Archive for the ‘Cause’ Category

The Bra Color Meme: So What?

January 8, 2010 19 comments

So this was me at 5:32 PM last night on Facebook.



If you’re a chick, I bet you had your own “what up with all the colors on Facebook statuses?” moment yesterday.  And, like me, you probably had your little moment of epiphany: 




As I think many of us now know, someone somewhere invited women to share their bra color on Facebook yesterday without public explanation, all by way of spreading breast cancer awareness (Mashable speculates on the origins of the meme here.)


I actually adore this idea – it does everything a viral campaign should. We saw, we questioned, we buzzed, we laughed, we passed it on. And it was a uniquely chick-ish “social object” to be passing, wasn’t it? Our bra color, for god’s sake. Intimate but not embarrassing, a way to express individuality (I’m talking to you, animal-print ladies) and sisterly solidarity at the same time. And kind of keep the boys out, except when the boys themselves started playing along. Which is hilarious and alarming in equal parts.


BUT. As a cause-related effort? Not as successful. Feels like there was a big missed opportunity here. I’ve done a bit of cause marketing in my time and subscribe to a cardinal rule: tell people what they can do to make a tangible difference.  The bra meme got the hard part out of the way – it got us buzzing. It just needed to connect the dots and give us the tools to make a difference.


Is it because this was a grassroots effort started by a woman without ties to one breast cancer organization? Possibly, and fair enough. Was it just intended to “create awareness” without any other call-to-action? Again – possibly (though breast cancer is hardly a disease which needs to be put on the map.) For me, if you gave me a shortened link to share along with my color on Facebook and Twitter which let people click through to make a donation or sign a petition or something else concrete – done and done. I would’ve shared it gladly and hopefully made a measurable contribution to the fight against a disease which has touched every single one of us.


So did you participate in the bra meme? If you’re a marketer or PR person, how would you have handled it as part of a cause campaign? 

Thanks to my Twitter pal @karinatweedell for sending the Mashable post and holding my hand as I struggled to understand what all those damned colors meant.

Posted via email from Stephanie Smirnov’s Posterous

PR Mama Guest Star: Scott Henderson

September 23, 2009 13 comments

Time for another PR Mama guest post, and what the hey, let’s hear it for the boy…again. I had such a good time hosting PR Cog last time, I decided to invite another one of my favorite social media dads over to discuss balancing family and work life in this crazy business of ours. And by the way, as I’m about to dive into a roiling sea of estrogen at the Type A Mom Conference over the next three days, this may be the last you hear about men and dads for a while.  

Scott Henderson is currently the cause marketing director for MediaSauce, an Indiana-based agency that helps corporations and non-profits create and implement online strategies to achieve transformational growth.  I first encountered Scott when he left an epic comment here at PR Mama that really should’ve been a full post – it was full of such great stuff, I printed it out and carried it around with me to meetings for weeks. I liked quoting Scott in discussions about cause marketing; it always made me sound smart. The post I had written that inspired Scott’s three-screen comment was in praise of his terrific work with Tyson Foods and the Pledge to End Hunger campaign (if you remember the Social Media Smackdown at South by Southwest last year, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

Filling My Dad’s Shoes

What makes us so special? Moms and dads have had to balance parenting responsibilities with social and work duties ever since we created this thing called “civilization.”  Like most men, I judge myself as a father using my own dad as the gold standard.  I’ve been blessed with two loving, encouraging parents.  My mom and dad have given me a lot of love and attention in my life.  They’re not perfect, but they have done a great job.

My dad, “Dr. Bill” as everyone in the neighborhood called him, has always been in my life and there for some of my highest and lowest moments.  He was the all-time quarterback for the neighborhood football games we played in our front yard.  No matter what the sport, he made a point of showing up for my games and even coached when he could.

He and I tackled a number of projects for cub scouts and school.  While we didn’t win any blue ribbons, we did rack up a shoebox full of participation ribbons (this was before kids received a trophy for everything). The single proudest moment of my teenage years came when my dad was there to see my only first place finish at a swim meet in high school one early Saturday morning.  It meant so much to me that he was there to cheer me on and treat me to a post-meet celebratory breakfast.  

Grandpa Bill and Ethan: Scott's father and son reading together

Grandpa Bill and Ethan: Scott's father and son reading together

Unlike Dr. Bill, I travel a lot for my work and that’s something I have had to figure out on my own.  Don’t let me fool you – I’m still trying to find the right balance. Every job’ve had since college has involved a good deal of roadwork.  It’s not that I loathe it.  On the contrary, I enjoy traveling and couldn’t imagine having a job that kept me in one place all the time.

