Creating Home Run Content and the #StrikeoutALS #IceBucketChallenge Campaign

Social media has recently been overtaken by videos of people dumping ice water over their heads in support of ALS.

We have all heard the skeptical critiques of this campaign. Do people even know what ALS is? Are they building awareness and gaining donations or are people simply dumping ice water on their heads? Is the ALS message being shared?

I will admit that the first few clips I came across, I glazed right over, uninterested in the latest trend that was sweeping social media.

However, as more and more clips popped up, I realized that the awareness piece of this campaign is not rooted in the action of dumping ice over one’s head. Rather, the awareness element lives in the content, which is something, as an agency, that we emphasize every day. These videos went viral because they are simple, fun, and include both an emotional connection and a call to action (another nugget of wisdom we impart on clients). These videos build awareness when participants post them alongside links to ALS resources or, better, alongside facts about the disease or tributes to loved ones lost to ALS.

In honor of EMA’s nomination from Terakeet to join this campaign, here are some additional points that make awareness campaigns effective, and more importantly, some facts about ALS.

  • Have a succinct message. Short, shareable messages are most effective. Messages that include a call to action are ideal.
  • Content is king. Generate informative, hard-hitting content and share it across social channels.
  • Establish metrics. Success cannot be measured without a timeline and specific, predetermined key performance indicators.

Now, the real takeaway from this post:

  • ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It is also the disease that killed baseball-great Lou Gehrig.
  • The disease causes the body’s motor neurons to die, effectively eliminating the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement. Patients in later stages of the disease experience total paralysis.
  • The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis.
  • ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
  • There is no cure. Since July 29, 2014, the “Strikeout ALS” Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has generated $15.6 million in donations—money that will be used to hopefully find a cure for this tragic disease.

So go forth. Dump water on your head. But do it with purpose.

By Leah Lazarz, Associate Content Manager, Public Relations