Macy’s Celebrates Earth Day: How to Get Heard When Your Org’s Issue is Mainstreamed

Macy's Celebrates Earth Day How to Get Heard When Your Org's Issue is MainstreamedI was amazed to open the first section of the New York Times this morning and see Macy’s full-page, full-color ode to Earth Day heralding green living on page 3. Who would have thunk it back in 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson of Washington state introduced the Day as a protest effort to push the environment onto the national agenda? I guess it worked, in a way.

What could be better than having your issue heralded by mainstream institutions (and Macy’s tops that list) in the mainstream media? It’s great that
Macy’s is broadcasting the word, urging us to “let it grow,” and is reinforcing that by giving away thousands of saplings for customers to plant. They’ve even developed their own tagline — Turn Over a New Leaf — which is pretty good.

So that’s the upside. Here’s the downside — Nonprofit marketers, Macy’s is trodding on your space! Macy’s and their ilk are getting your prospects’ and base’s attention on Earth Day/environmental issues. Even while I was drafting this post, I received an email from lifestyle Vendor Garnet Hill inviting me to purchase their reusable totes.

When everyone is jumping in on what’s become a popularized message and cause, your nonprofit has to be more pointed and consistent than ever in conveying how it impacts environmental issues (or whatever your issues are). That’s the way to differentiate your organization not only from the retailers trying to capture green attention and assure individuals that they’re doing they’re part just through buying, but from the plethora of other nonprofits doing good work to save our planet. Here’s how:

  • Articulate your organization’s distinct focus, and the impact it makes on the specific areas in which it works
  • Use stats and stories to make this impact more tangible
  • Reinforce that impact with a compelling brand; graphic identity is particularly important here
  • Feature clear, succinct ‘call-to-action’ messages to engage your base, and show them the pathway to getting involved.

And don’t forget to mobilize your base to build supporters, advocates and members. They’re the best marketing channel you have.

P.S. Just got an email from Crate & Barrel, subject line “A Beautiful Place to Spend Earth Day.” Think I’ll go to the park instead.

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Nancy Schwartz on April 22, 2008 in New Challenges, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy | 2 comments
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