The Revival of the #IceBucketChallenge

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

In the summer of 2014, #IceBucketChallenge was trending and over 17 million people dumped ice on their heads (or a friend’s) in the name of raising money for ALS research.

This viral craze raised over $115 million and the funds did not go to waste. Two years later, the ALS Association has made a breakthrough and discovered a gene that identifies ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. After announcing the new research, #IceBucketChallenge began trending again.

One thing for public relations professionals to think about is how a campaign as simple as dumping a bucket of ice on your head thrived across the world.

The trend got started with the cause of just giving to any charity close to your heart, until Pete Frates, former Boston College baseball player with ALS, took the challenge. The rest is history.

So what made the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge successful?

  1. Social media. If someone wasn’t on social media in 2014, it’s pretty rare that he or she would have heard about the challenge.
  2. The campaign was personal. Facebook’s research shows that the trend started from Frates’s post on his personal page.
  3. The challenge is continuous. Whenever someone completes it and tags their three friends, those three have to complete the challenge next. The tagging gets even more impressions as friends of the friend who competed see it.
  4. It was a fun and easy challenge. In the middle of summer of 2014, it is fun to see friends dump buckets of ice on each other in the name of helping a good cause.

When you’re creating your next public relations campaign, consider some of the key strategies that made the #IceBucketChallenge successful.

Cayli Allen is a public relations major at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she serves as the Chapter secretary of PRSSA and is a member of the PRSSA National Industry News Subommittee. She also works in the marketing department of RFD-TV and plans to go into the entertainment field. You can chat with her on Twitter: @Cayli_Allen.

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