Here are a few facts you might not know about KU as OSU heads to Lawrence on Saturday.• Homecoming Unis. KU will suit up in their “limestone” edition uniforms for the Homecoming game this Saturday and Coach Gundy will be reunited with original staff member and former OSU special teams coach Joe Deforrest (or “Defo”). Defo did an incredible job with OSU special teams coaching the likes of Ray Guy winner Matt Fodge and all-time great Dan Bailey among others.• Near Miss on Russell. In July of 2011, Baylor quarterback Seth Russell was committed to play quarterback from the Kansas Jayhawks. He de-committed after then coach Turner Gil was fired and decided to look a little closer to his home in Garland, Texas eventually winding up in Waco.• Famous alums. Include Bill James (sabermetrician discussed in the movie Moneyball), actor Paul Ruud, most famous basketball coaches (Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Phog Allen, Ralph Miller) and• Broken Arrow Punter. KU Punter Cole Moos was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his monstrous 50.4 yard per punt average last week against Baylor, including an unreal 82 yard punt where he had one foot in one endzone and the ball was downed at the opposing three yard line. While Cowboy fans are very much contented with Zach Sinor, Moos hails from close by Broken Arrow.• Academic Advantage. As conference expansion was recently on the minds of the Big 12, KU with a struggling football program is at times considered to be an odd man out but something KU has working in their favor is they are an AAU (Association of American Universities) member.This indicates a stellar academic reputation (among other research requirements) that only 60 schools in the country have, but is essentially a must have if you want to join the Big 10 conference. Rutgers and KU football games would be… must-not-see football.• Rock Chalk. The famous “Rock Chalk” chant was started by a chemistry teacher on campus in 1886 for the science club. Originally “Rah, Rah Jayhawk, KU”, “Rock Chalk” was substituted as a tip of the cap to all of the limestone around campus that is often referred to as chalk rock. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Football NewsDavid Beaty really really really likes this OSU team. [PFB]Mike Gundy on Mason Rudolph: “He’s always been really tough when you think about it. He’s been tough, played with a broken foot (last season). I think he feels better.” [NewsOK]Ranking the first six uniform combos. Good post here. I would have black-black-gray and the traditional white-orange-white higher and Monster Chrome Pete lower. [CRFF]Get to know KU. Good stuff here from Steven Mandeville. [PFB]Not everyone hates 11 a.m. games. Here’s Devante Averette: “It’s like playing when I was little. We used to play 11 o’clock games. When you get up, it’s just time to ball. That’s what I love about the game. I’ll be ready.” [O’Colly]Previewing the second half of OSU’s season. [PFB]S&P has OSU by 19 and F+ has OSU by 16 this weekend. [Football Study Hall]Ramon Richards sets an alarm to remind himself how good he is. [PFB]Berry Tramel picks OSU by a TD. [NewsOK]Good reporting here on DeQuinton Osborne’s story by Kyle Fredrickson. Was a monstrous pickup by OSU. [NewsOK]How good is this? While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Just found this photo from the #okstate Iowa State game. How amazing is that dude’s face! pic.twitter.com/kXvzYp58H4— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) October 20, 2016I love it when Gundy goes rogue with his Twitter account. I want more.Stillwater band was awesome tonight! @Stillwaterbands pic.twitter.com/bcNufdf7kL— Mike Gundy (@CoachGundy) October 21, 2016Around the CountryI don’t understand how OU and Texas have possibly the two worst pass defenses in the Big 12. [LGG]This Louisville scandal is a mess, but Rick Pitino got off pretty easy. For Pitino and Louisville, that’s the most favorable way the NCAA could have framed one of the most salacious recruiting scandals in college sports history. [Yahoo]I honestly can’t think of a coach who has received such kid glove treatment for being in the middle of some truly sleazy stuff.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 20, 2016The worst fake punt in CFB history. Tough to argue. [Yahoo]I’m in, although I hope it’s not for another decade (at least).No question. I’ve always wondered if OK State would be in a position to get him home first … https://t.co/CrQxE4csCx— Travis Haney (@travhaney) October 21, 2016Expansion NewsThe Big 12 needed to get stronger to justify the efficacy of its conference championship game. It needed to add teams. Strong teams. Two would have been fine. Four would have been better. It needed to justify the creation of its own TV network. It needed to expand its brand into bigger markets. It needed to compete with the other Power Five conferences. It needed to stand up at a podium and bellow, “We’re here to stay.” Instead, it cowered before the spotlight and meekly whimpered, “We’ll be fine.” [O’Colly]70 percent of you think the Big 12 will die a slow death. [PFB]This is well said by Jake Trotter: “The Big 12 has to stop being its own worst enemy. You know why people think the Big 12 is unstable, unsteady and indecisive? Because its own board chair termed the league “psychologically disadvantaged.” The conference really wasn’t in that bad of shape at the time David Boren uttered that phrase.