Vivian Sum, communications lead at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI), is a proud recipient of a 2022 Gold Quill Award of Excellence — Communication for the Web. VCHRI is one of the top funded health research institutes in Canada and is uniquely positioned to modernize health care and drive economic development in British Columbia (B.C.). As such, a strong brand and online identity are critical to better engage with and showcase the brilliant work of VCHRI’s investigators, staff and trainees.
Sum’s award-winning project is the redesign and development of VCHRI’s website. Learn about the project’s communication outcomes and how Gold Quill renews the passion for communication excellence.
What challenge were you facing, and how does your award-winning project solve it?
As the communications lead, I embarked on a holistic communications approach that improved online visibility and awareness, while highlighting research impact and connecting stakeholders.
All target audiences were generally unclear of VCHRI’s leading role in the research community or how the organization directly impacts health outcomes in B.C. Both staff and public members desired an intuitive website where they could access relevant research findings, clinical trial information and support services. Partner organizations wanted to connect with researchers to accelerate adoption of health discoveries. Also prompted by numerous technical considerations, the communications team assessed the website and explored the viability of building anew.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated what is possible when academic, medical, corporate and public institutions collaborate. It also highlighted missed opportunities that result from a lack of awareness and difficulty navigating clinical trials.
What impact did your project have on communication outcomes?
Maintaining an excellent reputation and strong community connection is of prime importance to VCHRI achieving its business needs. I guided the project team to focus tremendous effort on reassessing and refining organizational messaging and communication goals, and the evolving cultures and customs of key stakeholders.
We performed thorough functionality and content audits, developed strategies that reinforced brand and audience connection, and refreshed the website’s design, messaging and navigation. The new website is central to delivering key messages of how research discoveries change lives, along with the health, economic and social impacts of research.
What’s one key takeaway you gained from this experience that would benefit other communication professionals?
I am proud to reach this professional goal of mine and accept this prestigious award alongside the world’s best. As communicators, we need to explore opportunities to renew our passion for, and commitment to, communications excellence. I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my communications knowledge, approach and tactics while working on the IABC award application.
Vivian Sum is the communications lead at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI).