Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich

The Tip Jar makes its triumphant return after a hiatus of almost a month. Here are some of the latest finds from the world of social marketing...
  • If you are a health educator inspired by my or others' recent pandemic flu-blogging, take advantage of this free training opportunity. The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is partnering with CDC and DHHS to host a 1-1/2 day workshop for health educators on Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication for Pandemic Influenza, on September 20-21, 2007 in Chicago, IL. Up to 100 travel scholarships will be awarded to health educators to participate in the workshop, covering the cost of travel, lodging, and registration for the workshop. You don't have to be a SOPHE member to participate. The catch is that the deadline to apply is this Tuesday, July 31st. Get the application form and more information on the SOPHE website.
  • ChangeFan is a new Digg-like web community that offers a place to share information about "changing the world." Recent featured links include articles on plug-in hybrids, poverty & education, and philanthropy. It's similar to CThings and I'm not entirely clear on how much they differ from each other. But they are both good places to find interesting news stories.
  • Changemakers, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is sponsoring a competition for solutions that merge computer and video games with health and health care. You can read the competition entries as they come in, and consider submitting your own entry by September 26. If you need inspiration, the latest issue of the Drum Beat focuses on Games for Change, with related case studies and resources.
  • Though the website is in sore need of some explanatory information, the Netroots Network provides an interesting way of viewing various issues on a map. You can view the distribution of things like alleged voter fraud, anti-war protests, and incidents of corruption in Texas. The display is crude, but holds promise as a way of helping to provide context to issues and identify trends.
  • Robert Marshall, a Fullbright scholar from Rhode Island spending 6 weeks in England, is documenting his experiences at and exchanges with the UK's National Social Marketing Centre on a blog. He gives an American perspective on how social marketing is being practiced in the UK, as well as insights he gleans from his colleagues there about what can be learned from the state of social marketing in the US. He also provides an enjoyable travelogue, including his encounter with the Broad Street Pump, considered the birthplace of modern epidemiology.
  • The Ad Council and Kaiser Family Foundation hosted a forum called The Digital Opportunity: Using New Media for Public Education Campaigns. Speakers included Dan Solomon of Mindshare Interactive Campaigns, Tina Hoff of Kaiser and its Entertainment Media Partnerships, and Jeff Berman of MySpace. The webcast and a transcript can be downloaded from the site.
  • From the "And you thought your social marketing program had tough opponents" file... Staff at Green Star Social Marketing, an NGO in Peshawar, Pakistan that does work in family planning and maternal and child health, were the intended victims of an explosive device planted in the NGO's vehicle. Luckily, the defused device was found not to be capable of exploding, but it came with a pamphlet that said, in part, "The next time nobody will stop us and we will plant a real bomb instead of this small sample." The terrorists identified themselves as members of Jihad-e-Islami and said that family planning was the equivalent of genocide of Muslims. We shouldn't forget that social marketing can be powerful, and because of that may provoke powerful detractors.
  • Social marketer Bob Belinoff has a thought-provoking article in LA Yoga magazine in which he advocates that sometimes it's better to do nothing than to jump in to try to solve major social problems. While that idea goes against many of our initial instincts, he likens the approach to Ayurveda and other types of natural medicine in which you do very little but remove the blocks to letting the problem solve itself. It's an idea worth exploring. Or maybe just watching to see what happens.
  • Thanks to Chris Forbes for the pointer to a great roundup of articles and resources about marketing with Facebook. I'm still finding that Facebook doesn't hold much attraction for me the way a professionally-oriented social network like LinkedIn does. Perhaps it's because I feel a need to have a specific purpose rather than a more open-ended place to hang out. But just because I don't personally spend time on my Facebook page doesn't mean that the target audiences I may need to reach feel the same way. Marketers definitely need to get up-to-speed on using this and other social networks.
  • On the off-chance that you didn't see the recent study showing that obesity is contagious, this concept of behaviors as contagioמ is intriguing. When the people around you are engaging in a particular behavior, it becomes more acceptable to you and increases the likelihood of you doing it as well. This has been well-known regarding youth who smoke, and it makes a lot of sense in regards to obesity and its related behaviors of overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. Craig and Seth had the most interesting takes on the report, with Craig looking at it as confirming the power of social networks and Seth discussing how to get your ideas to spread contagiously.
  • And another study of interest recently found that the more exposure middle school students have to certain anti-smoking ads, the more likely they are to smoke. The ads causing this opposite effect tended to use an authoritarian "just say no" type of message. The researchers found that messages most effective in preventing smoking were those that gave the perception that their peers were not smoking -- changing the social norms made avoiding tobacco contagious, in effect.