“The TV distribution was on par with the ACC and Pac-12. The tier 3 revenue some of the schools had been generating was beginning to be significant. Oklahoma was about to make the CFP and the Final Four. Instead of building on all of that, the Big 12 went predictably went haywire, and conducted a overly dramatic, drawn-out process that did nothing for the league except give it a championship game.” [ESPN]Baseball NewsOne big reason Andrew Heaney got the Roberto Clement award: He and wife, Jordan, made plans for another offseason mission trip to Honduras. They have taken a group there each of the past two years to work with Hearts2Honduras, a charity trying to break the cycle of poverty in one of the poorest countries in the world. [NewsOK]OSU’s 2017 schedule is out, and the highlight is probably a CWS rematch with Arizona. [PFB]Hoops NewsThis is awesome — Mike Cobbins and Anthony Hickey reunited. [PFB]Brad Underwood remains the dude, can’t believe a college pom girl doesn’t drink “skinny fraps.” [PFB]Brad Underwood and a culture of defense. [PFB]
Oklahoma State lost a key cog in one of the most productive units of the defense on Saturday, as Mike Gundy announced that redshirt junior defensive end Vili Leveni suffered a season-ending injury during the game against Kansas State.“We lost Vili today,” Gundy said after the game via The O’Colly. “Vili’s got an injury and he’s out for the year. We were kind of down one guy there.”Leveni was a key piece along the defensive line for the Pokes, as he provided a versatility that allowed OSU to plug him in both at defensive tackle and defensive end.There has yet to be an official report on the nature of the injury suffered, but it is worth noting that he also suffered a season ending injury last year that forced him to miss the entire football season.Glenn Spencer was bummed out about the whole thing.“He said, ‘I’m sorry, Coach. My bad,’” Spencer told the Tulsa World after the game. “Are you kidding me? I just hugged his neck and said, ‘You don’t have to be sorry about anything. You’re out there fighting, man, you’re a warrior.’ Yeah, he said that to me. I couldn’t believe that. That’s just how bad he wants to be out there.”This season, he racked up two sacks, and twelve tackles, and will now leave OSU dangerously thin at defensive end, with Jordan Brailford also still out after suffering an injury in the preseason.Cole Walterscheid and Jarrell Owens have taken over as starters, and with Leveni out, it’s likely that junior college transfer Tralund Webber and redshirt sophomore Trey Carter will see their playing time increased over the final weeks of the season. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
I broke this down a bit for the Iowa State game, but I think the Win Predictor for ESPN is a underutilized tool that deserves a double-take for the season so far.We are now three quarters of the way through the football season and I would say the success of the team in the minds of most fans falls somewhere between “most terrible nightmare” and “beyond wildest dreams” which, while not ideal, is not the worst place to be.While being fairly consistent performance-wise this Cowboys team has given us more than our fair share of ups and downs (I’m of course speaking in terms of both emotion and blood pressure).I talked in the earlier article about how fandom tends to live in this instantaneous reality where each game or drive or down is the highest or lowest moment we could ever comprehend but in reality life is much more consistent. This is superbly easy to see in this Win Probability chart and so I figured I could help us navigate our way through the three final and most treacherous games by looking back and taking three main lessons from earlier in the season.Let’s get to it and may all our cardiologists have slightly less business this year through the benefits of just a bit of perspective!The Three LessonsMason Rudolph has become one of the most clutch quarterbacks in OSU history.You can see the “chameleon offense” of OSU through these charts.Oklahoma State is a real contender for the Big 12 title.So obviously the Pokes struggled at end of game situations through the first few games, but around the Baylor/Texas games it seems like a switch flipped in Mason’s brain and he is a closing machine now.Pay special attention to the last 25 percent of each chart and you can see the improvement that is driven