Duke Lemur Center “Path to Tomorrow” Project: Premier Example of Effective Communications

2 03 2010

The Duke Lemur Center is a contender in the Pepsi Refresh contest, in which Pepsi awards $50,000 to the most popular projects aimed at making a positive difference. The Lemur Center’s “Path to Tomorrow” project description page on the Pepsi site represents an excellent example of how to create compelling communications on a limited budget. First of all, there’s the video, produced by the Center’s advancement officer Lari Hatley and her videographer husband Jeff:

The video combines basic techniques—simple panned-and zoomed still images, punchy text, dramatic music, and stock footage—to create a memorable, moving message. The video illustrates vividly how ingenuity is the most valuable asset in creating good communications.

Then there’s the page’s descriptive text, which is concise and compelling. For example, the title is a simple, effective statement that the project aims to “Save lemurs by growing public awareness through a new tour path.” Notice how the very first words are “Save lemurs,” which is a grabber phrase—a lesson that should be heeded by any communicator faced with writing a headline.

And the bullet points for the goals also grab readers and inspire them to action:

  • To increase the number of guests to the Center by 50 percent
  • To create an inspiring tour path easily accessible to all guests
  • To build four additional state-of-the-art outdoor animal habitats
  • To prevent the extinction of more than 70 species of lemurs
  • To use lemurs to enlighten guests about all endangered animals

Finally, the Lemur Center description introduces the center in a highly engaging way, using words that captivate readers and describe the Center’s mission in human-centered terms:

For more than 40 years, the Duke Lemur Center has been a safe place for lemurs. Today we learn from and care for more than 200 endangered animals, and we share our passion for lemurs with guests. By creating awareness, we hope to inspire a future generation that will learn from and care for lemurs.

All-in-all, an excellent, instructive communications package.

And now for a confession/commercial: I’m an avid supporter of the Lemur Center, and I urge you to go to the Center’s project page and vote for their Path to Tomorrow project. And do it every day until the end of March!

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