Door 44 Digital

Digital Media and Communications Strategy


Susan Poulton has twenty years of digital media strategy experience, working with organizations in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors to help them meet their content, outreach, and audience building goals. From science to entertainment, her passion is inspiring and awakening curiosity in any audience and moving them to action through digital experiences and storytelling.

Many organizations today follow a checklist approach to digital outreach instead of optimizing for their specific goals and audience. Susan guides groups through the process of defining the measurable outcomes they want from their online experiences and crafting creative content and operational solutions within a variety of budgets. Her areas of expertise include:

  • Strategic goal setting, operational planning, team building, and media training;

  • Comprehensive communication and outreach planning, including social media strategies;

  • Creative digital content experiences for multiple platforms;

  • Virtual reality and augmented reality implementation in mobile and physical spaces.

  • Effective science communication strategies and crowdsourcing/citizen science experiences;

  • Online fundraising and audience building tactics for small nonprofits;

  • Business model development and monetization tactics for digital content, product, and commercial strategies.

  • Museum digital strategies to change cultural institution’s perspectives about digital;

  • Information literacy and critical thinking tactics for public education.

Before joining The Franklin Institute as Chief Digital Officer in 2015, Susan was president and founder of the digital consulting firm Door 44 Digital. In that role she managed digital content, social media strategy, and external media relations for Dr. Robert Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) and the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, implementing tactics for ocean science communication and storytelling resulting in thousands of viral media stories on ocean exploration.

Prior to founding Door 44 Digital, Susan was Vice President of Digital Media for the National Geographic Society for seven years. In that role she oversaw the development of many of National Geographic’s first online content verticals, resulting in dramatic growth for the Society’s digital presence and monetization capabilities. She then focused on outreach and content strategies for the Society’s non-profit and exploration initiatives including James Cameron’s DeepSea Challenge, The Genographic Project, Big Cats, Freshwater, Oceans, and Explorers portal. Her work on the Genographic and Expedition: Genghis Khan projects developed success tactics for citizen science engagement and resulted in two Webby nominations.

Prior to joining National Geographic, Susan held various content positions over nine years at AOL. As the Director of Programming and Content Production, she was responsible for revamping AOL Time Warner’s approach to celebrity content online, with a special focus on live event production. Susan used creative methods to build consumer engagement around high profile events in the news and entertainment space including the use of multi camera angle live video, interactives, polls, and chat for events including the 2000 and 2004 elections, Space Shuttle Return to Flight, XPRIZE, and Oscar and Golden Globe Award coverage. She was one of AOL’s lead producers for Live 8 in 2005, the first digital experience to receive an Emmy Award and set the world record for concurrent online live event attendees. She produced the first inter-species chat with Koko the gorilla, first chat with the International Space Station, first online events with reporters in combat zones, and the Dalai Lama’s first webcam event in 1999.

She has participated on numerous panels and advisory boards and was an Innovator in Residence at University of Nebraska, Lincoln lecturing on tactics for maximizing consumer engagement to create meaningful digital experiences. An avid traveler, photographer, and space enthusiast, Susan spends her spare time photographing rocket launches and volunteers to provide media and digital training to nonprofit organizations around the world and works to empower young people through a variety of photographic and media projects, including as an instructor for National Geographic Photo Camp.

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