Big Changes

I first started blogging while in college in order to stay relevant in PR and hopefully catch the attention of future employers. However, over the past few months my passion for travel and exploration has been pulling the focus of this blog from the PR perspective. As a result, the posts on this website have been all over the place. I’ve decided to scrap PursuingPR and divide the best posts in two places.

An entirely new blog, UphillVoyage, will be a new project for my life experiences in travel, outdoors, and occasionally, books. I have an updated bucket list, and a new focused plan.

On the other hand, I will continue writing about PR issues and trends in a new blog section of my portfolio.

It’s going to be a bit confusing for a while, but I encourage everyone to go follow my new blog, UphillVoyage.

Clarity of the Wild

This last weekend, George and I took Friday off and ventured north into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. My dad and his wife, Micheline, own a picturesque cabin near the tiny town of Creede.

I want to make something clear, when I say picturesque I’m not referring to luxury. Deep in the heart of the San Juan National Forest, without cell phones, internet, or electricity, this quaint cabin is basically glorified camping. Far nicer than a tent, still more rustic than an RV. The last leg of the drive is one long dirt road that winds past the Rio Grande Reservoir. Multiple times on the drive, our car lurched into a pothole while George ignored the dusty road to soak up the enchanting views.

Cabin
The cabin we stayed in is one of the smaller ones on the left.

We spent the next few days hiking up mountains and learning about coniferous mushrooms. We pulled up countless mushrooms, at least a dozen in variety, and bent over a small brochure describing the different varieties. We fantasized about a backpacking trip where you survive on native plants in the area, although I wasn’t brave enough to nibble on the mushrooms we did find.

Mushy

I will often rave about how travel will teach me about other cultures, but ultimately, I love experiences that teach me about myself. Travel does that, and wilderness does that. You learn about who you are when you push yourself higher up a mountain, deeper into the forest. For me, the best hikes always feature a moment where the world seems to stand still and silent. You don’t need Machu Picchu for that. You don’t need the Pacific Coast Trail, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone National Monument. Obviously, there are some amazing things to see in each of these areas, but the real art is finding clarity and beauty without going to extremes. Just get outside and push yourself physically and mentally.

Hands

I adore this quote from a recent New York Times article, Go Take a Hike!

So when the world seems to be falling apart, when we humans seem to be creating messes everywhere we turn, maybe it’s time to rejuvenate in the cathedral of the wilderness β€” and there, away from humanity, rediscover our own humanity.

It’s something that’s always been true for me, “in the woods we return to reason and faith.” I’m extremely lucky to be on such an amazing earth. πŸ™‚

Β 

ALS and Public Relations Awareness

Over the past few weeks, social media sites have been flooded with videos of peers and celebrities dousing their selves in ice water to promote the ALS Foundation. Although there seem to be different versions of the challenge, the gist seems to be that nominees are required to either donate $100 to the ALS foundation OR have a bucket of ice water poured over your head. You then pass along the challenge to three friends, reminiscent of a 90’s email chain. “SEND THIS TO THREE FRIENDS OR ELSE.”

As a result, annoyed users are beginning to question the practice. The most common argument is that the entire point of dousing yourself with water is to avoid donating the suggested $100.

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Despite this, the ALS Foundation has received millions in donations from the campaign. “As of Sunday, the association said it had received $13.3 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.7 million during the same period last year.” (New York Times) I know that might be a bit confusing, but this entire “ice bucket challenge” is just an extremely successful public relations campaign. Even more interesting, the ALS Foundation doesn’t appear to have started the movement. Originally, the challenge was to donate to an organization of your choice, but along the way the focus shifted to ALS. The gods of communication must have helped them out.

Back to public relations…

There are three main types of objectives in every PR campaign; awareness, acceptance, and action. More ‘obscure’ diseases such as ALS often suffer from lack of awareness. As the ALS Association’s lead fundraiser explained, β€œIt’s very difficult to fundraise because most people have never heard of ALS and its a very complex disease to discuss and explain.” (Washington Post) The goal of this fundraising campaign, unplanned as it is, was primarily to raise awareness for the disease. That’s the first step towards motivating people to donate.

Brilliantly, action is tied into the challenge as well. No one said you have to donate, it’s just a suggestion. If you don’t want to, just douse yourself in cold water, an awesome way to have fun and appear charitable on Facebook. Writing a check is considerably less fun. However, now that you know about ALS and it’s devastating effects, you might feel motivated to donate as well. Obviously, thousands of people have.

As critics point out, you’re actually not all that charitable if you just dump water on your head but it’s engaging, it’s fun, it’s a challenge. A challenge that prompts awareness and action from the public, and ultimately raised $13 million dollars for the ALS Association.

Most companies will not be so lucky in their fundraising endeavors, but take this challenge as a lesson in how to be successful. Research simple ways to engage, entertain, and challenge your stakeholders. If you do it right, your message will echo across social media.

Or, in lieu of researching your audience, just do a PR dance to the communications gods. It’s worth a shot.

Rebecca Martineau

Running for UBECI

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I grew up, and currently live, in a small town in northern New Mexico. So I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed that my Ecuador adventure ended up as front page news. I’m not looking to be glorified because I spend a few weeks donating what I could in a foreign country. In fact, the experience raised a lot of questions for me, that you might have noticed in my “Voluntourism” post. Still, there is one message I DO want to get out there, that the newspaper failed to mention.

I am so blessed to have the ability to interact and learn from these children, but they need something more concrete than the limited presence of foreign volunteers. They need books, puzzles, and a larger local staff.

 

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Kim and I are both trying to raise money to send back to UBECI. We feel that the program is suffering from a considerable lack of resources. This is so important to me, and it would mean the world if our friends and family would support us. We aren’t asking for large monetary gifts, just whatever you can spare. Additionally, we are both going to run a half marathon in October to physically show our commitment to the cause. For more information, I’m including the description from our gofundme page.

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For those of you who may not know us personally, our names are Kimberly Boerigter and Rebecca Martineau. Recent college graduates, we just returned from a fantastic trip to Ecuador. While there, we partnered with UBECI ( http://ubeci.org/site/), a Quito-based volunteer program, for four weeks. On the surface, UBECI provides a free daycare service to families who work in local markets. Typically, children in these situations are pulled from school to work alongside their parents and help provide the family with more income. The program offered by UBECI not only relieves parents for a few hours, but also gives these kids a chance to enjoy their childhood. In addition to playtime, volunteers often bring activities to help teach them reading, counting, and basic social skills. The programs are led by extremely qualified teachers who help plan and customize weekly activities for the different age groups, but supplies are lacking. While in Ecuador, we were able to donate our time and love to these kids. However, the need for better funding was undeniable. Many of the books were well worn from constant use and a good portion were not even in Spanish.

We will both be running half marathons on October 19th (along with our significant others) in hopes of gaining support for the UBECI program. If you have heard about our experiences in Ecuador, or simply feel compelled, we encourage you to donate. All of the money raised will be sent to UBECI to help alleviate the cost of educational books and supplies for the children. Having lived for four weeks in the same house as the Ecuadorian man who started the program during his early twenties, we feel very confident that all funds will be put to good use. We really appreciate your generosity, and would be more than happy to answer any questions pertaining to the program we worked with during our stay. Thank you to UBECI for allowing us to participate in unique experiences and IVHQ for setting us up with UBECI.

Click here to donate.

Thank you!