The power of online connections is well documented. Let me throw another example into the mix.

On June 18, The Heart and Stroke Foundation announced it was going to close the books on its Health Check program. (Full disclosure: the Heart and Stroke Foundation is a client of FullDuplex.ca, and we did work with the Health Check program). It was a sad day for the organization and the team dedicated to educating Canadians and helping them make better-informed decisions in the grocery store.

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, owner of the private Bariatric Medical Institute and a vocal critic of Health Check for many years, could have taken this opportunity to publicly declare victory over the program and whip his followers in to an online celebration. He did not. He published a blog post that was gracious and responsible. He announced his hope for something better from the Foundation, and provided a link to the Foundation’s official annoucement.

Dr. Freedhoff has established himself as a thought leader on health over a variety of online channels. His blog posts and tweets are often cited and shared by a community in which he is a trusted participant, helping him become a sought-after source/analyst for the media. In fact, Globe and Mail health columnist André Picard tweeted a link to Dr. Freedhoff’s post about the end of the Health Check program soon after it was published. Mr. Picard didn’t tweet the Foundation’s announcement. He tweeted a link to Dr. Freedhoff’s blog post. This played an important role in positioning the Foundation and its annoucement in a positive light.

What people don’t know is that the Foundation met with Dr. Freedhoff in advance. They informed him of the pending annoucement, allowing him to be part of the breaking news when it happened. Those who are active and have attentive audiences appreciate the opportunity to “break news” to reinforce their connectedness. HSF knew this and acted accordingly.

The main thesis of the book TOUCH, which I co-authored with Tod Maffin, is that humanity has a very important role in how communications, business and advocacy play out in the digital age — proactively and reactively. The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s approach is a great example of how applying TOUCH can shine a positive light on a difficult matter, and can help set a better way forward.