How PR & Social Media Met the Ice Bucket Challenge to Raise Millions



The Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, shows the impact of PR and Social Media Tactics you can use to grow your business organically.

It goes like this: People post a video on Social Media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of themselves dumping a bucket of ice on their heads and challenging friends to do the same or donate $100 to ALS.

On July 15th, golfer Chris Kennedy challenged his cousin Jeanette Senerchia of Pelham, NY, whose husband, Anthony, has had ALS for 11 years. Senerchia’s Facebook network connected with Pat Quinn of Yonkers, NY who was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2013. Quinn challenged friends and family and his network overlapped with Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS. Frates posted a heartfelt video of him bobbing his head to the song Ice Ice Baby because he can no longer speak due to ALS.

Frates’ video and follow-up posts on Twitter caught the attention of celebrities ike Lebron James, Taylor Swift, Sidney Crosby and J-Lo who joined in the campaign. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenged Bill Gates who posted a self deprecating video of himself building the most efficient process for dumping the ice. 

The power of PR followed as Frates was featured on ESPN’s Sports Center, media outlets like the Huffington Post picked up the story and talk show hosts such as Jimmy Fallon accepted the challenge on the Tonight Show.

Since July 29th, the response has been huge: More than 1.3 million videos shared on Facebook, 2.3 million mentions on Twitter, 260,000 new donors and more than $13 million in donations – compared with $1.7 million during the same time last year.

The Ice Bucket Challenge leverages 4 PR & Social Media Success Tactics:

1. Keep It Simple: Anyone can relate to, implement and use their own creativity on The Ice Bucket Challenge.

2. Show and Tell Your Story Through Video: Whether it’s Bill Gates or your neighbor, people are watching.

3. Focus on Multiple Outlets: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other Social Media networks combined to create a viral campaign.

4. Reach Mass Markets through PR: Local and national news programs, talk shows and major sports networks spread the word to the masses.

What’s your favorite Ice Bucket Challenge video? Share it with us on our Facebook page today.

Don’t be The Lone Ranger: Make Your Campaign a Summer Blockbuster

The Lone Ranger
Image courtesy of

Since Jaws in 1975, blockbuster summer movies have become pop culture staples. Today, studios integrate social media, PR, retail promotional tie ins, event marketing and advertising into massive campaigns that culminate with the traditional July 4th weekend release.

Positive results are far from certain. For every Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean smash hit, there’s a bust like Speed Racer or Green Lantern. The most recent big time bomb was last year’s The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp as Tonto. It’s a good example of how understanding your target audience is critical to success in movies — and in business.

Four Ways to “Make It About Them:”

  • Find out what they know, think and want. Brand awareness of the Lone Ranger among younger audiences was low. Building a brand takes time and marketing resources which meant the Lone Ranger was doomed from the start. Find out what your target audience knows and perceives. Build your plan based on what you learn.
  • Focus on One Big Idea: The Lone Ranger marketing campaign included four different trailers. If you’re not sure what your major takeaway is, your target audience surely won’t know. Ask yourself: “What’s the Big Idea?” Then build your messaging based on it.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: The Lone Ranger budget was nearly $250 million, which is similar to the budget for Spider Man 3, a successful franchise sequel. Conduct an honest assessment of where your product, service or company stands in the market. Wishful thinking and over spending won’t overcome low brand awareness and inaccurate positioning.
  • Measure Marketing ROI: The Lone Ranger’s budget meant the movie had to hit record box office numbers, which is like planning to fail. Instead, begin with clearly defined success metrics and a realistic Marketing ROI goal. Manage and adjust your budget based on target market responses to your campaign.

Try these tips and watch your Integrated Marketing campaign become a blockbuster success.

And check out this infographic featuring the top Summer Movies of the past 40 years. Let us know which one is your all time favorite.

Will Lebron Communicate His Next “Decision” Better This Time?


Four years ago Lebron James jilted his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as the Miami Heat’s Big Three and the NBA’s team to beat.

Back then I outlined the Five Good Reasons Why “The Decision” Went Bad and how Lebron mishandled the process:

1. He didn’t communicate with Cavaliers management prior to the national announcement.

2. The decision was announced via an overhyped, over produced show on ESPN.

3. Tying the Boys & Girls Clubs to the program came across as self serving.

4. He talked about himself and all that he had done for the city he was leaving.

5. Lebron even went third person on us a bunch of times while explaining how Lebron made Lebron’s decision.

The Heat went on to play in four straight NBA Finals, winning two and losing two. Their four year run could be considered exceptional yet doesn’t match the expectations Lebron set when he said they’d win 8 titles during another PR debacle, the Big Three’s first press event.

Whether he chooses to stay in Miami or return home to Cleveland, how he conveys the message might be as important as the actual decision. He has a chance to get the messaging right this time either way.

