Category Archives: Donations

The Ron and Don Show’s On-Air SMS Fail

As I was driving home from work last Friday I tuned the radio in my car to 97.3FM, a News/Talk station here in Seattle. Not sure if it’s a sign of my age or an indication of the state of radio broadcasting in this area but I recently replaced 103.7FM, which used to have great contemporary rock programming, with a talk radio station.

On 97.3FM it was time for the Ron and Don show and they had started talking about the Colorado fires when I tuned in. The worst wildfire in Colorado history has destroyed nearly 350 homes and killed two people. When you look at the images and video it’s simultaneously amazing and troubling.  One of the radio hosts was beginning a call-to-action. He wanted us to donate to the Red Cross in order to help those affected by the fires. But I was a bit confused by what he was saying.

Listen to the audio here.

He says,

“Text the word redcross…Text redcross, and then what you want to do is text #90999″

Then, after some words about how awesome the Red Cross is he goes on,

“…after the bottom of the hour news updates I’m gonna jump on my phone, type RedCross and then #90999, that’s 90999, send that to the Red Cross… “

Huh? What am I supposed to do? Text what? Redcross or #90999? Do I put #90999 in the message along with the word ‘redcross’? Is ‘redcross’ one word or two? Where do I send the message? Is there a number for the Red Cross? Should I know it? It seems like he’s saying to send a text to a short code, similar to the efforts to raise money to support relief efforts in Haiti and Japan, but I’d never heard the use of a pound sign (#).

I’ll give Ron and Don credit for trying to rally the support of the Great Northwest but this was a disaster of its own.

FAIL.

***************************************************************************

 What could have saved this campaign?

Here’s what I think happened. Ron and/or Don or perhaps their producer did a little research about how they could promote mobile donations to the Red Cross.  They found the information on the Red Cross web site and wrote it down. Then when the time came the show’s host just grabbed the paper and tried to give the instructions.

Here’s what didn’t happen: Testing. The radio host clearly is not very familiar with mobile donations and doesn’t appear to do too much texting, otherwise he would have known how confusing he was being. He needed to try the donation process before delivering his call-to-action.  Had he done that, his instructions might have been something clearer like, “Text the word ‘redcross’ (one word) to the number 90999. Text REDCROSS to 90999″ or “Send a text message with the word REDCROSS to the number 90999.”

Create Jobs For USA Not Recruiting with Mobile

Jobs are important. In fact they’ll likely be the leading topic during this year’s political debates and we’ll be sick of all the talk. Fortunately, Create Jobs For USA (www.createjobsforusa.org), part of the Opportunity Finance Network, is actually doing something more than just talk.

They are advertising on billboards. And asking those of us with jobs to donate a mere $5 to the cause.image: Create Jobs Billboard

As I drove by this billboard I was reminded of the Red Cross efforts to raise money in $5 and $10 increments following the disasters in Haiti and Japan. I wondered if this was a similar thing. Prepared to pull out my mobile phone at the next traffic light I looked for the instructions. But there weren’t any! Only a small, though memorable, URL. There was no call-to-action.

I stopped to take the picture but I didn’t even bother to pull up the web site on my phone. I’ve tried that before and smaller organizations, particularly non-profits, just aren’t there yet with mobile and I’d end up at a full blown site designed for a desktop computer.

From where I was there was nothing I could do for them except try to remember the URL for later.

FAIL.

*****************************************************

What could have saved this campaign?

Create Jobs For USA just plain forgot mobile. It never occurred to them.

Without going into the appropriateness of a mobile call-to-action on a billboard (not usually a good idea because people are driving) they could have at least tried. Here’s what they might have done:

1) Allow readers to donate via their mobile phone. If they don’t qualify for the Haiti-style approach where the $5 gets added to the mobile phone bill – there are restrictions for this – they could use text messaging to start the process then link donors off to Paypal via their mobile phone to make payment. (Atomic Mobile offers a service like this) The billboard would include something like, “Text JOBS to 12345.”  They could even leverage their partnership with Starbucks so that Starbucks would match all mobile donations.

2) Create a mobile site and link it to their desktop site. This mobile site would be laser-focused on telling the story and generating donations. Anyone driving by (as a passenger, of course) could then just use their phone to go to the site and donate. They should still do this, it isn’t too late.

Salvation Army Needs a Helping Hand With MS Tag

From Monique Priestley (edited):

Okay, I feel guilty for picking on the Salvation Army, but geez…

image: SAL Bus Ad

Salvation Army Bus Ad

On the 74 Express bus from Downtown Seattle to Sand Point. There was a Salvation Army advertisement with a small Microsoft Tag. (Yes, that’s right, a small Microsoft Tag on a banner that was along the roof of a moving bus.)

The ad was one for the Salvation Army of Seattle — you needed to scan a small Microsoft Tag (with an MS Tag Reader of course) and you could donate money. It didn’t tell you how much or give you any other options.

Personally, I think it would be a great idea if companies advertising on the buses attempted a mobile ad or two. Of course, as I mentioned before… these things are moving — and the ads are on the roof. Something like SMS is a good idea because riders could put a code into a phone and receive a quick message back. But a QR/Microsoft Tag? On the ceiling of a moving vehicle? How exactly do they expect users to hold the phone still, up in the air above their head, close enough for the scanner to read a tiny 2D barcode? I can barely keep my hand still enough and close enough to scan those pesky MS Tags when they are on a stationary piece of paper right in front of me (they are really fussy). The bus never held still long enough for me to try it (plus I felt like an idiot holding my phone up to the ceiling, trying to hold on as the bus rocked all over the place).

It was the saddest excuse for a mobile ad that I have tried so far.

FAIL.

It Gets Better…Once at my desk I did a quick search for “salvation army qr.” I got one result that looked promising, http://bit.ly/ceeQKs. I sent the site to my DROID and the YouTube video played but I didn’t dare enter my number to test [donations] because it NEVER says ANYWHERE how much you’re about to donate. For all I know they set the figure to $100 or $1,000,000 (it could happen).

*******************************************************************************

What could have saved this campaign?
Salvation Army gets credit for trying but this portion of their campaign is really poorly done.  You may not have noticed but the advertisement is promoting donations and yet the video that plays as a result of scanning the tag is promoting volunteer-ism.  The only thing that would have saved this campaign is to use SMS instead of MS Tag. This simply is not a good place for a 2D code. The organization already has an SMS donation option (text “SAL” to 50555) and bus riders can participate simply by reading the call-to-action from where they sit. Optionally, the SMS could trigger the exact same URL at which the MS Tag is pointed.  Additionally, and less critically, the video should support the ‘Donate Now’ theme rather than trying to layer in a volunteer pitch.