While on the neighborhood walk I just completed I gave great thought to how, and when, I developed my great love of walking, it wasn’t the first time I noodled this. In fact, I captured this in the first of my blog posts about “Why I’ve Always Walked.” I think it all goes back to the candy store trek I mentioned in that previous post and the fact that homes were pretty spread out living in what-was-then-quite-rural Burlington, CT. As a child if you wanted to play with neighbors without having to ask your parents to give you a ride, you were going to walk a bit to get to their homes. And, if you wanted your “smarties,” you were going to have to walk an estimated 1.75 miles to get them — what felt like a very long distance when you’re age 9 or under.
As some of my readers know, since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve been supporting a family member who’s been struggling. In recent months, I’ve become more and more of a caregiver. This means I need to stick close-to-home, manage the stress of seeing a loved one deal with illness, and play a big role in making sure both of our daily needs are met and that we both enjoy the best possible quality of life. Walking has been a lifesaver as far as helping me keep my stress level down goes, but it also provides for an activity and goal in life that’s just about me — something a caregiver really needs.
Why Brattleboro and 150 Miles?
As I also shared in the aforementioned first walking blog post, I’m a sucker for a good “cause walk” — something I consider a win-win. This spring, I signed up to walk The Kerry Fund’s “Walk Around The World.” I had set a goal to walk 50 miles during the month of May, but I came in about 8 miles under, I believe, because of the personal challenges mentioned above. But, I extended the timeframe and deadline for my goal and made it into a longer and larger one. To walk 150 miles between May 1 and Labor Day. I’m not someone who tracks day-to-day steps. Just true walks I go on whether they be around the neighborhood, to grab something at Dunkin Donuts (a beloved destination walk), or a walk at a park or on a trail.
Work and personal demands got in the way of me finalizing this post, so that the day I wrote the initial paragraph and the day I’m writing this paragraph, are several weeks apart. But, I’m pleased to say I’ve walked 120 of my 150 miles, many of them on Boston’s South Shore. That 150 miles equates to walking the distance from my home to Brattleboro, VT — a spot I love to visit. So, even if I can only visit there in my mind when I achieve my 150 miles, I’ll have to have a smoked turkey sandwich and pretend I’m at The Top of the Hill Grill.
I’m finishing up this post and publishing it on Saturday, August 7. To support my Jimmy Fund Walk team, I’m holding a drawing for anyone who makes a donation to my team and correctly guesses how many miles I will have walked by Labor Day. Will it be 150? Will it be way more? E-mail, text, or direct message me and let me know your guess after you make your donation. Whoever’s guess is the closest to the # of miles I walk before September 6 will win a $50 gift card to Legal Seafood. If there’s a tie, each winner will receive a $25 gift card. http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/TR?px=1010193&pg=personal&fr_id=1660
Thanks to those who support the Mission Possible Team and those who support me or join me related to my joy of walking. Walk on, and always reach out if you want to do a walk ‘n talk in my neck of the woods!
non-extravagant consumer goods products that can be shipped/delivered
moderately priced services that can be accessed virtually/online, such as the ability to take a class or be coached virtually
services and products that are a necessity, despite their cost. Examples of this would be services to repair a plumbing issue or a leaky roof or a new washing machine to replace one that broke
you offer a product or service that has a lengthy sales lead time, i.e., target audiences — whether they be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) — tend to conduct a lot of research and take a number of weeks or months to make a decision to make a purchase of said product or service. Many individuals have more free time on their hands right now because of freed-up work commuting time and a significantly reduced number of social engagements. So, if they have a large future purchase in mind, it’s highly likely they are gathering information related to their probable purchase now. Examples of purchases with long lead time could be project management software or systems to be used by an employer or elective surgery to replace a hip.
you’re a nonprofit seeking donations to support your efforts to adapt or continue to offer services during COVID-19. Whether you have a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant under which you can execute such advertising, or you’ll need to pay for your own advertising, with the lower average cost-per-click we’re witnessing, Google Ads may be a very cost-effective fundraising tactic.
Be forewarned that the price of Google Ads and other forms of pay-per-click advertising, such as social media advertising, is expected to rise again — and perhaps rapidly — post-pandemic because of pent-up demand by organizations to promote their products or services. That’s why if you meet one of the requirements above and you’ve always wanted to test the “paid search” waters but believed the media (advertising buy) cost would be prohibitive, you might want to consider implementing a Google Ads campaign as soon as possible vs. waiting until things seem back to normal (or as close to normal as is achievable in 2020).
We are trying to “give back” as much as possible during these challenging times. We are glad to help any non-profit organization apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant for free. We’re also offering the following special. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your pandemic or post-pandemic marketing challenges and opportunities. It’s never to early to start planning!
A Joint Blog Post by Gail Snow Moraski, Results Communications & Research and Nick Bartos, Social Motion
Where to begin? First of all deep breaths, everyone. We are all in this together and we will get through this period of crisis in our country and in our world if we all continue to remember that it is our purpose in life to look out and be there for others the way we are there for ourselves.
Now, on to the mission at hand. We – Nick and I – have been chatting a lot this week about the nature of content to include in social media posts, currently and in the short-term. It’s a very tricky time for organizations. Many for-profit organizations have already experienced or expect to experience a significant loss of income due to customer work being cancelled or delayed, or an abrupt end to a robust product sales pipeline or stream. And, many nonprofit organizations’ financial and human resources are being stretched to a degree for which they aren’t prepared.
Where we landed is this; these are unprecedented times. Yes, there have been pandemics before, but at least in the U.S., there are likely only a handful of individuals who have lived through something similar. And, there’s never been a time in our country’s or world’s history where we’ve been as digitally and electronically advanced, and therefore, where we’re expected to be continuously communicating and providing updates online. Given all the aforementioned, as we’ve been saying to a number of the people, ”there’s no official guidelines or rule book for this.” The best we can offer, therefore, are the opinions of two digital marketing and PR experts in this blog post that we hope can serve as an “unofficial” rule book for your organization related to your social media voice & presence now and in coming weeks.
Social Media Is Meant to Be Active and Interactive, Not Passive
Social media is, and always has been, a tool to connect with your audience fairly intimately. Social media is not a passive form of interaction, and thrives on conversation, emotion, and the sharing of ideas. Whether for-profit or non-profit, organizations should be utilizing social media —in this situation in which we find ourselves —as an opportunity to demonstrate the values your brand encompasses. While it is important to not profit off of, or appear to profit off of this crisis, it is important to express that your brand empathizes with and is a part of your community. Furthermore, your brand likely has a great sense of what your community’s needs and struggles are, and you may be able to offer valuable insights to your audience during this difficult time.
For example, a construction company may share information relating to grants, or low-interest loans that help contractors, electricians, and plumbers during this crisis. The construction company may also share the precautions they are taking, or share the standards/procedures they have created to protect their employees. Additionally, the company may reach a broader audience by demonstrating their commitment to the cause — like a photo or video of the masks they are donating to a local hospital. Again, social media is a place to build relationships and offer value – if you can do that, respectfully, during this crisis, you are already ahead.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts During a Pandemic
In general, speak from the heart, demonstrate empathy and support; think about how you can truly be, and can be seen as, part of the solution. We saw a fellow communications professional post the phrase “innovate, solve, or stop” when speaking about current social media. We think that the first two in this quoted series sum things up pretty well – if you’re going to post or share others’ posts, then offer creative, meaningful, effective solutions to challenges faced by individuals and organizations right now. We’ll speak to the “stop” piece in our “DON’TS” section.
Post or share, comment on, like, retweet posts that:
Express appreciation to/acknowledge those who are working overtime and/or risking their lives during the pandemic, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, healthcare providers, pharmacy and grocery store employees, gas station employees, home and office cleaners, and anyone else who has to tirelessly continue to work to keep us all safe and well.
Speak to the good work that various national, state, or local nonprofit organizations and agencies are doing to help vulnerable, at-risk populations, and the general public.
Ask for help. If you do ask for help, make it clear what kind of help would be useful. And, whether you are requesting financial donations, tangible goods or volunteer time, be very specific about where those contributions will go, how they will help, who they will support, etc.
Remind others to check on elderly or health-compromised neighbors, or anyone they know who lives alone and who may feel isolated; plus, creative ways to make these individuals feel connected and supported – glass door and window visits, signs you make and show outside their window, texts, e-mail, phone, and video chats, and anything else creative you can dream up
Announce that you are there/here to help and on what fronts
Describe promotional offers or new products or solutions that will be received as heart-felt and legitimate and reinforce a true desire to help, such as a discount on any kind of services that would help a business keep running or get back up and running again
Provide updates about your hours, reduced staff, open or closed locations, etc. that indicate potential impact on customers, i.e., use your posts to manage client expectations
Share ways for your followers to donate to causes in your local community, or industries that you serve, where people may feel most connected
Create an image such as the one below (created by the Girl Scouts) that contains your brand/logo, or create a short video or video snippet along the same lines that shows heart, desire-to-help, or innovation — We are here and glad to help you with this!
Provide helpful information about the pandemic vs. creating fear (for example, sharing scary statistics related to the virus and its impact or frightening videos showing suffering of victims). Helpful info. may include:
Where/how to get help if you think you or a loved one has COVID-19, where to get food or other assistance, e.g., websites, phone #’s, text lines
Federal, state, or local government mandates or recommendations, such as group size limits and social distancing guidelines
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to reduce anxiety level during our pandemic
Ideas for crafts for children to make with supplies that are likely on hand in any home
Family games and other bonding experiences, such as reading a book together, watching a movie, baking, or playing card games
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to stay healthy during the pandemic, such as a daily walk or eating as healthy as possible (recognizing somehow that everyone might not have easy access to nutrient-dense food)
Reminders to find gratitude and appreciation somewhere, somehow in every day (aka “silver linings”) – whether it be taking advantage of unexpected free time, or additional time with loved ones
Thoughts on how to work efficiently and effectively from home
In general, don’t post, like, share, retweet, or comment on any content that might be offensive or seen as heartless, un-empathetic, or completely oblivious to or out-of-touch with what is going on in our world presently.
