This is a guest blog post by the College's Director of Communications and Lead, Community Engagement


Communications play an important role in keeping College Members informed of regulatory news and changes, including helping them to understand requirements in place to protect the public so that naturopaths can apply these in their practices.

Last year, we invited all College Members to take our online Communications Survey. Our goal was to benchmark against a similar survey conducted in 2016, and to hear from our Members about:
- their overall satisfaction with College communications;
- the factors influencing their decision to engage with our communications channels and vehicles;
- their social media preferences;
- how they source professional information;
- their habits, experience, and satisfaction with the College website; and
- their interest in volunteer opportunities as well as in obtaining CE credits from reading College publications. 

We thank the 195 naturopaths (about 13% of the profession) who participated in the survey. While this was not a formal random sample survey, it did provide us with excellent information to help us enhance our Member communications and engagement. Following are highlights of what we learned. While not specifically included in this article, all individual comments and suggestions provided in the survey have been reviewed and considered by our Communications team and will be incorporated where reasonable.

Satisfaction levels
Members who responded noted overall improvements in our Communications, with 89% of NDs being somewhat to completely satisfied with College communications. This reflects a 21% increase in overall satisfaction since 2016. 

Preferred vehicles and channels
In terms of our existing communications vehicles and channels, survey respondents said they prefer receiving information in a newsletter-style format and/or by targeted email message - more so than visiting our website. Despite this, numerous respondents would like to see shorter newsletters that are not as overwhelming to read, and the use of more examples when explaining specific requirements (similar to our Advertising Do’s and Don’ts infographic). Some Members feel the College is still overly formal in its communication. 

College website
The website was cited by 75% of survey participants as being difficult to search, hard to navigate, and generally frustrating for Members to source practice-related and other information. Many individual comments were provided about the challenges Members experience using our site.

Topics of Interest
When asked about topic areas they want to know more about, Members identified the following.  



Social and digital media preferences
Many respondents are active on social media, with Facebook being their preferred channel compared to other leading platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. However, when it comes to sourcing professional news and information, Members prefer professional journals, webinars and newsletters. The relationship between years in practice and social and digital media channels was also explored and there was no statistical significance between the two. 

We also note that 75% of respondents expressed interest in the possible opportunity of earning Category B CE credits by completing content quizzes at the end of College newsletters.

Volunteering

Slightly over half the Members who participated in the survey indicated an interest in volunteering with the College in different capacities. The survey also provided us with a mechanism to contact many of these Members when opportunities arise.



By the way, did you know the College is currently seeking new volunteers to fill positions on its committees? We are also seeking NDs to serve as examiners for IVIT and for the College’s Clinical Exams (Practical). Learn more

Next steps
We are moving full speed ahead with improvements to our website that will make it easier for the public, Members and other stakeholders to quickly find and access the information they need. This is a top priority because the website is the hub of all our communications and we want it to support naturopaths in practice as well as meet the needs of the public.
We will continue to communicate about the topics that Members expressed interest in. We will also review the length and content of our newsletters and other vehicles to ensure we are maximizing our resources and your time. 
Since 2016, we have made significant changes to the overall tone and language used in our communications, making them easier to read and less formal, while remaining professional. However, because the College is a legislative body, there are times when we need to use more formal language. For example, there are instances when we need to refer to specific legal requirements and/or quote sections of legislation that relate to certain topics or actions. This is particularly true when it comes to decisions and communication with Members about registration, complaints and discipline.
We have been contacting Members who expressed interest in volunteering for different roles when those opportunities have presented themselves and thank those who have participated so far.
Members also expressed interest in earning CE credits for reading College publications. This is being explored further with the Quality Assurance program area.