X-Message-Number: 12093
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 16:40:22 EDT
Subject: advertising and recruitment

Mr. Smith has asked about the costs of professional public relations or 
advertising. Let me simply say that our investigations from time to time over 
the years show very clearly that the cost is far higher than would likely be 
justified. I could dig out the numbers, but it would take time better used 
for other purposes.  And that is just the cost of advertising, not including 
the cost of professional consultants to scout the market and plan the 
advertising, if we wanted to go that route. 

As just one example, about three years ago the Discovery Channel did a full 
hour documentary, which has been shown countless times since, and produced 
very little. If we had had to pay for it, it would have cost, I imagine, at 
least $20,000 just for the production, without paying for the air time. Of 
course, that production included the obligatory negative sound bites by 
professional cryobiologists, yet overall it was positive and sympathetic, and 
I doubt that an advertising agency could have produced something notably 
better. There have also been many other less ambitious TV productions, which 
collectively have produced next to nothing, not to mention the countless 
print articles, some of them positive and sympathetic. If we had paid for 
that advertising, it would have been a whole lot of money wasted, even if we 
had had that much money.

By far our best results so far have come from the Web in the last year. We 
can put up as much copy there as we like; we can include color graphics and 
even animate them if we wish; and we can modify it as often as we like, for 
almost nothing except our time and effort. 

Of course, the medium is in flux and the future is uncertain. The number of 
browsers or potential viewers is growing rapidly, but the number of vendors 
competing for attention is growing much faster yet. There are also slews of 
vendors trying to vend to the vendors, and a couple of layers above that, and 
as time allows we are investigating some of these offers to assist our sales, 
but I don't hold any high hopes for buying banners or any of that.     

Now the nitty gritty. In my opinion, there is currently a pool of prospective 
members out there that is very small compared to the population, but very 
large compared to our present membership--tens of thousands, maybe even more, 
and slowly growing. The key points, in my judgment, are these:

1. Interested people need to be able to find us. In the past, this was not 
easy, especially for organizations that had not received the lion's share of 
publicity. Now, with the Web, they can find us, and that is paying off. We 
are working on ways to make ourselves even more noticeable.

2. In the past, it was very hard to reach people with much more than sound 
bites or the sloppy, superficial, skewed work of journalists. Now, we can 
make our case in full on the Web, and this is working. Needless to say, our 
presentation needs improvement, and we are working on that--and individuals 
can help. For example, send your organization photos of yourself and your 
family, and a little letter or essay about yourselves and your involvement in 
cryonics, how you became interested and how you became convinced and how you 
chose your organization. Readers love human interest and testimonials. Reach 
the emotions as well as the reason, as Smith and Pascal advise. :Provide a 
sense of community and of humane motivation. 

3. Don't abandon the unglamorous but needed work of patiently educating your 
own friends and relatives, and letting even acquaintances know of your 
interest. With a bit of imagination, it needn't be unpleasant or too much of 
a drag. You don't have to do it every day, but do it on some regular 
schedule. If each member could recruit one additional member per 
year    hallelujah. 

In short, do what is doable. Do what is already working, even if the success 
rate is modest. Do what costs you little or nothing except a bit of time and 
effort. Don't abandon the good in search of the better. Don't worry too much 
about break-throughs or brilliant new ideas or charismatic new leaders 
(welcome as these would be). Just do what you can, and keep on doing it.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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