Get Creative

Nov 3rd, 2014 | By | Category: Public relations

After taking a bit of time off the cyber screen for a while for my fourth baby, I am back in virtual reality now and rearing to put my opinions to paper – or should I say, to cyber space. It’s been quite an interesting few months with many different events, campaigns, wars, and political proceedings taking place.

One of the major campaigns that stood out for me from the past year is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For one thing, this hit home since I lost a high school friend at a very young age to this disease and another who lost her father, a brilliant and kind man, after suffering for many years.

The Ice Bucket Challenge will definitely go down in PR history. It is one of those campaigns that will be studied by PR students the world over for being such a success. It succeeded in achieving all of its goals- raising awareness of ALS and raising money. The ALS spokesperson said “This level of unprecedented giving is (something) I don’t think this country has seen before outside of disaster or emergency… We had no idea it would get to this point.”

On the one hand there were many who criticized the campaign. I for one was a bit skeptical at first. It felt a bit odd as the main focus of the campaign seemed like it was just pouring cold water over one’s head. It did feel as if people forgot why they were pouring water over their heads to start off with.

On the other hand, EVERYONE was doing it. From little kids, to dignitaries, presidents and heads of states. Which other campaign, fundraiser has EVER succeeded in getting that many people involved? It went completely global – speaking personally, friends of mine were challenging me from all over the world. From Australia, England, South Africa and the U.S.

I can completely understand those that criticized the campaign. ALS is a horrific disease and whoever has seen anyone suffer from it, understands that it is not so simple – definitely a lot more complicated than pouring ice water over ones head. However, the undeniable point is the success of the campaign. It not only managed to raise awareness of ALS but from July 2014 until the end of October, the ALS Association managed to raise $115 million dollars. That is an outstanding amount.

What is even more astounding to me is that the campaign did not originate by the ALS Association approaching some big-name PR company. It was not even started by a hot-shot marketing executive. The actual “brains” behind the campaign came from a man suffering from ALS himself, who challenged his friends in a bid to raise money for the disease. It was completely creative and had an instant viral impact.

The Challenge showed something very interesting in that a PR campaign doesn’t necessarily have to be “about” any one thing  specifically  to be a success. (It is hard for me  to see the direct link between ice buckets and ALS).  It does however have appeal and was completely “out of the box” or away from the norm.

So what’s the lesson to be learned here – CREATIVE, CREATIVE, CREATIVE! This was the mantra of Porter Novelli when I worked there several years ago. And it’s a mantra that has never left me since.  As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge shows, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are from – a good creative idea can go a long (over a $100 million dollar) way!

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