Feature Article

A message from past president Patricia Zapf: Update on the communication survey

AP-LS communications survey results.

By Patricia Zapf, PhD

Happy New Year! May 2016 bring you all good things, both personal and professional.

As you probably know, my presidential initiative involved addressing the issue of communications within our division. One component of this initiative was to survey our members to determine perceptions regarding the current state of our communications and to obtain feedback regarding what we can do to improve our communication with members.

I have been fortunate to work with a group of dedicated members willing to volunteer their time to assist in this mission and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their assistance.

Special thanks to: Alana Cook, Caitlin Cavanagh, Laura Guy, Antoinette Kavanaugh, Chris King, Casey LaDuke, Lora Levett, Joel Lieberman, Gianni Pirelli, Lauren Reba-Harrelson, Diane Sivasubramaniam, Chriscelyn Tussey, and Kento Yasuhara.

Although our work is not complete, we have made good progress and would like to share with you the results of our survey of the membership. I also need to give a big thank you to two of my masters students — Amanda Beltrani and Marissa Zappala — who collated the results of this survey (For complete survey results, see full issue, PDF, 2.2MB). Thank you!

As we move through 2016 we will continue to implement the steps outlined below in response to your feedback.

AP-LS Communications Survey

This survey was sent in August 2015 to all current members of the American Psychology-Law Society with active email addresses associated with their user accounts in an attempt to ascertain the most common ways in which our members connect with to obtain relevant information.

Approximately 2,100 individuals received this survey by email; a reminder email was sent approximately one week after the original survey request. A total of 678 individuals responded to this survey, yielding a 32 percent response rate. Thank you!

Descriptive data for each of the item responses are delineated in Table 1 (See full issue, PDF, 2.2MB). Qualitative responses to open-ended items are summarized and delineated in Table 2 (See full issue, PDF, 2.2MB). A brief summary of these results is presented below.


The majority of respondents were aware that AP-LS had a website (88 percent) and had been to the AP-LS website (85 percent). Approximately half of respondents reported that they visit the AP-LS website on a quarterly basis, with a quarter indicating they visit on a monthly basis and slightly less than a quarter indicating they visit on an annual basis.

Overall, respondents are satisfied with the design and usability of our website, with room for improvement (Mean = 6.33 on a scale from 0 (lowest satisfaction) to 10 (highest satisfaction); SD = 1.78).

Most visitors to our website consult the Conference page (89 percent), the Membership page (72 percent), the Education & Training page (65 percent), the Publications page (58 percent) and the About Div. 41 page (56 percent). Fewer than half of the visitors to our site consult the Awards page (45 percent) and the Leadership page (33 percent).

About 30 percent of respondents knew that the AP-LS Student Committee has its own website and, of those that knew about the website, about half (48 percent) had been to the website, most on a quarterly basis.

Social Media

Approximately 39 percent of respondents were aware that AP-LS has a Facebook page; of those that knew about the page, approximately half (51 percent) had visited the page, on a monthly or less often basis, and approximately a quarter (22 percent) follow/fan the AP-LS page so that it shows up on their news feeds.

Approximately 20 percent of respondents were aware that the AP-LS Student Committee has a Facebook page; of those that knew about the page, approximately 61 percent had visited the page and 14 percent follow/fan the page.

Very few respondents knew that AP-LS has a Twitter (12 percent) or LinkedIn (11 percent) profile.

Email List

Almost all respondents were on the AP-LS email list (89 percent) and, of those who receive emails from AP-LS, most claimed to actually read these emails (97 percent). Approximately three quarters of respondents (71 percent) indicated that they would like to receive brief email updates form AP-LS that occur more frequently than the newsletter, with most respondents indicating their preference for a monthly e-newsletter.

New Initiatives

We asked about several possible means of engaging our members to assess the level of interest in adopting new initiatives. Most respondents indicated they were likely to use regular email updates (77 percent); to use email lists focused on substantive areas (74 percent); to attend preconferences or miniconferences in substantive areas (64 percent); or to take advantage of networking session at conferences focused on substantive areas (62 percent). Only 35 percent of respondents reported that they were likely to attend virtual meet-ups focused on substantive topic areas.

Specific Suggestions and Feedback

We also collected specific suggestions and feedback on a number of issues, including changes to be made to various webpages or social media platforms, ways in which we can improve communications, and the types of information one would like to receive in an e-newsletter. I encourage you to check out these qualitative results set out in Table 2 (See full issue, PDF, 2.2MB).

Next Steps in Response to your Feedback

We have spent considerable time reviewing the results of this survey and have planned the following next steps for moving forward in responding to your comments and suggestions.


Work has already begun on website revisions to update the content and reorganize its presentation online to make it easier to find the resources that members are most often accessing on our site.

Social Media 

These results suggest that we might be more effective in our communications by integrating our presence on the various social media platforms, as opposed to having more than one account (i.e., AP-LS page and AP-LS Student Committee page) per platform. We will develop a plan for integrating our presence on the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn platforms while not adding any additional platforms. Given that so few of our members appear to be accessing information via social media we will focus efforts on primarily improving our website-based communications and use our integrated social media accounts as a supplementary means of dissemination.

Communication Preferences

These results suggest that members might like the ability to titrate the amount of AP-LS-related information they are sent by choosing whether to receive only membership-related communications or membership plus other communications. We will work to develop a communication preferences campaign to allow members the ability to select the types of communications they receive.

New Initiatives
  • E-newsletter: We will work to develop an e-newsletter to be sent on a monthly basis and to include relevant and useful AP-LS- related information.
  • Engagement: We will work to consider additional ways to engage with our members and to facilitate engagement between members with interests in similar topics (e.g., email lists, preconference / miniconferences, networking opportunities).
  • Partnerships: We will work to consider additional ways in which AP-LS could more effectively partner with other organizations to share and disseminate information.

Thank you again to all who responded. We appreciate the feedback and look forward to implementing your suggestions over this next year.

If you are interested in being involved in this initiative, please feel free to contact me.