If he stays in Miami:
“We came here as a group to make history. We’ve had a great run but we want to do even more. We’re staying together and the goal is to win more championships for the organization, the city and the incredible fans of the Miami Heat.”

If he leaves Miami to go back home to Cleveland:
“Miami has been great to Chris, Dwyane and me. We’ve had an incredible run. The fans are amazing. But we all have special memories and ties to where we grew up. It took being away to realize how important those things are. That’s why I’m going back to where it all began. My hometown of Cleveland.”

If he’s learned anything from “The Decision” of four years ago, he will make the announcement in an understated, humble manner. Let ESPN and other media outlets create the video montage of highlights and his hometown connections rather than providing video fodder for years to come.

Do you think Lebron’s messaging will be better this time around? Go to our Facebook Page and vote now!

Ketchup, Mustard and Messaging


Americans will eat more than 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 150 million on the 4th of July holiday alone. If you have one, do you top it with ketchup or mustard?

According to a YouGov survey, the most popular condiment for hot dogs is mustard (72%) followed by ketchup (59%), onions (51%) and relish (47%).

Age has a big impact on our choice. 73% of 16-34 year olds ate their hot dogs with ketchup while only 41% of those 35 and older did.

Makes sense. Kids love ketchup. Children have different taste buds than adults and notice bitter tasting foods more. Plus creative commercials help create long lasting habits like adding ketchup to a hot dog. Remember the Anticipation theme from these two classics?

But sometimes one organization’s message hurts a complimentary product. The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council’s Do’s and Don’ts of Hot Dog Etiquette surely caught the attention of ketchup companies with this one:

Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.
Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.

Whether you like your hot dog with ketchup, mustard or some other way, you can benefit from these Messaging Do’s and Don’ts:

Do…Focus on creative promotions to tell your story. Just like the hot dog industry promotes National Hot Dog Month, you can promote your anniversary, new equipment, locations and hires in a creative way.

Do…Make it about your target audiences. Why does it matter to them?

Don’t…Miss opportunities to promote your uniqueness. Develop a content calendar to tell your story throughout the year.

Don’t…Make messaging, branding and PR decisions by committee. You’ll end up with a little bit of what each person wanted and a lot of wasted advertising dollars.

If you’re still not sure about ketchup on your hot dog, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry makes it clear.

Telling your story

My name is Kecia Bal. I am delighted to be able to introduce myself as part of the MASSolutions team because the firm takes an integrated, holistic approach to marketing that incorporates my passion: Storytelling.

As a newspaper and magazine reporter, I have spent the past 10 years learning the art of storytelling ─ finding the authentic spark or specialness we all have and uncovering that and sharing it so others can appreciate it. It’s not always easy or obvious, but the work is rewarding and uplifting. Sometimes, it is easier for us to see and express that shimmery part of the story in others than it is for us to tell our own story. Being able to share your own uniqueness and strengths is a critical part of success, personally and professionally.


I recently interviewed Breitling Energy’s President and CEO Chris Faulkner, an unconventional drilling industry leader who is so outspoken and active he has been dubbed the “frack master.” Faulkner has made the rounds on national media networks and knows how to tell his company’s story by positioning himself as an advocate for energy independence. In his interview for Energy Executive Magazine, he summed it up:

“We need to do a much better job telling our story and getting community buy-in at every step.”

For ideas on how you can get community ─ and customer ─ buy-in, MASSolutions President Dave Mastovich offers a new book: Light Reading Top 10 with tips to make your story more engaging and compelling. This is a quick, easy-to-absorb read so you can start improving your storytelling and messaging today. Right now, he’s offering this guide as a free download at  Thanks for your time! I look forward to learning your stories and hearing how storytelling has helped you connect with your clients.

How Do We Read Today?

We don’t.

Even though you might have found the question interesting, a third of you are already moving on to something else.

Whether reading (or should I say skimming?) online or print, we rarely finish a story or article.  And we don’t move smoothly from left to right as we follow the words across the page.

Eye tracking research from web guru Jakob Nielsen shows that we sweep our eyes across the page in a pattern that is shaped like an F, starting in the upper left corner. We tend to take two horizontal swipes across the page, then swipe vertically down the left.


Uh oh. We are now past the point (around 100 words) where more than half the original readers are gone. Wish you were here.

When it comes to scrolling, most people don’t even bother.  Of those that do, 80% of their time is spent looking “above the fold” (the part of the web page visible when users first land there or the part above the fold of a newspaper) and only 20% below the fold or after the scroll.

If you’ve stuck with me, it’s time to help improve your messaging:

  • Put the most important content first. Review some of your recent emails. Were the first two sentences powerful or did you fumble your opening?
  • Avoid claims and exaggerations. If it sounds like an ad, skimmers ignore it.
  • Feature bulleted lists like this one.
  • Focus on one idea per paragraph and tie each paragraph to the main theme.
  • Use memorable images to help tell your story. Photos of products or real people work better than stock photos.

