Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Your Cause Wired for 2009?

It probably happens to you once or twice a year.

A well known charity knocks at your door during its annual fund raising appeal. You make a donation and in return get a receipt. This brief encounter speeds your money off somewhere to help someone somehow. Or you might donate regularly to an aid agency that sends out an annual letter about a sponsored child in the third world.

This remote control philanthropy – where your donation helps someone but you’re unsure who or how - is set to change according to US author Tom Watson. In his book Cause Wired he argues that Web2.0 technology is arming not for profit organizations with “weapons of mass collaboration” and transforming how people support good causes.

Watson believes that social networking applications like Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin etc are evolving from personal promotion into important fund raising, activist and political tools. And it seems Internet users across generations are welcoming the change. Members of Generation Y find that digitally supporting the issues they believe in is a natural extension of living their lives online in public. And Baby Boomers are attracted because the new ways of giving allow them to be personally involved and see results for themselves.

Pioneer charities are beginning to use the power of Web 2.0 to gather, sort and distribute information to donors in a way once reserved for only their very wealthiest supporters. is probably Cause Wired’s best example of online fund raising. This digital not for profit allows small scale donors to use their credit cards and laptops to help struggling entrepreneurs in developing countries.

For a $25 upwards you can join with others to loan money to specific individuals in specific countries such as a group of women needing sewing machines for their garment start-up or impoverished taxi drivers urgently after car repairs. Kiva works through established non government organizations (NGOs) and the web to provide the loans, monitor repayments and continually report back to donors through reports and images from the field.

Watson cites other cases where digital philanthropy is achieving equally impressive results but he tempers his enthusiasm. While a campaign on a social networking site like Facebook may raise awareness of an important environmental, human rights or other issue, the actual fund raising figures for many charities still remain modest.

Cause Wired also explores how Web2.0 can empower political organizations and community movements to connect with citizens and consumers. Perhaps Barack Obama’s Presidential election campaign is among the most powerful example of new media technologies helping to win a cause.

While Watson’s 236 page book is enthusiastic about the new possibilities it acknowledges its limits. Online causes can get tens of thousands even millions of people talking. But they still need online leaders. Just like the bricks and mortar world committed individuals who can organize, coordinate, administer and generally keep things moving are still at a premium. And transitioning this digital attention to real world results is still the acid test. Once you have raised awareness you still need to motivate people to take out their cheque books and man the barricades.

Cause Wired is a very good, easy to read book. It is a must for marketers in not for profit and community organizations who want their fund raising efforts to remain competitive in the coming year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Holiday To Do List.

Merry Christmas to our subscribers and friends. Thanks for visiting Traffic on Maine throughout the year and we hope to see you back in '09.

This Christmas between the feasting and the family you might just find time to catch up with what's happening in the PR and marketing world.

A couple of books worth having in your Christmas stocking are:
  • Cause Wired by Tom Watson: A great read on how not for profits are using online tools to advocate their causes and raise money. Tom's insights and easy style make this a must read if you are in the not for profit sector.
  • Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz. I think this will eventually becoming a marketing classic. It's so easy to read and full of low budget ideas on what will emerge as one of the hottest marketing disciplines in the coming year.
And if Santa delivered a new MP3 player great podcasts to load up are:

In the meantime have a safe and happy time with your loved ones.

PR Tips For Not For Profits in Tough Times #2

Thanks to all of you who contributed ideas to our call for low budget PR ideas for not for profits facing tough times. We got a great response through Facebook, email, in conversations over coffee and of course through this blog.

We have put together a 19 page PDF report which brings together all these great suggestions.

I'll be sending it out to those contributors for whom I have contact details.

Email if you would like a copy and put the word Report in the subject line of your email.

Again thanks for your thoughts and good luck to the marketing efforts of all community groups in the coming year.

Canadian Take on Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth - A Prescription for a Bad Economy

From: agentwildfire,
1 day ago

The 12 reasons why word of mouth is the tonic for this marketplace and this economy (from Sean Moffitt, Agent Wildfire - Canada's Word of Mouth Experts)

SlideShare Link

Sunday, December 7, 2008

PR Tips For Not For Profits in Tough Times

The financial crisis means the year ahead looks fairly bleak.

