Throwing ice water on your marketing program

Matt Lauer takes a cold shower on national television. (NBC Photo)

Matt Lauer takes a shower. (NBC Photo)


1. Tell a simple story simply: “I have ALS and it’s bad, and I fear where it’s heading” is a really powerful message when delivered authentically on a personal level, and here yielded an equally powerful public response.

2. Social movements are about personal fulfillment and inclusion. The idea of doing something wild and crazy for a good cause puts personal “skin” in the game, and builds commitment though sharing. Challenging creativity gives it legs, but it all begins with personal courage .

3. Do your math homework: Challenging not one or two people, but three or more people makes a huge multiplicative difference in creating momentum.

4. People who snipe about ALSA’s credentials miss the point. Some people with ALS have chosen the charity, and are asking good people to follow them. The decision was made at the outset, wheels set in motion. The rest are just things jealous PR people write to calm their angry clients at other charities.

5. If there’s one thing non-profits lack, its creativity. Government funding and regulation often mire charities in a stagnant inherited culture of “doing things the way we have always done things because that’s how we’ve always done them.”  Breaking out of the box now and then can have a profound impact ($88 million and counting). I’ve lost two friends to ALS and pray for a cure. Meanwhile, many others have lost their non-profit jobs due to inertia.

 Elliot Luber teaches Leadership of Government and Non-Profit Organizations and Strategic Planning for Government and Non-Profit Organizations at SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Graduate Studies, Business, Management and Leadership Program.


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