Only her hairdresser knows?

Posted By Ann on June 27, 2012

Today’s New York Times reports that ads are popping up in unusual spaces as the bad economy forces strapped municipalities to find new sources of revenue. A subway station in Brooklyn bears the name Barclay’s and fire departments are considering truck ads to keep some ailing stations open.www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/us/cities-consider-selling-ads-as-economic-lifelines.html.  Good strategy?  It depends on how it’s executed.

Corporate dollars allocated to schools, fire stations, police departments, parks and town squares could support ailing towns across America.  Lights need brightening, fire houses need fire trucks, subways need new cars, schools need technology.  The needs are endless.  What a potential win-win if corporations could give more to local institutions that keep our towns afloat, while tastefully supporting their brands at the same time? Generally speaking, corporations choose wisely in selecting sponsorships and charitable causes by giving to initiatives that build brand reputation and do the right thing.  So, ad dollars that fueled fire trucks could be money well spent if the ads donning the trucks reinforced better public health behavior — anti-smoking messages, how to cook safely outdoors, why to remember to turn the stove off.    Similarly, if a local utility funded more well-lit public spaces and put its logo on a few electric poles, what harm would it do to make our streets safer at night?  Advertising that is purely self-serving may not be received well by consumers who want to avoid advertising at all costs, particularly in today’s Tivo world.  But public service advertising that reminds us cleverly of a good habit we should uphold, may solve a big finance problem while allowing our brands to be present with the public.  If the message is right, the execution is sound and the end result is positive, why not consider allowing companies to socialize their brands by helping social causes at the same time?

Reach Out and Read Shares its Story

Posted By Ann on June 3, 2010

ror 186 leftReach Out and Read (ROR) is an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.  Reach Out and Read recently celebrated its 21st anniversary and reaches 3.9 million children aged 6 months through 5 years through its 4,500 Sites within the United States.  Carolyn Merrifield, Communications Manager from ROR, recently spoke to Rx4good about its programs.

Rx4good: How is the recession affecting Reach Out and Read?

ROR: The current economy is producing a challenging time for us.  Our individual donors are cutting back and we’re also worried that other literacy organizations are facing funding cuts.  Reading is Fundamental (RIF), with whom we are closely aligned, is trying to reinstate their federal funding as we speak.

Rx4good: What is your funding mix?

ROR: Our funding comes from a mix of sources, including corporate, individual, and federal grants, but we’re looking to grow our list of corporate funders.  We have wonderful national corporate partners including: Target, Scholastic, Primrose Schools, BAE Systems, P&G, and the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) to name just a few, but we would like to expand that list.  In addition to financial support from our corporate partners, we also partner with a number of literacy and medical organizations who support our mission.  Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners endorse out model of early literacy promotion.

Rx4good: What have you recently accomplished?

ROR: Because a high percentage of the families we serve speak Spanish, we felt the need to enhance our communication with them and the materials we provide.  We are thrilled that our entire website is now available in both English and Spanish.  We’ve also created new communication materials, including guidebooks that enhance the conversations between our doctors and the parents of our Spanish-speaking children.  We plan to continue expanding this initiative, but we will also focus on further outreach to military children and families.

Rx4good: How have you utilized social media?

ROR: We have a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, a Facebook Cause page and a Twitter page that consist primarily of fans who are already currently involved with ROR’s programs and initiatives.  The demographic of our fans include pediatricians, volunteer readers, individual donors, and early education supporters.  We want to be very thoughtful and strategic in our social media strategy, but we find that devoting enough manpower and time to achieve the results we want can be challenging.

Rx4good: What has been your greatest challenge with social media?

ROR: Our greatest challenge is being able to expand our reach.  We have had recent success with the addition of more than 500 Fans in just two months during our participation in the Pepsi Challenge, and we want to use that as a foundation for future growth.  We would like our fan base to grow to 2,000 people by the end of the summer and then exponentially increase our impact from there.

Rx4good: If you could wave a magic wand and be granted any wish, what would it be?

