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With the exciting launch of EIA’s new and improved website, our popular Investigator’s Blog has now moved to a new online home.

All previous content has been relocated, and our investigators and behind-the-scenes staff are writing regular updates for you about our many campaigns and activities.

Join in the discussions now and give us your valuable feedback – vist our new blog here.

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Today our blog celebrates its first birthday!!

A year ago this very day I wrote the very first, very humble, blog post.

The birth of the blog owes much of its final impetus to Michael Ambjorn and ultimately Ogilvy & Mather’s Idea Shop. It seems like a long time ago now but the enthusiasm from this team of marketing professionals, from our 45 minutes session in East London, was insatiable. We had good content and we needed to share it.

Since then, it’s been a steep learning curve and I’m working out what works and what doesn’t. Yes, there’s been the odd 303 redirects, a few typos and some broken links but overall, 12 months on, it has grown into something that the whole organisation is really proud of.

Every EIA campaigner has now contributed to the blog, from each of our campaigns. So you, as the reader, can now get first-hand information on what it’s like at EIA, what it’s like out in the field, gather expert opinions as well as tap into more personal reflections on the topics EIA works on (as well as interesting tangents!)

EIA HQ

We’ve also encouraged those more behind the scenes to step up to their e-literary debut; Charlotte Davies, our intelligence analyst has taken a particular shine to our blog and written some fantastic posts. Our comms and fundraising team had have time in the e-limelight as well as our volunteers, who donate their time so enthusiastically thoroughly deserving airtime.

Pangolin. S Megan 2007 - WikiMedia CommonsAnd thus, we have religiously published our weekly blog for the last 52 weeks (perhaps a few exceptions for national holidays) on a whole host of topics; from tigers to rhinos, from our community projects in Tanzania to whaling in the Faroe Islands and gala dinners to pangolins! An unexpected bonus is that the blog content fuels our monthly emails which have, in turn, dramatically improved internal communication and encouraged more cross-campaign dialogue.

More than that, the expert opinion of campaigners is being picked up by other groups and organizations, such as REDD monitor and Global Tiger Initiative on blogs and Computer Aid, Client Earth and others on Twitter; so our outreach exponentially increases.

But it’s not just about churning content out; it’s about building a dialogue as well. We are keen to hear your feedback and have made every attempt to respond to comments written by you. We are only human however, and apologise if some have slipped through the net. Please keep your comments coming; what would you like to see improved? Do you have a favourite blog post? What would you like to hear more of?

What are the stats?

• 68 blog posts

• 154 comments

• 15,482 visits

Technical Paragraph – for the geek within

Sticky Content generously donated places on their course for many of our campaigners, a huge thank you to them. They highlighted the important differences between writing for print and the web; tough lessons including “don’t expect people to read all your content” and “write your copy, halve it and then halve it again”.

Michael Ambjorn at Eurocomm

Michael Ambjorn at Eurocomm

Following a communications conference in Italy, there have been some subtle differences to the blog; improved Search Engine Optimisation, shameless promotion, more links and pingbacks, using alt.text and keywords, all of which has helped build a strategy to use the blog more effectively and to help make sure we are findable on Google. We’re not there yet but have made some great improvements. A huge thank you to Steve Seager and Michael Gaasterland on Twitter

The next 12 months

With all going well, we will have the new EIA website up and running soon (I don’t want to jinx the date!) and this will see the blog fully integrated into the website. It’s an exciting time for EIA comms as we finally make that leap into Web 2.0. The blog and our other social media platforms will become an integral part of the website and we will continue to produce fantastic content as our campaigners get more into the swing of blogging.

Conclusion

Watch this space.

Afterword

A few days ago I bumped into Ruth Jamieson from Ogilvy at the latest Ideas Shop at Marketing Week Live and I see Michael Ambjorn at IABC events; it’s great to keep in touch with the people that took the time to dispense small pearls of wisdom to us. Those pearls, 12 months on, have had such a huge impact on how we communicate here at EIA, so thank you to all those who have made it possible.

Sophia Cheng

Sophia Cheng

Fundraising & Communications Officer

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I have returned back to the office after 5 days in Italy, yes it’s sunny here but Islington Green has nothing on Via Roma or Parco del Valentino, Costa below us doesn’t quite cut it anymore and Pizza Express over the road has lost its appeal. Suffice to say, things have changed post- Turin and that’s not to mention the real reason why I was there.

