Thank you to Mark Hand for his August 22 article "Branding Charity," regarding the rise in nonprofits that are leveraging consumer marketing techniques to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.I would like to share an additional benefit to the exchange of marketing techniques between the public and private sectors - the ability to reinvent and rejuvenate a nonprofit brand, making it a real powerhouse within its cause.
One example is the American Heart Association (AHA), which partnered with our firm in 2003 to increase the brand's relevance with women. Traditionally, AHA was viewed as a clinical research-oriented organization, and heart disease was viewed as an older man's concern. In reality, heart disease represents the number one killer of women in the US, but alarmingly only 12% of women were aware of the fact.
To address this dire health threat, the team created "Go Red For Women." The effort is executed through a wide variety of consumer marketing elements, including diverse corporate partnerships, cause commerce, trend-responsive branding, and flexibility for adoption by AHA affiliates at the local level. As a result, this campaign not only helped put a new face on the issue and raise AHA's consumer relevance, it infused passion into the organization.
As a testament to its gains in just under two years, PRWeek honored Go Red For Women with the 2005 Nonprofit Campaign of the Year award. To date, Go Red For Women has raised more than $40 million, earned more than 2.3 billion media impressions, and has encouraged hundreds of cities and 300,000-plus women to "Go Red."
Thanks to AHA, the heart disease movement has been successfully launched, and in doing so, AHA has reinvented the organization's image and rejuvenated it to contend among 21st century brands, setting an example that will likely serve as a best practice in brand evolution for the nonprofit industry.
Kristian Darigan Vice President, Cone Boston
Columbia grad PR track moves industry forward
I read Hamilton Nolan's "PR's Ivy League" with great interest (Career Guide, insert in the August 29 issue). Pieces like this are important because, as Nolan notes, "formal rankings are few and far between."
While I was pleased to see my undergraduate institution, Syracuse, mentioned prominently, I was surprised that the article overlooked Columbia University's master's program in Strategic Communications, from which I graduated in 2004 - especially because Columbia is one of the few Ivy League schools offering an advanced degree in communications.
Columbia's program was developed by communications industry leaders. Its faculty is composed of practicing professionals, several of whom have received awards from the PR industry, and of faculty members from Columbia. The article should have recognized Columbia's program not only because it offers an outstanding education, but because an Ivy League institution's graduate program in communications represents a step forward for the entire PR industry.
Kate Premo MS, Strategic Communications Columbia University 2004 New York