Not a day went by without some variation of that quote being uttered in the cubicled walls of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s national offices during 2010.
In this age of declining hunter numbers and the continued detachment of our society from the outdoors, we’ve added a habitat battlefield in cyberspace by launching aggressive campaigns to reach new audiences in 2010. I call this new theatre of battle “Cyber Conservation.”
On the surface, it’s easy to point a finger at the incongruent nature of marketing to folks gripping keyboards and joysticks with a message asking them to drop those devices and get outdoors. But in reality, taking our conservation message to their screens is pure Darwin adaptation to survive in today’s battle for attention, members, and habitat acres.
Not only do today’s new media tools allow us to “talk” about conservation to audiences that have raised their hand with interest in what we have to say, we can also add personality and immediacy to our messages far easier than in any of the more traditional mediums.
And in no uncertain terms, one of our goals is to make conservation “cool.” Why is “coolness” important to a conservation organization? When you look across the landscape of this country and see our habitat losses, the massive decline in quail numbers across the southeast, Iowa’s pheasant collapse, and the frighteningly low number of young bird hunters; it’s easy to see we need to inspire the masses to pick up the cause of conservation.
Will cyber conservation make it cool to be a member of Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever?
Will Facebook move the masses and motivate a new generation of conservation volunteers?
Time will tell, but we’re certain to fail if we don’t try. And when the cause is conservation, failing isn’t an option.
High Points in Cyber Conservation during 2010
- · Pheasants Forever’s Facebook Page is closing in on 25,000 fans; boasting the largest online community focused on pheasants, pheasant hunting and habitat conservation.
- · Likewise Quail Forever’s Facebook Page counts over 2,000 friends and also has the largest online quail community.
- · Our eNewsletter, On The Wing, is the granddaddy of this group. This monthly email publication started in 2007 and recently won First Place as the best email newsletter created in the state of Minnesota during 2010.
- · At Pheasant Fest in Des Moines last February, we turned a $200 camera and Federal Premium Ammunition’s support into our first foray into YouTube with our video “Storm Reports.” Since then, we’ve continued to offer video vignettes as topics seemed appropriate. Look for more regular video posts in the coming year.
- · We dipped our toes into blogging with the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Club Outdoors in the fall of 2009 and parlayed that success into our own Pheasant Blog site in early 2010 and Quail Blog site more recently. Today, our blogs account for almost a third of our entire web traffic and Pheasant Blog was also awarded First Place for the best blog site originating in the state of Minnesota.
- · And if social networking didn’t push the conservation envelope far enough, we entered the evil world of video games with Pheasants Forever’s Wingshooter for Wii. I think Andrew said it best; “if we aren’t in front of kids where they are at, how are we ever to expect them to know Pheasants Forever in the first place?” With Wingshooter, we hope to introduce Pheasants Forever, the fun of bird hunting and our conservation message through the instant gratification of video gaming.
- · We also took Pheasants Forever on the cyber trail in 2010 with the Rooster Road Trip. Not only were we successful in illustrating the value of public lands to bird hunters, we tripled a normal week’s new members signed up through our website.
- · Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Twitter pages and have earned new media contacts and corporate partners with our daily tweets.
- · LinkedIn has also opened our pheasant and quail conservation messages to an elite group of business and government professionals.
- · In early December, a philanthropic member approached us with a $25,000 matching donation and a trio of passions: his yellow Lab, the value of CRP as habitat and an embrace of our new online efforts to recruit members. The result of that generous gift and those ideals; the Bird Dogs for Habitat Campaign in which each dollar donated is a vote for your favorite breed of bird dog. Today, we sit $6,500 shy of reaching our goal with a little more than two days remaining. My money is backing the German shorthaired pointer. Have you made your year-end tax deductible donation yet?
What’s next? Texting – it’s coming next month. Mobile apps – possibly.
Do you have an idea for the next frontier of Cyber Conservation?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.
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