Imagine you had to mobilize an audience of working moms to advocate for paid sick days – something that too few receive.You could talk about the importance of paid sick days for the working mom. Yawn.Or you could use humor and interactivity to relate to how moms experience this issue – which is by living in fear of getting ill and avoiding sick people like the plague.I pick door #2.So did RisingMoms. This is the first RisingMoms email (and they send too many) I’ve really liked – because it makes the issue sticky and VIRAL!
Looking aheadSocial media sites are ever-evolving, and so are the opportunities they offer. One example of this is the interactive site Second Life, a “parallel world” where participants live, meet and exchange goods and services. Second Life currently has more than 1 million “residents”–real people who have created avatars–who spend real money on goods, services and even real estate that only exist in the online world.Another recent development is Twitter, which allows users to keep their friends, family, website or blog readers up-to-date on what they’re doing, moment by moment. (See our recent profile of Twitter, “Reinventing the Conversation.”) Twitter represents an ever-evolving, real-time online conversation.There are drawbacks to involvement in social media. The constant and consistent interaction requires substantial time and effort–something small business owners have in scarce amounts. However, by keeping abreast of developments and experimenting in various formats, organizations have an opportunity to be ever more in touch with customers, influencers and the media. BlogsThe blogosphere has become a valuable resource for tracking industry trends and hot-button topics. Unfiltered and opinionated, blogs combine the insightfulness of industry journals with the instant feedback of a focus group.For non profit organizations, blogs offer a wealth of opportunity. However, to reap the rewards, you must first understand the medium and then determine the best way to leverage this dynamic and far-reaching online universe.Each industry has its blog ‘stars.’ A simple Technorati or Google Blog search on an industry topic will uncover many of the prominent bloggers.A blog’s interactivity offers the opportunity to extend your company’s messages to a wider audience. Providing commentary in response to a blog post, for instance, can help you position yourself as a thought leader and subtly market your products and services.Organizations can also create their own blogs to showcase their organizations philosophy. However, you should first consider the upsides and the downsides of blogging before proceeding. While blogs can elevate your organizations profile, establish credibility and open a two-way conversation with customers, they also require a significant amount of time and effort.As with any foray into media, bloggers must be prepared to accept, and potentially refute, criticism. Think carefully before putting your finger to keyboard, because once a response is posted, there’s no turning back. What seemed like a hard-hitting response at the time could be detrimental in the long run. Article provided by PR Newswire’s Nonprofit Toolkit, an educational resource devoted to Non Profit public relations. Visit the Nonprofit Toolkit today and receive a waived annual membership ($195 value) and more than $2,000 in discounts and free services.If you’ve ever read a blog, joined an online discussion group or uploaded a photo to Flickr, you’ve engaged in social media. Social media websites encourage users to share, change or otherwise participate in the site’s content. Opinions, comments and dissection of news are encouraged, giving greater insight into what consumers and influencers are thinking.In the past, social media sites have been seen as a vehicle mainly for young people. Now, however, people of all ages and professions read blogs, tag articles, join online discussion groups, have profiles on professional social networking sites and post video files. In fact, according to a recent industry report by comScore, more than half of the visitors to social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Live Journal are now 35 and older.In terms of PR, social media is a maturing business tool, offering new and innovative ways to drive awareness and communicate to customers–often using less expensive techniques than traditional advertising or marketing campaigns. It’s worth being aware of the various elements that make up the social media landscape, and concentrating on the ones that are particularly applicable to your organization. Bookmarking and News SharingOne way to elevate the readership of your news releases online is to use a newswire service that includes buttons for tagging the release on sites such as Digg and Del.icio.us.Digg is a rating site that lists the most popular online stories from sources including blogs, traditional news sites and company websites. You can use Digg to track the popularity of news about your business, and to see the reaction to specific news releases.Del.icio.us is a popular tool for bookmarking and finding interesting sites on the web. Del.icio.us links can be incorporated into news releases in much the same way as Digg tags, making it easy for readers to save the announcement as a favorite. Social Media News ReleasesTraditionally, news releases take a text-only form, emulating the style and format of a news article. The social media news release, on the other hand, is a news release that combines text with a host of social and multimedia elements, including photos and video, links to blogs, digital tags, RSS feeds and search engine optimization.The social media news release is intended to help organizations reach their markets directly using new social media tools. This level of interactivity is especially beneficial to bloggers because it allows them to select information, and the format encourages readers to provide feedback to the authors and their websites or blogs.While full integration of the social