Campaign Marketing Models & Tips

Campaign AdviceHere’s my response to a fantastic question raised by one of our colleague nonprofit communicators this week. Eager to hear your thoughts!

Q:  Should I include an ask in announcing a big win? Tomorrow we’ll email supporters to celebrate a recent victory. This win has not been a focus in our emails to folks on this list, but is something our organization is responsible for (and supporters will care about).


Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips | 0 comments
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Here’s a great story for those of you tasked with  nonprofit marketing: Yesterday the New York Times picked up on the fact that a tagline saved hundreds of lives in Times Square.

The tagline is,  “If You See Something, Say Something,” which has been used by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) since  2002 as an anti-terrorist strategy in the post-911 world.

It’s posted on almost every bus and subway and I dare say that 90% of New Yorkers know it well and how to respond. And most of us are eager to focus our watchful eyes and ears on the safety of our city. That’s the positive outcome of consistent use of a short, powerful tagline.

This tagline’s impact is rooted in:

  • Consistent and widespread use (throughout the NYC public transit system)
  • Focused seeding of an idea, then motivation of a clear, specific action.
  • Strong graphic illustration that conveys the tagline idea, in a glance.

If a tagline can save Times Square, imagine what it can do for your nonprofit organization.

P.S. Messages that connect are a priority for all organizations and the prerequisite for motivating your base to act. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Photo: Sion Fullana

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Taglines | 2 comments
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earthdayLeveraging a news item or holiday by connecting your org to its theme is a tried-and-true nonprofit media relations strategy that succeeds at little cost. (See PETA case study).

But there’s more than media coverage to be gained in connecting your organization’s issues with a major news event or holiday. Doing so links your org to what’s already in your supporters’ minds — like this year’s 40th anniversary of Earth Day — so works well to motivate them to give or sign a petition.

Here are just a few of the many strong models of nonprofit marketing campaigns around Earth Day 2010 (via my colleagues active on the Progressive Exchange list serv. Please join us.):

  • The Media & Policy Center’s “Growing Greener Schools” will air on PBS throughout Earth Day week (check local listings).  It’s supported by a terrific new network of green school activists and initiatives, and the community building is reinforced by an e-newsletter.
  • The Green for Life video series was launched by the United Methodist Church and an action alert of Six Things You Can Do this Earth Day shared by United Methodist Women.
  • The Nature Conservancy is organizing action around its Earth Day To-Do List and needs just 110 more signatures via Facebook to reach its goal for its “Be Part of the Solution” petition. Sign it now.

More great Earth Day-related nonprofit fundraising and marketing campaigns here.

Learn more by reviewing these examples of organizations connecting with a news event for nonprofit communications success, and one of a for-profit doing so and treading on your opportunity:

Please share your organization’s strategies for leveraging news events to boost your nonprofit communications in the comments box below. Thanks much!

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and tools for nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Media Relations and Press | 0 comments
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How to Communicate in the Shadow of Disaster -- Guidelines for Respectful but Effective Outreach

As I read accounts of Haitians struggling for basic needs post-earthquake, I’m struck by the number of lives that have been taken and touched by this disaster. It’s almost all one can think of.

That’s a significant communications challenge for the nonprofit organizations delivering aid: How to mobilize giving while communicating respectfully about their efforts and impact on the ground? How to keep giving going even as the earthquake, and the plight of survivors, is no longer top of mind? And what about the many other organizations not directly providing relief efforts but soliciting donations to pass on to relief organizations, or the majority of nonprofits that must maintain their communications and fundraising initiatives despite the world’s focus on disaster recovery?

What is the place of nonprofit communications in the wake of disaster, particularly when even the most recent crisis of epic proportions—the January 2010 7.0 earthquake in Haiti—has generated less giving than the Hurricane Katrina relief effort?

For a nonprofit, the answer lies in the way (if any) your organization is involved in the relief effort. The following guidelines derive from an analysis of news of, and fundraising for, relief efforts in the response to the Haitian earthquake and the plight of its three million survivors in need. Review them today to ensure you’re taking the most effective path in this tricky time.