Photo Credit: BrittneyBush
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I will be offering another Social Marketing University training this fall in Los Angeles. This is a great introduction to using social marketing to bring about health and social change.

The training lasts 2-1/2 days, with the last half-day focusing on Next Generation Social Marketing. If you are a social marketer who already knows the basics and are interested in expanding your bag of tricks to include newer marketing methods using social media and other technologies -- many of the things I write about on this blog -- you can register just for the last day.

Here's all the important information:

Social Marketing University
October 15-17, 2007
UCLA Conference Center
University of California, Los Angeles

Next Generation Social Marketing Seminar
October 17, 2007, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm
included in registration for SMU
OR register separately for seminar only

Complete information about the topics to be covered, hotel reservations, registration fees and what past participants have said can be found on the Social Marketing University information page.

If you register before August 31st, you will receive $100 off the regular price. There are also discounts for additional participants coming from the same organization (send your team to be trained!) and a student discount. Seats are limited, so reserve your spot soon; the last training in Washington DC sold out.

And, as a special bonus just for my blog readers, use this discount code to get an additional $50 off the registration cost of the full Social Marketing University tuition: SMU50.

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After digging my way out of the stacks of boxes from the move, I'm ready to get back to the blog. Thanks so much to Sandy Beckwith for so ably holding down the digital fort for me. Now that you've had a taste of her nonprofit PR wisdom, I hope you will check out her book Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure that Leads to Awareness, Growth and Contributions. Sandy recently started a blog at Amazon connected to her book, and I look forward to reading her future posts.

It's hard to get back into a rhythm when something big like a move, an illness, or even summer vacation comes along to put a wrench in your routine. My exercise and healthy eating habits have definitely suffered from the interruption.

This got me thinking about how important it is, when promoting a behavior change, to help people figure out how to incorporate it into their daily routine. So, people who have to remember to take a pill should tie the action to something they do every day like brushing their teeth or eating breakfast. Many people need to exercise first thing in the morning, or they will never get to it. The fire department suggests replacing your smoke detector batteries when you change the clocks for daylight saving time.

Finding a definite, recurring event on which to tie the behavior will make it much easier for people to remember it and build it into their lives. Now if only I could find the box with my tennis shoes in it.

Photo Credit: lane collins
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PR News has just released the call for entries for its Nonprofit PR Awards competition; the entry deadline is September 14, 2007. Get the specifics and application at

I've judged the PRSA Silver Anvil awards competition for programs and Bronze Anvil awards competition for tools; I'm always suprised at how much time and money organizations invest in submitting average entries. Not better than average -- average. While we all like to think we do award-winning work and we love it when that work is recognized by our peers, we need to be realistic about our projects when it comes to the investment needed to enter an awards program.

That's why I'm encouraging you to ask yourself if your project truly was creative, well executed, and really, really successful. If it was just ho-hum, put your energy into working on ideas for a whiz-bang program that will move your agency forward and generate an award next year.

If you think you have a winner, take the awards application process seriously. This isn't something you pull together in the final minutes before the last Fed Ex pickup to meet the deadline. Award-winning entries need to be thoughtful and thorough. And because they are judged by senior practitioners, they should be compiled by your most experienced PR pro.

