Archive for the ‘Charity’ Category

United In Grief, Divided By Opinion

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 by Julie Wilson


This weekend saw the world rocked by the tragic events in Oslo, the shock news of Amy Winehouse’s death and sadness surrounding the Chinese rail disaster.  These incidents combined with the on-going plight in Somalia saw the nation united in grief.

A world united in sadness was not, however, one united in opinion as anyone monitoring Facebook and Twitter during the unfolding of the events would have seen.

Within just minutes of news of the passing of one of the UK’s most talented musicians breaking, users of social media platforms became embroiled in debate as to the significance of one event over that of another.

The comments which emerged, including distasteful jokes (which I will not repeat), did not surprise me.  What did, however, was the response of the authors of such comments, whom appeared genuinely surprised by the disapproving and angry response of fellow users.

“My profile, my opinion, I’m entitled to it” was one such response.

The answer is of course yes, that is true, but it is naive to think that posts of such a sensitive matter will not provoke a response and users should be reminded that social media platforms are a public place.  In the same way that you would not expect to walk into a crowded bar and loudly voice a potentially provocative opinion without being challenged, the same is true online.

Whilst it is a free world, social etiquette does, I was warmed to read, still exist online.  The overarching opinion of most users this weekend being that “there is no ranking of tragedy.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Should you wish to support the work of those in Somalia visit or text 70000 to donate £5 to the Disasters Emergency Committee.


Bill Opens Twitter Flood Gates

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 by Rob Brown

Tweeting just three times in 24 hours @BillGates has amassed over 165,000 followers on his twitter account.  Twitter Counter is predicting that by tomorrow he will have reached the quarter million mark. 

The account was set up last June but was dormant until yesterday when the Microsoft supremo broke his silence with the words ‘Hello World’.  He also mentioned that he would be publishing a letter on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a few days. The missive from his philanthropic organisation will land on the 25th January.   We can only guess at the content but Gates has also tweeted his concerns about the situation in Haiti.

The Hollywood celeb Ashton Kutcher was the first to break the million follower mark on twitter.  He took three months and some active campaigning to hit that figure.   It looks like Bill Gates will reach a million within a week or so.   This puts paid to any notion that twitter can’t be a broadcast channel for certain individuals and organisations. 

Some quick twitter facts about Bill Gates first day of tweeting:

  • He is using rather than a twitter client
  • No mobile posts as yet (not too suprsing from the founder of Microsoft)
  • He has tweeted 5 times but two of these have been retweets (using the native function on twitter)
  • He has already been ‘listed’ over 5000 times
  • He has @posted twice – both to US celebs
  • The first person he followed was New York Times columnist Nick Kristof

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Amnesty right on time with social media

Friday, March 6th, 2009 by Jon Clements


From 1.10pm today, Amnesty International showed what social media can do to propogate awareness of and support for a critical cause.

Its 1:10 campaign – based on the statistic that one-in-ten UK women are raped or subject to violence each year – asked Twitter users (along with MySpace and Facebook folk) to replace their avatar with the above logo and, at 1.10pm, update their status message to reflect the main one-in-ten campaign message and pass on the web site URL.

It’s a simple idea, but one that is memorable and easy for the social media audience to get behind and share (seeing as that’s what they do best!).

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Charity Begins at Home…or ‘Home Page’?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 by Steve Taylor

A ‘guest post’ from Steve Taylor, Director of Marketing & Communications at Sue Ryder Care.

Amid the ballyhoo of financial melt down in the city, pay freezes, job losses in the private sector and the prospect of a long-haul to recovery, it’s hardly surprising that so many marketing and communications people are seeking solace in the ether. The answer, my friend, is blowing through cyberspace…or so we are led to believe.

Not surprisingly one group seeking digital redemption for the likely downturn in income is the Third Sector which covers voluntary organisations, charities, the broad scope of not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises, of which there are anything up to 300,000 in the UK alone.

The potential for online marketing and ‘stakeholder engagement’ (don’t we professionals just love making up phrases for keeping in touch with people?) is now buzzing round the charity sector. Marketing strategies are being ‘realigned’ to take account of the ‘changing needs and attitudes of the online constituency’ and to encourage people to engage with charities in differing ways.

While a modest number of charities, both large and small, have been using their web pages to interact with supporters for some time and, particularly, to campaign for their cause, the bulk of the rest are late-comers. And herein lies the problem: There is a danger of the perception from board level that the bright young things in the IT/Comms team will provide a plug-and-play, quick fix (or is that click fix?) via the likes Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

Clearly there are opportunities to use social networking platforms to broaden the delivery of any organisation, but they must be integrated into the overall marketing and communications activities. One cannot replace the other and they must be allowed to work in their own, unique ‘new media’ way if they are to derive a mutuality of benefit.

The great thing is that by truly understanding the communication channel and working in the context of the medium, you can begin to see the advantages as a supplementary route to supporters. Taking traditional, tried-and-tested activities and simply placing them online won’t work.

Times are tough for charities and generating cash is critical to survival . However the value of support is now also being gauged increasingly in terms of number of hours of volunteering, professional advice, pro bono contributions and the breadth and depth of networks. It is through online contact, by building these digital constituencies and integrating them with other marketing and communications activities that many charities will weather the recession.

The potential to effect changes in attitudes and behaviours towards charities is huge and many more charities will develop their online offerings as the more cost-effective solution to traditional routes. The classic pathway of raising awareness, generating interest, creating desire with a clear call-to-action action still applies and remains a decent enough framework for planning.

Does it work? Just take a look at the trail of excellent support generated on Twitter by Bletchley Park for instance to see how you can engage a large group for no cost. That’s another ‘code’ they’ve cracked.  

Seeing Red for Comic Relief

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Rob Brown


People are painting social networks red to publicise their support for Comic Relief.  Individuals are changing their profile pictures on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere to red squares to demonstrate their allegiance to the charity.  As red nose day approaches expect these square to pop up all over the social media space. It already has the backing of high profile media influencers Chris Moyles producer (@ahf on twitter) was one of the first to go red.

This phenomenon is not entirely new.  In the last ten days campaigners have been using black squares to show their opposition to  New Zealand’s controversial ‘three strikes’ copyright law which would mean that if a person is accused of downloading copyrighted material three times their internet account would face closure – even if there is no proof to the allegations.

Stephen Fry was one of the highest profile campaigners replacing his Twitter picture with a black square.   There is no hard evidence that the campaign worked but New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has revealed that the implementation of the law will now take place on 27 March this year.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).