On one of the tours I took of the many fabulous buildings London has to offer, I heard a tour guide quote Samuel Johnson. "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." After two weeks here, I don't know if I have ever heard truer words.
London has offered me so much. I learned great things through my research for my class, I learned things about myself (like the fact I can fearlessly ride the subway alone without getting hopelessly lost), and I learned about the great history of this beautiful city.
I've finished my research project, and I'm preparing for my last day here. I've seen everything I wanted to see most, but in London, there is always something else to see and do. I will never forget this experience. I don't want to waste any of my final hours here, so instead of a lengthy summary of my research, I will leave you with a link to my final paper.
I've had the opportunity to interview two people so far for my research in London. I've learned that, although we speak the same language, our cultures are very different. By extension, social media habits are also different.
Send In the Clowns
I spoke to Maria Surcel, the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities U.K. In my interview with her, I found a huge difference between the RMHC branding here in the U.K. versus in the U.S. In the U.K., the role of Ronald McDonald, RMHC's clown mascot, is downplayed.
Surcel said that clowns simply aren't as popular in the the U.K. as they are in the U.S. Completely opposite of that, Laura Doyle, Communications Manager of the RMH of Cleveland, told me that some children are disappointed to arrive at the House only to find out that Ronald doesn't live there!
Although Ronald plays less of a role in the U.K. branding, his hand is still visible in the logo.
I've been keeping busy with my U.S. research of Ronald McDonald House Charities! I interviewed Katie Underhill from the St. Louis Chapter, Laura Doyle from the Cleveland Chapter, Sarah Cockerill at the Global Office, as well as an outside Communication Consultant, Mark Nylander. So what have I learned so far for my Global Advertising and Public Relations class?
Different Audiences, Different Strategies
RMHC has several different audience groups--families who are staying or have stayed in a House, volunteers, private donors, corporate donors, and potential donors. It sounds obvious to say that different social media strategies would be used to target different audiences, but what surprised me about my research is that RMHC Chapters see different audience groups across different social media platforms. Both Underhill and Doyle told me that they use Facebook to communicate with families, and they use Twitter to communicate with corporate donors and other organizations.
A screenshot of St. Louis's Facebook
I’ve really been enjoying my research for my Global Advertising and PR class!
Back to My Roots - St. Louis
For my research of Ronald McDonald House Charities, I decided to “start at home.” For me that means St. Louis. In an earlier post, I told the story of my family’s stay at the Ronald McDonald House of St. Louis when I was a baby in the NICU.
I had the opportunity to interview Katie Underhill, Communications Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis. The St. Louis Chapter operates three Houses and three Family Rooms.
Underhill's primary focus when managing social media for RMHC of St. Louis is to raise awareness.
Underhill said she uses Facebook to connect with families and volunteers, and she stressed how important it is to establish an emotional connection.
“We have had some great feedback from posting photos of families who have stayed at the house, and come back to donate pop tabs or Wish List items,” said Underhill. “People use us at a time when they are in crisis, and when their child heals, they want to give back.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities has always held a special place in my heart, which is why I chose it as the subject of my research, comparing nonprofit social media use in the U.S. and the U.K.
1 1/2 weeks old, in the NICU
On October 16, 1985, my parents visited Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for scheduled procedures to monitor a high-risk pregnancy. Instead, I was delivered by emergency C-section that afternoon. Born at only 31 weeks, I weighed three and a half pounds.
I was an “Rh baby”—my mom’s blood is negative, and mine is positive, causing her body to reject me. Within minutes of birth, I received the first of nine exchange blood transfusions to keep my high bilirubin levels from causing brain damage.
In May of 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in a research trip to London. I conducted research comparing how nonprofits use social media for public relations in the U.K. versus in the U.S. The entries in the blog contain my findings.