ROR: Better visibility!  Reach Out and Read has been around for 21 years now and we don’t have the recognition and brand awareness that we’d like.  Because our message is delivered through pediatricians, promoting our organization can be a bit difficult.  This year, one of our primary goals is to increase visibility and let more people know about the important work we’re doing.  Increased nationwide awareness about the program will enable Reach Out and Read to one day serve every child in America!

Jessie Fream, Rx4good

The Nature Conservancy is Anything But Conservative in Social Media

Posted By Ann on May 12, 2010

thenatureconservancyMatchUp4good continues to gain momentum as more organizations register on www.womma.org/matchup4good to gain pro bono expertise from the experts and unearth the power of social media.  The official launch date of May 24-26th is just around the corner and nonprofit causes representing diverse issues are telling their unique stories to Rx4good as these organizations seek to match their social media needs with WOMMA member companies willing to give of their time.

The Nature Conservancy, the leading global conservation organization that protects ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people, recently spoke with Rx4good.  Amy Ganderson, TNC’s Online Marketing Manager, talks about the recent oil spill in the gulf and TNC’s efforts surrounding Earth Day.

Rx4good: What initiative have you most recently focused on that you are most proud?

TNC: April 22, 2010 was one of our most successful Earth Day campaigns to date; possibly our best yet.  We were able to surpass last year’s traffic to our website and were even acknowledged by Mashable.com!

I believe this campaign succeeded because it was well thought out and fully-integrated: we clearly identified our goals, selected the right people to advocate, leveraged our social media, offered a variety of ways to become involved, and initiated it with perfect timing to keep our fans interested.

TNC wanted to increase our new member acquisition and decided that a one month period would really help in gaining momentum, so we began our Earth Day efforts in late March.  We utilized our internal staff members, who are already fully involved with the cause, to be advocates for our campaign on Facebook and Twitter.  We had a variety of ways that our fans could be involved, as we utilized Facebook’s petition and event features and also started a Twitter campaign.  The campaign was a true hit.

Rx4good: How are you building onto Earth Day’s momentum?

TNC: As a proponent for sustainability, we have tried to incorporate this concept into our campaigns; therefore, we have added a “Ways To Act” section to our Earth Day homepage (www.nature.org/earthday).  There are three concentrations of focus including, Green Your Gardening, Use Reusable Bags, and Eat Sustainably.

Rx4good: How are you utilizing social media to carry out your three areas of focus?

TNC: We wanted to build the ‘whole story’ and reinforce our call to action through different channels.  Some examples of our work include blog posts that are actually written from our scientists on the ground and a discussion forum with tips and reminders.

Rx4good: What other efforts are you focusing on?

TNC: The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (http://nature.org/restore) is a major focus right now.  We have scientists on-site blogging with updates, we’re offering opportunities to take action, and are lending expertise to the cause.  Our team is assessing the damages and we plan to act as a helpful hand to recovery with an emphasis on long term restoration.

Rx4good:  Can you explain what the spill could mean for some of our fish and wildlife?

TNC:  I think it’s really difficult to understand the full extent of the oil spill at this time. There’s so much at risk: wildlife, ecosystems, damage to the shellfish industry, and even the livelihood of others that depend of the Gulf.  The Nature Conservancy is using our science expertise to assess the damage of the oil spill.  We have state chapters in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other Gulf states that are working hard lending their conservation expertise.

Rx4good:  What are you doing to encourage consumers to help and how are you using social media to encourage them?

TNC:

We’re asking people to help the Gulf coast by doing three things.  The first item is to make a donation to help our restoration efforts in the Gulf.  We’ve created a separate fund called the Fund for Gulf Coast restoration.  Secondly, we’re asking people to tell their friends about what’s at stake for the Gulf Coast.  We’re using social media to really spread this message by giving updates to our fans and followers via our social networking channels.  Lastly, you could consider volunteering.  The Conservancy is coordinating with groups like the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana on immediate volunteer efforts.  Please visit http://nature.org/restore for up-to-date information on The Nature Conservancy and the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Rx4good: What’s next for you with social media?  You’ve done so much already.

