I have worked in media for more than twenty years: first as a starving journalist, then as a print ad sales person, later as a graphic designer, flash designer then as a market research person and more recently as an account manager for radio advertising. I know numbers and I know how to buy effectively and efficiently. I know to buy into programs and time slots, to optimize budgets, to buy unsold inventory, to run small ads with spot colour on b/w pages or to focus on top right and banner placements for greatest visibility. I know yell doesn’t sell and I know that no one will buy what they really don’t want. I also know that there is always another option.
In a nut-shell…I have a pretty good understanding of the industry.
However, I did not know about the passion and the power of a cause until I found myself in need.
I remember it all very clearly: Joy had called a few days earlier to say that the doctors were not sure what she was dealing with. Her left hand had “clawed”, and the atrophy was moving to her right. She mentioned brain cancer and I felt sick. She mentioned ALS and I felt better…because I didn’t know, and not knowing meant “not so bad”.
At least that is what I thought.
Joy phoned again a few days later to tell me she was diagnosed with “ALS” and I went to the computer to google, “ALS”.
Now for anyone who has had the misfortune of googling “ALS” you will already know what I then found out.
For those who haven’t I will share with you.
While on the phone with my closest friend I read:”Terminal disease, average life expectance of 2.5 years. Total body paralysis while mind intact. Death from pulmonary failure – drowning in lung fluid while remaining conscious, yet immobile and unable to communicate.”
I read and I was in shock. I said the only thing I could say, which was “let me help you.”
For the two years that she lived with the disease, her body disintegrating, I buried myself into the cause. She went on to check off her “bucket list” while I tried to find a “how and why”. I pursued social media only because that is where I found other people dealing with the disease. I discovered advances in science and uncovered fraudsters. I made friends, some who have passed, and I researched everything I could find on the disease, only to share what was possibly useful to others also living as PALS or CALS (people living with ALS and caregivers of those with ALS).
With the help of friends and family, we organized a fundraiser for Joy that raised almost $50,000.
After Joy passed, I continue(d) with my involvement and through this was introduced to Darrell Jamha. Darrell had ALS and a beautiful standard poodle named “Cash”. Through social media, I was able to find a home for “Cash” with Brett Wilson, and he is now the pampered “J.C.Wilson”. Darrell asked me to help him organize a fundraiser for his treatment, and I agreed, but given my experience I knew…too much. I told him and his group that the most important thing will not be the money raised, but the love and memories that you (Darrell) will take away from such an event.
They raised more than $100,000 that night, and I was proud to play my small role to make it happen for him. Darrell passed shortly after the event, but I know what it meant to him and those around him.
In conclusion, my involvement in cause marketing is much, much more than making sales. I believe that the individual and every business would benefit from reaching out and doing more. I also have found that social media is not friendly to advertising and corporate influence. As a business, if you want to get involved on a social sphere, then you better get your “human on”. Care. Give. Contribute. Mean it.