A few weeks ago, I had the honor to be part of an amazing challenge aiming to raise funds for two charities and scholarships for future UK electronic engineers. This campaign is called Pedal4Innovation and it’s one of the most rewarding projects I ever undertook. As the name already suggests, it involved cycling that went through the UK for over 400 miles in 5 days (as Part I); and later on, a student contest based on innovation with development kits supplied by the leading semiconductor manufacturers in the world (Part II). This second part is still to come.
Here is what steps I used to get the word out and engage with the community:
- Chose the social networks and media that would help us engage as many people as possible aiming to involve individuals and organizations.
- Took a quick inventory of the available broadcasting gadgets. Since we were to spend the week on the road, heavy equipment was not really an option.
- Made an editorial calendar pulling all pre-planned blogging, PR, and status updates with a call to action activities.
- Made sure I covered all the basics with the rest of administrative and logistical matters before I left for the UK. (One needs to have time to focus on the live coverage)
Picking up the channels you will use to share and engage with the public is probably the most important part of your plan. You should spend enough time on research and analysis and start from – who would you need to reach, where these people are and what is the general tone of the campaigns. And since we needed to be reaching friends, family, students, colleagues and business partners, I narrowed down the effort to the following channels:
- A website that serves as the main point for content and call to action.
- Facebook and Twitter for a number of reasons, but mainly cause nowadays everyone is there (especially in the UK)
- Instagram and Socialcam apps for taking snapshots and videos of the cycling challenge and immediately spread them to the social networks
- YouTube as a repository for the videos shot with Socialcam and using the code to embed them on the website
- Hootsuite for simultaneous publishing, conversation monitoring and engaging on Twitter and Facebook
Since I was about to be on the road for a good 5 days adventure, I needed to bring only the gadgets that will allow me to carry them in one go and switch between them as I need. So here is everything that made the cut:
- iPhone 4S – for video and photo shooting and status updates
- iPad 2 – for blogging, quick research and checking the map
- Canon 20D with a wide-angle zoom lens – for shooting pictures with a better quality
- MacBook Pro – for photo upload, manipulation, and export
It is very important to have all the apps you will need to be downloaded, completely set up, and tried out, before you actually start covering your charity event. Things happen fast and you might miss great moments, by not having your software set up and downloading it on a 3G connection.
Things are going always easier if you have done your homework prior to doing something. So, it is vital to have that editorial calendar made and in a spick and span condition. This is especially helpful when you have to coordinate with a bunch of other marketers that will be joining the effort to spread the word. Here is what you have to put in this editorial calendar:
- – All agreed content and status updates that need to be happening at a specific time
- – All blog posts with a paced mix of whats, whys, whens, and whos.
- – All scheduled call to actions
You should be careful not to overdo your publishing and post one too many status updates in a very short period of time. You don’t want to annoy the people who follow you online
Covering your administrative and logistics basics is not an easy thing usually. But I worked with an exceptional group of extraordinary gentlemen and ladies on Pedal4Innovation, so I had little to none troubles there. In fact, things were going so smoothly that at some point I realized that I am really privileged to work with this kind of professionals. And I appreciate that and know for sure that shouldn’t there be this remarkable preparation, there wouldn’t be much success.
Couple of final things to consider:
- Be yourself and take a normal tone when posting online! No one likes to read a pompous blog post or responds well to traditional print style call to actions.
- Be sure you know your digital tools before you start covering the event! Learning as you go can cost you a lot.
- Be inspired in order to inspire! Inspiration is contagious and a true foundation for a successful charity campaign.
I shot about 1850 pictures during Pedal4Innovation. About 20% made it to the website and social channels. And only 11 got to be published on this website. Hmmm… there should be way more than that.
Last but not least I want to thank Laurence, Pete, Kev, Nige, Sam, Lee, James, and Andy for offering me this opportunity to learn and being genuinely wonderful. You, lads, are bright shining stars!
P.S. Care to share your experience and ideas in the comment section?
Copyright © 2012 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.