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Marketing Movember: Promoting Men’s Health Through Social Marketing

Before and after for Matthew Hurst's Movember mustache in November 2010

Movember is about much more than growing a mustache, it’s also about putting a new face on men’s health issues.  When I first heard about No-shave November I didn’t know about the connection to men’s health, so I had no reservations about shaving my mustache for a job interview. But a year later when my new employer sponsored Movember participants I learned all about their fundraising for cancer research and raising awareness for health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer.  For a third year I’m participating in Movember, but the history of Movember actually goes back much further and serves as a great case study of using social marketing to promote men’s health.

When Movember started in 2003 it was just a fun idea between two friends in Australia, but it quickly grew into a global phenomenon. Within a couple years their small group of friends expanded to reach thousands in Austalia raising millions of dollars for prostate cancer research, incorporating into the Movember Foundation by 2006.  Gaining charity status in the US in 2009 helped the organization grow abroad, but also to attract partners to their cause alongside individual participants. Today Movember has nearly 1 million participants in 14 countries who raised over $100 million last year.

Key to Movember’s success is not just the great cause it supports, but also the global marketing campaign that promotes it.  Anyone who visits their website will be impressed by the creative media ; everything from videos starring famous mustachioed celebrities to personals flyers and smartphones apps, used by participants and for supporters of Movember.  But perhaps the most important promotional tactic is much more personal- their mustache growing participants:

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

Another popular part of Movember is their own social network, MoSpace, which gives each participant their own page to raise funds and interact with supporters.  Mo Bros and Mo Sisters use the social network to make updates on their progress and also allows them to share their Movember campaigns on other social networks.  The site also serves means to personalize their Movember efforts within their social group, a proven tactic whether to raise funds or awareness within a social marketing campaign.

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Happy Holidays to you, from Matthew

Seasons Greetings! I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holidays, however you choose to celebrate the season. This year I’m home for the holidays, travelling from New York to St. Louis to celebrate xmas with my family and friends, and I hope you’re able to do the same.

To thank my readers for their support over the last year, I’m sharing my 5th annual Very Indie Christmas mixtape.  I make this mix each year to share new Holiday songs besides those played repeatdly on commercial radio and in the shopping malls, so you might consider this my gift to you.

You can find more of my mixtapes and listening habits over the holidays on my Playlist page.

If you’re looking for a good last-minute gift for anyone, feel free to borrow ideas from my list of charities and philanthropic causes I support. Helping those in need is just part of the holiday spirit, so I hope the best for you and yours in the new year!

Blog Action Day 2010: Measuring the impact of Water use

Bottled Water Bar in Chicago's Museum of Science & IndustryWater is one of those things we never notice unless it’s unavailable. Sure I’ve been known brag about my hometown’s great tap water and am known to enjoy tasty beverages made from this resource, but besides the occasional outage I rarely consider it’s impact on my everyday life.  Yet for millions of people, access to clean, safe drinking water is not available, even if the solutions to this basic Human Right are simple.

As long as Water is a finite resource with limited availability to many, we should conserve this natural resource while increasing access to those who deserve our help. When I was writing my Master’s thesis on Energy Conservation (and last year’s Blog Action Day post), I had water in mind as well because it is another resource subject to increasing demand and inefficient use we take for granted in the United States.  Among my findings were that consumers were best encouraged to improve their usage of a resource when they have concrete examples of steps they can take to reduce their consumption (and the tools to measure them).

To better understand this issue, here’s a few ways to measure how we use Water everyday: (more…)

Brooklyn Skillshare returns!


Because education doesn’t end after you graduate, last year I attended a day-long series of workshops during the first annual Brooklyn Skillshare. There I learned how to brew Kombucha Tea, an experience I speak about 0:30 seconds into this video filmed at last year’s event. That same curiosity to learn from my neighbors has me excited for this year’s Skillshare event, which will take place this upcoming weekend.

