If the approach is right, you get results

Getting people’s attention to support a worthy cause is a tricky business these days.

Whatever the cause, you’re competing for that attention amongst so many other causes, all undoubtedly worthy.

And you have to consider compassion fatigue, especially if you’re a charity expecting people to give you money. And there are a lot of charities, over 190,000 registered in the UK alone according to the Charity Commission.

So what gets your attention?

stopcervicalcancer Sometimes, it’s just a request to talk about a charity or cause rather than a direct request for financial help.

That’s why I’m writing this post in support of a campaign from the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA) aimed at raising awareness in the European Commission and among European governments for effective cervical cancer prevention programmes across Europe in a bid to eradicate the disease.

The campaign takes the form of an online petition called ‘Stop Cervical Cancer‘ which will culminate in European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from January 20-26, 2008.

The ECCA – a non-profit organization registered in France – aims to present its online petition to the European Parliament, signed by one million European citizens to force the issue onto their agenda.

You can read about cervical cancer, a disease that kills 25,000 women in Europe every year, and sign the petition if you’d like to support this campaign.

One of the reasons why I decided to write this (now lengthy) post was due to the approach to me by Ogilvy PR in London, the agency behind it.

It started with a phone call asking if I’d be interested in supporting the campaign by highlighting it in my blog. Once I’d said yes (how could you not say yes?), an email followed up with sufficient information about the campaign that didn’t require me to have to do a lot of digging myself.

Plus, of particular interest to me, an outline of what the agency is doing with outreach to bloggers and others in the social media and networking space:

[…] To generate these signatures and engage individuals to become ‘activists’ on behalf of the ECCA, the charity is using digital media and social networking sites. It has chosen to use digital media for the first time for its ability to generate dialogue and debate and spread messages through communities united by a sense of passion and common interests.

It has produced a short viral video to provide an engaging way to communicate the issues and statistics as well as providing a tool for supporters to reach out to others with similar interests. This has been uploaded to video sharing websites such as Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0GI6U6ac7w) as well sent to bloggers and posted on forums.

Bloggers and forums targeted include those interested in health issues, politics, gender issues and social media to reach as wide a range of people as possible while still ensuring it is relevant to them. The ECCA has also set up a group on Facebook. From each post or profile a single click will take viewers to the petition website making it as easy as possible for people to add their support.

A good approach, Ogilvy.

(Lesson to other PR agencies reaching out to bloggers like me for attention: phone first, don’t just send out spam-like emails which only get you and your company’s domain included in a spam blacklist. I have one of those.)

I’ve signed the petition. How about you?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.