Voting for the Cause

I always had the goal of producing a creative video to help create more exposure and awareness for PPA research before the New Year. This idea quiclkly became fast-tracked due to my company, LPL Financial, offering a $500 prize for best charity video, $250 for 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd place. Since I won the last two firm wide competitions-one for our New Accounts Team and another to cover our Annual Conference as a “Rovering Reporter”-I knew people would be gunning to knock me off.  In fact, I got emails internally stating that “You will not 3-peat” and “I was going down.” With this type of incentive and motivation, I wanted to craft a movie that would instantly grab the viewers attention as well as educate people about this relatively unknown disease.

I needed an idea that was fresh and would stick in people’s minds longer than 5 minutes after they saw the footage.

I brainstormed the idea of a silent movie with cue cards explaining the symptoms of PPA and why fighting to raise awareness for research is absolutely essential. The original premise was to stand in a dimly lit room with a spotlight pointed squarly on my body dropping cue cards one at a time while music playing in the background. About 10 minutes into filming, my friend Brad and I realized this wasn’t going to work nor be as effective as we wanted to portray.

We talked about it and came up with something special.

Instead of solely standing in one place dropping card after card, why not venture around Charlotte (my current place of residence) and take photos with the cue cards all over the city? This approach would defintely captivate people’s attention by demanding they not only read each written phrase but also have a scenic visual along the journey. The concept was so moving that we went out that evening and started shooting.

Over the course of the next couple days, we photographed all our shots, edited the movie and blended in background music. I submitted the video to my company for firm-wide voting and qualified in the Top 3. The 3 videos included:

a) Unchained Dogs – building fences for dog owners so they don’t have to chain their dogs down for fear they will run away.

b) Rescue Mission Farm Project – growing fresh produce for those in need in the Temecula and north San Diego County regions.

c) What would you do for THE CAUSE? – creating awareness and research for PPA while bringing light to a disease that over 1,000,000 people fight everyday.

The voting period went from Monday-Friday and on Thursday morning, the 3 of us received an email – 1st Place: Unchained Dogs (113), 2nd Place: PPA Video (101), 3rd Place: Rescue Mission (76). I immediately assembled a meeting with my AVP’s and managers in hopes of spreading the word amongst my firm by establishing a marketing strategy that targeted all 3 of our office locations: Boston, San Diego and Charlotte. The hardest part about generating exposure is ensuring people take a couple minutes out of their busy day to be cognizant of what’s going on. While voting on the video contest will clearly benefit all charities involved, with all work responsibilities we have on a daily basis, this competition can easily get lost in the shuffle of daily emails and routine homepage postings.

Since my SVP has strong working relationships with our Boston office, I asked him to email the executives and get them to view the videos for voting. One of my AVP’s worked in San Diego for years, and I insisted she email all the managers out west and make them aware of the competition. Lastly, I decided to personally email each employee on our marketing and sales teams about the closely contested race and provided them with a direct link to the movies. They now had every opportunity to watch the video submissions and make an informed decision.

The next morning, I got a phone call from corporate communications, “You Won! How did you get so many votes?  What was your secret? We will email you the final totals by lunch.”

Final Totals: 1st Place: PPA (245), 2nd Place: Unchained Dogs (145), 3rd Place: Rescue Farm Mission (131).

The hidden secret to the massive swing in votes for this race was nothing that secretive at all, rather what we are always trying to promote for this campaign: AWARENESS! When people are presented with information about this disease and cause, they take notice.  Managers sent emails to their teams, employees emailed one another and I received loads of complimentary emails from fellow co-workers. Even from the guy who said “You will not 3-Peat!

Substance = Results.

It doesn’t take much to spread the word, just a couple minutes out of your day. And for spreading the word, Run4Papa raised another $500 for research thanks to the employees at LPL Financial taking a couple minutes out of their day to learn more about a disease they had never heard of moments before…

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