TNC: We’d like stay rooted in social media, but take it to the next level.  We’re also looking to expand our web presences through both mobile and Multilanguage.

Jessie Fream, Rx4good

Text4baby Tackles Infant Mortality with Mobile Media, Public/Private Sector Giving

Posted By Ann on May 5, 2010

Text4babyEach week, Rx4good will highlight a non-profit that has registered to participate in MatchUp4good, a partnership with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  MatchUp4good matches non-profits in need of social media counsel with WOMMA member companies willing to give pro bono support (http://www.womma.org/matchup4good/).  This week, we focus on Text4baby.

Soon-to-be mothers and new moms are finally getting the message – literally, via SMS texts.  With the U.S. infant-mortality rate ranked 30th worldwide (worse than Hungary and Cuba), the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition decided to do something about it and started the innovative Text4baby campaign.

Text4baby (link) promotes maternal and child health by sending free text messages in English or Spanish to pregnant and new moms three times a week throughout their pregnancy as well as into the baby’s first year.  Rx4good had the pleasure of speaking with Judy Meehan, executive director of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition to learn more.

Rx4good: What prompted the creation of Text4baby? What tipping points led to the idea and its execution?

Meehan: Text4baby came about because of the shocking U.S. infant-mortality rate (which is dismal) and the trends in mobile phone use.  Mobile health and the SMS text platform are being used all over the world.  Women of child-bearing age use text messaging extensively, and African American women use text messaging more than anybody else.  Because this population is particularly vulnerable to high infant mortality rates, Text4baby seemed like a natural way to communicate about health.  The campaign’s success is due in large part to the model in which it was built– essentially teaming the private and public sectors together.  Today, we have over 200 organizational partners in Text4baby.

Rx4good: What successes have you had to date?

Meehan: This easy-to-access “nurse in a purse” currently reaches more than 34,000 women – 95% of them said that they would recommend our campaign to a friend.  That’s in just three months of launching. We know these texts have sparked conversations between the women and their healthcare professionals so we know the campaign is working.  But our goal is to prove it works.

Another proud achievement is that our public/private sector model has had an unprecedented success – the structured outreach of our organizational partners is a powerful mix that enables positive change to occur at lightning speed. Our sponsors, Johnson and Johnson, WellPoint, Pfizer and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield gave us a tremendous start to get this off the ground.  Other core partners include Voxiva, HHS, CTIA The Wireless Foundation, MTV – to name just a few.  We’re proud and extremely grateful to have the tremendous support of these organizations, one of particular note, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Rx4good: What do you hope to achieve in the short and long term?

Meehan: We’re looking for more key partnerships with organizations that share like-minded goals.  Currently, we cater to the English and Spanish speaking audiences, but we’d like to grow into more languages as well as carry our message further as the baby enters into his/her second year.  Also, right now we’re advocating for a spin-off module, targeting fathers.  We are planning a robust evaluation effort to prove, in the long run, that not only does our partnership model work, but also that text messaging in mobile health is effective so other health campaigns can build on this concept.

Rx4good: How has social media been instrumental to your success?  What do you want to gain from MatchUp4good?

Meehan: This is perfect timing for us because we are looking to build a more comprehensive digital advocacy strategy.  We have had success on facebook and Twitter, but we’re looking for additional expertise to grow in this area.  We’ve had spikes in our membership when we’ve obtained publicity from ‘Dr. Drew’ on MTV and its ‘16 and Pregnant’ television show, so maybe we could build onto those initiatives as well.  We’re open to suggestions and interested in out-of-the-box thinking.

Rx4good: What is your greatest wish for Text4baby?

Meehan: Every woman wants to give her baby the best possible start in life.  Unfortunately, not every woman has equal access to care and resources that she can understand and use. Text4baby can literally put solid science in the hands of those who need it most.   My hope is that all pregnant women and new moms will be able to take advantage of what Text4baby offers.

