March 30, 2012

How Oxfam America engaged bloggers for International Women’s Day campaign

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Shonali BurkeOne of the most fun projects I’ve worked on recently was Oxfam America’s International Women’s Day 2012 campaign. Here’s a case study of how it went.

Long story short, we were asked to provide digital support for the campaign — specifically, to engage bloggers with the goal of raising awareness for the campaign and the work that Oxfam America does to empower women around the globe. Because Oxfam America already has a robust social media presence, our task was not to add to its social media plan, but to supplement it via blogger outreach.

I’ve been familiar with Oxfam for a while, and it’s a terrific organization. But the project duration was fairly short, about a month. Since I know how time-intensive any kind of outreach can be, I was hesitant at first to take it on, but it’s such a good cause that I did. And I’m really glad I did.

The objectives

Since every good campaign begins with the end in sight, our discussions led us to agree on our objective: to pitch and secure posts featuring or highlighting the 2012 IWD campaign and asking readers to:

Or any combination of the above.

The end goal was to secure as many new constituents to Oxfam America’s eCommunity as possible, since these are the people the organization can activate when advocacy is needed. And as they opted in so Oxfam could interact with them, the organization, would be able to convert them into donors or evangelists for their cause.

What’s measurable?

Here is where it wasn’t easy to begin with. The eCard initiative was new for 2012, so there wasn’t a benchmark, say for 2011, to set goals against. The downloadable award was also completely new — the one we created for Oxfam America, based on a printable version Oxfam had already created.

But here’s what we did know: Based on a similar initiative in 2011, where Oxfam America asked people to upload photos to a photo book, Oxfam America secured 261 new members to its eCommunity. And in 2011, there were seven blog posts on the campaign that had been tracked.

So in my head, I figured at least a 25 percent increase on both fronts – the eCommunity front, as well as the post front – would be a reasonable goal to set.

The big lesson here is that when you don’t have a benchmark, it’s really tough to set measurable objectives. And it takes time to look at the data you have, even if it’s limited, to figure those out. So start doing this as soon as you can.

The background work and outreach

We created outreach lists of mommy bloggers, women in the tech and entrepreneur community, influencers in the area of nonprofit/social good, social media influencers and women in general

Since we didn’t need to focus on promoting the campaign in social networks per se, but were focused on blogger outreach, we did a ton of research. And I mean a ton. Oxfam America already knew that women, particularly urban women, are an important audience for them. Then there was the fact that the actions we hoped people would take were digital actions.

So using a variety of resources and a lot of sweat equity, we created outreach lists of “mommy bloggers,” women in the tech and entrepreneur community, influencers in the area of nonprofit/social good (check out the list I built for Traackr on this a while back), social media influencers and some general outlets popular with the social media crowd and women in general (e.g., Mashable). After days and days of research, we narrowed down our target outlets – which included a lot of blogs, but also blogs on the online counterparts to women’s publications – to around 245. That’s a lot!

We also did a lot of background work in:

  • Creating a one-pager of talking points, adapted from a broader social media messaging document Oxfam America had created for the campaign, to be provided to bloggers on request;
  • A more detailed informational document for bloggers that included links to photo and video resources;
  • A sample post for bloggers, that included anchor text, which was included in #2 above.

We made sure the latter two were easily accessible via Oxfam America’s ACT FAST microsite, so that it was easy for bloggers to do what we asked them to, if they were interested.

And then we pitched.

Hot tip: I can’t stress this enough. Even if you have done a ton of research, you should write a really good pitch that is personalized to the recipient. Do not send blanket pitches. Do not send press releases. Do not send attachments, unless you’re asked for them. Etc. etc. etc.

The results

I am very proud of these:

  • We secured 42 blog posts from a range of outlets, including Mashable, Socialbrite, Mom Bloggers for Social Good, Beth’s Blog, Tootzypop (I loved this one!) and Spin Sucks. This was a significant increase over the 2011 online coverage of seven posts… so that’s, what, 600 percent? In fact, Oxfam America told me that our work contributed to nearly 3 million social brand impressions on March 8, a “record for Oxfam America” (her words!).
  • We didn’t plan for this, but an unanticipated result of the outreach was that Victoria Marzilli (my client) was invited to be a guest on #TGChat the evening before International Women’s Day. So we were able to introduce the campaign and Oxfam America’s work to 68 participants in the chat. How cool is that?
  • What happened with the eCards? Exactly 1,194 senders sent 2,044 eCards to 5,515 recipients.
  • The eAward was downloaded about 1,000 times between March 7 and 10.
  • And the big one: Oxfam America secured 752 new constituents to its eCommunity via the eCards. Comparing that to 261 for 2011, that’s a 288 percent increase.

And because we asked Oxfam America to keep us posted on what was happening on the back-end, we learned that:

  • The top 28 traffic sources (defined as driving five or more visits) to Oxfam America’s eCards page included 14 of the 42 blog posts we secured. So blog placements, many of which included the anchor text we had included in our pitches and the sample post, were a significant driver of traffic to that page.
  • There was a strong correlation between the publishing of the blog posts and search traffic via keywords such as “international women’s day ecards,” “women’s day ecard,” and so on.

It was a short, intense campaign, but it worked. And it was worth it, from Oxfam America’s point of view.

And I hope that by sharing this with you, it will give you some ideas on implementing not just creative campaigns for your clients and organizations but on setting them up the right way so that you can really gauge the effectiveness when you’re done.

Thoughts? Questions? Would you like more case study posts? Do let me know – the comments are yours, you know that!

This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical. All images courtesy Oxfam America, used with permission.Shonali Burke  is a public relations and social media expert and consultant based in Washington, D.C. Her firm provides integrated PR for measurable results. You can connect with Shonali via her website or follow her on Twitter.

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