Don’t post about:
A new product or service you are offering that might appear as trying to prey on others’ misfortunes/take advantage of them in their darkest moments
Services and products that would seem like an incredible luxury, or irrelevant to or off-limits to many at this point in time. For example, some investment and insurance company advertisements about helping one prepare for retirement just don’t sit well right now. Audiences may be feeling that they won’t be able to retire, or must work much longer than anticipated before they are able to. Restaurant and vacation ads feel out of place as well when we’ve all been asked to “stay put.”
Services and products that encourage individuals to engage in activities that ignore mandates and guidelines set forth by federal, state, and local officials.
We are both here to help you regarding your social media or other digital marketing needs, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. We really want to help as many organizations as we can during this difficult time, and we’re always glad to have a complimentary discussion. Be safe and be well.
Check out this blog post we authored for the MA Nonprofit Network about how nonprofit organizations can use online advertising, such as Google Search or Google Display, to drive a diverse set of desired actions (known as conversions) by target-audience members who visit their website.
While I’ve spent much of my career working in the non-profit world, most of friends, family, and colleagues don’t make the connection that I have. This is probably due to the fact that, while many healthcare organizations and health insurance plans are non-profit/not-for-profit organizations, their size and extensive advertising campaigns which I’ve overseen cause others to think of them as for-profit organizations.
In light of the above, despite volunteer work with non-profit organizations like “Home for Little Wanderers” and “Relay for Life”, many few me as a new kid on the block as far as developing and executing marketing and fundraising campaigns goes. Luckily, I’ve had the good fortune of working with organizations that the general public readily views as non-profits on both a paid and pro bono basis — organizations that provide social services and funding to vulnerable populations. And, what I’ve learned from this is that many of the marketing and communications tricks that work well for for-profit organizations also work well for non-profits — whether they are looking to create awareness of their organization or raise funds for their organizations.
A prime example is online advertising, specifically paid search and display advertising. I worked with a well-known Boston non-profit to create an ad campaign to support a holiday fundraising event, and am now managing it. Because individuals are equally interested, if not more interested, in researching both fun things to and charitable things to do, as they are researching business matters, the search and display ads are receiving a pleasing number of “click-thrus”, which my client and I hope and anticipate will lead to increased ticket sales from last year to this year.
I’m really hoping that more non-profits, particularly those that are indeed viewed as charitable/cause organizations, will be interested in speaking with me about the cost-effective and budget-maximizing activity that is online advertising. My last blog post spoke to “Missed Opportunity”. I believe for a non-profit to dismiss the possibility of employing online advertising to promote their organizations and/or raise funds is another “Missed Opportunity”.
Every marketing blogger probably already has or plans to blog about the success of the ALS ice bucket challenge, but I’d be remiss as a marketeer who understands both the perils and benefits of social media, if I didn’t post about the great example of using social media for good that the ice bucket challenge represents.
Social media is no longer a new or innovative form of promotion. It has been around for quite some time now and, almost undoubtedly, is here to stay — for better or for worse. Since both organizations and individuals have very little control over what is said about them on various social media sites, particularly Twitter and Facebook — and even YouTube because of the ability to comment on videos — it’s a wonderful day for an organization when social media users use these channels to support good activities and altruistic behavior.
I imagine there will be lots of copy cats now — particularly, non-profit organizations who could really use a large influx of funds to support necessary research for their cause, or just to carry out their social service activities. I certainly won’t blame or criticize any organization with health-related or other social service missions for trying to launch an equally effective campaign. However, I do believe the organization in-question will need to still come up with a theme and activity that differs a fair amount from ALS’.
First of all, it wouldn’t seem fair or right to steal ALS’ thunder or divert funds away from them using tactics they employed so effectively and on a large scale. Secondly, if the majority of large non-profits decide to implement similar campaigns, I believe there is going to be a limit to the return on investment. Perhaps, I’m wrong, and I welcome your thoughts, but each and every individual and organization only has so many $$ they are willing and able to contribute annually, so regardless of the effectiveness of such campaigns, both the dollars and newness/fun factor that encourages people to participate are going to run out. So, those implementing such campaigns are going to need to come up with something very different and engaging to both grab the attention and donations of their target audiences.
I have to close with thanks, prayers, blessings, and good thoughts for both Pete Frates and his dear friend, Corey Griffin, who was so instrumental in launching the campaign. As most of you may know, Corey recently lost his own life to a scuba diving accident. My heart and thanks goes out to both of their families too — for all the pain and suffering they’ve endured or will endure and all the good they’ve done through their support of and work related to the ALS campaign.
I am adding Pete and Corey to my Keep Up the Fight page right now as I can’t think of anyone more deserving.