Jessie Fream, Rx4good

New Medical Ethics Code Announced, Reported by Associated Press

Posted By Ann on April 22, 2010

New medical ethics code aims to curb industry sway

By Marilyn Marchione, Associated Press  |  April 22, 2010

No more letting industry help pay for developing medical guidelines. Restrictions on consulting deals. And no more pens with drug company names or other swag at conferences.

These are part of a new ethics code that dozens of leading medical groups announced yesterday, aimed at limiting the influence that drug and device makers have over patient care.

It is the most sweeping move ever taken by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies to curb conflict of interest — a growing concern as private industry bankrolls a greater share of medical research.

The council includes 32 medical societies with 650,000 members, from neurologists and obstetricians to family doctors and pediatricians.

They include the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the largest group of cancer specialists in the world.

“We take very seriously the trust that is placed in us by physicians and patients to be authoritative, independent voices in cancer care,’’ ASCO’s chief, Dr. Allen Lichter, said in a statement.

He led the panel that developed the code.

One of its most controversial rules: requiring top leaders of any medical society and top editors of its journals to have no consulting deals or financial ties to industry.

“When a physician stands up to represent medicine and his or her specialty, there shouldn’t be any confusion as to who they’re speaking for,’’ said Dr. Norman Kahn, the council’s chief executive and a former rural medicine doctor from California.

The code requires groups to:

■Publicly post any industry support the group receives, such as money for continuing education sessions.

■Decline industry funding for developing medical practice guidelines, such as who should get a drug, a test, or treatment. Require that most members of a guidelines panel be free of financial ties to industry.

■Disclose any financial ties that leaders and board members have with companies.

■Ban company or product names and logos from pens, bags, and other giveaways at conferences.

Fourteen groups in the council, including ASCO and the College of Physicians, have already adopted the code.

Most of the rest plan to by the end of the year. 

KFC Buckets for a Cure? Oh Please…

Posted By Ann on April 20, 2010

Today, the Altoona News reported on a joint initiative between KFC and Susan G Komen called “Buckets for a Cure.”  Now, when you read that sentence, does your head tilt to the side, does your mouth grimace and your eyebrow go up?  Mine did as I pondered why a fast food giant with chicken that oozes with fat, position itself as a supporter of breast cancer prevention and a cure when the company’s foods could be considered causative.  We know that a high fat diet can be a factor that increases the risk of certain cancers.  We also know that KFC has been trying to position itself as a healthier food destination.  But, isn’t this a bit of a stretch?  I laud the efforts of the company to raise money for a worthy cause but to hand out pink buckets of chicken screams “bad taste” to me — even if the chicken might taste good.

Come on — where are the good taste police when decisions like this are made?  The effort is intended to improve KFC’s reputation.  But I have a difficult time believing it will do that.  And for Komen, shame on you for attaching your name to fried food.  I bet you’ll get buckets of bad press on this one.

Ann Moravick, Rx4good

Maternal Health Is No Hush Matter

Posted By Ann on April 14, 2010

An item in today’s New York Times speak to the tremendous challenges of advocacy organizations in managing good news.  Denise Grady reports on the very positive overall results of a Lancet study — that maternal death rates declined sharply between 1980 and 2005 from526,300 women dying during childbirth to 342,900 deaths.  (click here for link). The study dispels a prevailing view that maternal mortality is an intractable problem that “has defied every effort to solve it.”  Yet, a number of advocacy organizations attempted to delay publication of the study fearing that the study results would thwart their efforts and negatively impact three planned meetings on maternal health happening this Summer and later this year. “I think this is one of those instances when science and advocacy conflict.” said Dr. Richard Horton, the Lancet editor.

