Dec 21

I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike

Guest Post By Matt Purdue, Peppercom

As the first 10 years of the 21st century draw to a close, one of the most successful social media tales of the decade is still peaking. It offers great lessons for anyone involved in this emerging communications space.

December 21 Eldon Nelson, 43, started his blog in 2005 as a way to share his tongue-in-cheek experiences riding his bike in an effort to lose weight. The Fat Cyclist became popular thanks to Nelson’s everyman approach to a subject to which many of us can relate. But, ironically, Nelson’s blog really took off after his wife was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Mixing equal parts humor, pathos and unabashed honesty, Nelson recounted his family’s long struggle with the disease in graphic detail.

After Nelson’s wife died in August 2009, traffic to his blog tripled.

Nelson has used the increasingly popularity of his blog to accomplish incredible good works. He helped form virtual teams of cyclists who raised more than $600,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. More recently, he inspired some 3,700 readers of his blog to donate more than $135,000 to LAF and World Bicycle Relief. The efforts earned Nelson a ride with Lance Armstrong and his new team.

Nelson’s formula presents a fantastic lesson for social media planners:
– Be honest…always
– Address subjects that people are passionate about
– Write with the everyday reader in mind
– Get your readers involved
– There are ways to measure success other than widgets sold

Happy holidays to Fatty and everyone out there.

Oct 07

In the pink

I just joined 175 other cyclists for the 220-mile Tour de Pink cancer charity ride. It was a great event for a critically important cause. I won't wax poetic about what it all meant to me but, to answer one person's question: 'Yes, it was worth all the pain and agony and, yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat.’ So, here are some random thoughts and shoutouts about my epic adventure:

October 7 - pink

– Helmets off to Matt Purdue (pictured here along with erstwhile Peppercommer Trish Taylor and me) for organizing the tour. This is the sixth year that riders have set out from Hershey, Pa., struggled to climb the heinous hills of Pennsylvania Dutch country and finish two-and-a-half days later in Bridgewater, NJ. Matt and his fellow organizers have raised $2 million for cancer research in the tour's six years.

– The survivors. There were about 40 survivors who rode alongside us on various stretches. Whenever my neck, back or legs hurt, I just had to glance at a survivor to suck it up and keep pedaling.

– Don Middleberg for donating $500 to support me. Don's always been a hero of mine (he created a great dotcom agency and chose the perfect timing in selling it). See you at the Kitano, Don.

– The friends, family and co-workers who pledged money. It all helps.

– The Mennonite school kids who would stop in the middle of their baseball game, step out of a 19th century-like existence and cheer us on (Trust me: it was like watching an episode of 'Little House on the Prairie').

– The Tour de Pink support crews. We had unbelievable support teams who carried our luggage, tuned our bikes and fed us along the way.

– Valley Forge National Park. I'd never seen it before. It looked cold and bleak in early October, so I can only imagine the wintery conditions of 1776-77.

– My trusty assistant, Dandy Stevenson, who made sure everything had been arranged in advance ('Not to worry,' the Tour de Pink people would say, 'Dandy took care of that for you').

– The other riders, who were incredibly supportive and only too happy to help with advice, suggestions, etc. The cry of 'car back!' is still ringing in my ears (That's a warning from the trailing rider that a car is rapidly approaching from the rear).

That's it. Check the Fox & Friends coverage and, if the spirit so moves you, donate a dollar or two to the cause.

Aug 17

How NOT to win friends and influence people

Kpbs_logo2_2Ever suffer through one of those never-ending Public Broadcasting fundraising efforts? They’ll debut some
very cool new documentary or concert that will draw you in, but then they’ll interrupt every 15 minutes or so with nattering program managers and pseudo-intellectual, B-level actors or actresses who implore you to give, give,

I take no issue with the strategy since PBS does, in
fact, need our individual contributions to continue providing the kind
of content that it, and it alone, seems capable of producing
(Frontline, The American Experience and any Ken Burns documentary come
immediately to mind).

So, why in God’s name, would a local PBS general manager at San Diego station KPBS, go out of his way to alienate current and prospective viewers cum donors with absurd, Neo-Nazi like comments?

This sort of boorish, ‘bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you’ behavior not only undermines the overarching PBS philosophy, it reflects poorly on the organization’s carefully crafted image of being the arbiter of all things liberal, avante garde and sophisticated.

So, here’s one pledge that PBS can count on: you can forget about any donations from this particular blogger/viewer until Neanderthals like San Diego General Manager Doug Myrland are given the hook.