2 min Read
March 23, 2010

This is a Big F***ing Deal

Earlier today, President Obama signed historic health reform legislation into law. While the media’s attention is, understandably and rightfully, focused on the legislation itself, some of us nonprofit communications nerds are also watching how the administration is getting the word out.

Shortly after the bill was signed, President Obama sent an email inviting me (and, oh, a few other million people) to be ‘co-signers’ of the bill. Once I co-signed online, I was given the chance to buy my own ‘health care reform’ tshirt (and who wouldn’t want a health care reform t-shirt, I ask you?).

The way the administration structured this communication chain is a great example of something I wrote about in my book “Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications”: taking the long view. Here’s why.

Most folks who are working toward an important goal are focused on what success looks like: getting the bill passed and signed into law, in this case; or reaching a certain membership goal, let’s say; or getting the website launched. Any communications-related efforts will generally be put toward achieving the goal. But how many organizations think about and prep for what happens when success is achieved?

In a matter of days, I’m guessing, the Obama administration hustled to build these pages into the ‘mybo’ website and probably even designed the t-shirt to boot. Like good fundraisers, they added in the tried-and-true ask after an action has been taken.They wrote the email blast, figured out who’d get it, and got everything coded and ready to launch as soon as the Presidential pen hit the page. Good stuff.

For nonprofits, I think the big communications lesson here is about looking beyond the moment of success and thinking about what comes next. How can you leverage that success and make it even bigger? Get an ask in there? Get people to take another action- perhaps capturing some new email addresses along the way?

Once your nonprofit’s new website is live, how will you let your audiences know? How will you get them to visit, interact, and come back? Once the New York Times quotes your CEO, who will you send the clip to? How will you leverage it to reach your target audiences and move them to act?

I’m excited to see the long view principal in action here- it’s so rare resources are put to use this way- particularly in a context where you could say the job was complete. I’m even more excited to see someone (perhaps you?) wearing a health care reform t-shirt.

Or if your tastes usually wander onto the inappropriate side of things, you might choose a different t-shirt to celebrate health care reform. Some of you probably heard that gaffe-tastic Vice President Joe Biden dropped an f-bomb after his official remarks, which introduced the president. Well, a t-shirt has commemorated that occasion as well.