Get D Message…

Diabetes is a big part of my life, both personally and professionally.  I had a long stint with the American Diabetes Association, ending as its National Director of Advocacy.  My commitment comes from my family, several of whom have the disease.

I now serve on the DC Affiliate Board of Directors.  We’re organizing a gala event for November, 2010.  My role?  Publicity chair, a smaller job mostly responsible for generating awareness of the event and reaching our fundraising goal.  We’re eleven months out and I’m starting to think strategies and tactics.

I am clearly thinking about social networking as a strategy.  We’re shooting for a younger audience (20s-40s) so Facebook, Twitter, WordPress all make sense.  Going viral?  That would be great, but how we can make it fly?  What usually works is a soaring idea, something that grabs your attention and stays stuck in your head.  Like a blender that destroys iPhones.  Or a blaket with sleeves.

While social networking is first on our list, it’s not the most important.

Our top strategy will be reaching our own people.  The DC affiliate serves approximately 1 million of people with diabetes.  We must ask them to help us spread the word and support the event.  But I’m not sure how many people are in our database, let alone know for how many have an email or phone number.  If we can’t fire up this group,  forget about the public.

Susan Paley at a Friends of Mimi Carter phonebank

So how do we reach them?  I’m thinking a blend of highly personal and mass communications.  Personal phone calls and meetings are extremely effective tactics.  But most of the time you simply can’t meet everyone in your target audience.  That’s when mass communications like direct mail and news coverage come in handy.  Finding a blend between personal and mass will be key to reaching our potential supporters.

Phone banks are one of the tactics I’d like to see us use.  I love them, but agree they are hard to organize.  Most people hate phonebanking; I do too.  But it’s a highly personal form of communication that takes seconds to perform.  I can dial 40-50 telephone numbers in an hour.  Do you know long it takes to knock on 40-50 doors or have 40-50 personal meetings?  Political campaigns rely on phonebanks, charities should too.

Over the coming weeks I hope to write regularly about our “Get D Message” campaign.  Please share with me your ideas and any thoughts you have.  You can reach me at


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