In a past life, I was the Marketing Director for a web hosting company. I had an ad-hock background in online marketing from working on my own artistic projects, but I certainly wasn’t up-to-date on the latest tools and tricks. Of course, with the lightning fast pace of technology, being up-do-date is a constant challenge, but I was rather dismally behind the curve. Fortunately, my boss was happy to give me the time I needed to learn so I started reading everything I could find on Internet marketing best practices—from SEO and meta tags to social media and newsletters. By the end of my two years with the company, I was something of an expert on marketing strategy. I learned that all the frenetic updating and linking in the world can’t match a good person-to-person campaign. I think the online marketing experts would agree.
All of my research on voluntour organizations has illustrated one thing: we are all in the business of inspiring strangers. Many organizations are primarily focused on the work they do—the travel planning, liasing with local communities, establishing base-camps, and facilitating ongoing projects. Unfortunately, the business of voluntouring means publicizing your projects. It’s not enough to set up the infrastructure: you need to attract the volunteers. That’s where websites come in. We are all aware of the power of social media to help advertise a business, but many voluntour companies are also using their websites by incorporating fresh content and interactive elements to attract repeat visitors.
I don’t often think of celebrities as being capable of divorcing themselves from their public. Perhaps I’m jaded by US Weekly or The Oscars—If one more stick figure tells me what she’s wearing I’ll lose it emotionally—but, my own prejudice aside, celebrities are people too. Many of them are people who care deeply about the world they live in. Sure, they hire stylists to make them look celebrityish and publicists to make them act likeable. But simply being a celebrity doesn’t make you vapid or incapable of giving or caring, it just carries some baggage.