Much to blog about.

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What to know before you try to mimic the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 28, 2014 | by Lauren Cascio

From the Harlem Shake craze to the medicated child that stole our hearts, there’s no doubt viral videos have become a cultural phenomenon.

For a long time, organizations have sought to capitalize on viral potential with strategic communications. Ironically, the ALS Association lucked into the most viral fundraising campaign ever with the ongoing Ice Bucket Challenge.

In case you’ve been on a deserted island for the past couple of months, let’s recap. Dumping ice water on your head started as a small-time social media challenge with the intention of encouraging people to donate to their charity of choice. However, when Jeanette Senerchia took her challenge, she selected the ALS Association for a personal reason- her husband was currently battling the disease. Rallied by her special plea, family and friends undertook the challenge and created the foundation of what would soon become a worldwide, viral phenomenon.

And it worked. As of Aug. 27, the ALS Association has received $94.3 million in donations compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 27).

This unprecedented fundraising success has left many organizations wondering how and if they can craft their own challenges. Before you start a disorganized soil dumping challenge, put down the shovel and remember these important points.

The public expects copycats. Always remember that your audience is savvier than you think. As the challenge starts to wane, social media savants will be quick to find and criticize any seemingly contrived or unoriginal copycat challenges.

This was a perfect set of circumstances. Social media penetration, authentic celebrity participation, a seemingly unique concept and participants’ ability to peer pressure friends are just a few of the elements that made this challenge the perfect fundraising storm.

Opportunistic organizations aren’t appealing.Trying to capitalize on the public’s enthusiasm with your own copycat challenge may be perceived as a desperate ploy. Instead, consider tastefully plugging into the current challenge by encouraging your constituents to participate while contributing to your cause as well.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees.While it’s too early to predict replication potential, the challenge teaches us several lessons about developing shareable and exciting content. From incorporating good-natured peer pressure to using video as a storytelling medium, there are many components you should use to enhance your content creation and organizational communication initiatives.

For public relations practitioners like me, The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a fascinating case study on viral trends that we will analyze for years to come. In the meantime, ignore your inclination to haphazardly grab at a piece of the pie.

6 reasons to be a Bohlsen intern

August 15, 2014 | by Bohlsen Group

The summer is drawing to a close, which means our current group of amazing interns will be heading off to new adventures soon. Throughout the summer, the Bohlsen interns have worked on a number of projects – promoting concerts, raising awareness for local nonprofits, drafting strategic materials for independent authors and managing social media presences for a variety of organizations.

Learn more about the internship experience from six of our most recent interns to see what valuable information they will take with them as they advance their respective careers.

“Working at Bohlsen this summer has taught me that coffee and Diet Coke fuel great work. And that great work can be made greater through collaboration with others who have consumed coffee and/or Diet Coke.” - Jade Schwarting

“I’ve received major insight into the world of PR. Through that, I have learned to put on my thinking hat, create some tough skin and persevere until the client is satisfied.” - Katie Wenclewicz

“I have valued the agency atmosphere and the collaborative culture that comes with it. It has taught me that your first draft isn’t always your best draft and it’s okay to go back to the drawing board.” - Megan Hardesty

“I found that working with a group of dedicated people who have fun, are not afraid to try new things and enjoy living off of coffee and popcorn makes all the difference when completing day-to-day tasks.” - Sarah Davis

“It has been great to actually take what you learn in a classroom and implement those lessons into work and real projects that you can be proud of.” - Katjana Godshalk

“Having a better understanding of the promotional work we do for our clients has really opened my eyes to see the impact it makes on the events, concerts and other special programs in our community.” - Matt Pilipovich

Want to be a part of the Bohlsen Group team? You’re in luck! We are now taking applications our spring internships in the following areas: Marketing, PR, Events & Entertainment and Nonprofit.

Apply today!


10 years of IndyFringe – and it keeps getting better

August 7, 2014 | by Andrea Hawman

If you have ventured to the East end of Mass Ave, you may have noticed the white “church” that sits across from 45 Degrees on the other side of College. This is the IndyFringe Basile Theatre, home to an eclectic mix of emerging acts and community events year-round. One week from today, IndyFringe kicks off their 10th-Annual IndyFringe Festival, which will bring 384 performances to eight venues on Mass Ave over 11 days, from August 14 to 24. With all genres of shows represented- comedy, drama, dance, storytelling, performance art, magic, music- there is something for everyone.

I recently visited with Pauline Moffat, the executive director at IndyFringe (and my former intern coordinator), to chat about IndyFringe’s journey these past 10 years. Since 2005, IndyFringe has grown from 28 performances and 5,000 patrons to 400 performances and 18, 000 patrons in 2013. This year’s festival will draw at least 20,000 attendees, Pauline estimates. What has been the key to IndyFringe’s success? Grassroots efforts executed with time, thought and care.