In fact, I am writing this post while on a work trip to Champaign, Illinois.  Giving my calendar a quick glance, I see this is my fifth work trip in six weeks.  That’s a lot of disruption for our three-person family.

For the past eight years, I have said goodbye and given that “one last hug and kiss” a lot to my son, Ethan.  He’s never known me not to travel in his eight years of life, but it’s not something he wants.

Before I left last night, I decided to interview him as part of this guest post.  Here’s what I learned:

  • He likes when I bring him home souvenirs like the small White House I picked up from a gift kiosk in Washington DC. 
  • He also likes it when I bring home sweet treats like the delicious goodness from
  • If it were up to him, he would make it a law that dads would never have to travel without their families.

When I take the time to think about it, I realize that my son is forming his gold standard for fatherhood by how I’m doing as his dad.  That’s an amazingly heavy responsibility, especially with all the traveling I do.  I hope he will feel one day about me as I do about my dad.

scottYou can connect with Scott on Twitter or at his personal blog.




Sharing “Over the Fence” with Twitter

June 23, 2009 4 comments

I had a great time attending the first-ever 140 Characters Twitter conference here in New York last week. It’s been recapped comprehensively elsewhere, so rather than lending my voice to that crowded chorus, I thought I’d hone in on two sections of the agenda which are particularly relevant to the work we do here at the agency. This is the first of a two-part post. 


First up, my favorite speaker of the conference: Mike Koehler (@mkokc). Mike is an unassuming guy from Oklahoma, former multi-media editor at the Oklahoman and now a social media consultant at a Tulsa-based PR firm. He spoke about using Twitter for public safety, something he’s quite well-versed in. Mike learned first-hand the power of Twitter to connect people and provide real-time help in times of community crisis earlier this year, when Oklahoma City was beset with not one but three major disasters. In a freakish sequence of events, Mother Nature walloped Mike’s community with ice storms, tornadoes, then wildfires. By creating tailored Twitter hashtags (#OKice, #OKstorms, #OKfires) and housing the conversation streams alongside raw video from reporters in the field, Mike and his colleagues transformed the newspaper site into a one-stop safety resource for the community. It became a virtual town hall where a non-stop exchange between journalists and citizens helped keep neighbors informed and safe.

It was only a 10 minute talk but it was profound. Mike spoke from the heart, allowing himself to be moved before a sleepy digerati audience (it was 8 am on Day #2 of the conference, after all) about the power of a digital tool to unleash the best in all of us. Listening to Mike, I felt a surge of new energy to help clients understand all Twitter is capable of. I have to think that even the ones who’ve laughed it off as a flash in the pan or scoffed at its validity as a news-gathering tool would be willing to give Twitter a second look after listening to a guy like Mike Koehler talk. I was also inspired, not for the first time, at the vital role Twitter can play in cause marketing campaigns. This has been discussed in lots of other places; Beth Kanter and Scott Henderson are just two of the many people doing great work at the intersection of cause and social media. Suffice it to say that Twitter can be a powerful accelerant when put in service to the goal most cause marketers share: rallying and empowering people to make a difference. As Mike says, Twitter is a part of the toolbox that makes our world smaller. It’s Mayberry. It lets us swap information “over the fence” – whether we’re in Tehran or Oklahoma City — and in doing so, express our care and concern for one another.

I suppose it’s an overstatement to say that a micro-sharing tool could help unlock our inner angels. Or is it? Not a single fatality was reported in any of the three disasters that hit Oklahoma City earlier this year. Mike is cautious not to attribute that to Twitter but really – don’t you kind of wonder?

See Mike’s talk in its entirety here.

Image via.

Cause Marketing Trend Watch

March 18, 2009 3 comments








image via 

The happy union of social media and cause marketing is not by any stretch new news.  That said, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on right now leveraging the considerable power of microsharing (I like this much better than “micro-blogging” and have Pistachio Consulting to thank for the coinage).  Witness the whirlwind of fundraising excitement coming out of the South by Southwest conference   (for non-digeratis, it’s a convergence in Austin TX of the music, entertainment and interactive worlds, “SXSW” if you’re a cool kid.)  

smackdown-logoThe program that seems to be generating the most buzz  (at least according to the non-stop chirping coming from my Tweetdeck) is the Social Media Smackdown, a challenge pitting power bloggers and celebrities against eachother in a race to raise funds for their respective charities.  Meanwhile in Cincinnati, our client P&G was involved in a smackdown of their own:  Digital Hack Night, a fundraiser for the Tide Loads of Hope disaster relief program (get the blow-by-blow from participant and master blogger David Armano here

Real money is being raised through these efforts — the Tide hackathon raised $50,000 in just four hours, which was matched by P&G.  Thanks to Twitter and other microsharing hubs, we can now fundraise at a blistering pace.  The donations and pledges that used to take weeks to gather (remember collecting signatures and checks with an old-timey sign-up sheet for walkathons and the like way back in the dark ages of the late 20th century?)  can now be collected in a matter of hours thanks to the exponential power of tweets and retweets.

