We pause in our musings on the fundraising industry to offer a review of horn-tooting – these are our thoughts on our self-promotion at the Bridge Conference.  Back to less-overt blog posts soon!

The Harrington Agency is the new kid on the block; we’re seven months old. Our only identity is the one people have of individuals on the “Dream Team” staff. So while we set and achieve high new standards for our clients (ooh, thinking about hauling in a few MAXIs next year!), for a short window of time we have the opportunity to define our group persona to the world. That is –

-        We believe in excellence, and relish the chance to aim higher and remake the world. (Yes, every company on the planet can and does say the same.)

-        We seriously love working with each other and are proud to work together. (With only seven people so far, we’re small enough that every single person matters. One day – Global Dominance Strategy soon to be in effect – we won’t live in each other’s pockets this way, and we won’t be able to say the same. But for now, these people are my tribe, my people, my family – and I couldn’t be happier about it.)

-        Having this much experience – and having sterling industry-wide reputations – means we can be free to take a few creative risks; we can dare to be a little goofy. Are YOU going to tell Jessica Harrington she doesn’t take this work seriously? Of course not.

So for our first Bridge Conference (the biggest industry gathering of the year), we had a little fun. Our self-promotions took place in three areas:


It’s surprising how few companies ran ads for the Bridge Conference on Google, given that most companies in attendance preach the Digital Integration Gospel. That gave us a nice opportunity to nip at attendees as they made their plans for the Bridge.

We ran three different ads on Google, identified the keywords most likely to bring our ads to attendees, and threw together a few landing pages that tooted our own horn. We aren’t rolling in the Benjamins (yet – see above re: Global Domination Strategy), so we didn’t spend a lot of money.  

That got us a whole boatload of impressions and a boost to our website. Not Global Domination – yet – but a lovely little wake left in the water behind us to remind others that we are on the prowl. If you’re not running digital ads, find out why not – because someone else is, and they’re breathing down your neck.


Our sponsorship at the conference got us space on the signage with all the big boys. (Today, a Horton-hears-a-Who “We are here, we are here, we are here!” Tomorrow, the sound of Godzilla stomping on Tokyo. Se above, re: Global Tokyo-Stomping Strategy.) We flatter ourselves that our THA logo looked pretty eye-catching on all those signs!

The sponsorship also enabled us to put our names on two of the charging stations. We frowned over that one for a while; we’d done some pretty good bag stuffers for the DMANF Conference in February touting our sponsorship of the Internet, but the charging stations weren’t lending themselves to anything creative that didn’t make us all go “meh”… until Tracy Lea discovered that each charging station had a video display on it where we could demonstrate a little zesty personality. I threw together some copy (cool and thoughtful for the cool and thoughtful personalities, goofy and entertaining for the goofy and entertaining personalities). Here is the result, which made me squeak with joy when I saw it at the conference:


With our sponsorship, we also earned the right to include something in the Conference swag bag. We were kicking around ideas (I was actively promoting a long piece of string to make a cat’s cradle with – yawn) when Adam Ruff thought of holding a scavenger hunt.

Like an Air Force jet landing on a carrier, suddenly the conversation went from mach three to ZERO – not a word was spoken until we’d all wrapped our minds around the gleeful, silly, clever, entertaining opportunities presented by a scavenger hunt. Then we erupted. HUZZAH!!

We liked it because it wasn’t formal, it captured our playful energy, it asked people to think in a new way, it could be integrated into a digital experience, and it was different… just like us. We decided that if it were sprung on us, we’d assume it was just a way to collect info to contact us later – like a “put your business card in the fishbowl for a chance to win a new iPad!” (You know you won’t win the iPad; you know you ARE buying yourself a cold call from someone trying to sell you something.) So we agreed to wipe the data after the conference.

I scribbled doggerel for four challenges, all designed to be completed at the Bridge while sitting in the back row of a session that had begun to drag. Here’s how high-brow the copy got:

Don’t get left upon the shelfie,

Take a pic and post a SELFIE.

Make it formal, make it silly –

We’ll send your next clue willy-nilly.

Yep, I know. I expect to be notified by the Nobel Prize in Literature committee any day now.

Adam developed the hunt along with Robert Fisher. We printed a bag stuffer invitation in an appealing side-load envelope (with the teaser GET A CLUE printed in scarlet on the outside) because while we love our digital universe, mail packages are where we came from. We used the Bridge app to promote the hunt during the conference to 20 people each day – the app’s limit on messages. (Actually, Bob Fechter and Rusty Varney used the app, since they weren’t attending the conferences and thus weren’t distracted at every turn by the chance to catch up with old friends and schmooze for new clients and contacts.)

The four challenges were to take a selfie, vote for Best Dressed at the conference (or as Adam referred to it, “Best In Show,” which thrilled me. Imagine morphing the Bridge Conference with the Westminster Dog Show. You’d pay to attend, wouldn’t you? Sha), solve a riddle using the internet (I referenced Google in the clue but we linked to Bing; haw! Best laid plans…), and donate $5 to either the DMAW’s Educational Fund or the AFP’s Scholarship Fund (donations THA is matching). Everyone who completed the scavenger hunt won a Tile – a clever thang that you can attach to your keys (or other valuable and easily-misplaced item) (teenager, dog, naptime) (no, not naptime) so you can always find it with your smartphone.

Then we waited… jumpy as new hostesses wondering if anyone would actually show up to the party.  And then people began to play – success! We whispered to each other throughout the Bridge; how many now? Any more? That many?  Excellent!

Here’s the fascinating thing, though – roughly twice as many people visited the registration page but did not continue with the hunt. WHY?? I begged Adam – “Don’t wipe the info until I can email those people and ask them why they didn’t register!”

Patiently, Adam explained “We don’t have their email addresses, Pru. They didn’t REGISTER.”

Oh. Duh.

I'm going to be wondering for months now. If we decide to do the scavenger hunt again next year (if it doesn’t get in the way of the Global Domination Strategy), we’ll need to do some market research – find out how to make it more alluring, more entertaining, more appealing. You know – more THA. If you have any thoughts on the “why,” I would be most pleased if you’d tip me the nod in the comments section.

By the way, by popular acclaim the winners of Best In Show – no, I mean BEST DRESSED – were:

Tuesday: Janet Seeley, Grantmail

Wednesday: Jonesy Stone, Armed Services YMCA

Thursday: Christine Hamma, Exponent Philanthropy

All-Conference Honorable Mention:

Greg Albright, PS Digital, for achieving votes on all three days!

Disagree? Think it should have been you? Think frivolity of this nature has no place here where hordes of consultants descend on helpless development officers forced to run the gauntlet just to glean a small glimmer of knowledge? Let us know; vent here; sing it to the choir! And maybe, just maybe, if you liked what we did let us know!