Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project – where’s the community at?

The other day I took the time to sign up for support of the Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project after seeing the star studded sign-up campaign video starring, among others, Harrison ford, Pele and the Dalai Lama, who introduces himself as “a simple Bhuddist monk.”

According to Charles’ webcast above, the aim of the digital campaign is “to build an online community to call, from the bottom up, for urgent action to protect the rainforests by the time the worlds leaders gather in copenhagen for crucially important international climate discussions…”

The thing is, after signing up I found myself at a loss as to what to do after reading the info and watching the videos. I love the concept of creating an online community of advocates, but there’s no social element encorporated into the site.

Where, Charles, is this online community you hope to create?

When signing up there’s the option of forwarding the message to your email contacts which, for me, was useless as I don’t use email as my primary means of communication with my peers. Effectively, they are trying to create an online word-of-mouth campaign without utilising social media.

There’s a widget which you can grab, that will tell you how many people have signed up because of your influence, and the opportunity to create a mash-up video of your own with the frog (although this part of the site is not yet live). Yet they seem to miss out the most fundamental element of an online community: discussion.

Where can I go to talk to other people about the issue? How can I talk with people from the organisation? Where’s the link to the facebook group and the twitter feed, or the blog?

Clearly a lot of time and effort has been spent creating strategic partnerships and celebrity endorsements, and they’ve made a good decision reaching out to the online community,  but don’t seem to have quite grasped the mechanics of it all.

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About Tom Craik

Senior Account Executive at Finn Communications, a PR and Word of Mouth agency based in Leeds. Baby face. Northern Monkey. Attention junkie. Space man. Fake tan. Dancefloor dreamer. Analyser. Deliberator. Wordsmith. Book worm. Head in clouds. Telecaster. Dance floor master. Closet rasta. Free love. Fresh jokes. Old gear. Naff beard. Existential. Influential. Left of centre. iPod. Math rock. Psych Folk. Dropping dubstep. Chicken Balti. Laos. Berlin. Bass bin. Circle pit. Guggenheim. Baltic. Cabernet. Globalised. Wired. No house. No car. Going places!
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4 Responses to Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project – where’s the community at?

  1. Michelle Allison says:

    You make some good points Tom.
    Discussion is key, and inviting peoples response is only effective if the organisation then engages with the audience. Getting people to simply sign up isn’t enough.
    Perhaps they should have employed the services of a web 2.0 expert…I know a few now…. 🙂

  2. laura610 says:

    To my mind word-of-mouth is a very exciting and powerful tool to reach your audiences. But as it is mostly about having others tell your story for you I see the lack of networks of people who can ‘light the fire’ in your example, too. I think it shows that marketers face a challenge to harness the power of viral – it is not a matter of course that every viral marketing campaign succeeds. But if it does and the idea takes off on the Internet it can drive a company or its brand to fame and fortune.

  3. Amanda G. says:

    According to one of the promoters of this project, beyond watching the video and signing up, people around the world can show their support by visiting the Prince’s Rainforests Project on MySpace, following the project on Twitter or by becoming a fan of their Facebook page.

    Maybe they hope that the discussions and word-of-mouth advocacy would take place on these sites. But I do agree with you, engagement on the main site is key to create a stronghold- some kind of ‘community-base’, rather than having a scattered one across several social utility sites. Clearly, more thought should have gone into the web 2.0 dialogue angle…

    • postmodernpr says:

      Yeah I guessed that was the idea, but it certainly isn’t obvious. In my opinion there should be a section on the site that makes this clear.

      “Join the discussion/ community etc” with links to facebook, myspace, twitter etc. The site should be the hub that directs people to these sites and brings the discussion sites together.

      On second thought, it is more of a design issue rather than a fundamental flaw in the thinking behind it. It just needs better execution.

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