ALS Association considers next move post-Ice Bucket Challenge

While communicators -- including those at the ALS Association -- are trying to determine how the Ice Bucket Challenge became so successful, it's certain that celebrity endorsements and charitable aspects were keys.

NEW YORK: Marketers around the world are trying to figure out the secret sauce of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised more than $100 million in donations to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The ALS Association is trying to determine how it became so successful, too.

Robert Tuchman, member of the board of directors and chair of the development committee for the ALS Association’s Greater New York Chapter, told the PRWeek Conference in New York on Tuesday that his group is looking into how to make a ritual out of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

"We caught lightning in a bottle, but how do we take this and develop annual events?" he said. "We have to figure out how to make this work for us in the future."

The Ice Bucket Challenge, which was not started by an organization but by people affected by the disease on social media, raised more than $100 million in donations for the ALS Association this summer. It also attracted bold-face names from former President George W. Bush to the Foo Fighters.

While Tuchman said, "I don’t believe there is a formula" to the Ice Bucket Challenge, he noted that the celebrity endorsements played a huge role in compelling others to join the effort. Its charitable focus was important, as well.

"This would not have happened if there was not a charitable effort to it," he said. "For something to go viral, it has to have a charitable aspect."

In terms of who played a key role helping the Ice Bucket Challenge to gain steam, Tuchman cited Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees, saying the former "was an organization that had not gotten behind ALS [research] as much as we would have liked in the past." Yet this summer, "they really stepped up," he added.

The media outreach behind the scenes of #IceBucketChallenge
Tuchman said the New York Chapter of the ALS Association owns the URL ALS.org, which led many reporters directly to the group when they were looking for comment about the campaign.

"We got lots of PR leads coming that way," he recalled. 

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