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The ALS ‘Ice Bucket’ Challenge: When Schtick Becomes a #PRWin for Charity

Lou Gehrig Speech

It is called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and before the New York Yankees of the 1930s, no one really knew about this tragic disease that attacks the neurons in your brain that connect to the spinal cord. Even the top ALS advocacy group will tell you that:

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease.

When the ‘Iron Horse’ got afflicted with the disease, ended his historic career in baseball, and gave what is easily one of the top three speeches of all time, ALS got a much-needed nickname — “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The foundation got its own sort of kickstarter campaign as well. Awareness went up. Involvement went up. And donations went up. And now, decades later, we have people dunking themselves in ice water. To wit, I say, “Whatever works.”

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Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Raises $6 Million Thanks to ‘Viewers Like You’ (and Seth MacFarlane)

When we first told you about LeVar Burton‘s Kickstarter campaign to resurrect Reading Rainbow in a web-based format aimed at giving classrooms and kids everywhere access to an unlimited library, the fundraising goal was to reach $1 million by the second of July. Only a few days into the campaign, on May 29th, the campaign had already exceeded that goal. Overwhelmed and inspired by the support, Burton then decided to shoot for a “stretch goal” of $5 million.

As of this writing, with five hours left in the campaign, over $5,150,000 has been raised. Factor in comedian Seth MacFarlane‘s recent pledge to donate another million all by his lonesome, and Burton is looking at well over $6 million.

So what does exceeding the goal mean for Reading Rainbow?

A colorful GIF (below) explains exactly what the extra money will allow Reading Rainbow to do, including the creation of mobile apps and free subscriptions for thousands of in-need classrooms. And since there’s still time to donate, the Kickstarter page currently has this promise posted: “We have reached our $5M stretch goal and can help 7,500+ classrooms. Now, EVERY $100K helps another 500+ classrooms!”

Is it too early in the year to call this the greatest Kickstarter campaign of 2014? Possibly. But that’s not going to stop this PRNewser writer/bookworm/library enthusiast/childhood-Burton-admirer from declaring it so.

 

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Affordable Hearing Aids: A Crowdsourcing Case Study

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Crowdsourced funding is a mainstay among startups, but there’s a subtle art to it–and by its nature it’s never a sure thing.

A company called iHear recently completed a very successful crowdsourcing effort; president Adnan Shenib wrote that the company’s “Indiegogo campaign…resulted in achieving more than 3 times our initial goal” thanks, at least in part, to the “successful placement of key articles and interviews.”

We spoke to Jonathan Abramson, president and founder of iHear AOR bluetone Marketing & Public Relations, to learn more.

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George R. R. Martin’s Epic Charity Campaign Going Strong

Win A Wolf Sanctuary Tour and Helicopter Ride with George R.R. Martin - YouTubeWho better to raise money for a wolf sanctuary than the resurrector of direwolves himself, George R. R. Martin? And what better way to encourage donations than to offer fans a chance to die at the author’s hands like so many of their beloved characters (not to mention the dozens of extras who died during last night’s half-hour battle)?

So far, over $300,000 has been raised by Martin’s four-day-old campaign to support the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and The Food Depot of Santa Fe, and two people have already won the highest honor (their very own grisly deaths being written into the next book) by each donating $20,000 to the cause. But if you couldn’t quite afford such a hefty sum, fret not!

With just over $150,000 to go before Martin’s $500,000 goal is met, there are still some epic prizes up for grabs as of this writing, including a hand-written thank-you note ($1,200 donation), a signed and dedicated Game of Thrones book ($600 donation), and T-shirts and other memorabilia for smaller donations. Plus, each donor is automatically entered to win the grand prize: a helicopter ride to the wolf sanctuary with the famed author himself. Martin describes the future excursion this way: Read more

LeVar Burton’s ‘Reading Rainbow’ Kickstarter Already Exceeding its Goal

LeVar Burton wants the web to save reading and _Reading Rainbow_ | The Verge

Just like it always did, “Reading Rainbow” is counting on “viewers like you” to bring access to books and excitement about reading to children across America. And “you” are seriously stepping up to the fundraising plate.

