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Rambling thoughts about Marketing/PR on World AIDS Day

December 1, 2009
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Today is World AIDS day, when we are supposed to stop and remember how many people have succumbed to this horrific disease and remember that it’s still a threat. Days like this sometimes drive me nuts. It’s important to remember – no one wants to be forgotten, and remembering that people die may help to keep this epidemic fresh in people’s mind. We are closer to a cure, but not there yet. And there are people for whom a cure or a vaccine may be too late, and they are suffering now.

Let’s encourage people not to just remember, but make it easy for our lazy butts to make a difference. Hand out condoms and clean needles, make a lunch for a home bound patient, give money to an organization that helps people afford medication, write your senators and encourage funding for research. That’s what we can DO – not just put a ribbon on your icon or turn twitter “red” for a day and encourage consumerism that donates pennies on the dollar to organizations.

Then I started thinking about how maybe this is a marketing/PR issue.  On my way in to work I pass City Hall. Today Housing Works was doing this 24-hour vigil and having volunteers read off the names of those who have died as a result of AIDS. And it was a little weird. I didn’t see donation boxes or anything, but what they were doing is having  3 or 4 people at a time reading off the names, simultaneously – so that you couldn’t hear anything. What was intended to be a remembrance of individuals just came off as a mish-mosh of syllables – and I think it lost the whole meaning. It’s unfortunately a lot of  names to get through – but I wonder if there was a different way to do it, or a better use of that great platform.

During my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah a few weeks ago, the rabbi read off the names and ages of the soldiers who had died that week. That hit me. I was crying, right there in temple.  The idea of one person’s death seems to has a lot more emotional impact, then the horrifically large numbers and recitation of a jumble of names.

I am fortunate enough not to knowingly have any one close to me be infected, so I can’t give you a personal story. What I can do is give you a link to a great organization and encourage you to donate. And then I want to ask you – what would have gotten you? Would a recitation be enough to make you take action? This blog post? Nothing short of a personal connection? The truth is, until I decided to write this blog, I didn’t even consider taking action or donating.

What would have done with a platform at City Hall and thousands of commuters and residents passing by to make them stop and notice your cause and take action?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 2:59 pm

    Interesting. For me, I think the random mish-mosh of syllables/names has a impact because it’s sort of saying “Hey, THIS is how many people have died from this. You can’t even pinpoint a single name because there’s just SO MANY.” If that makes any sense.

    I don’t know what would have the most impact on me. I’m such an emotional wreck as it is, that what makes me burst into tears one day, maybe do nothing to me the next.

    However, it is annoying me these days how much paper/snail mail I’m receiving from causes that I’ve donated to this year. I donated ONLINE to all of them. Some of them send me emails, yes. But many of them continue to waste paper and postage on me. I didn’t have a lot of money to donate, but I donated a little bit. It’s weird to think that my little bit may be paying for stamps.

    • December 1, 2009 3:10 pm

      See, that’s what I thought too (about the mish-mosh) but then I was thinking that the impact is lost. I could tell you that 33 million people are living with AIDS and that there are some 14 million orphans in Africa as a result of AIDS. And those are incredibly large numbers, but sometimes have very little impact. Hearing all those names jumbled together felt like … large numbers.

      The paper thing is definitely annoying! I have to assume they do it because mailed requests are more effective somehow, but the damage to the environment is infuriating, especially when it’s one of my “green” charities!

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