SCIO Community Magazine
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Fall/Winter 2023

Winter 2023 magazine cover featuring Kevin Mills

Remaining Relevant in the 5-Second World

Stuart Howe
Dr. Stuart Howe | CEO, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

If it has not been done already, I expect one day soon someone will publish research that confirms my personal, unscientific pet theory: the rate of change of society is inversely proportional to people’s attention span!

Wherever you look, things are in flux as changes are made to make products, processes and systems more efficient, more user friendly, less expensive and/or more profitable. We are bombarded with updates, images, emails and tweets... (er, what are they called now? “Xs”? – case in point!) …and you must make a snap decision on what you are going to pay attention to and what you are going to ignore. – after all, there are still only 24 hours in a day!

Consider social media, now a mainstay of how SCIO communicates with our community. The average attention span can significantly vary depending on the individual and the platform. However, general estimates suggest the average time spent on a single piece of content could be as short as a few seconds, with people scrolling quickly through their feeds to find some click-bait that appeals.

What this means is that if you don’t know us, or don’t know us well, we have five seconds or less to get your attention and keep you engaged. If you have reached this far in this article it means you are engaged with SCIO, you are prepared to give us your time to read a magazine, whether online or on paper. Thank You!

But how do we get the attention of the folks new to spinal cord injury, people with other disabilities who we can also support, partners on the periphery of our engaged community, provincial and municipal government leaders, donors, foundations and sponsors?

We need clarity in our language, our look and our feel so it is evident who we are, what we do, what we are asking and what we are offering. Over the years we lost that clarity, so during the summer we took a step back and redefined who we are, what we do, what we are asking and what we are offering in a simple, direct manner that fits 2023 and beyond. You will see that clarity in all our marketing and communication tools as we roll out our refreshed brand over the next few months, starting with launching and relaunching our updated education and training platform.

While we can address the 5-second reality of marketing and communications, we will never lose sight of the fact that spinal cord injury is not a short-term issue, not something for which there is a quick fix, not something we can financially support with a quick ‘GoFundMe’ campaign. We need to be here for the long term.

SCIO is legally an organization but more so, it is a community. A community of experts in spinal cord injury, grounded in shared life experience, providing supports for individuals journeying from injury to achieve their personal life goals. A community of leaders in advocacy and education. To maintain our relevance over the long term, we need you, our community members, to talk to everyone you meet about SCI, to actively advocate for our public policy priorities, to attend our events and encourage others to join in, to promote our education and training resources and, if you have the capacity, to donate and encourage others to do the same.

We may be living in a 5-second world beset with financial insecurity and awash in a constant stream of negative news stories, but by focusing on the long-term and tapping into the resilience and determination this community is renowned for, together we will be here and we will remain relevant for as long as we are needed.

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