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Eurocomm, hosted by the International Association of Business Communicators, the Middle East and Europe division, is a communications conference held every two years with speakers from the very top of their field.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, business communicators, small NGO?! Where’s the link? Surely you’re not spending all my donations on trips to Turin. Well no. Thanks to the board of IABC, I managed to secure a scholarship to help me get there and Ryanair did the rest of the job (actually, quite painlessly).

So I arrived with my metaphorical socks pulled up high, pen and paper (and smartphone) poised and ready to learn, or perhaps absorb is a better word, all that I could from the world of communications and see how it could be best applied to EIA.

Ashraf Amin, Journalist shares with us the role of communications during the Egyptian revolution.

Ashraf Amin, Journalist shares with us the role of communications during the Egyptian revolution.

Two days were spent in a stunning location overlooking the city  learning about the latest in comms, with interesting and dynamic people, all fuelled by the best espresso.

In short, I have taken away so much from the conference and could go on at length about the importance of communications but in this information overload world we now inhabit, instead I will summarise some of the key lessons in less than 140 characters. In other words, a tweet!

  • Stephane Dujarric, Director of News & Media at the UN: “Issue comes before the logo”, always tell a compelling human story
  • Silvia Cambie working with the European Training Foundation: “Networks are replacing individuals as base of communications”
  • Aureli Valtat – Eurocontrol and Tweeting through the ash cloud: “Twitter is not just a push channel – interactivity is key”
  • Mark Comerford on Social Media & Journalism: “Everything is changing…and survival relies on being responsive to change”
  • Are you ready for the digital revolution?
  • Steve Seager on SEO: “Shameless blog promotion is ok!”
  • Suzanne Salvo of Salvo Photo on the accidental photographer: “show results, not the product”
Approaching things from a new angle - Mole Antonelliana - the landmark of Turin.

Approaching things from a new angle - Mole Antonelliana - the landmark of Turin.

So for EIA, we are in the middle of updating our website (in fact this conference could not have come at a better time) and there is much we can implement right away. From optimizing content, integrating more of our media (analogue & digital) and selecting powerful imagery that crosses the language barrier. Embracing the perception shift may take a little longer. But watch this space.

I will finish with the words of Mark Comerfor:

“if you want to reach me, you will have to reach my network”

Join EIA’s network on Twitter, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Vimeo.

I would like to add a personal thanks to board members of the IABC, especially Michael Ambjorn.

Sophia Cheng - Turin, Italy

Sophia Cheng

EIA

“NGO comms newbie”

 

 

 

 

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I first heard about the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) this summer whilst researching my thesis: examining the scope of environmentalism as a philosophical enterprise.

For as long as I remember, I’ve been captivated by wildlife and have wanted to probe the reasons behind the wanton destruction of the natural world. In the midst of writing – battling it out with Kant and Hegel – I had a bit of crisis, a need to put down the books and do something hands-on. It’s one thing theorizing about change and another thing making it happen. I know that I want to save the tiger; I want to save the forest; I want the natural world to be valued so much more when it is living and growing – not hanging up on a wall or strewn across the floor as home-décor.

So, exhausting as it was (repeatedly banging one’s head against the Critique of Pure Reason can leave you a bit dizzy), my work meant that I came across EIA and I feel pretty lucky for that. EIA is a small, independent organisation and so it took a few hits in Google for it to appear; but it was the word ‘investigation’ that grabbed my attention. Investigation is ultimately what I was doing with my thesis– enquiring into the social and political structures that make a movement like environmentalism possible, stripping information back to its core like peeling away layers to reach the juicy bits in the middle. Exposing this takes courage – there are a lot of environmental crime syndicates who would do anything to keep their name out of the limelight. I think it is incredible that EIA throw their weight behind achieving meaningful goals – goals which require patience and planning but ultimately uncover the real culprits of wildlife crime. Transforming information into evidence – that is what I like about EIA.

Roar, Imagine a tiger. Credit Sue Foll

Roar, Imagine a tiger. A fundraising event I helped out with this week. Credit Sue Foll

Work at EIA never stops. As fundraising volunteer, I’m working on a variety of projects across the fundraising spectrum; helping with events and communicating information for members, maintaining the database and making sure the post gets out when it needs to!

It is my first experience at an NGO and the job of fundraising is a lot broader than I anticipated. The fundraising and membership team need to have a good understanding of the latest issues and developments. Recently, I’ve been designing some membership material and it’s been a real pleasure. As a fundraiser, you have the creative freedom to send a heartfelt message to your members and rally their support for a much needed response.

