We live in an economy of reduced marketing budgets and increased pressure to reach our audience using fewer resources. While I would welcome a larger budget and a handful of marketing geniuses at my disposal, I was reminded over the past week of the power that one individual could have, given a compelling story and the passion to communicate it.
It's not likely that you've ever heard of Brian Wurzell. He's not an editor for an online media publication, a marketing executive for a fortune 500 brand or a creative director at an ad agency. You won't ever see Brian's name featured in MediaPost's weekly "People on the Move" list, or challenging Ashton Kutcher for a popularity contest on Twitter (he currently needs 2,648,546 more followers to catch up to the cinematic genius who gave us "Dude, Where's My Car?").
Brian is a lot of things, including a talented musician, a passionate leader and a man in need of a good shave, but he's not a media powerhouse. This didn't prevent him, however, from reaching an online audience of tens of thousands of people across the globe to rally them around a cause that touched him deeply.
On June 29, Brian found out that his friend's five-year-old daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that would require immediate surgery. The shock waves of emotion that swept over that family, and those close to them, spurred Brian to take action to mobilize a community of online support for Kate and for his friend.
While Brian didn't have access to a digital agency to launch a viral marketing campaign or a list of media contacts that could produce and distribute a touching human-interest piece, he did have compelling story to tell, a passion to tell it and access to the same online publishing tools that anyone with an Internet connection can use.
Over the next few days following the diagnosis, Brian began sharing Kate's story online. Brian and his wife Promise (OK -- so he had some help, but work with me here) produced a short video interview with Kate's parents and uploaded it to YouTube. They also posted some photos of Kate on their blogs along with her story. Using email, Twitter and Facebook, Brain began to reach out to friends and his network of contacts online to rally support for her. He also hosted a live streaming video prayer vigil for Kate on the day of her surgery.
As a result of these efforts, Kate's story has been spread across the globe, touching tens of thousands of people from Dr. Phil, who posted the video on his blog, to talented singer/songwriter Audrey Assad, who wrote a song for Kate and countless others reaching from Australia to Amarillo, Texas, from Kenya to Queen Creek, Ariz.
In the six days since the video was posted on YouTube, it has been viewed over 42,000 times. The live streaming prayer vigil, which has continued to play on a recorded loop, has now been viewed almost 35,000 times. Audrey's song for Kate has been listened to more than 6,100 times. As the message spreads, people have begun to flood to Kate's blog to follow her story and offer their messages of support and encouragement.
All of this happened because one person was able to leverage a collection of online publishing tools and social media platforms to communicate a story he was passionate about.
What is the story you are trying to tell? Is it compelling? Interesting? While the stories we craft for our companies most certainly will not be as gripping as this one, Brian was able to illustrate how one person with limited resources can reach an audience if there is a story worth telling -- along with the willingness and resourcefulness to use new tools and mediums to communicate the message.
In the days to come, as you are crafting your own story, take a moment out of your busy workday, away from your marketing meetings and creative brainstorming sessions, to think of Kate as well. The challenges we are faced with in a down economy quickly fade away when compared to the difficult road that lies ahead for this precious little girl.
Editors' Note What do social media, online video, publishing and metrics have in common? Aside from all being topics that MediaPost publications such as Online Media Daily and OMMA magazine cover intently, they are all part of some fresh new OMMA conference videos that we've posted here for your viewing pleasure and professional development. Don't take our word for it. Come hear journalism savior Steve Brill make a case for online's "paid" model at OMMA Publish. Or listen to CNN interactive marketing guru Andy Mitchell explain how to build a community around news at OMMA Social. Or watch Publicis' Rishad Tobaccowala explain why everything can be measured, but "not everything is necessarily worth measuring" at OMMA Metrics & Measurement. Plus much, much more, including panels, keynotes, presentations, and even some good new insider perspectives from MediaPost's Search Insider and Email Insider invitation-only summits.