National Football League Brings Awareness to Breast Cancer

Picture provided by NFL.com/pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and if you are a National Football League (NFL) fan you know happens next.  The NFL, its clubs, players and the NFL Players Association come together and to support the fight against breast cancer. The campaign A Crucial Catch, in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS), is focused largely on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older. The creation of this great awareness campaign was ingenious as it reaches millions of viewers every year to remind woman to get their check ups regularly.   It also happens to combine both my passions in life, football and fighting cancer.

Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, play with special game balls and the fields bare the pink ribbon stencils all to help raise awareness for this important campaign. All apparel worn at games by players and coaches, along with special game balls and pink coins will be auctioned off at NFL Auction.  Proceeds benefiting the ACS’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program. The CHANGE program provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women in underserved communities.

Since its founding in 2009, the NFL has raised over $3 million dollars through A Crucial Catch for the American Cancer Society. All 32 teams are currently participating in the program. Some NFL players even go above and beyond raising more funds by hosting fundraisers through other vaious creative ways. Take Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for example.  Larry lost his mother to breast cancer in 2003 and he uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to gain followers by donating 25 cents per every new “like” or “follower” he gets during the month of October. For more information on Larry’s personal experience with breast cancer, click here to watch a video on NFL.com.

Reports recently came out by The Huffington Post stating only 5% of the proceeds from A Crucial Catch program goes to the ACS. Although these numbers seem low, millions of dollars have been raised and more importantly million of lives will be saved by having these outreach programs it supports.  Breast cancer is no joke and stastics shows that the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8.  Personally I don’t like these odds so we have a lot more work cut out in the future. My beautiful mother Sandy battled breast cancer and will be celebrating another birthday this November because of great programs like this.  She is now 6 years cancer free.

Me and my mom Sandy

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A Sit Down Conversation with Lorrie Heber, Public Relations/Communications Leader in Terre Haute, IN

Lorrie Heber via Linked In

Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with one of the most respected professionals within the Public Relations field in the Terre Haute, IN area. Her name is Lorrie Heber, President of Trailblazer Communications. Lorrie is an accomplished, creative and results-driven communications and marketing professional with more than 25 years of progressive experience primarily in hospitals and healthcare. She is recognized as a multi-faceted leader consistently elevating the organization and its community in a competitive and rapidly changing environment. Lorrie is especially strong in the realms of internal and external stakeholder relations, key message development and delivery, and brand management.

She knew at an early age she would be in public relations. In the 60’s she moved with her family to Terre Haute, IN where her father was sales manager of a local a radio station. Lorrie assisted with his business by editing commercials, working on sales strategies and assisting with daily programming needs. She attended Indiana State University (ISU) in the Radio-Television-Film program ISU offered at the time but soon discovered she was not meant to become an on air personality so she altered her major to Speech Communications with a minor in Marketing. She later pursued a Master’s Degree in Leadership Development at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2008.

Lorrie held a few positions at Union Hospital over 20 years she was employed with them which all positions were in the Marketing/Communications/Public Relations field.  While at the hospital one of her cherished accomplishments was successfully navigating a community debate including City Council regarding the closure of a city street for the construction and opening of three major building projects including a $178 million hospital expansion completed in 2010. Union Hospital East Now Open Commerical is one of many great promotional videos that Lorrie created and posted to the my union hospital Channel on YouTube that will give you a sense of the magnitude of projects Lorrie worked on while Director of Communications/Marketing at Union Hospital.

After many years of building her career in a fast past environment, Lorrie decided to start working for herself. Currently President/Owner of Trailblazer Communications she stated her daily routine changed drastically and not all for the worst. After I had a clear understanding on where Lorrie got her start and built her career, I wanted to learn more about her take on the Public Relations profession.

Lorrie explained that in the PR profession there is not a typical work week. Making phone calls, networking, researching the internet, writing, and organizing herself are just a few things Lorrie spends a big part of her day. She keeps current in the PR industry by gaining memberships in her field such as being a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA), attends many conferences and reads articles on the internet. Lorrie mentioned the true PR profession is very limited in this area of the Midwest especially in Terre Haute. She wishes that could change in the near future.

“Writing is the most important skill you can have in my line of work”, Lorrie stated. She went on to add that she journals every day and practices writing to strengthen that skill. She then gave a few tips for me as she knows I am green in this field and need some helpful hints. The three main guidelines Lorrie gave me are to volunteer within my community, stay updated within my field and make sure you know how to explain the history/proof of the skill set(s) you say you bring to the table. Lorrie also added not to overextended myself. She said that I need to understand by saying yes to one thing, I am saying no to something else. This has really opened my eyes and made me really think about this profession in a new light. She stressed that balance is a key factor in the success to this field.

Lorrie sits on several Board of Directors of nonprofit organizations within the Terre Haute community. She most recently was the 2012 Susan G. Komen Wabash Valley Race for the Cure Chairperson as she is also a breast cancer survivor since 2006. After spending over 2 hours with Lorrie, I have realized Communications/Public Relations within a nonprofit organization is exactly what I want to with my career. I can use my passion for cancer awareness combined with my skills in PR to build a platform to spread the word to the world and hopefully one day have a world without cancer. To find out more about Lorrie Heber visit her Linked In page at Lorrie Heber LinkedIn. This by far was one of the most powerful discussions over coffee I have ever had.

Tweet Me….Please?

Picture via Twitter.com

How can nonprofits, or anyone in that matter, gather more Twitter followers when there are literally millions of people who are Tweeting everyday about everything under the sun? When pondering over this question I simply asked my teenage daughter how she gains followers on Twitter. Her simplistic answer, “just ask them to follow you in your bio and they will”, made me realize I was making this challenge harder than it really is.  It is extremely competitive within the social media aspects but I am going to take a different way of looking at how we can get new Tweets and not get overwhelmed.

I went searching on the internet for great advice and found sites and blogs that offered ideas such as the site by James Blute featuring 7 Twitter Marketing Tips. His insight was helpful and for a newcomer to the social media world I really appreciated his easy to follow tips.

Basically I had to start really thinking about the audience I want to attract to my cause. In my case, I am extremely new to Twitter but since I am a passionate cancer awareness advocate and want to get the word out to as many people I can in a very short period of time, I needed to learn how to Tweet and wanted to gain as many followers as possible to start. So to get followers you must follow others that are in the same field/cause you are in.

Start by doing a search in Twitter using target words that are in your cause that you feel your audience will be following. Do your homework and really read over their bios, look at what others are Tweeting about and if you like what you see then start following them.  Sometimes if you Retweet something you have the chance of gaining them as a follower in the future. Some view it as a form of flattery and will appreciate the Retweet.  It’s kind of like an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” scenario and we really need to tap into it especially in the nonprofit realm.

Another way to gain followers is to use the pound symbol (#) Twitter calls the hash tag. This will tag the word you pair it with and when others (like yourself in the beginning) are searching for target words they will find your Tweets and could possibly start following you. It’s really that simple. There are many ways to gather new followers such as noted in this great blog I found at 20 Social Media Resources For Nonprofits posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly.  It not only helped me find more resources, but it gave me great ideas on how to gain more followers on Twitter, gave me a list of people/groups that I should be following as well and helpful hints on using more social media that I have never thought about using before.

The world is out there waiting for you to grab it, you just have to ask yourself if you are going to be the first to hook or cast. Get to Tweeting my friends!