Bringing out the best talent and knowledge from around the borough (my new home at the time), the 2009 Brooklyn Skillshare (BKSS) focused on sharing knowledge for the purpose of community building rather than merely professional development. Organized by individuals who understand that learning happens best in a social context, these event demonstrate the motivation for adults when they learn from their peers. After all, Brooklyn is well-known to be populated by creative souls with talent and knowledge to match, which would ordinarily be lost if individuals kept these talents to themselves. (more…)

The Birthday Challenge

What difference can one person make simply by asking their friends to make a charitable contribution? Any individual can help change the world, and this story is just another example to prove that (click here to play the video).

For my last birthday I challenged my friends to donate to a cause, People To People International (PTPI), instead of buying me a gift. I used the Causes application on Facebook for fundraising, and was overwhelmed by their support. I’ve written about my efforts before, and have since raised a few hundred dollars for PTPI.

My efforts earned the attention of People To People, who like most non-profit organizations are exploring all the new opportunities for fundraising that social media can offer. We connected though Facebook, where an interview was published highlighting my fundraising efforts in addition to how PTPI has impacted my life both personally and professionally.

We wanted to share my story and inspire others to try the same challenge for themselves, so I flew to Kansas City, Missouri to shoot this video. The birthday challenge has also been the subject of another recent interview accompanying the video, as part of a series highlighting the accomplishments of young people working with PTPI.

Thanks to Scenic Road Productions for creating this video promoting a good idea for a a great cause. And Happy Birthday for my friends at People to People, which celebrates their 53rd year of fostering peace through understanding this week!

Living Classrooms – Learning By Doing

Any company can use online media to connect their brand with their audience, but how does a non-profit grow their organization despite expected declines in charitable contributions?   Even with a limited budget online media levels the playing field to free and earned media for non-profits, like Living Classrooms a client I had the privilege of consulting for last spring.

Along with a team of classmates at American University, we set about creating a strategic communications plan for Living Classrooms, a non-profit organization serving underprivileged youth in the DC-metro community since founding in 2001.  One of the challenges unique to this client was their difficulty distinguishing not just from a successful parent organization, but also standing out from other non-profits in DC currently struggling for funds; branding would become a strategy.  Their hand-on education approach meant almost all of their funding was used in their programs, but was a challenge to developing new sources of fundraising. Meeting these budget limitations helped us build a strategy with specific objectives (met through some work on our own part).

As discussed in our presentation (and memo), creating and using a Blog and Twitter were critical tactics to meet the campaigns goals.  First these online tools serve an agenda-building relationship with the local newsmedia, through which Living Classrooms would try to earn media without expensive advertising. However social media is not synonymous with free media: even though these platforms are free to use, they require thoughtful and persistent work from dedicated professionals in order to work well.

Any organization can ask someone to Twitter for them, but only a professional can make it relevant to reporters, bloggers, and others who would want to tell Living Classroom’s story.  My role in this process was to build these media tools for them, and to start using these so that Living Classrooms would could model on them; unfortunately they did not have the budget to hire someone to write  so my model was key.  While new media levels the playing field, a public communications professional can lift an organization above from the rest, so that a non-profit like Living Classrooms can stand out online.

These tactics also play a critical role in winning and retaining new donors, since they allow Living Classrooms to provide regular updates which demonstrate the value of their donation.  Because Living Classrooms, like so many non-profits, is involved in so many programs donors don’t always know about all the work their donation allows an organization to accomplish everyday.  These regular updates demonstrate the compelling work Living Classrooms does through stories told in words, videos, and pictures in the channels which new donors are likely to discover this cause.  This serves as a compliment to the newsletter and mailer our group designed, usually adapting the same material for online use.

We’re still waiting to see which parts of our strategic plan will be used by Living Classrooms this year, so in the meantime please check out the blog I set up or follow @LCNCR on Twitter to learn more. For a communications professional with a strategic approach, online tools can become a successful tactic for non-profits to  overcome limitations and expand their communications budgets, ultimately changing minds and lives of those most in need of help.

