posted on the site, but also has a clearer and more aesthetically pleasing layout. We identified two specific areas of improvement: presentation of events and external resources. Both websites have a designated events page, but the HHL page is in list form whereas the HHIVE events are presented on an interactive calendar. This allows the user to view more events at a time and visualize when events will occur.

In addition, the HHIVE website has a page dedicated to external health humanities resources. This fits into Strategy 1 discussed above, as well as giving people interested in the health humanities more reasons to visit the website. The HHL currently has no such page, and we feel this would be a simple but important addition to the website.

Strategy 3: Collaborate with the Trent Center

In addition to looking beyond Duke, we took a second look at some of the “competitors” under the Duke umbrella.

One particularly important competitor is the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine. The Trent Center is of interest specifically because they have a larger reach than the HHL into medical faculty, staff, and students.

According to HHL lab manager Thomas Johnson, the HHL has had trouble distinguishing itself from the Trent Center and finding areas it can provide value to the medical center. However, the HHL has some advantages over the Trent Center, including the backing of the FHI, the ability to act on a national level, and its existing audience of non-medical-center professors and students.

Because of the differing audiences, instead of competing, it seems as though the two organizations could benefit from mutual promotion and co-hosted events. Such proposals should be framed as ways for the Trent Center to expand their audience outside of the medical center and to foster collaboration.


Cross-posted from Duke I&E

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