I've been on both sides of the fence -- as a winner and as a judge -- and would be happy to answer questions on the topic. Reach me at
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I often hear from nonprofits asking how they can position their executive director as the local expert on the organization's key issue. Here's what I tell them.

First, make sure that if your leader isn’t already an expert, he or she is taking steps to become one. This is one of those situations where you don’t want to use smoke and mirrors.

Then showcase that expertise using specific steps designed to provide opportunities to share that knowledge and experience freely, which is essential. Start with these steps to develop expert credibility:
  • Make your leader the exclusive spokesperson for your organization, whether it’s for media interviews, public service announcements, or advertisements.
  • Send your local media a letter listing story or news segment ideas that your leader can contribute to as a resource. Attach your director’s photo and narrative bio, a backgrounder on your issue, and a brief history of your organization.
  • Produce a relevant booklet with tips or advice from your leader. Identify your executive director as the author. Send it to the media with a news release announcing the booklet’s availability; distribute it to stakeholders; promote it in your newsletter and on your Web site.
  • Continually schedule speaking engagements for your executive director with community groups.
  • Write timely op-eds with your leader’s byline for the newspaper as frequently as possible.

These and other steps executed well locally could help your leader become recognized as an expert nationally, as well. While that might not be your goal, it certainly won't hurt your local efforts.

Got a media relations or publicity topic you'd like to know more about? Drop me a line at and I'll try to answer it here.

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Op-eds – essays that appear opposite the editorial pages of newspapers – are powerful communications tools for nonprofit organizations working to influence public policy or initiate change. But too many local nonprofits miss some of their best opportunities to inform readers through these opinionated essays.

National headline news stories give nonprofits the hook their opinion pieces need to catch an editorial page editor’s attention, but we don’t always take advantage of this because we can’t react quickly enough to write and place an essay when it’s still timely. That’s why I recommend having at least one op-ed written in advance to use when a news event brings the op-ed’s topic to the public’s attention.

Recent headlines provide examples. Last week’s comments from the director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, that we are “entering a period of increased risk” for terrorist attacks provided an opportunity for organizations with opinions on this topic to place op-eds about whether we are doing enough to protect Americans at home – or whether we should react to Chertoff’s “gut feeling.”

Here are 10 tips for writing effective op-eds you can update according to the news story for immediate publication:

  • Read the publication you’re submitting to. You want to be familiar with its style and tone as well as the types of op-eds it typically runs.

  • Introduce yourself to your newspaper’s op-ed page editor by telephone or e-mail and request the publication’s op-ed guidelines. Then follow them.

  • Determine your goal. What do you want to achieve through your op-ed? Do you want people to behave differently or take a specific action? Keep this goal in mind as you write.

  • Select one message to communicate. Op-eds are short – typically 800 words or less – so you have room to make just one good point.

  • Be controversial. Editors like essays with strong opinions that will spark conversation.

  • Illustrate how the topic or issue affects readers. Put a face on the issue by starting your essay with the story of somebody who has been affected or begin with an attention-getting statistic.

  • Describe the problem and why it exists. This is often where you can address the opposing viewpoint and explain your group’s perspective.

  • Offer your solution to the problem and explain why it’s the best option.

  • Conclude on a strong note by repeating your message or stating a call to action.

  • Add one or two sentences at the end that describe your credentials as they relate to the topic.

With this approach, when your issue is suddenly making headlines, you can write an introduction that connects the news to your essay and e-mail it to the editor quickly.

Questions? Contact me at

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Greetings from your guest blogger. I’m Sandy Beckwith, author of Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions (Kaplan Publishing). Nedra asked me to contribute here while she was moving to the Los Angeles wilderness because she knows that I want to help nonprofit organizations learn how to work with the media in the most productive ways possible.