Taking photos at the opening of the Asia House exhibition. Copyright EIA

Taking photos at the opening of the Asia House exhibition. Copyright EIA

EIA’s HQ is an immensely cosy one – I remember my first day being greeted by a cup of tea and a very excitable office dog! While the campaigners are quietly plugging away (except for the occasional passionate outburst), there is always excitable chatter from the fundraising and comms team about new fans on Facebook, new followers on Twitter and how best to inform supporters of the latest findings. There’s a lot of information out there and a lot still to find, so I really admire everyone here at EIA. It’s a real pleasure to be volunteering for them.

Cara Clancy, our fundraising volunteer

Cara Clancy

Fundraising Volunteer

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at EIA, email Bill at ukinfo@eia-international.org.

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Thank you to all those who took part in our website survey last month; it’s great to get feedback from those who use the site and we’ve had some very interesting comments.

Positively, we’ve had an average satisfaction rate of 7.4/10 from site users. It seems you come to our website for a whole host of reasons, some of the most popular being “to read a publication” and find out more about our campaigns.

You have raised some issues about our current site and we agree with a lot of what you had to say.  Some of your comments include;

  • “It’s quite difficult to navigate around”
  • “It needs to be much more accessible and user-friendly.   Also less technical on home pages.”
  • “The site could do with a more modern look and feel.”
  • “Like a lot of sites – a bit cluttered – but not overly”
  • “Could look more lively”
  • “Although I am a long time EIA supporter, the website doesn’t make me feel inspired to read it”
  • “The website has a tendency to repeat itself with long winded sentences.”
  • “Might benefit from having a cleaner, sharper appearance.  Maybe simplify the home page slightly, keeping the key messages/issues/campaigns as central and as visible as possible.”

All of these issues we are looking to address in the new site, accessibility and navigation are paramount. We want to improve the design and the look-and-feel of the site, with varying levels of content so it is suitable to all audiences.

Looking towards the new site, we have had some fantastic feedback.

A huge 83% of you are definitely interested in taking action, by signing a petition for a particular cause and another 16% would try it. It’s great to hear your enthusiasm for this and we are looking into the possibilities of implementing something similar on our site.

More than 60% of you would be interested in buying merchandise, if more was available. For a few years our range of merchandise has been minimal, however it seems there is a demand to incorporate a slightly larger range. Some of you have expressed interest in items for children, all this we will take on board.

Finally, 70% of you are intrigued by a members’ zone, this is a real possibility and will come up in discussion with the web designers in the coming weeks.

 

Questionnaire Data

We've got some exciting ideas for the new website, would you use any of the following?

 

With the growth of social media in the last few years it was interesting to note that 86% of you use at least one form of social media; the most common being Facebook. However, 14% of you do not use it at all. This is important to remember as we redevelop our site. We are currently using social media quite a bit as it allows the flexibility not possible through our current website. Our aim is to have our new website that has all the latest news not just in the form of press releases but all campaigners’ views and opinions in the same place, rather in two separate places as it is now. Social media will add to this but not form the bulk of our content.

 

You may be aware that social media is being used more and more by donors and non-profits. Which of the following, if any, do you use?

You may be aware that social media is being used more and more by donors and non-profits. Which of the following, if any, do you use?

 

Many of your comments were positive and you have come up with some interesting suggestions including a multilanguage function, “including Kiswahili so that Tanzania indigenous also may read and post environmental issues”, a special section for young supporters is an interesting idea and very plausible. Plenty of you have suggested more information on events, a photo gallery and ways to get involved have also been suggested. All these things we are looking into and are especially keen to improve the “What Can I Do?” Section. Some other suggestions include;

  • “Your team are very courageous and take risks, perhaps you could emphasise this – maybe by some personal stories?”
  • “One of EIA’s greatest assets is its specialist inside knowledge of environmental crime – so making it easy for professionals and interesting folks to find the info easily would be good. Exploit your expertise.”
  • “More information on the work of your investigators, intelligence staff and the tools that they use. E.g. Expand on the excellent article written by Charlotte Davies, in your latest e-newsletter.”

So that sums up your comments; thank you once again to all those who took the time to complete the questionnaire. The web designers are due in shortly and we can get this project moving forward.

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Show your support for EIAShow your support for EIA by adding a virtual button on your facebook profile picture or your twitter! Add your button now by clicking here http://twb.ly/bZKFsx

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