Quick Conference TipCTip
Feb. 21, 2006
By Abny Santicola
Conference sessions can provide attendees a wealth of information and
motivation to take back to the office and apply to their organizations. But so can the ensuing Q-&-A period after each session.
The Q-&-A period during one of the first sessions of the conference -- "How to Beat a Long-Standing Control" -- yielded some helpful tips. Most notably, one attendee asked for advice on her organization's dilemma of what to do about its aging celebrity endorser, who is featured prominently in the organization's direct mail. The organization knew that it would eventually need to transition away from this endorser, and the attendee wondered what the best way to do that would be.
Lori O'Brien, senior vice president of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, advised that an organization with such a dilemma might try to have the current, aging endorser introduce a new celebrity endorser in the direct-mail copy of the letter or other element, and hand off the endorsement that way.
But Robbin Gehrke, senior vice president of creative for Russ Reid Company, also a presenter in this session, cautioned that, at the same time that an organization might try such a hand off, it should also test not using a celebrity endorser and perhaps just go with a different direct-mail approach entirely. Similar to the downsides of relying on a premium to get gifts, both presenters agreed that it's better not to rely on celebrity endorsements -- if you can -- in your fundraising efforts.