Susie Gilden|Aug 18, 2014

For the past few weeks, my social media feeds have been dominated by family, friends, celebrities and complete strangers dumping buckets of ice on themselves as part of the ALS #IceBucketChallenge. I have also seen many posts where people are annoyed and questioning if the challenge is actually making a difference.

Well, aside from creating an awareness for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” it is actually raising “buckets” of money and bringing in new donors.

As a public relations strategist, this grassroots campaign is one that stands out as the most successful in a very long time.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Ice Bucket Challenge offers two choices: You can either donate $100 to charity, or you can film yourself dumping a bucket of ice water on your head. From there, you post your video on your social media profiles and challenge people in your network.

Not only are all of your connections seeing this video, but the friends of those you challenge have the pleasure of watching you shriek in icy pain all while bringing awareness to a disease that hasn’t seen this much airtime since Tuesdays with Morrie.

The origins of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are a little murky; we know that it was not officially started by the ALS Association, but that it’s focused on bringing good old fashioned grassroots awareness and, more importantly, donations.

According to the nonprofit, between July 29, 2014 and August 17, 2014, $13.3 million flooded the organization’s coffers, compared to $1.7 million during the same period last year. In addition, the ALS Association has received donations from 259,505 people who have never donated to the cause before. In terms of results, you can’t ask for better.

What really blows my mind is that the Ice Bucket Challenge  is driving an infinite number of impressions and genuine conversations about an illness that see about 15 new cases a year in the United States. Can you imagine if we challenged each other to speak about important causes like this on social media feeds all the time, instead of worrying about if Beyonce and Jay-Z were getting divorced or taking selfies while sitting in traffic?

Here are a few links to some of my favorite ice bucket challenges:

  • Bill Gates shows off his smarts in a slick video where he invents his own ice dumping contraption.
  • One of our clients, FPL President & CEO Eric Silagy, challenges important local community leaders and has a great reaction once he is all wet.
  • Lebron James calls out the POTUS.  I am on standby waiting to see if the president follows through, because according to my calculations his time is almost up.
  • Pete Frates, rumored originator of the #icebucketchallenge and 29 year old ALS patient, gets drenched.
  • My three year old and husband participate and give us the opportunity to talk to her about charity, even at a young age.

This type of campaign is what inspires me to think outside of the box every day for my clients. I am challenging myself and my co-workers to continue to bring awareness to causes and clients. Whether it is for a professor doing important work to fight environmental challenges, or a new live action arena show that brings families together for fun and entertainment, the Ice Bucket Challenge reminds us that social media and online conversation are the future of driving awareness and a client’s bottom line.

Of course, I also took the #icebucketchallenge to #strikeoutALS, and I challenge the partners of rbb. Christine, Lisa, Tina and John – you have 24 hours to complete it.

For more information about ALS, check out the ALS Association.


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