Home > Cause, Clients, Public Relations > Written Last Night at 35,000 Feet

Written Last Night at 35,000 Feet

Those personal passions of mine (PR, mom stuff, pop culture) converged in a perfect storm while in Chicago for the Cause Marketing Forum these past two days.  It was triggered by a pay-per-view hotel movie (no, not that kind.)  I can never sleep on business trips, so I end up doing marathon PPV movie sessions. Decided to watch “The Mist,” not a great idea.  Not because the movie sucked (it didn’t); it was plenty disturbing.  What messed me up most was not watching the adults get picked off by the slithery CGI creatures, it was the sobbing 6-year old kid at the center of the action.  

Nothing like a little blonde boy in peril to yank my heart right out of my chest, let me tell you.  I am, big surprise, the mother of a little blonde boy. (Won’t tell you what happens to the kid at the end because it is WAY. TOO. DISTURBING.)  Next day, I see a paparazzi shot from the set of the film adaptation of “The Road” which is about a dad and his (of course) little boy fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world.  Photo of yet another child in peril drags me once again into quicksand of maternal angst.

Before I had my son this kind of thing never happened, this overwhelming urge to protect children in distress (both fictional and real).  But I can’t assume all mothers are automatically hardwired this way, and since there are plenty of childless women who happen to have a great natural instinct with kids, it’s foolish to make blanket statements about the protective maternal urge and what drives it.

But what does this have to do with work?  I’m lucky enough to be helping one of my clients who happens to market only to women develop a major cause platform. And I notice as we vet charity partners my kneejerk pull towards the ones in the business of helping kids.  Because that’s the obvious cause space for a woman-centric marketer to play in, right?  Or is it?  Where’s the segmentation data that tells us the PSA for St. Jude Hospital makes her cry vs. the Pedigree one about dogs in shelters?  How do we know what will move her so powerfully she’ll be compelled to click the “donate here” button, or throw a philanthro-party with her friends, or otherwise lend the precious resource of her time?  We may know a lot about her, but we don’t yet know that.  And until someone commissions that study, we do what good PR people have been doing for years, and that’s go on gut — or shall I say, woman’s intuition? — to help inform our choices.

More on this as it unfolds.  Meanwhile, I’m posting those aforementioned PSAs — both of which make me cry.  

  1. June 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    As a new father I can see the maternal instinct kick in literally overnight. My wife is concerned about things that before she couldn’t care less about. The wind from the window, the loud sounds of trucks in the city, drunk people yelling on the street below, the list goes on and on. To your point above – is the maternal instinct related to fear and protection or to the heartstrings of caring? or is it a melange of the two? For the past years we have been moved as a culture by fear of everything -so- it seems like fear is more powerful. But just as we desensitize from the terror and amber alerts we may shift back to heartstring action. or did sally struthers burn us out completely?

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