As this article demonstrates, the plight of advocacy organizations can be tough.   They must walk a fine line between stressing the gravity of their plight in order to gain public attention and funding.  At the same time, they need to demonstrate progress in attaining goals in order to show funding sources that money is being spent wisely on worthwhile causes.  I don’t know the details surrounding the advocates who pressured the Lancet because their names were not disclosed and they were not quoted in the Times story.  But I think they were wrong to attempt to keep science from becoming public knowledge — even if for a few months.  Advocates will lose their credibility if they choose this slippery slope and ultimately lose the public and policy makers’ will to pay attention.  There is no bad news in good news but there are bad intentions in keeping good news quiet.

Ann Moravick

Reading Is Fundamental, Funding Is Too

Posted By Ann on April 10, 2010

This week’s news that Reading Is Fundamental is losing its federal funding was sad news for many of America’s children, parents, our school systems and even paperback publishers.  Full disclosure, I worked at Scholastic Inc. in my early 20s on the Reading Is Fundamental program and believe in the tremendous value it provides in spurring intellectual curiosity and a joy for reading.  Early exposure to bright and shiny, colorful, new fresh-smelling paperback books is a priceless experience for many children and the only impetus it takes to develop a life-long joy for reading.

Twenty-five years have passed since my Scholastic days, but I still remember attending a RIF Reading Day in Knoxville, TN on behalf of Scholastic to distribute free books to children in the community and seeing the excitement of children as they chose paperback books to keep, to treasure.  Curious George made them curious about reading, curious about the next Curious George adventure and gave them hope for their own adventures too.  I hope that RIF survives and that corporations, state funding sources and foundations find enough value in the program to support it through a transition away from federal funding.  Reading is fundamental and these days funding is fundamentally critical or important programs like RIF are likely to disappear.

Ann Moravick

WOMMA to Launch MatchUp4good – Get Involved

Posted By Ann on April 1, 2010

wommalogogivingbackIn the spirit of giving and giving back, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is launching MatchUp4good, a campaign to call its over 300 member companies to action to help diverse non-profits with pro bono social media counsel.
Through the campaign, WOMMA will match its members who are experts in digital communications, WOM and social media with non-profits that have specific social media challenges.   WOMMA members will be able to “pledge” hours of free counsel to non-profits and nonprofits can register to receive free counsel by registering on the WOMMA website. www.womma.org/matchup4good
Rx4good will provide the matchmaking support for the MatchUp4good initiative and will ensure that non-profits are matched with WOMMA experts who are the best fit based on the expertise each non-profits requests.
WOMMA anticipates that through the effort many members will pledge hours of time to non-profits to help them creatively use social media strategies to raise funds, gain broader community support or elevate awareness of their cause.
Prior to the launch of MatchUp4good, we want as many diverse non-profits and social media experts to register for this initiative at www.womma.org/matchup4good so that when it is launched at School of WOM, May 24-26, 2010 at the Swissotel, Chicago, we can speed the time from match-up to measurable outcomes.
Please register now to participate so we can make this first initiative a true success and help as many nonprofits as possible.

Ann Moravick, Rx4good

From Beth’s Blog – News About Twestival

Posted By Ann on March 25, 2010

The following post is from Beth’s blog…

I’m Going To Twestival on March 25th, Are You?

The third Twestival will take place on Thursday, March 25th in cities around the world.  The event was the brainchild of Amanda Rose, who launched the first Twestival in February 2009 that raised money to support Charity:Water.  Thursday’s event will support Concern (on Twitter), an organization that seeks to provide education aid to some of the world’s most poorest communities.  My colleague, Geoff Livingston, has a great post about Twestival over at his blog.

You can go to the site and find an event in your community or city.  I’m planning on going to the Palo Alto Twestival – will I see you there?

And, speaking of charity:water, Monday was World Water Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the issue year round.   Randi Zuckerberg suggests these Facebook Fan Pages, Geoff Livingston offers this post on the issue of clean water, and Case Foundation blog points a great way to give water this week:

Become a fan of ITT Watermark on Facebook. For the next week, with every new fan they get, ITT Corporation will donate $1 to Mercy Corps and Water For People-two great non-profits that work to provide safe water solutions to people around the world.