Save the Children’s Ettoré Rossetti, Director of Digital Marketing & Social Media for Save the Children USA, emailed me an infographic on the impact of the Syria crisis on children. As you can see, the design is a bit edgy – and its part of new multi-channel campaign that hopes to activate activists and ignite conversations. Of course, the infographic alone is not enough – it’s part of a multi-channel campaign. What is interesting about this campaign is how they have integrated the social voice of their organizational leader, Carolyn Miles. He agreed to an interview to share some of strategy.,
1.) This infographic is part of a multi-channel campaign. Can you tell me the objectives and target audience?
The crisis in Syria is now entering year three and the situation is getting worse for children not better. Most traditional media are paying attention to political aspects of the war, but no matter what the theories are, the reality is that 7,000 children have died and 4 million more children need emergency help. To give you a sense of scale, if you attend or watch a baseball or football game this fall – look around the stadium. There’s enough children impacted by the crisis in Syria to fill every professional baseball and professional football stadium in the US. And if it’s a minor league stadium, the seats would be empty from child casualties. There is a massive humanitarian crisis of historic proportions upon us and we can sit back and do nothing or we can rewrite history. We are appealing to individual donors both large and small and institutional donors such as companies and foundations.
Our Syria appeal is a total team effort and has a three-part objective: awareness, advocacy and fundraising. The awareness objective is to make prospective donors and world leaders aware of the plight and needs of children. The advocacy objective is to gather public support for humanitarian access to Syria by signing and sharing a petition. The fundraising objective is to raise revenue for our Syrian Children’s Relief Fund in order to support our responses to ongoing and urgent needs as a result of the conflict. We are working with refugees on the ground in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Even small donations can make a difference. For example, a donation of $56 can provide bread for a family of five for two weeks, $70 can provide a family with clean water for 6 months, and $160 can provide a family with weatherproofing for their makeshift shelter.
2.) And, is this type of campaign a departure from what your org typically does? Seems a little edgy?
Yes, this appeal is a bit edgier than our typical campaign but the situation in Syria is atypical. (You should have seen some of the infographic designs that were left on the cutting room floor.) Children are victims of violence and war and the infographic depicts that reality in a truthful and sobering way. We need to stand out from the clutter, provoke conversation and inspire action. It is first and foremost an awareness campaign. People just don’t know the facts and they don’t know how they can help Syrian children. There are 2 million children at risk of malnutrition; 3 of every 4 children have lost a loved one; 1 in 3 children have been kicked, hit or shot at. These facts are alarming and hence the data visualization of these stats is alarming. Our founder, Eglantyne Jebb, was arrested in May 1919 for distributing provocative leaflets depicting photos of starving children. (Seth Godin poses the figurative question “are you willing to get arrested for your art?”)Though the tools may have changed, the basic human rights and need of children have not. She went on to write the pioneering statement of children’s human rights that has since evolved into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history.
3.) Tell us about your engagement, content, and action strategy for this? What channels? Given that your CEO tweets as herself -how does her use of Twitter support this campaign?
Our engagement strategy is both direct and indirect. We are engaging in direct advocacy to gain humanitarian access to Syria and we are indirectly engaging the public for support to gain access to Syria so that we can help the internally displaced children in Syria. The content strategy kicked off with a half-page ad in The New York Times on September 24 during UNGA week and contains digital assets including banners nytimes.com, infographics, a song/video by Ellie Goulding, and real stories told from real children on the ground (whose names have been changed to protect their identities). We conducted a live donor call from Jordan and a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with two of our staffers who recently returned from the Syria region. We even have a T-shirt coming out later this month. It wouldn’t be a complete campaign without a T-shirt.
Our President & CEO, Carolyn Miles, leads by example. She has witnessed our programs in the region and tells first-hand stories on her blog and on her twitter feed. She is a world traveler and meets with our staff, our beneficiaries and our donors on a regular basis. Hence, the name of her blog is “Logging Carolyn(‘s) Miles” as a play on words for the many miles she logs.
4.) Can you tell me a little bit about the use of text to give? How is it working for you?
We use text to give as a rapid, mobile response mechanism. People can donate from the privacy of their own phone. Donors in the US can donate $10 by texting SAFE to 20222 to contribute to our Syrian Children’s Relief Fund up to $30 per month and it is charged on their phone bills (standard txt messaging rates apply). One key challenge with text-to-donate is that it is event-driven and needs a captive and attentive audience to move the needle on donations. Another challenge is the delay in receiving the funds. However, its convenience and accessibility make it appealing.
5.) Any tips about using infographics as part of a multi-channel campaign?
We are constantly learning on how to better use infographics ourselves. The issues we deal with and the topics we discuss are complex and so telling the data with pictures can be a great solution. Multi- or omni-channel campaigns need a social component, an amplifier if you would: something that can start and cascade a conversation. Ideally an infographic can be a great tool to share complex data points in a visual way that generates awareness, fosters conversation or provokes action. We want to create an “aha” moment with an infographic like “wow, I didn’t know that.” We added calls to action on our infographic so in that moment of attention, a person can take action. Here are some simple yet important tips to consider for infographics: (1) Make sure the dataset is appropriate and compelling enough for an infographic otherwise it’s not share-worthy (2) Use proportionately more graphics than words otherwise it’s just information (3) Test the execution of an infographic on multiple social channels to ensure that it renders correctly and yet is high enough resolution to be legible or even printable.
6.) What are three things you’ve learned from planning and implementing this campaign?
Every day we learn something new about how to be better multi-channel campaigners. The first lesson we learned is that the creative process can be collaborative but that the final decision cannot be made by consensus. The second learning is that you must be willing to take a calculated risk and be willing to fail in order to ultimately succeed. The third and probably most important lesson is that we cannot do it all ourselves, especially as a nonprofit. We need the wisdom of the crowd and the power of our peers to help us make this appeal successful. Thanks to you and your readers for helping us save Syria’s children.
Ettoré Rossetti serves as Director of Digital Marketing & Social Media for Save the Children USA. Ettoré has been with Save the Children for nearly 10 years and has been practicing the trade of digital marketing for more than a decade with a focus on innovation.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.