Word of mouth is the foundation of any strong grassroots campaign. At the IndyFringe Festival, the most popular shows aren’t always apparent in the beginning, but rather as the 11 days unfold. Crowd favorites begin to reveal themselves, whether it comes from waiting in line for shows, Nuvo’s reviews that come out mid-festival or patron comments on social media. IndyFringe counts on this indirect tactic to sell out shows year after year without fail.

Quality content always rises to the top. At IndyFringe, returning performers quickly learned that the “wow” factor isn’t as lasting as quality, innovative material. With just one hour to perform, these shows need to stand out against the competition. What’s more, for a show to sustain the buzz across its recurring performances during the 11-day festival, material has to draw an interest beyond a flashy title or alluring cover photo. Superior content outlasts surprising content every time.

Connecting with brand advocates and the community – perhaps the most important component of grassroots efforts. IndyFringe definitely has this down. Mass Ave and the Cultural District buzz with excitement leading up to the festival and for the weeks following. Strong bonds are made among performers and their host families, Fringe staff and volunteers, and patrons and Mass Ave business owners. Beyond the immediate downtown Indianapolis community, IndyFringe draws diverse crowds from out of town as well. Each year patrons visit IndyFringe from the Midwest Fringe circuit, which includes Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis. And there are always a few acts that travel abroad to participate in IndyFringe.

Where does IndyFringe see itself in the next 10 years?

“In the hands of young professionals who had the vision to embrace it 10 years ago,” Pauline says. “My hope is that IndyFringe will remain a huge part of the cultural fabric of the city of Indianapolis.”

Interns, young professionals and performers involved with IndyFringe over the past 10 years have all grown professionally and will undoubtedly be part of IndyFringe’s future. In turn, these talented and enthusiastic people attract others to live, work and play in downtown Indianapolis.

IndyFringe’s immediate plans include the addition of a black box theatre (a simple, somewhat unadorned theatre space) and a public restroom on the Cultural Trail, to be completed in 2015. Indy Eleven recently sponsored this “Trailhead” initiative as a joint effort to strengthen the community and quality of life in Indianapolis.

Whether you are a theatre-goer or not, IndyFringe is a unique experience that should not be missed. Be sure to check out the official IndyFringe schedule ahead of time in case shows sell out, and don’t be afraid to get a little Fringey!

The ups and downs of visual storytelling

July 31, 2014 | by Jonathan McAfee

Cirque du Soleil is recognized for high-quality, artistic entertainment. Since its creation, Cirque has constantly sought to evoke the imagination, invoke the senses and provoke the emotions of people around the world with stunning visuals and fantastic storytelling.

Recently, Bohlsen Group was tasked with creating teaser videos for Cirque du Soleil: Varekai to build anticipation and excitement around the show.

The challenges? Limited time and only one prop – a white feather.

The white paper isn't dead

Why the white paper isn’t dead (hint: it’s just changing!)

July 24, 2014 | by Lauren Cascio

With the rise of content marketing and the evolution of the online experience, many companies have started to wonder if white papers remain a strategic form of content. It’s a topic that’s hotly debated in the public relations industry today.

Some have declared the white paper dead, saying that more versatile mediums such as slide decks and infographics can convey the same messages in a more approachable, visual format. Others assert the white paper remains relevant and won’t be disappearing any time soon.

The great news is there’s actually a middle ground where we can all get along.

First and foremost, the white paper remains a helpful, strategic tool for most organizations. A well-written white paper allows executive leadership the opportunity to generate leads by tackling important topics in the context of emerging research, traditional mindsets and changing trends. In fact, white papers are extremely valuable to companies trying to raise their profiles in a target vertical or key market.

However, it’s important to realize that white papers are evolving outside the traditional format. This is simply because the online reading experience has radically evolved.

Today, more than 2/3 of the global online population visit and participate in social networks or blogs. This means a majority of online users are comfortable with, and even expect, information relayed in a concise, visual and personalized manner. So, the standard 20-page white paper with stilted graphs and unapproachable industry jargon is likely to miss its mark amongst this new online audience.

Incorporating visual elements while keeping copy to the point can transform an antiquated white paper into a dynamic piece of content for your online library. Many companies have taken this a step further by offering bundled content to accompany white paper downloads, such as related infographics and quick, “Tweetable” takeaways.

No matter what side of the debate you land on, it’s important to keep an open mind when evaluating what form of content will work best for your organization. Careful industry research can help determine what kind of content, such as e-books, webinars, slide decks or white papers, will resonate the most with your target audiences.

Where does your company land on the white paper debate?