So spare a thought for not for profit groups that may struggle financially but still have to communicate with their communities. They will need to market themselves even more to attract volunteers, promote their services and raise funds.

So what are the low cost PR tools and tactics they can use? I'd like to compile at list and circulate it to the groups you and I both know who would welcome practical PR tips for the challenging times ahead.

I'll share a consolidated list with anyone who leaves a comment on this post.

Here's my six ways to stretch a PR budget in tough economic times:
  • Freshen up, recycle and reuse communications activities that have worked in the past.
  • Skill up your team to do as much of your media and marketing as possible.
  • If necessary bring in a mentor to help develop additional skills and build in-house capacity.
  • Continually measure your marketing to see where your dollars should be going.
  • Build in word of mouth marketing into your communications. It's the oldest, most reliable and least expensive of all the tools and tactics available to you.
  • People are increasingly online so ealy in 2009 experiment with new digital tools (Facebook, Youtube, blogs etc) to reach them at minimal cost.

Got your own cost saving ideas? Share with others by leaving a comment.

Three Learings From Obama's Online Marketing

It is just over a month since Barack Obama won his historic bid to become President of the United States. And as the dust settles you have to admire how his campaign used new media tools to get out his message of change to Americans and the rest of the world.

US viral marketer Jalali Hartman looks at Obama online, and concludes that by dominating the Internet Obama's message carried further and faster than his rival's John McCain.

Hartman's statistics tell it all. Obama had 5.5 million visitors to his website each month. McCain had 2.5m visitors. There were 442 000 Obama Youtube videos compared to 221 300 items featuring McCain. Obama had over 3 million friends on Facebook while McCain registered just over half a million supporters.

Obama's online campaign used three strategies others could use to promote their own issues and causes.
  • Share content Obama campaign managers had a no hassle copyright policy. They willingly shared the candidate's speeches, images, official logos etc with online supporters and encouraged them to re-purpose it for their own needs. Supporters could also download official campaign signs, literature and guidelines and receive up to date news of events.
  • Connect Facebook and other social networking sites connected supporters . Both Obama and wife Michelle had their own pages and friends created their own affiliated groups. The campaign also used Twitter (the micro blogging application) to keep followers informed about campaign developments such as appearances and speeches.
  • Make it easy to create community The official campaign website was structured to allow individuals to organise within their communities by offering tools, contacts and opportunities to share their own stories.

Obama's mastery of the online world contrasts sharply with the efforts of Australia's political parties in the 2007 Federal Election. A March 2008 report by the Australian Centre for Public Communication showed use of new media by Australian politicians remains low.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Ways Of Consulting The Public

My colleague Jim McNamara of the the University of Technology Sydney is doing more research on government and social media. This follows his research on the use of social media in the 2007 Australian Election. Jim's research is always spot on, so watch this space.

The information below is taken from directly from Jim's recent blog post.

Twelve months on from the Australian Federal election and a landmark online campaign, Kevin07, in which the Rudd Labor Government made much of using Web 2.0 for public consultation, how is the government performing in e-democracy?

This is the question being asked in a follow-up to the 2007 Australian Federal election research study reported on this site. A group of researchers from the University of Technology Sydney are investigating which Federal Government departments and agencies are using Web 2.0 tools for public consultation - and how they are being used.

The research is also looking at international experiences in the US, UK, Canada and other countries where what is variously called e-government, e-democracy, cyberdemocracy and a host of other terms is being attempted.

One thing to emerge early in the research is that electronic delivery of information and services needs to be separated from online consultation. Many governments worldwide have made considerable progress in online delivery of information and services ranging from e-tax returns and online passport applications to electronic payment of fines.

However, use of the interactive capabilities of Web 2.0 for consultation and civic engagement is much less in evidence - and practice lags behind the rhetoric.

The research study will be reported early in 2009 in papers submitted to political science and communication journals and in an upcoming book hopefully.