Over 17,000 people in brightly decorated bras will be walking the streets of London on Saturday night. This is no parade or mass hen party, but The MoonWalk London, a midnight walk against breast cancer representing the charity, Walk the Walk.
In 1996 fashion stylist Nina Barough woke up one morning with the idea of power walking at The New York City Marathon in a decorated bra, to raise money for breast cancer. As fate would have it, in January 1997, just two months after the adventure in New York, Nina was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was the fight against cancer, which ensued over the coming years, that inspired her to start a charity she called Walk the Walk which today raises £92 million for the cause.
Before taking residence in a pink tent in preparation for The MoonWalk London, Nina took some time out to chat with Cision on how Walk the Walk’s evolved into a strong brand over the past 17 years and the role communications has played in making it so.
How have you created awareness for Walk the Walk? What role does digital media play for the charity?
I think the entire journey in making Walk the Walk the brand it is today has been really dramatic. The progression of social media has completely changed the way we communicate. Years ago when we started, we would manually send out thousands of entry forms and never quite knew what kind of a response to expect. But with everything online now, you are able to track, monitor and engage with supporters real time. We have a huge following on social media including Facebook, Twitter and all other verticals and I think it is a wonderful way for not just us, but all charities to create awareness, raise funds and reach out to people.
How do you manage communications and responses online?
Our supporters are very vocal and it’s mainly positive but I am very attentive to the negative feedback that we sometimes receive. If someone is not happy – if they haven’t received their pack in time or something they will just go on social media and complain and sometimes it can be quite damning. But that is the nature of social media. It allows people to have their outburst on say Facebook or whatever medium they choose, and broadcast their grievance. It is our job to manage these responses effectively.
We have a team of three people dedicated to social media. We would never delete a comment just because it wasn’t positive but I do take it personally and it can sometimes overshadow the thousands of positive responses we receive. Using Cision to monitor our social media for example, helps us manage the volume of responses and gives us the tools required to respond effectively. Communications today is not one dimensional – we’re not looking at just tabloids or newspapers but across all avenues of media to get our story out and this is where a strong strategy in place helps you do that.
How do you work with brands for sponsorship and raising funds?
We work with a variety of brands individually on different basis. Some support us in kind and some financially. But we use an individual approach with each company we work with so find out what they want to get out of this and what we can get out of it and how the association can be beneficial to all involved – there is no blanket approach to the way we work with brands.
How do you work with PRs and comms professionals in developing and facilitating brand sponsorships? What can they do better?
We have internal PR and do work with agencies outside on special projects. But I think the main thing in my experience with working with PR is that they get really excited with the brand and project and have promised great things but do not always follow through. It’s better to have small, attainable ideas which can be easily and effectively implemented. I like PRs who are in touch with reality – a double page spread in a national daily is great but the smaller initiatives sometime go farther in engaging with the people you want to connect with.