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Digital Media and Communications Strategy

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


Most recently, Susan was the Chief Digital Officer of The Franklin Institute, where she conceived and developed a comprehensive digital strategy for the 8th largest science museum in the country. This strategy included website, social media, mobile app, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence applications and focused on the creation of science content for a global audience to support the educational mission of the museum and transform them into a digital leader among visitors, the community, and cultural institutions.

She currently manages her own digital consulting firm, Door 44 Digital. In that role she develops digital strategies for multiple organizations in both the for profit and non-profit space and also conducts independent research on solutions to our current misinformation crisis and disaster communication tactics. Current clients include Ocean Discovery League (formerly MIT Media Lab’s Open Ocean project developing outreach strategies for equity in ocean exploration. Previous clients include managing digital and 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 and tens of millions of media hits.

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. While at National Geographic, she spearheaded a personal project to document all remaining space shuttle launches from 2006-2011 and the decommissioning of the space shuttle program, interviewing many NASA team members. The resulting work was featured in The Washington Post and on blogs on National Geographic News.

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 online chat with the International Space Station, first online events with reporters in combat zones, and the Dalai Lama’s first webcam event in 1999.

Currently one of the organizing leads for the Online News Association in Philadelphia, 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, including as an instructor for National Geographic Photo Camp. She is a certified Advanced Emergency Medical Technical (AEMT) and a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team providing volunteer support locally as well as in refugee camps overseas. She is currently working on a project to document her attempt to summit the highest points in all 50 states in the United States.

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