P.S. Here’s another useful guide to read right now: You’re Not in Competition with Haiti.

P.P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Crisis Communications, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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Feds Flunk H1N1 CommunicationsYou may ask, “What communications?” That’s exactly the problem.

H1N1 flu is a significant health risk for the healthy, as well as for those more high-risk, but communication on how to avoid it has been terrible. As of today (October 5th), the CDC web page on the vaccine hasn’t been updated since September 11th, even though a September 29th CNN story announced that three of four vaccine producers released the first shipment that day.

When you create awareness, you have to follow right behind with guidance for action. That’s where the CDC is falling down.

Here are the four questions I hear again and again:

  • Who should get the vaccine?
  • Is it one shot or two?
  • When will it be available?
  • Are there side effects?

The information and communications gap from key health agencies places the pressure on practitioners who, needless to say, don’t have the answers. Our pediatrician and asthma doc can’t guide us. As a friend, also a pediatrician, said, “I’ve never seen so many people — not just citizens, but professionals in the health arena — confused.”

If the answers aren’t known yet, then blast that out. If some are, then share those insights asap. People are anxious about this illness, and need guidance. We’re waiting, CDC.

P.S. Don’t miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments
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Is Your Org Ready To Put An Engaged Base To Work -- Pew Survey Findings Show High Voter Expectations Of Involvement In Obama AdministrationThere’s so much emphasis on the challenge of building your organization’s base. After all, without a base, there’s no progress.

But once you open the door, you have to be ready to welcome and more fully involve your base. You need to walk the talk — if you invite folks to give or sign a petition, to staff a table or to participate in a program, then continue to be responsive, enabling them to be (increasingly) involved in the way they want to be. Far too many organizations aren’t poised to do so and play mad catch up, risking a vital resource.

Nothing proves the need to walk this talk more strongly than the recent release of survey results on post-election voter engagement (thanks to the Pew Internet and American Life Project). Researcher Aaron Rich reports that most of Obama’s campaign troops plan to remain engaged with the incoming Obama Administration and mobilize others in support of his agenda. That’s no surprise to me, but is the administration ready?

Rich also reports out that:

  • 62% of Obama voters expect to be involved in moving the administration’s agenda forward by asking others to support its policies. That’s voters, not campaigners.
  • 46% of Obama voters and 33% of McCain voters expect to hear directly from their candidate or party leaders over the next year, and many of them have a particular medium (phone vs. email vs. text vs. social networking) in mind.

Things are clearly different now, with Obama’s base (and McCain’s too, to a lesser extent) unwilling to shrink into the background. For example, my ornery friend Mark Sirkin complained to me today that he “…had to yell at [the Obama transition team] for calling me on the phone. I said hey, I’m a Web donor  [so get me online]. Don’t make me give you a fake phone number.

Dig into these findings yourself to understand fully how your base’s expectations have changed. They are going to expect to be more actively involved in forwarding your issues themselves. You have to be ready to give them whatever guidance, tools info or motivation they need to do so most effectively. Are YOU ready?

Click the Comments link below to tell me how your organization is helping your base move your issues or causes forward, or not.

P. S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on key nonprofit communications topics featured in the Getting Attention e-alert. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Trends, Viral Marketing, Volunteers | 1 comment
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Learn From Harvey Milk's Communications Finesse Observations of a MoviegoerMy husband and I saw Milk last weekend, the astonishing biopic about gay rights activist, Harvey Milk.

The film works on multiple levels, illustrating Milk's personal journey from a closeted gay man to the first openly-gay elected public official, as it traces the evolution of a focused, organized gay rights movement. Incredible (but human, like the rest of us) man and an incredible story. See it.

