Unless you’ve been living under rock for the past month you will have seen, heard about or even participated in the widespread charity initiative ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’. Social media channels across the globe have been filled with home-made videos showing everyone from former presidents to local post-men dumping a bucket of icy water over their heads to raise money and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease (known in the States as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
It’s gone viral, as they say, but not without some criticism. Commentators have warned that the trend is a flash-in-the-pan fad which has been watered down to a self-promoting popularity contest where the vast majority have jumped on the latest bandwagon without much thought about the charity or cause. William Foxton, writing for the Telegraph this week, described the whole “hashtag activism” affair as a “Middle-class wet t-shirt contest for armchair clicktivists”.http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/willardfoxton2/100014135/the-ice-bucket-challenge-a-middle-class-wet-t-shirt-contest-for-armchair-clicktivists/
Despite fears over the ‘gimmicky’ nature of charity appeal and the terrible waste of water (shame on the West!) if we look at the campaign from a PR perspective the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a dazzling example of the immense power of social media, smart phones and how almost anyone can create a vast wave of activity and interest. Here are 5 key features worth considering for future PR strategies;
1. Set the barrier low for participation.
The ‘activity’ required should open to everybody, rich and poor, celebrity and ‘civilian‘, so all can join in. There is no form-filling bureaucracy to contend with and participants can use their own choice of social media platforms.
2. Personal and Public invites (no ebots).
Invitations to participate are made directly from friend to friend and by the 6 Degrees of Separation, the campaign can grow organically and exponentially. The public request also shames ‘friends’ into taking action using the powerful force of peer pressure.
Setting a time-limit to participate gives a sense of urgency and ensures the campaign does not lose momentum.
4. Entertainment value.
Asking people to take a video or image of themselves attracts would-be comedians and drama queens alike. It also often leads to comical slapstick disasters, for more information search ‘ALS Challenge Fails’ on Youtube…
5. Attracting Celebrity Endorsements.
There’s nothing like an A-list celeb backing your campaign to give it some weight, credibility and the ‘cool’ factor to spark wider interest with mere mortals aka the general public.
So, who’s up next?