I’ll keep watching this trend with great interest, and would love to hear about any other smart uses of Twitter in the fundraising space you might know of.

The Force is with Them

October 15, 2008 Leave a comment


Unless you’re a hard core Star Wars geek, a five-year old, or the parent of a five-year old, I’m guessing you didn’t hotfoot it to the multiplex last month to see “The Clone Wars.”  If you had, you would have been introduced to Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka — or, as we say in this galaxy — his apprentice.

I’ve been referring to the folks at Cone Inc. as the Jedis of Cause Marketing lately because — well, because they are.  And I want to be their padawan.  I like where I work very much, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I’m supposed to be something of a CRM expert at this agency but not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new and feel humbled by the great Cone blog.  Making me feel like a padawan, minus the orange skin and tentacle-like headdress.  

Do check out today’s post on investing versus giving, a brilliant distinction that sums up for me what’s most exciting about where cause marketing is going these days.

Categories: Cause, Uncategorized, Work Tags: , ,

Learning from Philanthropy

October 14, 2008 3 comments

via jupiterimages

We do a “Cause Marketing 101” presentation for our clients that in one section traces a broad timeline of the evolution of philanthropy from the start of the last century till today, how mass media has changed over the same period, with an overlay of what’s been going on in cause related marketing since its (widely agreed upon) beginning in 1983 with the American Express/Statue of Liberty fundraising drive. It’s an interesting slide, particularly if you geek out over cultural timelines (and I do).  But the big takeaway of the slide is meant to be that as society and its means of communicating and interacting evolve, so do the myriad ways we humans do good and give back.  To amplify this further — and more eloquently — here’s a quote from Sean Stannard-Stockton’s “Tactical Philanthropy” blog

Unlike the Rockefellers, Carnegies and other early foundation founders who created entities that mirrored existing institutions, the structured philanthropic vehicles of the 21st century will create a tradition similar to the emerging Web 2.0 companies. Rather than concentrated pools of money which imitate existing institutional structures, the new philanthropists will be smaller, widely distributed agents of change who co-create the social sector that they support.

For anyone embarking upon or already involved in CRM, there is no better place to learn from than the world of philanthropy.  Real innovation in fundraising and donor (substitute consumer) engagement is happening in that world:  watch and learn.

The Kindest Cut

August 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Why I Come to Work: Thanks, Mark

I haven’t posted about Pantene Beautiful Lengths yet, don’t know why — client alert, we helped create the campaign for our Pantene client inspiring people everywhere to grow, cut and donate their ponytails so they can be made into real-hair wigs for women going through cancer treatment. We’re in Year III of the campaign and it continues to take on a life of its own, thanks to the incredible generosity and heart of people like Mark, the author of this clip, who grew out his hair for a year and a half and donated it in honor of his mom, a three-time cancer survivor.
If you build it, they will come. We created this campaign on a hope and a prayer that people would actually be willing to make this incredibly personal, intimate donation — we thought we might get 10,000 ponytails in the first year. We’re now well past the 70,000 mark. My involvement in this campaign remains one of the highlights of my professional career, and proudest accomplishments. Please check out the campaign site and share Mark’s story if you feel so moved.

Categories: Cause, Clients, Public Relations, Work Tags: ,

Amazing Cause Campaign

June 25, 2008 Leave a comment

The Girl Effect

Oh, Nike Foundation, I am not worthy. I can only aspire in my own cause marketing efforts to come up with a piece this inspiring that so clearly articulates the problem to be solved, and why it matters. What great great work. Many thanks to my client Laurie Steuri for sharing.

Categories: Cause, Clients, Public Relations, Work Tags: ,

PSAs that Make Me Cry (1 of 2)

May 31, 2008 Leave a comment

Pedigree PSA – Echo

Pedigree, you rock. If you have a pulse, this PSA will move you. (Unless of course you hate dogs which I suppose is possible..?) If my dog’s tummy could handle anything other than raw beef and brown rice, he’d be getting Pedigree at every meal.

PSAs that Make Me Cry (2 of 2)

May 30, 2008 Leave a comment

St. Jude “Thanks and Giving” PSA

This PSA usually runs with the previews in movie theaters.  It’s easy to tune that stuff out, but this is a beautiful program that’s worth your attention.