Beyond this compelling story though was the back story of Milk's communications finesse. I sat in the dark scribbling down a few of the communications strategies Milk used regularly to dazzling effect:

  • Make a clear, succinct call to action, right up front. It'll frame the rest of the conversation.Harvey Milk introduced himself  to groups with, "I'm Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you." (First heard in a 1978 speech)
  • Keep the issues front and center, personalities behind. Time and again, Milk moved attention back to what really mattered.. When attention kept turning his way, he responded: "I'm not the candidate. The movement is the candidate."
  • But humanize the cause by focusing on the lives affected, making the abstract real and accessible. "It's not an issues, it's our lives," said Milk.
  • Mobilize support for controversial issues through one-to-one relationships. Milk urged the gay community to come out, certain that once people knew their child or or cousin was gay, they'd "make a place for us in this country."
  • Use humor to navigate tight spots. Sometimes it's the only way to move through. When Milk met with a group of union members (big, tough guys) to build their support for his candidacy, his first words were, "You probably haven't met many people like me, so I left my heels at home."

P.S. When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Photo: Roberrific

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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Change.Gov is Up -- Obama Shares Vision, Plans & Hopes, Wants to Hear Yours

Less than 48 hours after winning the election, the Barack Obama transition team has launched Change.Gov.

Like many sites, it’s a work in progress. For example, I see “content to come” as the only element on the America’s Service Plan page (at 11/6, 7pm eastern).

Frankly, it’s good to see that authenticity. After all, I’m sure there’s not an organization out there that’s  launched a 100% complete, 100% error free site, especially in two days. The way that Obama’s team shows their humanity is engaging. They’re not afraid of being real, like you and me, and that makes us feel closer to them. Win!

I’m also pleased to see continuity in message and values (yes, a President can have a brand), with citizens asked to share our visions, stories and perspectives on key issues. I’ve just submitted my vision and will let you know how it’s followed up. I know it will be.

The Obama team really shines in putting Web 2.0 to work. When I provided my email and zip code (not sure what for), I was thanked for “helping us remake Washington.” And there’s a blog too, complementing the user-generated content (visions, etc.). It’ll be interesting to see who blogs, if comments are accepted, etc. Just another way to read the new administration.

But what’s most exciting is my gut feeling that they’ll move beyond the sharing of visions and stories (which I’m sure will be shared back) and join these folks up with the 3.1 million campaign volunteers of as some kind of mind-blowing citizen advisory board. That’s real community, and I can’t wait to see it take shape.

P.S. Learn how you can craft a compelling story for your org in 8 words or less. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Unique Approaches, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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Obama Win Signals Communications Game Change -- Get on BoardUniversal confirmation roots Obama's win in the melding of community organizing and internet-based networking (parlayed into a high-power ground game).

If your organization has poo-pooed social media or simply shied away from it, there's no bigger signal that it's time to step in.

More to come.

P.S. Obama got this simple and heartfelt thank you email out to his network just minutes after his victory was declared. That's immediacy.

Nancy Schwartz in Advocacy, Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 1 comment

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Does Your Org Make it Easy for Employees to Volunteer At the PollsWe call ourselves the social sector, but I'm wondering how civic we really are. Have many of your organizations give you and your colleagues a few hours off to volunteer — as poll workers, for example?

It's vital that sharp, informed workers run the polls, so they can answer the full range of questions that arise, and deal with the occasional problem. In our community, all those folks are committed volunteers. In others, polls are run by party hacks or folks not so well informed on poll operations and voting laws.

The nonprofit sector has rallied for civic participation forever. It's one of the few calls for action common to most organizations, despite differences in issue focus, size or geographic location.

However, few nonprofits or grantmakers I know have a formal policy enabling employees to volunteer to improve the operation that lies at the base of our civic infrastructure.  Does your organization?

Put your money where your mouth is, social sector. It's too late for tomorrow, but there are years of elections to come. And it's just this kind of active commitment that's the most effective communications strategy there is.

As Momma Schwartz used to say, "Actions speak louder than words."

P.S. Learn how to craft a short and sweet story for your org via the marketing message that matters most — your tagline. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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