Today, I’d like to talk about message development because it’s one of the essential early steps of publicity planning – one that I think is frequently overlooked. It’s important to give careful thought to exactly what you want to say to your audiences not only through the media, but in all your organization’s written and spoken communications. What is it, exactly, that you need to get across to people?

Your message could vary, depending on the situation and circumstances. In some cases, your goal might be to communicate a message related to your organization’s mission or reputation. In other situations, you might want to communicate messages related only to a project or program you’re promoting, not the entire organization. Regardless, here’s the bottom line: If you aren’t clear on your message each time you communicate with the media, your publicity efforts will be less effective. Careful attention to messages allows you to get a little more control over the unpredictable – and generally uncontrollable – publicity process. Anything you can do to exert some control is good.

Message development is essentially a six-step process:
1. Defining the issue
2. Creating draft or preliminary messages
3. Testing the draft messages
4. Refining the messages
5. Testing the final messages
6. Adjusting the final messages

Here are a few tips to help prevent some of the more common mistakes in this process:

  • Don’t make assumptions about what your constituents do and don’t know or do and don’t care about. Do some research instead. My book includes an anecdote about a foundation that assumed the group it was targeting with a communications campaign was familiar with – and understood – a key medical term. Wrong. Focus group research put a spotlight on this inaccurate assumption, forcing the communicators to change their strategy.
  • Don’t get bogged down in the details of the issue. Craft a message that is clear, compelling and direct.
  • Include emotion. And that emotion should come from your constituents’ concerns, not yours. Find a way to connect your cause to their feelings, and your message is more likely to resonate with them.
  • It doesn’t matter what your colleagues or peers think of the messages you’ve developed. What counts is how the people you want to influence react – so test your messages with them.

Got a publicity question you’d like me to answer? Send a note to and I’ll do my best to answer here.

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Call it a reverse Green Acres or the second coming of the Beverly Hillbillies, but as of this weekend my family and office are moving from the semi-bucolic San Fernando Valley to the very citified Westside of Los Angeles. While it will be quite an adjustment for this Valley Girl, I'm looking forward to being able to walk to stores, restaurants and the local Coffee Bean (a good inducement to exercise). It will also be fun to be around the corner from Samuel Goldwyn Films, just down the street from Fox Studios and five minutes from the LA County Museum of Art.

Because of the logistics involved with the move, and uncertainties around when my office will be fully functioning, I will not be blogging for a week or two. But, luckily for you and me, I have a guest blogger who will be standing in for me while I'm out. Sandra Beckwith is a writer, speaker and coach who wrote the wonderful Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure that Leads to Awareness, Growth and Contributions. She sent me a copy and I found the book to be a perfect companion to my own Hands-On Social Marketing book. It's full of step-by-step guidance, worksheets, tip lists, and sample materials, and is laid out in a framework similar to what I used in my book for the (much shorter) PR section. Sandy will be sharing her vast media knowledge and experience with us, and I'm looking forward to reading her posts. In the meantime, you can read a recent interview with her by Chris Forbes.