Re:Cap(stone)

If you’ve been wondering what’s been keeping me from updating the blog lately, there need no be any mystery: this is the home stretch of final projects for school. Not the least of which is my masters degree Capstone Thesis paper.

Any one of these projects could warrant a blog post of it’s own, and I will be glad to share more about them after each is completed.  In a meantime, here’s a little insight into what a Graduate student in communications can accomplish.

  • Practicum: My team has been building a long-term strategic communications plan for Living Classrooms, a non-profit that serves communities in the DC-metro area with hands-on environmental education and workforce development; they call it “Learning By Doing”.  This group does amazing work with young people who live in underprivileged areas, but one of the drawbacks of their success is having so many diverse programs it is difficult for newsmedia to make a clear focused story about what it is they do exactly.
    One solution I have contributed, which fits the group’s communication strategy, is by making a Blog and Twitter for them to get the word out. I’ll cue you in on how we plan to help a non-profit grow as donors face a recession soon.
  • Management: We’ve been given a mock assignment in this class, responding to an RFP from the American Red Cross.  Our group has been designing a complete response, including plans for a multi-city festival and a localization model for more than 700 chapters of the Red Cross.  We’ll be competing with another group for the contract in an upcoming presentation, which I’ll try to share here.
  • Social Marketing: Diabetes is not “Your Grandparent’s disease” any longer; it increasingly impacts younger people.  I’ve conducted an environmental scan of the issue, and conducted original primary research through in-depth interviews with students.  From there we’ve designed a comprehensive social marketing campaign, that doesn’t just change attitudes but people’s behaviors as well.  I’ve already built a mock-up of the online network presence, which is key to our strategy.
  • Seminar/Capstone: My thesis involves original research of a scholarly nature, but with real-world application to the problem of energy conservation.  Although I am exploring an academic subject, exploring through case study and interviews how individuals are motivated to change their behaviors, I am writing it so that anyone can understand the issue.  Hopefully my research will help me build the soapbox I need to come out of my degree with specialization in opinion leaders, agenda setting, and marketing as they apply  to the salient public issues that brought me into PR.

I’ll be sure to tell you a little more about what I’ve learned… just as soon as I finish working through them of course.  Stay tuned.

Et cetera, Etc.

Here’s a few updates to previous posts, and some news on my professional life:

  • The Twitter Internship is soon to become simply An Internship.  Last week I was happy to join New Media Strategies as their intern, starting in May 2009. I’m looking forward to learning more about how they use new media tools, including Twitter where I got their attention to begin with, to participate in online communities where they promote and protect brands for their clients.  I think we’ll be a good fit together since we share the same inclination to try new online tools for ourselves so that we can understand any opportunities they offer for those we represent.
  • I have signed up for summer semester at American University.  The two last classes of my Graduate degree in Public Communication will be Crisis and Political Communications.  And since they take place in the evening, it shouldn’t be any trouble for my internship.
  • Rock the Vote, which I had previously applied for an internship, has begun to offer a fellowship program for young students like myself.  This largely self-defined fellowship encourages individual innovation using social media to reach young people and engage them in civics.  Although I probably will not be able to become part of their program because of my internship responsibilities, I hope to join their team and help out via Telecommuting over the course of their campaign.  Ask me or tweet Chris Kennedy for an invitation if you’re interested in joining the program.
  • To date I was able to raise $195 from 7 donors for People to People on Facebook.  Although this did not reach my goal, it surpassed my expectations, and has raised the bar for non-profits like PTP online.  I am proud of what I could contribute using these social media tools as an individual, and look forward to helping them in the future.

While some of these updates might warrant a post of their own, thanks for letting me be a little self-indulgent.  If you’re dying to keep up on the latest as it happens, why not join me on Twitter already? After all, it did help me get this internship, etc…