We all know that clear and unified messaging is critical to our teams having a common understanding of goals and expectations, and to external stakeholders understanding our mission, vision, and values. But to be truly effective, communications should also be purposeful and connect on an emotional level with our audience.
To be purposeful, communications must target the audience we are trying to reach, have a clear message, and have a goal of moving the audience to action – what do we want our audience to do with the information we have given them? We may want them to support a cause, or perhaps we just want to motivate them to tell others about the extraordinary work that takes place across the UNT Health Science Center every day, to expand awareness and our reach within the communities we serve.
Communications will elicit that action from our audience when they are powerful – when they are based on more than just facts and figures and when they connect with our audience on an emotional level. I could list dozens of examples of extraordinary teamwork I encounter every day in my job, from the ways a small group of dedicated NamUs team members scattered across the United States collaborate every day to bring resolution to family members of the missing, to the incredible support we have received from Information Technology Services to initiate and complete a major software development project. However, simply listing these examples isn’t memorable, it doesn’t explain how critical this teamwork is to meeting our goals, and it doesn’t resonate – it isn’t powerful. So instead of listing examples, I’m going to tell you a story.
Over the last six years, NamUs team members have participated in Missing Person Day events across the country, where family members are invited to have their cases entered into NamUs and have their DNA samples collected, in hopes their DNA will help locate their missing loved one. While our staff are critical to planning and implementing these events, we have always been guests invited by a host agency. This year, we decided to host our own event here at the UNT Health Science Center to show support for our own local community of families searching for missing loved ones. It was our first event, and we didn’t have much time to plan, so our mission felt overwhelming at times, but in the end, it was a moving, successful event due to the remarkable support we received from staff across the university.
Staff from Human Resources, Information Technology Services, GSBS, the UNT Center for Human Identification, Student Affairs, the JPS Health Network, and the Office of Brand and Communication all donated their Sunday to volunteer at the event, working directly with families of the missing. Media coverage from across the region was coordinated by our Office of Brand and Communication, Facilities provided guidance on coordinating after-hours services for the venue, CETS ensured A/V equipment was set up and functioning prior to the event, the UNTHSC Police Department ensured our room was accessible and secured after-hours, and NamUs team members across the country worked to secure speakers and perform outreach to families and local law enforcement agencies. One family whose case had been resolved traveled from Kansas just to share their story of hope and resolution with other families in attendance. Our first Missing Person Day was an event that could not have been successful without extraordinary teamwork across the university, not because this was anyone’s job, but because everyone simply cared about serving others first and came together as one team to make a difference in the lives of these families.
Having a purposeful and powerful communication plan will continue driving the success of all our teams, working together every day to form one university with one shared mission of transforming lives, each in our own unique way.
HSC Fellows Candidate 2017