Making the ask at 35,000 ft: How Emirates does it.


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Can you make an ask at 35,000 ft?

On a recent international flight on Emirates Airlines, the flagship airline of the Dubai government, the pilot asked charitable support from passengers like me to give to the Emirates Airline Foundation, a non-profit charity. This is, despite forking out a fare that could get me a used car or  feed over 200 hungry people  back in the United States.

Airlines sell credit cards, offer miles, nickel and dime passengers with excess baggage fees and push stuff. Emirates does all this and adds philanthropy to the mix. “Please give us your donations in any currency so that your funds can go towards supporting the Emirates Airlines Foundation,” the pilot announced at the beginning and the end of the flight. And of course, the customary thank you. They remind passengers to put your donations, however small and in any currency in an envelope and pass it on to the cabin crew.

The Emirates Airline Foundation supports children’s needs and does worthwhile projects in India, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, to mention a few. Their mission is to support humanitarian organizations around the world working to improve the lives of children in need. Donations are  accepted in any currency and they use 95% of the funds to provide direct support to entities working to help children in need.

Passengers can also donate their miles that can later be used to fund travel for doctors, engineers and other volunteers working on humanitarian missions worldwide. You can also buy a signature Mont Blanc pen for $788 and Emirates will contribute 20% to the Foundation.  This is obviously targeted at the wealthy sheikhs traveling in first and business class across the Middle East. They might buy one just to sign up the customs form.

I was thoroughly disappointed at the quality of the ask at 35,000 ft as it was similar to a pilot announcing the weather. In the two routes I took, the ask came in between the pilot asking you to fasten your seat belts or thank you for taking the 14.5 hour non-stop flight. At this stage, my only thought was to jump out of the plane and not put loose change in an envelope to save the world.

We may soon see airlines hiring “flying fundraisers,” who at 35,000 ft could make a direct ask at passengers in first and business class. With tactful prospect research on the wealth profile of those occupying those seats, making an ask in the skies might just be a fun gig.

However, pitching philanthropy to the economy class. might be a tough ordeal. My Seattle-Dubai flight that I  fondly christened The Curry Express was filled predominantly with Indian techies, their wailing new borns and care-giver parents who were just waiting for the 14.5 hour ordeal to end.

I do not think anyone got the concept and I did not see any loose change going into envelopes.

Emirates has tactfully promoted the program internally through their information and entertainment channels. On The Curry Express, perhaps I was the only one who watched these out of curiosity.

The rest tuned in to Hollywood or Bollywood.

 

 

 

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Cross-pollinating content: Where will it take us?


pollinationDuring my school days, an elderly biology teacher taught us cross-pollination in  simple terms. Today, it’s interesting to see how content gets cross-pollinated across multiple platforms.

By definition, cross-pollination of content is very simple. We dust  pollen off, in this case, words into every conceivable content platform we can. Our craze for repurposing has led us to rewrite less. Instead, we spend more time identifying keywords for search engine optimization. As content gets monetized, we forget ideas that really impact the bottom line. What do consumers want?

In our hasty bid to create, market and cross-pollinate content, we sacrifice authenticity for choice words . We engage in a mechanical, thesaurus hunting expedition sacrificing creativity. We look for platforms to cross-pollinate content and forget, to quote William Zinsser that rewriting is harder than writing. Are we creating content that provides a new user experience, adds value and moves an individual’s decision-making process?

Research from Hubspot says that adding 15 new pieces of content will increase traffic on your site five times more. Great! But is that traffic relevant? At a recent seminar, content marketer Arne Keunn  gave out some statistics showing the growing power of sharing content online. Here are a few observations: 93% of people use search before making purchases, 86% of search is for non-branded items, 90% click on organic clicks versus sponsored advertisements.

According to renowned writing coach, Ann Wylie, marketers should be “attention creators,” not just content creators. Once you know what your customers want, develop content that is easy, intuitive and usable. Think strategically about cross-pollinating content across different platforms so that in every medium you become an attention creator. Optimize content for your audience, your audiences’ devices and promote it through your website. Make it fresh every week. Today, marketing begins and ends here.
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