By now, you’ve likely heard that the classic show’s longtime host, LeVar Burton (who may have been our childhood hero), has taken to crowdsourcing website Kickstarter to fund the resurrection of “Reading Rainbow” in a new, web-based format that would bring an unlimited library to kids everywhere and schools most in need.

Though Burton launched a successful Reading Rainbow tablet App two years ago, he points out that not every child has access to tablets, either at home or at school, but 97% of American children have web access. As the Kickstarter page explains: Read more

Meow Mix Launches ‘Catstarter’, Which Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

Remember when Charlie Kelly of “It’s Always Sunny” invented Kitten Mittens? Well, maybe such an ingenious cat-related product would have taken off if only a feline-centric crowdsourcing cite had existed.

Enter Meow Mix and Catstarter.

The website and campaign were thought up by agency EVB, and are meant to encourage cat-lovers to release their creativity. The site is set up like the well-known crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, but is geared specifically toward “things cats love, made by people who love cats.” The best part is that you don’t even need to donate your own money to help your favorite idea become a reality — you can just vote for the products you support, and Meow Mix will pay to bring the most popular inventions to fully-functioning life. Read more

Duck Dynasty, Amazon Show The Pitfalls Of Big Data

big dataAndrew Ross Sorkin revisits the Duck Dynasty controversy in the latest T Magazine (the New York Times supplement that comes periodically with the Sunday edition) to find out how things went so wrong. Not for Phil Robertson, but for A&E.

Social media chatter and Big Data indicated that everyone backed A&E in its decision to suspend Robertson for his offensive comments. However, even when you’re reading the data correctly, the conclusion may be incorrect.

“Many of the negative tweets weren’t coming from the show’s core audience in the middle of the country. Instead, they were coming from the tweet-happy East and West Coasts — not exactly regular watchers of the camo-wearing Louisiana clan whose members openly celebrate being ‘rednecks,’” Sorkin writes.

So all that backlash came from people who weren’t fans of the show to begin with. As a result, A&E backed down in the face of support from the show’s actual non-tweeting but loyal viewers.

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Time Out New York Wants Your Best Food Porn Pics

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Today in Crowdsourcing Content news, Time Out New York managed to combine editorial, social media and friendly competition in a clever promo campaign.

To be specific, the image on the cover of the mag’s upcoming, always-popular Food & Drink Awards issue will come from a certain Instagram user with a gift for picking a great spot and composing a great shot.

The rules are almost painfully simple: post a pic taken at one of the many New York bars/restaurants on the Readers’ Choice nominees list (no selfies), add the tag #TimeOutFoodAwards…then sit back and wait for the instant gratification that will almost certainly never arrive.

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Finally! A Barbie-Like Doll With Realistic Proportions (But She Could Use a Better Catchphrase)

1When we first read that artist Nickolay Lamm was raising $95,000 on CrowdtiltOpen to create a Barbie-like doll with the proportions of an average, living, breathing young woman (with no need to carry her vital organs in a handbag), we very literally cheered.

Let Barbie have her gargantuan breasts, spiky stilettos and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue spread — this new doll can still wear pretty clothes and chase exciting careers, but she can also keep all her vital organs where they belong. Finally, a doll a mother can give her little girl without the twinge of I-might-be-fostering-low-self-esteem-and-unrealistic-ideals guilt.

We read excitedly, thinking: “What’s her name?” “How are they promoting her?” “Tell us everything!”

Her name is Lammily, and her catchphrase is “Average is Beautiful.”

Wait, what?

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Real-Life Barbie Doll Wants to Become Living Blonde Stereotype

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Please send your hate mail to this bimbo … if she can read it.

Meet Blondie Bennett.

Certainly, that’s her legal name, or at least one that she can spell without phoning a friend. This 38-year-old nimrod has one idol that challenges her to reach for goals, climb to new heights, and become a better person. That idol is Barbie.

Yes, as in the plastic doll that recently posed on the cover of Sports Illustrated and known for having an unrealistic body. So, other than the alterations that you can see has already taken place, she plans on doing this — Blondie Bennett wants to become “totally brainless through the practice of hypnotherapy.”

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