Since only friends and relatives are still reading, I can get away with a shout out to my Grandma, the most voracious reader I know.

How You Can Learn from Richard Sherman Acting Like A Jerk


The story you’ve probably heard goes like this.

Richard Sherman, defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks, tips a pass from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick into a teammate’s hands to clinch the NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl. Sherman then makes the choke signal towards Kaepernick and taunts 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Following the game, Sherman was interviewed by Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Rather than blurt the standard cliches during his interview, Sherman lashed out at Crabtree.

The interview turned into a story all its own when sports reporters, news media, social media sites and even psychologists weighed in on Sherman’s rant.

It’s fair to say Sherman behaved badly and even he admits his rant was “immature” and that he “shouldn’t have attacked another person.”

The old cliche “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is actually often not the case. Ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie if he thinks his recent media publicity is good or bad. However, the cliche probably does ring true for Sherman in this instance.

Sherman gained significantly more national exposure from his rant than his defensive play. People are talking about him in and outside of sports. He might have been, as he claimed in the interview, “the best cornerback in the world” but not many people knew him a week ago. His behavior isn’t going to cost him endorsements and actually might lead to some.

How can we learn from Richard Sherman and apply it to our messaging?

  • Build your message around what you believe in. Passionate speakers are more interesting to their target audience.
  • Keep it simple and succinct. Think in terms of what others want to know.
  • Be prepared. You might stumble upon a messaging opportunity in front of a group, the media or in an elevator.
  • Make it timely. Leverage social media’s speed and ease of use.
  • Whether you think it worked out for Richard Sherman or not, don’t act like a jerk.


Trite Trophy Winner Also Makes List of Most Annoying Workplace Phrases of 2013

Gene Collier’s Annual Trite Trophy has been recognizing the most ridiculous sports cliche of the year for thirty years. I’ve enjoyed them all. In fact, this morning I remembered reading the “Smashmouth Football” winner with Darlene, my wife. I thought “Wonder what year that was? 2000? 1998?”

Not sure what to make of the fact that “Smashmouth Football” won the Trite Trophy in 1990 way before Darlene and I were married. When I told her, she mumbled something about it being a lot of years we’ve been together. But not in a nostalgic, reminiscing kind of way.

This year’s winner also picked up the #5 slot in my Most Annoying Workplace Phrases of 2013.

Enjoy Collier’s Column here.



MASSolutions President asks MASH East ‘What Are You Selling?’

“What Are You Selling?” That’s the question MASSolutions President David M. Mastovich will ask during the MASH East Networking meeting at Longwood at Oakmont on Oct. 17.

Mastovich will address the group at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 9:30 at Longwood at Oakmont, 500 Route 909, Verona, Pa. 15147.

Marketing Admissions Supporting Healthcare (MASH) co-chairs/founders Sandra Harcarik of Gallagher Home Health Services and Kerry Beck of Senior Living Advisors formed the progressive organization nearly a decade ago with the mission to exist as a community resource for seniors, families and professionals through education, special events and networking.

Mastovich’s interactive program focuses on “real-world” solutions that lead to better planning, more meaningful calls, stronger relationships and more closes. He encourages the audience to embrace the fact that marketers indeed are “selling.”

Mastovich’s book Get Where You Want to Go, How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling will be available during the presentation and audience members will have an opportunity to subscribe to his column/blog Light Reading, which has been featured in more than 50 media outlets with readership of more than 1 million.

RSVP’s are required for the MASH East Networking event. For more information, contact Amy Rabo at 412.826.6104 or

MASSolutions President David Mastovich Named to MSPA Board

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America (MSPA-NA) has named MASSolutions President David M. Mastovich to its Board of Directors.

Mastovich will be installed on the board during the 15th annual MSPA North America conference and exhibition. The Sept. 24-26 conference will be held at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Mastovich officially will commence as a voting board member on Jan. 1, 2014.

“MSPA North America is widely recognized as the leader in customer experience measurement and management, and I truly appreciate and embrace this opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors,” said Mastovich, who more than a decade ago founded MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm with offices in Pittsburgh and Johnstown.

MSPA North America is the trade association representing the customer experience metrics (mystery shopping) industry throughout North America. MSPA has additional regions located in Europe, Asia/Pacific and Latin America.

MSPA’s goal is to improve and stimulate the acceptance, performance, reputation and use of mystery shopping services worldwide as a critical component of any customer experience metrics program.

A member of MSPA North America since 2010, MASSolutions helps clients build brands, tell stories, increase sales and enhance customer satisfaction.

Prior to founding his company, Mastovich held senior management positions with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Duquesne University and Dame Media, and has a track record of improving the bottom line for organizations in various industries.

He is the author of the book Get Where You Want to Go, How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling. His column/blog Light Reading has been featured in more than 50 media outlets with readership of more than 1 million.

For more information contact MASSolutions’ Christina Grantz at