Marketing/Communications

How (and Why) We Doubled Down on Digital Content to Protect Wild Places

Problem Statement

When does investing in content make sense? How can you build a regular, returning audience, and then steward them into donors, online ambassadors, and advocates? Get tips from organizations that have put content and users first, and seen it pay off.

Help people get outdoors and hike, and they’ll fall in love with our public lands—and work to protect them. That’s what’s behind the digital strategy of two environmental organizations—Montana Wilderness Association and Washington Trails Association—that have made a serious commitment to our digital content. Recognizing that not everyone can explore the wilderness in person, the National Park Service has also invested in digital as a way to emotionally connect the public to these special places we all steward.

From building one-of-a-kind online Hiking Guide databases, to curating personal blogs, social feeds and user-submitted content, to producing incredible video storytelling, these organizations have created distinct content strategy models based on what our communities need (like detailed, up-to-date, hiking information and education resources). By doing so, we’ve found an approach that fosters strong partnerships, recruits amazing volunteers, attracts millions of organic website visitors, and benefits all of our organizations’ program goals.

Not an environmental organization? No worries. The 10 essentials of our digital strategy are approaches that can be applied across the nonprofit sector. Ask us about our successes and struggles. Get ideas about how to convince the powers that be that digital and content are worth their weight in trail mix. Learn how to tell compelling video stories or offer immersive digital experiences without a gazillion-dollar budget. Learn our approach to sharing information and social content—while staying true to our missions.

Plus, we’ll probably share a few photos and video from some of the most beautiful places in the country, because that’s just what we do.

Loren Drummond
Washington Trails Association
Digital Content Manager
Loren is the Digital Content Manager for Washington Trails Association, where she works to connect an incredible community of volunteers, hikers and advocates with Washington's public lands. She has 15 years of nonprofit digital communications and advocacy experience at state, national and international organizations. She is interested in storytelling for good and technology that fights for social justice, connects people and helps us unplug. She also has a particular fondness for desert camping, alpine basins and marmots.

Sarah Gulick
National Parks Service
Film Producer
Sarah is a filmmaker for the National Park Service. She co-produced the award-winning original series: America's Wilderness, exploring diverse personal experiences and the dynamic beauty of our designated wild places. Sarah works with parks, national level programs, tribes, and other partners to create films and digital media. She was previously an adjunct professor in digital media at Marymount University, and co-founder of Studio Up, a company specializing in video, multimedia, and exhibit design for non-profits and educational organizations. Sarah is especially interested in using film and digital media to bring together communities around conservation and social challenges and celebrate successes and commonalities. She adores paddling, teal, turtles, and bears!

Kassia Randzio
Montana Wilderness Association
Marketing and Grants Manager
Kassia is Montana Wilderness Association's Marketing and Grants Manager. Using communications and development tools, Kassia helps make sure Montana's wildlife have room to roam, families have clean water, and people have the chance to feel the joy of wilderness. Her latest project was building Montana's first online trail guide (hikewildmontana.org). She's out backpacking with her husband, 9-month-old daughter, and black lab every chance she gets.

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