media release may be some years away, for some organizations–it may prove immediately useful in reaching an audience of tech-savvy bloggers and reporters. The relative novelty value of the template may even gain your organization attention. MultimediaOnline video sharing sites represent one of the fastest-growing media sectors, with sites such as YouTube attracting thousands of viewers every day. For non profits, web video can be an especially enticing proposition because producing and distributing the content is far less expensive than creating traditional broadcast materials. Online video offers the potential to “level the playing field” with larger organizations.To maximize exposure, once a video is featured on a site such as YouTube, it’s easy to send out an e-mail to your contacts with a direct link to the clip. One way to indirectly submit content to video sharing websites is through multimedia news releases, a platform that combines text with digital video, audio and still images, and includes social bookmarking capabilities.As with all marketing, the key to success is knowing your audience. YouTube viewers, for instance, are attuned to new, interesting and often humorous material. For an online video to have a truly substantial impact, it must be compelling enough to generate a groundswell of interest that leads to viral sharing. Creativity and catchiness are as important as messaging.The bottom line: When considering an online video campaign, make sure you’re pursuing it for the right reasons–to increase your visibility (awareness). Copyright 2006 by Entrepreneur.com, Inc. All rights reserved.Rachel Meranus is Entrepreneur.com’s “PR” columnist and director of public relations at PR Newswire. Get more information about PR Newswire and public relations with their Nonprofit Toolkit for non profit organizations.
This is my new column in Fundraising Success.The human mind is like one of those kitchen gadgets featured in late-night infomercials. It beats, twists, separates, slices, dices and otherwise transforms everything that enters it. You gave someone a carrot, but before you know it, she’s turned it into a bouquet of julienned strips.In other words, what you think you’re communicating often bears little resemblance to what someone hears and thinks. Your ideology is no match for your audience’s own mental machinations. So what’s a fundraiser to do? The solution is to understand how your audience’s minds work — and adjust your communications accordingly. You have a better chance of success with this approach than you ever have in trying to get your audience to see the world — and your message — as you do.Small, not bigPeople understand the world on a personal scale. They can relate to a hungry person more easily than they can relate to hunger on a global level. They’re more motivated to act by one man’s struggle with homelessness than they are by the fact that an estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless. People focus on what they can grasp. The bigger the scale of what you’re communicating, the smaller the impact on your audience. What does this mean to you? If you write something like, “Malnutrition, in the form of iodine deficiency, is the most common cause of mental impairment, reducing the world’s IQ by an estimated billion points,” people might think something like, “Wow, that’s depressing. Life stinks for a lot of people. I’m going to go watch Jon Stewart to cheer up.”People aren’t bad for thinking this. They’re just human. If you want to communicate with them on the scale they comprehend — a human scale — then take the big issue your organization addresses and communicate it through stories about one person, one whale, one tree. Hopeful, not hopelessOne reason for thinking small is that people tend to act on what they believe they can change. If your problem seems intractable, enormous and endless, people won’t be motivated to help. They want to know there is something — anything — that they can fix by giving you money. If you want to raise money, give them a reason to feel hopeful about the impact of their gifts rather than hopeless about the overall prospects for change.I recently saw some ads about global warming that showed the earth as a melting ice cream cone. This is probably what the environmental organization thought it was communicating: Global warming is real, and we must urgently address it. Give to our organization now.This is what I was thinking: We’re doomed. Oh well.I found the ad profoundly depressing and demoralizing. How can one donation stop the end of the planet? It won’t. So I didn’t give. Environmentalists need to give me an aspect of the problem that I can comprehend in scope and feel empowered to change.True, not falseMany fundraisers are up against misconceptions about their issues. So they spend time debunking the myths. You’ve seen those myth vs. fact sheets, I’m sure. Here’s the problem: The more you talk about the myth, the more airtime it gets and the more people remember it. And unfortunately, it might be all they remember. There’s plenty of research showing the myth vs. fact approach helps perpetuate the myth.Imagine you’re an advocacy organization trying to convince Americans a health care reform proposal does not ration care. This is important to raising money for your efforts. You might say: Myth: Health care reform means rationed care.Fact: No proposals would prevent people from getting the care they need from their doctors.And here’s what people will think: Wait, what did you say about rationed care?! My care could be rationed?!Stick to the truths; don’t repeat the myths.And in conclusion, I’ll add, stick to these principles, not your talking points. You know you’re in trouble if you ever find yourself thinking of your audience: “If they only knew – ” or “If they just understood – ” They don’t know and they don’t understand the world the way you do. So communicate small, hopefully and with the truth. You might end up having what we all want with our donors: a meeting of the minds.