If you try to contact me in the next week or two, please be patient if I am slow to get back to you. Let's hope I don't have to make too many sacrifices to the utility gods to get back up and running quickly.
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This week's Tip Jar is full of bicentennial quarters and an occasional $2 bill:
  • I've been playing around with Facebook lately, though I think LinkedIn is much more useful as a grown-up. If you want to learn more on what all the fuss is about, take a look at the Beginner's Guide to Facebook. Wondering whether your audience is more likely on Facebook or MySpace? Danah Boyd discusses how class plays into self-selection onto the various social networking sites: Facebook attracts the popular, "good kid" crowd, while MySpacers are more likely to be the socially ostracized kids who don't quite fit into the popular cliques. As Anastasia says, it sounds like the makings of a John Hughes movie ("Pretty in Pink Flashing Pixels"?)
  • Oxfam's online advocacy campaign to help the Ethiopian farmers who grow coffee for Starbucks was a success, with 96,000 people participating in various ways. This campaign is a great case study for how to recruit and engage supporters via social media and email. I first learned of it through the Flickr petition in which people posted pictures of themselves holding a sign that said "I support Ethiopian coffee farmers." But they also used YouTube, blogs, email networks, and more traditional methods like faxes, phone calls, postcards, an on-site protest and in-person visits to Starbucks. The resulting agreement will ensure that Ethiopian farmers get a fair share of the profits for their coffee.
  • From the Communication Initiative comes an announcement of what sounds like a fascinating workshop called Sensing on Everyday Mobile Phones in Support of Participatory Research. The workshop will "focus on how mobile phones and other everyday devices can be employed as networkconnected, location-aware, human-in-the-loop sensors that enable participatory data collection, geotagged documentation, mapping and other case-making capabilities." If anyone wants to send me to Sydney, I'd be happy to liveblog the session for you.
  • If you are story-impaired like I am, you may be interested in the Center for Digital Storytelling's Digital Storytelling Cookbook. The book helps people who want to mine stories from their own and others' lives and personal media archives. You can download the first five chapters, which introduce how to find stories and tell them in a meaningful way. The rest of the book focuses on the technical aspects of digital media. Using stories to illustrate your points can be so effective, but the process of developing those stories is not always obvious. (via the same CommInit email as above)
  • A new study found that teens engaging in web-based multi-player role-playing games are reaping benefits from opportunities to explore the world around them, albeit virtually. They can have conversations with people of different nationalities and races they would not normally come in contact with, they can become entrepreneurs with online businesses, they can experiment with their identities (aren't virtual noserings so much better than the real thing?) and venture into interactions with members of the opposite sex. Sounds good, as long as the online time isn't replacing hang-out time with real-life friends. (via MarketingVOX)
  • A recent campaign from New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority in Australia takes a refreshing departure from the usual fear appeals to try to keep young men from speeding. It hits the perpetrators below the belt, with the tag line, "Speeding - No One Thinks Big of You" and hot girls wagging their pinkies in a gesture clearly meant to suggest that the speeders are trying to compensate for other inadequacies. I haven't seen anyone here making this gesture before, so I wonder if it's an Aussie-American cultural difference or a new thing. Watch the spot and tell me if you know.
  • Speaking of fear appeals, Seth Godin writes about how some marketers use fear to sell their products. He gives social marketers a pass, saying that some items, like seatbelts, can't be marketed without fear. I agree that fear appeals can be powerful when done right (though more often than not they backfire) but there are many other powerful values that could be tapped into to motivate safety-related behaviors (see item above).
  • Knowing that the media would create a massive frenzy around the launch of the iPhone, a savvy nonprofit called Keep a Child Alive found a way to transfer some of that major media coverage to their own cause. Someone from the organization staked out the first spot in line at the Apple Store in Manhattan, thereby ensuring interviews with every media outlet around, and an open mic for their message. While they initially intended to auction just the iPhone to raise money for their organization, as a result of their widespread exposure they received a slew of additional items to auction off from celebrities and companies. This serves as a reminder to keep your eyes open for random opportunities to get your message out, which may net you more exposure than the rest of the marketing activities you've been planning for months.
  • Happily, Sadly, Ironically, the CDC's wonderful Verb yellowball campaign to get 9 to 13 year olds physically active, which was discontinued by Congress last year, took several top honors at the Cannes Lions advertising awards. Arc Worldwide, who created the campaign, won Gold for "Best Integrated Direct Campaign," Silver for "Best Direct - Charities, Public Health & Safety and Public Awareness Messages" and Bronze for "Best Media - Charities, Public Health & Safety and Public Awareness Messages." The campaign also won a Clio this year. It was a well-done campaign, and found to be effective in bringing about behavior change, so of course the obvious thing to do was to get rid of it. Bring back Verb!!!
I wish a very happy and safe 4th of July to my American readers, and a great Wednesday to everyone else.

Photo Credit: Tip Jar Dan
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