Are you paying attention? A whole lot of people don’t seem to think so. Much of the non-profit marketing profession appears hell-bent on raising your awareness — of cancer, child abuse, dental hygiene, the scourge of erectile dysfunction, and the like. They evidently believe that you cruise blindly through life, like the undead, without noticing the salient features of the world around you.
I don’t mean to belittle a devastating disease, but I’m guessing you’ve heard of cancer. You probably know an important detail, like, it’s bad for you. You might even wear sunscreen and eat broccoli in an effort to ward it off. Awareness.
(I am making many assumptions about you even though I don’t know who you are. Based on the AMA members I have met, you are a graduate of Lake Wobegon High School: savvy and intellectual, shockingly attractive, courageous and warm-hearted. If you are not an AMA member, hurry and join so you can share these characteristics.)
Visit the website of many non-profits and you’ll see “raising awareness” as part of their mission, as if you didn’t notice the gentleman in full winter regalia pushing a cart with his worldly belongings along the Crosstown on a summer afternoon.
No one needs some anonymous radio dork imploring them to care more about lung disease, irradiated food, boating while intoxicated or the plight of the endangered chuckwalla. We’re either sufficiently aware or not bothering the chuckwalla in any way ourselves.
Of course, much of this is the result of the common misconception that anyone can do PR and marketing, which require no particular expertise, like hanging a picture, or swallowing. Non-profit staff without any marketing expertise substitute “raising awareness” for real, measurable objectives because, well, they haven’t had their awareness raised.
If these benighted marketers want to devote the full measure of their talent to useful pursuits, may I suggest the following awareness raisers:
- Mindlessly placing yourself in the way. Subcategories: Standing in the doorway at parties. Stopping at the top of a hill on ski slopes. Walking four-across on the King Street sidewalk. Walking in the bike lane (or biking in the walk lane) on the Cooper River Bridge.
- Cognitive dissonance. Sub-categories: Advocating for a simpler, fairer tax code that maintains your favorite deductions. Hating steroid users unless they help your team. Demanding that Congress do something while voting against members willing to compromise. Complaining about the cost of heart bypass surgery required after a lifetime of eating Twinkies and melting into chairs.
- Smoking while in a public pool. The tar and nicotine have apparently ravaged your cerebral cortex beyond repair. For your safety, you need to be removed from the pool permanently.
- Waiting to drive across four lanes of traffic rather than merging into the right lane and working your way across. If you can’t see how you’re holding up everyone behind you, then you’ve been smoking in the pool.
- “The F-word,” “the N-word,” “the L-word.” If you want us to know the word you have in mind, say it. If you’re afraid to say it, skip the juvenile reference to it. P.S. There are several words that start with “S.” I can think of four or five myself.
- Using a phone while operating a mass of metal at a velocity well-past sufficient to cause death. If you’re going to text, dial, surf, converse with Siri or otherwise concentrate your limited brain power on your phone and not on your driving, please make sure your fatal accident is of the one-car variety.
I look forward to seeing what those sharp marketing minds can devise to combat… hey! Get out of the way!