Social Awareness – #IceBucketChallenge

By Matter

If you’ve been on social media in the last week (as public relations professionals that’s a given), you’re sure to have seen or even been on the challenging or receiving end of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Gaining recognition locally, as the result of Boston College alumni Pete Frates’ (diagnosed with ALS two years ago) desire to increase awareness of ALS and drive donations for research and ultimately a cure, the challenge has taken off on social media. Key associated terms and phrases such as #strikeoutals and #alsicebucketchallenge have to date been used more than 307,600 times on Twitter and public Facebook posts since mid-July.

The challenge has spread like wildfire, through my friends, family and colleagues, and even celebrities and political figures like Rajon Rondo, Justin Timberlake and Ethel Kennedy (who nominated Barack Obama) have joined the cause. Local and national news stations have taken notice as well, with anchors participating themselves. While there has been some criticism of the challenge and the fact that not all are donating, just dousing themselves and naming others to do the same, according to Pete Frates and his wife Julie, if this challenge increases awareness, and spurs even one person to Google what ALS is, then the campaign has been successful. In a Boston Herald piece, Pete Frates writes that “exposure like this is what the ALS community needs so we can even attempt to find a cure and reversal for people living with this insidious disease.” Additionally, according to Carol Hamilton, development director of the ALS Therapy Development Institute quoted in the same Boston Herald piece, the numbers speak pretty loud volumes as well, “we are seeing 10 times the number of online donations every day…we are seeing an incredible number of people who didn’t know much about ALS last week and who do today.” A TIME article published earlier this week, really capitalizes on the campaign’s worth as over the past weekend alone there were more than $1 million in donations collected. It also shares that since July 29 there have been more than $2.3 million dollars raised for ALS, while during the same timeframe last year there was $25,000.

Whether or not, you think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is effective in raising money for ALS or if it’s only the latest form of slacktivism, it is sure creating a lot of buzz around the disease and creating a community across the US and globe that are bonded through this cause. Even if it’s just prompted you to be more aware of what ALS is, with the added benefit of challenging your friends to pour frigid water on their heads, it is publicity all the same and that’s the end goal. With all that’s going on in the world today, if we can bond together for one cause (monetarily or socially) regardless of our age, race, political affiliations, gender, beliefs (the list goes on) then it’s a win.

Check out some images from ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos completed by my Matter colleagues below. Have you participated in the challenge, what are your thoughts on the campaign?


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