Posted on April 4, 2011June 20, 2017By: Sara Al-Lamki, Young Champion of Maternal HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This blog post was contributed by Sara Al-Lamki, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.With everything going on in the Arab world at the moment, it’s hard for me to think about much else. I am reflecting on how women and children always suffer the most during political turmoil. With governments focused on stability, and hospitals thinking about casualties, no one is thinking about maternal health, or the impact of these situations on women, children and consequently the next generation. It is the children and mothers of the revolution that grow up remembering the lack of services and neglect caused by a revolution and violent protests, creating throngs of displaced peoples. This is generally the case in many developing countries, even those not in mayhem. Rural areas are as neglected as the cities now in revolt, and it is easy to miss the real issues when focused on the development of cities.Bali is a very vivid case in point. Being one of the wealthier islands in the Indonesian archipelago because of the booming tourist industry, the government is focused on maintaining tourism and though there are some programs that try and reach the poorest of the island, one particular region is most often forgotten and has thousands living way below the poverty line.While conducting interviews for my project I have the chance to meet many market porters or ‘Tukang Suun’, that carry extremely heavy loads for market vendors or shoppers for a small fee, often less than 50cents. These porters are almost exclusively women, and the vast majority come from this poverty struck isolated mountain region in east Bali, Karangasem. These porters range in age from as young as 7 to as old as 75. These women, always smiling and extremely helpful, come to Denpasar, bamboo baskets in hand, and spread out through the various market at all hours of the day and night, earning RP 50,000 ($5) on a good day, more than double what they would earn had they stayed in Karangasem.This isn’t without consequences of course, the elderly women who have been carrying loads of up to 80kg on their heads for extended periods of time since their youth, often present at YRS with uterine prolapse, and the women of reproductive age that I have been interviewing have often experienced miscarriages, since they do not stop carrying these loads until very late in the pregnancy. Personally, the very image of those baskets towering over their heads, foreheads creased from the load, was jarring the first few weeks at the market. I battled with the debate of rights and choice. I began thinking, women should not have to do such labour intensive jobs, however Indonesia is one of the few countries of the world where women perform all jobs, even those traditionally performed by men, like construction, service station attendants, and porters, and they come in to these jobs out of choice. Yet the choice is rooted in the fact that there is no alternative choice, and this has dire consequences on their reproductive health. Women’s rights activists’ dream, or a case of oppressing women due to poverty?Lucky for these particular porters, the YRS centre is just above them. Still the young girls are far less interested in their reproductive health than their mothers or other female market workers, and more interested in making money. Now, on the eve of Bali’s biggest holiday, the Nyepi silent day festival, young female porters are especially evident in the market. I am currently planning a program that will spark the interest of these girls, to have a social group where they can take a couple of hours out of work a week to learn about and discuss their sexual and reproductive health.Meanwhile, the island is a buzz with preparations for Nyepi on the 5th of March, a day where no one is allowed to leave their house, make noise, or use electric lighting for 24 hours while evil spirits fly over the island. If we’re all quiet enough, they will think the island is deserted and leave us for another year. In the run up to this, I was stuck in a giant procession to the sea, the Melasti. Thousands of Balinese, mostly dressed in white, carrying symbols of God to the sea, each Banjar with it’s own offering and traditional orchestra, to purify their world and the universe in general. It was absolutely amazing, however after 2 hours of being stuck in the throng, underneath a blazing sun, I was very hot, tired and dehydrated. It was worth it, and I followed the procession to the sea.On the night before Nyepi, hamlets or ‘banjars’ in the various villages who have been preparing paper mache effigies of evil characters and characteristics called ‘Ogoh-ogoh’ for weeks, will finally unveil their creations to the village. It is truly an amazing creative feat, ranging from whole scenes to giant monsters. Each village consisting of up to 25 banjars participate in a parade and competition of these Ogoh-ogoh, the winner of which gets special claim and status and maybe a prize. At the end of the night, they set fire to all the effigies as a symbol of good things to come in the New Year. It’s a truly magnificent festival to witness, and gives everyone a day to break away from the daily grind and spend a day of true reflective contemplation, spending time with family and close neighbours, before starting the new Hindu year afresh.After 6 hectic months, it’s a perfect day to enjoy the beautifully rich diverse culture of Bali and truly savour it, as it starts to sink in there are only 3 months left, but still lot’s left to do!Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: