Three of the most important types of
help for the less fortunate people are web sites, homeless centers
and organizations, and street newspapers. One of the big
problems is getting the word out to the people. The promotion
of these three are difficult because of the barrier that stands
between the helpers and the less fortunate whom need the help.
All thought all three are different from one another many of the
same techniques are used for the promotions. The following
are the best ways that have been used for the promotion of these
three forms of opportunity.
Many people just toss the letter
aside in the trash like junk mail. That letter is from
their local homeless shelter asking for donations. Sure
this simple letter is a good way to get donations, but how does
one go about letting the people in need know about this place
of opportunity. There are many obstacles that stand between
the center and the people it is designed to help. The
promotion of shelters is not the hardest feat. Try getting
a web site designed to help the less fortunate to them.
To view the site it is a must to have a computer and access
to the internet. This is where the local libraries and
centers with terminals come in. Another area of focus
is how street newspapers are so effective at reaching its audience.
As far as advertising this is a quote from an interview with
Don Stanley, the operator of with a local homeless center in
Spartanburg, South Carolina, “All we have to do is get the word
out to one person. Then there is a chain effect and in
no time the word is all over town” (Stanley). Here are
the many ways that have been used to promote the following web
sites, centers, and street newspapers that are designed to help
the less fortunate.
The sad part about having to promote
all of the things designed for help is all of the problems standing
in the way. For instance the fact that most of the less
fortunate people do not know how to read or write. Most
of the time even if you get a flyer or a paper out to the less
fortunate they are not able to read it. This is one of
the hardest obstacles to over come. If they can’t read
the material they get then it does no good. There are
a few remedies for this such as they could have someone who
is literate read it to them or there can be tutorials set up
in the different centers to show them how to use it. Another
major problem that is in the way is the people who don’t care
and take time to do their part to help out. Most people
don’t care whether or not the homeless people get help because
that homeless person is not they. This locks in with another
one of the big disadvantages and that is money. The shelters
and sites are non-profit organizations and have no funds to
promote. So they have to rely on free ways of advertisement
and often have to ask people for money to get the promotions
up and running. When the people who don’t care about the
homeless gets the letters they just throw them aside and pay
them no attention. Patti Kelly, the founder of PK Outreach,
Inc., is finding it hard to get funding for her non-profit organization.
Since there are no donations coming in the centers have no means
of getting together the material it takes to let the homeless
people know of the opportunities (Kelly). Some of the
other small disadvantages are the fact that some homeless people
just don’t care about making anything of their life and the
problem of the people at the tutorials not being nice to the
people. That makes it very tough to help when they have
given up from the beginning. Even if the people in the
tutorial help sessions are willing to help they don’t let them
save their information to their own disk. They think that
just because the people are not like them that their disk will
cause the public computers to have problems. Possibly
the most important problem that ties in with the lack of support
is the fact that it is so hard to keep the shelters open with
no help or contributions from the public. When the center
fails to get up enough money to pay the banks for the loans
they get foreclosed on. More and more centers are being
closed down and the homeless rate keeps increasing. First,
we had to look at these problems in promotion so that we could
find a way around this so that we can understand all of the
reasoning behind these different options.
The internet is the hardest thing
to promote. The main reason is that your audience has
to have access to a computer and the internet to be able to
see it. That is not easy when your site is pointed toward
helping homeless people also most of the operators of these
sites did their sites out of their heart and love for humankind.
Therefore they don’t try to promote it because of lack of time.
One such person is Dee Southard who is the person who maintains
one of the Colorado Homeless sites (Southard). Based on
e-mails to site operators some of the options that have been
the most successful are passing out flyers, bulk e-mails, putting
<meta> tags in so search engines will pick them up, registering
with search engines, registering with a web ring, pop ups on
terminals in libraries, face to face conversations, radio advertisements
and through churches.
The reasons the flyers are so successful
are because even the homeless can see them. Flyers can
be posted on main streets and in local shop windows. It
won’t be displayed in only upper class areas where the targeted
people cannot read it. The only disadvantage to this means
of promotion is the literacy factor but it still seems to be
productive. Flyers make it possible to cover a large area
in no time. After posting them in key areas of a town
and just pass a few more out and it has been shown to create
a 75% increase in hits on a site (Freeman).
A less effective means along the
lines of a flyer is sending out bulk e-mails. If the less
fortunate do have an e-mail address they will receive the e-mail.
This is targeted more towards getting donations from the people
who are better off. Overall this is not a real effective
way of promoting a site.
Many web pages insert meta tags in
their sites with key words so search engines will pick them
up. For instance if a less fortunate person gets access
to a terminal and goes to a search engine and types in “homeless”
all of the sites with the word “homeless” in its meta tag.
This way of advertising has its advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages are that people can get access to it from any
computer through any search engine and it is free to get them
and put them in. However, two of the disadvantages are
the targeted people have to know how to use search engines and
the web site operator has to be familiar with HTML format.
After the meta tags are inserted the site manager has to go
to different search engines and register the sites. This
makes it to where those sites will be shown when certain key
words are typed in. The big disadvantage to this is the
fact that some of the big search engines require money to be
registered with them. However, most of the search engines
do it for free. That is a huge plus for non-profit organizations
because they don’t need to try and gather up money for this
type of promotion. These two together combined are a huge
plus if you can get the less fortunate people on the computer
and educated about search engine use.
Going along the lines of promoting
on the internet is getting involved in a web ring. One
example of this is the “Street Ring”. Here is the process
to show how simple it is: first you fill out a form stating
your name, business, and your web page URL. Then you insert
the links provided by the manager of the ring. Then an
e-mail is sent to the manager to tell him that it is up so he
can check it for content and to make sure everything is installed
correctly. Finally, your web site is inserted in the ring.
This makes it a lot easier to get your site to the people it
is targeted to reach because all they have to do is get to the
first site on the page. From there the can click a button
that is to go to the next site in the ring. Eventually
they will get to your site just by searching through other sites.
If the people get into the centers
or the libraries to a terminal pop ups on the computers are
very effective. These pop-ups are a piece of paper that
is folded to form a tent. On the front of this paper is
the name of the site and on the back is a description of what
they will encounter on your site and why they would want to
go there. This type of promotion is very effective if
you can get these pop-ups on all terminals that the less fortunate
have access to and if you can get them to the computers.
There is nothing like face-to-face
advertisement. Some sites get volunteers to go out to
the less fortunate people and talk to them about the certain
sites and how they can get to the specific sites if they get
access to a computer. Sometimes this method is even combined
with the flyers because the targeted people might forget what
they are told between the times they were talked to and the
time they get to a computer (Stanley).
Another type of promotion that is
better for the centers and sites is by radio. The reason
it is good for the centers and sites is the fact that the radio
advertisements are free because they are public service announcements.
So the radio station picks up the cost for the advertisement.
Plus it doesn’t cost a lot to have a radio so radios are abundant
among the less fortunate. Plus this doesn’t call for someone
to be able to read to get the information.
Announcing sites in church are a
good way to get the word out to a variety of people. The
main reason is because the fact that other non-profit organizations
come to churches to promote their organizations. Plus
many of the people in churches go out and help the less fortunate
people. Actually some organizations pass out flyers to
people in churches so they can hand them straight out to the
All of these different approaches
to promoting a web site are moderately successful. However,
some are more successful than others are. The three that
are the most successful are: flyers, pop-ups on computer terminals
in libraries and centers, and being registered on search engines.
The flyers and pop-ups are successful because it can cover a
large area and be very descriptive. By registering the
site on search engines it can be accessed easily by the less
fortunate as long as they know how to use a search engine.
All of these methods make it possible for the less fortunate
people to know about web sites made to help them out even if
they have never used a computer.
Homeless Centers and Non-Profit Organizations
All though the homeless centers and
organizations are easier to promote than web sites it is by
no means easy. As with the web sites flyers, face-to-face,
radio advertisements, and churches are also widely used for
the centers and organizations. However there are some
ways a center or organization can be promoted that a web site
cannot. These different ways are advertisements in a newspaper,
banners, phone calls, in different magazines/newspapers, television
commercials, and even the local police department.
As with the web sites the flyers,
face-to-face conversations, radio advertisements, and churches
are utilized in the same way. The flyers are passed out
among different key points in town. The different centers
get volunteers to go around and spread the word by mouth to
all of the less fortunate people. The radio advertisements
are free because they are public service announcements.
The different organizations go to the churches and tell about
the situation they are in and what they are doing to get help.
For instance Patti Kelly, who started PK Outreach, Inc. in 1995,
travels to local churches to try and get help. She actually
has an agreement with a local church to take a certain percentage
of the offering money to put toward helping the less fortunate.
An advertisement in a newspaper is
an effective means of getting the word out because even though
it cost to get a newspaper many are left behind at places like
in a trash can or in bus terminals. This all comes from
an interview with a less fortunate person from the downtown
Spartanburg area. It is not very hard for a less fortunate
person to get heir hands on one (“Junebug”). There is
not a town that does not have a newspaper and most of the times
the newspapers let the centers or organizations put advertisements
in as a public service announcement so the centers don’t have
to pay for it.
Probably the easiest way to get the
word out to a whole town with not much effort is by putting
up banners. The banners do not call for any effort from
the less fortunate either because all they have to do is just
simply walk by a banner and see it and remember the address
and go to the place. The only disadvantage that comes
along with banners is the fact that the people have to be literate
but one way to avoid this is to put key words on them that even
illiterate people would recognize as help (“Whitey”).
For instance, just right shelter or even just homeless help
center and they would realize it would offer them some type
of help and if nothing else gets them into the center.
This next type of promotion is not
really effective in getting the word out to the people it is
designed to help. Rather it is targeted in getting funding
from other people in the community. Many shelters and
organizations have volunteers who do nothing more than call
different large businesses to try and get them to donate money
to their cause. Even though it doesn’t seem to directly
get in touch with the less fortunate the big businesses spread
the word to smaller businesses and it will eventually get to
the people that they are targeted to help and even get donations
in the process.
Along the same lines as a newspaper
article are all of the different weekly publications like Creative
Loafing. In the December 18, 1999 issue the homeless situation
in Greenville, South Carolina is discussed (Crawshaw).
Also it tells all about the Greenville Rescue Mission and all
of the things the center has to offer. Some of these publications
are free so it is readily accessible for even the less fortunate
people to get. The disadvantage is that these weekly publications
only rarely do an article on how to help the less fortunate
As odd as it may seem one of the
most effective means of promotion is by a television public
service announcement. Many may say well how do you plan
on getting the less fortunate people televisions. Well
the answer to that is not to get them televisions but getting
them to televisions. This is a quote from one of the less
fortunate people that goes by “Porkchop” on how televisions
help promote the centers. “Many appliance stores have
their TV’s in the front of their stores. We just stand
there for hours at a time and catch up on the news. Every
now and then a commercial will come up about local homeless
shelters” (“Porkchop”). This is evidence that this type
of promotion is capable of reaching its targeted public.
Believe it or not even the local
police and hospitals do their part to contribute to the promotion
of these centers. According to Lieutenant Peter Mcnealy
they are instructed to carry any homeless person they pick up
on the street to the local homeless shelter. Even the
local hospitals are told to refer the people to the homeless
help centers so they can go there and recover or recuperate.
This is not a very good way of getting help to a large number
of people but the people who do find out by this method are
very happy about the consideration of the officers and hospital
Based on the interviews with the
people who work at the local centers and for the organizations
the three most productive means of promotion are distribution
of flyers, putting up banners, and public service announcements
on televisions. The flyers and banners are able to affect
a large area just by being posted in heavily populated and heavily
traveled areas. The public service announcements are so
successful because of the fact that the less fortunate people
has access to them for free.
There are basically only three main
types of promotion for the street newspapers. The main
way that it gets promoted is the people on the side of the roads
that hand them out. These people are on the same lines
as the homeless people and therefore they do not intimidate
the homeless people. So they are not afraid to go get
one. Two other ways that are moderately successful are
the handing out of flyers and on the internet. The street
newspapers have a broader audience than any of the previous
two, web sites and homeless centers. This popularity is
contributed to these three factors.
Basically the flyers are distributed
like all of the other times they have been used. Except
they are not as important as previously shown. The flyers
are not as valuable because the people are out on the street
handing out the papers so why do they need to hand out the flyers?
Still they serve a purpose by covering a large area and letting
large groups of people know by posting the flyers with the newspapers
name on them and then where they can go to pick up their free
A majority of the street newspapers
are on the internet. This way they are readily accessible
to a variety of people. This helps the less fortunate
because the upper class get a hold on these papers and see just
how good some of the people can right and are willing to donate
money to their cause. Plus if the less fortunate people
can get on the internet they can see the different street papers
from all over the United States. Most of the different
places that have the newspapers on the net also have a little
part dedicated to helping the people find a shelter in their
Perhaps the biggest advantage that
street newspapers have over web sites and homeless centers is
the fact that the people on the streets handing out the papers
are not upper class, snooty people. Therefore the less
fortunate are not afraid to approach them for the paper because
they are not intimidated by the people selling them.
The street newspapers have a bigger
audience than the web sites and the homeless centers.
Based on a conversation with a homeless guy, “Pinky”, in the
Spartanburg area here are the reasons of this is the fact that
the papers are written by the less fortunate people so it is
easier for them to associate with the writer. They have
nothing in common with the people who write these other big
time publishings. Another factor is the street papers
are free. The final reason the street newspapers are so
much more promoted are the facts that the face-to-face promotion
is so great. When one person gets a paper they can’t help
but tell all their companions about what they read and it is
so easy to relate with the writer because the writer is one
of them, the less fortunate (“Pinky”).
All of these factors combined are
what make the street newspapers more effective in getting the
attention of the less fortunate than the web sites and the help
centers. When flyers are passed out and it is available
up on the internet it is pretty clear why they do so well.
When you add in the factor of the person handing out the papers
is one of their own conditions it just adds to the reasons of
why they are not afraid to go and get one. Also another
major factor is that it is like reading the works of their own
kind. When they see a big time newspaper they cannot relate
with the people who wrote it. However, when they see the
street newspapers they are written by the people who are reading
it, the less fortunate.
These are three totally different
types of help for the less fortunate. Regardless of the
type it is evident at how hard they try to get the word of the
opportunity they offer to their audience. Until they learn
how to overcome their big problems they are facing it will still
continue to be difficult. If they can figure out a way
to overcome the literacy problem, the fact that the people in
the tutorials aren’t willing to teach the less fortunate, and
the fact that they need money donations or they are shut down.
When they eliminate these problems the organizations can start
focusing solely on the problem at hand, the less fortunate people
and getting them help.
The continuing problem of getting the less
fortunate people access to computers is all that is standing
in the way of web sites being able to help them tremendously.
The most effective ways of promoting these web sites to the
less fortunate are by flyers, pop-ups on the terminals in libraries
and centers, and by having the web site registered with search
engines. All of these have been proven to be very effective.
When you move on to promoting the
homeless centers and the helping organizations it gets a little
easier. The main reason it gets easier is because the
fact that the less fortunate people can actually see these centers
or buildings for the organizations. It is not possible
for them to see something that is in cyber space. The
most effective ways to promote the centers and the organizations
are passing out flyers, putting up banners locally, and broadcasting
public service announcements on television.
Finally, the most successful form
of help, as far as promotion goes, is street newspapers.
These papers are successful because of three main reasons:
the passing out of flyers, the accessibility of all the different
papers from all over being posted on the internet, and the simple
fact of the person handing them out. The less fortunate
are not intimidated by their own people handing out the papers,
so they are not afraid to approach them and attain one of the
papers. These combined make the street papers so successful.
There are still a lot of obstacles
that remain in the way of the promotion of these great opportunities
for the less fortunate. When there is a way to eliminate
the few problems that still remain the promotion will steadily
start getting easier. Over all promotion has come a long
way with the increasing use of the internet. Still there
are a lot of boundaries that need to be overcome. Using
these different forms of promotion the web sites, homeless centers
and organizations, and the street newspapers hope to reach out
and be able to help more less fortunate people.