Campaigns for a Cause


Aquavit via photopin (license)

Strategic public relations campaigns are frequently used by nonprofits and others seeking to bring awareness and inspire action around a cause. Locally, KPCC reported yesterday on a 100-day challenge by the L.A. Homeless Services Authority to house homeless youth. To motivate increased water conservation across California, Golden State Water recently ran an #H2OMakeover contest via social media and email submissions. This summer, APU’s own Ride for Water team sought support through publicity and social media engagement. Around the world, nonprofits dedicated to providing clean, safe water are uniting around #SBG6 this week as part of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development initiative.

If you were part of the public relations teams for any of these causes, what tactic might you recommend to help further get the word out? Are there any other cause-related campaigns that have inspired you to take action? What motivated you to get involved or help spread the word?

12 thoughts on “Campaigns for a Cause

  1. If I were a part of a PR team that represented any of these causes, I would find a way to engage the public. There are plenty of other organizations (churches, schools, businesses) that could have a passion for the homeless, for example, and could want to help out in a tangible way. Finding a way to engage people in the process in a way that goes above and beyond simply asking for money online is a great way to give your audience ownership in your campaign. Once people have ownership in fixing the problem, they’re bound to share about it making word of mouth PR via social media fuel itself.


  2. Doing PR for a cause creates unique challenges, because you are asking people to do something that doesn’t benefit themselves. I find it interesting that products create tribes, but causes don’t. Even causes have to sell things (like t-shirts and keychains) to create a tribal feeling.

    If we take Ride for Water, for instance, we are trying to get people to donate to a promotional feat. This is ingenious because every time you share or tell someone about the campaign, you are an actual active part of it. This was key for them to play to. As their t-shirts began to fill the campus, their cause became more real. T-shirts, stickers and branded items are one of the best modes of promotion because the people wearing them aren’t payed by you, they payed to put you out there.


  3. If I were to be apart of a non-profit cause like those mentioned, I would definitely promote to the fullest through social media. Since it’s domination of smart phones, social media apps have totally changed the game of marketing and still continue to do so. Plenty of people have used apps like Instagram and Twitter to promote everything from a cause to a company, and since it takes no more than a second to follow a page and continue to get updates, it’s way more effective than subscribing to something through email or by letter.
    Along with social media apps, hashtags have been a huge game changer as seen by the H20Makeover contest. I’ve also seen APU utilize hashtags for giveaways such as the #iheartapu contest for free books! Social media over all seems to be the best way to start, fuel, and fulfill most campaigns. And since most people use some form of social media along with hashtags, it’s much easier to find a specific target audience.


  4. If I was involved in the PR team for a nonprofit organization I would recommend making a video that is emotionally gripping to be shared across different social media outlets. As Caleb mentioned, promoting different organizations over social media has become common place. PR campaigns can be successful or fail depending on how savvy they are with social media. The amount of time people now spend on social media is insane. It only makes sense to harness technology as a way to spread word of nonprofits. Telling stories that reveal the vision a nonprofit has would be a great way to inspire people to get involved.

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  5. I find that verbal communication and even videos are effective when wanting to get the word out about something of importance. I remember one of my professors suggesting that we go out and actually speak to people about what we’re passionate about instead of relying on our social medias to do that. Having that one on one interaction will not only open doors to a new founding relationship, but also increase our chances of getting them involved in what we’re doing. Though I think social media gets the job done, we have geared away from in person dialogue so much so that we no longer know how to interact with one another. I know for me personally, I thoroughly enjoy talking to people. In fact, I would prefer having a face to face interaction with someone opposed to tweeting them. I like to hear people’s responses and read their facial expressions. Social media outlets don’t allow you to do those things.

    Video might also be a good way to plug people in and get them informed, too. Visual learners may really benefit from this.

    When I think of cause-related campaigns, I think of those geared towards helping the youth deal with their grief. Considering the fact that I have recently experienced a traumatic loss in my life, it has encouraged me to start thinking about doing something similar on campus. We don’t have any sort of group, or club of people who have experienced grief. It’s a real issue that demands our attention and I am in the works of implementing it on campus.


    1. I agree. Anytime you can seek opportunities for face-to-face interaction, whether one-on-one, in small groups, or even through events, you have a greater chance to make a strong connection, while also gathering feedback on the spot!


  6. I think a great way to get people on board with your cause is to reach out/gain support of celebrities, athletes, politicians, and other people of prominence. It seems that people more willingly back a cause if someone they admire does as well. Obviously, companies wish to reach out to every person possible to garner support for their cause, but it is essential to target big name people or other companies that can help get the word out. For example, there are a lot of environmentalist actors who would support the notion to conserve water in California. I think it would be a smart move to research supporters of water conservation, try to get ahold of them, and persuade them to get involved.

    I also think it is important to host fun and informational events in areas suffering from water depletion. I would host an event in a town square or somewhere where a lot of people are around on a daily basis. Additionally, it would be helpful to spread the word on social media: Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram. If you are really needing more supporters, you may want to look into purchasing an ad or paying to get your story promoted to a front page.


    1. All great ideas! I agree—anytime you can leverage individuals or organizations who can get behind a cause and help bring awareness, it can amplify the organization or issue to garner greater support.


  7. If I was apart of a PR firm that was representing a cause related campaign, I think the first thing that I would try to initiate is a campaign series that aimed to pull at people’s emotions. Triggers such as love, compassion, or pain, are triggers that make people want to act on the cause. With cause campaigns like these if we pull on the heartstrings of the public they may be more inclined to help with the promotion and support of the cause. In addition, I feel that the best way to reach the public on a mass scale, is through social media, such as twitter.

    One company that I feel always seems to hit the nail on the head when it comes to promoting their cause, is Make a Wish Foundation. They are one of the most recognized names in cause companies, and it is their mission to spread the word about the work they are doing. And in turn, they are able to impact many lives, of many different children in need.


  8. If I were apart of a non-profit team one of my strategies would be to start of with a video. I believe videos are great way of getting the word out there especially in today’s society where more people are watching rather than reading. I am not sure if Ride for Water has made a video of their journey but I believe that would be a great way to show the audience how much effort they put into their non-profit.Video’s are a great way to win people over emotionally and it is super easy to share.


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