by QB1. You can also see the way Oklahoma State plays offense differently in each game as far as setting up slow drives in games like Baylor and WVU.This also gives us a decent potential gameplan for success against our last three teams. Other than Baylor which was pretty close to 50 percent through the game, OSU has been favored pretty heavily throughout the entire rest of the season. This is a good team that can play with the best of them.VS SELASo this was pretty standard as far as wins over non-FBS schools go. Not much to look at here overall. I have no clue about that uptick at the end but I’m pretty sure OSU was up 50 at that point so safe to ignore the anomaly.VS CMUThis is still pretty upsetting. The bottom section with the score, time, and probability. Ugh. But as we can see before the end, there were several large spikes in favor of CMU.Fourth quarter was obviously the first example of end-of-game difficulty for OkState and regardless of the way the game did *should* have ended they left the opportunity there for the Chips. Not the best look for OSU regardless.VS PITTSo OSU played a fairly strong game here, though you can see there is another bit of trouble at the end of the game once again.This is the most sporadic of all the win probabilities so far. The line is not smooth and it seems as though the win probability system may have taken a page from the fans! The jump towards the 50 percent line near the middle of the game is Mason’s fumble in the end zone which tied the game. Not yet very clutch.The last half of the game was fairly competitively even and it took a massive heave from Rudolph to Seales to finish off this [email protected] BUWell that’s not good. Lots of green on this line. The Pokes held up early and caused Baylor a few problems throughout the game, but for the most part, the Bears seemed to dominate this game. It felt that way while watching as well.You can see some interesting line movement here throughout the game. You can see the Cowboys’ drives are more of a slow upward slope, then Baylor gets the ball and there are large drops down.We know OC Mike Yurcich tried to take it B1G style to the Bears with slow grinding drives which kept the Pokes in the game for a while, but Baylor’s quick strike offense was just too powerful and took over the game by the end.VS UTThis is one of the Cowboy’s best Win Probability lines. This is also the first game which has shown the Pokes extending their lead near the end of the game and solidly defeating an opponent.What had been a struggle for OSU early in the season has begun to turn into an asset as we move towards the second half of the season. Up to this point they have faced tremendous pressure right to the wire and it appears the Pokes and Mason have finally found their recipe for “Clutch Mason.”VS ISUYeesh. Remember that thing where we learned how to finish? Well, I suppose this is a scary yet good example of that. With 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter Iowa St. had a 92.2 percent (!!!) chance to win. Then Clutch Mason happened.Three touchdowns and a drive resulting in a field goal to finish the game and steal the victory for the Pokes. While I would have liked the Pokes to have made this easier on my heart, their close finishes in the earlier weeks paid off and Mason Rudolph had plenty of confidence to grab a win [email protected] KUThe worst Win Percentage the Pokes had in Lawrence was 80.3 percent. That seems fair. Has Bill Self ever considered coaching the football team?VS WVU (Homecoming)Pokes were favored from the start and, though they struggled at the beginning of the game a bit, OSU clearly came out and shut this game down in the second half.Against a highly ranked West Virginia team Oklahoma State showed that they could both outplay and outlast their opponent without needing to give fans a heart attack at the [email protected] KSUA crazy back and forth game in the Synder’s version of Hogwarts ended in victory for the Cowboys. Honestly I don’t know how this happened and it still doesn’t feel real.KSU got all the way up to 94.1 percent chance of winning when they punted and pinned OSU at their own 8 yard line with eight minutes left and a nine-point deficit. But again, Clutch Mason. Wow.We’ve discussed if Mason is elite, and we have (and will probably again) talk about records he can break at OSU, but holy cow this dude can ball.There is enough on Mason Rudolph second half comebacks for its own post but this is one guy who does not bat an eye no matter the pressure. We’ve also talked plenty about our confidence level in Mason and how he stacks up to other historic OSU quarterbacks with the ball in his hands and the game on the line.There have been times when his short-intermediate passes have worried me, but gosh, seeing his composure there’s no one I’d rather have back in that pistol with the game on the line than No. 2.Looking ForwardSo what does all this tell us about the rest of the season? We play Tech in Stillwater, at TCU, and at Mordor Norman. Three tough games with three teams that can put up some points.If you quickly scroll through the win percentages so far this year, OSU has improved dramatically in 4th quarter and end-of-game situations. Gundy recently said his goal for the last four games is to be close in the fourth quarter and I fully agree with that idea at this point in the season.Mahomes, Hill, and Mayfield are all good QBs, but when it comes down to it, I have faith that Clutch Mason can pull off a win in just about any situation.Now if we can just get QB1 in a courtroom with some MAC officials to get us one more win….. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. As we wind down looking at Bedlam (thankfully) I wanted to look at the drive charts to see where it went wrong for Oklahoma State. Hide your kids. Hide your wives.OSU Drive Chart Where did OSU lose the game? How about punting on five of the first six possessions? OU has one of the greatest offenses in Big 12 history. You knew they’d score. You had to get a lead there, and all you could do was get three points. Sad!Yards per play: 6.5Points per drive (offense): 1.54Points per drive (defense): 2.92Points off turnovers: 0Average starting field position: Own 32Oklahoma State actually won the field position game big time. It didn’t get points on the only turnover it got, though, and couldn’t put any sustained drives together other than right at the end of the first half.OU Drive ChartOU essentially ended the game going TD-TD-TD-Fumble-TD-TD because Perine took a knee at the one with a few minutes left. That’s not how you close out a Big 12 title, but again, this game was lost by the offense in the first quarter.Yards per play: 8.9Points per drive (offense): 2.92Points per drive (defense): 1.54Points off turnovers: 0Average starting field position: Own 21That 2.92 number looks good because OU averages over 3.4, but if Perine scores it jumps to 3.46 so it’s really not all that impressive. Making them start on their own 21 was, though. #Sinor4Heisman. Also, how about those final six drives for OU? All over 50 yards, four (should have been five) TDs. Whoooo boy, Lincoln Riley gonna get paid.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. With the retirement of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, OSU’s head honcho Mike Gundy is now the longest, continuous tenured coach in the Big 12.Yes, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has coached longer, but even he took a break. TCU’s Gary Patterson has actually coached the Horned Frogs longer than Gundy has coached the Cowboys, but TCU didn’t join the Big 12 until 2012.While Gundy is the longest tenured, does Stoops’ retirement also make Gundy the best coach in the conference? That’s the question we posed on twitter.To be honest, the response was… as expected.AdChoices广告This week’s poll question: With Bob Stoops’ departure, is Mike Gundy now the best coach in the Big 12?— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) July 18, 2017An overwhelming 86%, or 1,490 of you who voted, said that yes, Gundy is now the best.While most of you voted Gundy, most of the comments were pro Bill Snyder.Here’s a sampling of some of the comments we received.“Still have to go with Snyder, but I would have done that before Stoops left too. One of the hardest places to win in the big 12.” – Zach Mauch“As much as I love Coach Gundy Coach Snider is still the best coach.” – Farmer“Not just because the other guy is gone…he always was!” – Kandice“Coach Gundy was already the best, before Bob left.” – Kirk WilliamsI, like most of you, am a diehard Oklahoma State fan. I bleed orange and have my own pair of orange-tinted glasses. However, I think this is a tricky question to answer. How do we quantify “the best”?Is it Big 12 titles? If that’s the case then it’s Bill Snyder who has two compared to Gundy’s one.Is it total wins? That goes to Snyder, too, who’s got 202.Or is it win percentage? The winner here goes to Gary Patterson with 73.4% compared to Gundy’s 67.5%.While Bill Snyder is a hall of fame coach for what he’s been able to do at Kansas State, he has been coaching longer as a whole than Gundy so he should have more wins. Plus, Kansas State hasn’t had a double-digit win season since 2012. Gundy has had three since then.Patterson may have a better winning percentage, but he won a lot of those games while coaching in Conference USA and the Mountain West. His winning percentage in the Big 12? 54.8%.If you want to claim that Gundy is the best coach in the league right now, I don’t think I can argue. Snyder is getting closer and closer to retirement every year. Outside of two seasons, TCU has been mediocre at best facing a non group-of-five schedule. Riley, Herman, and Rhule could be really good coaches, but they haven’t coached a single game at their schools yet.However, I don’t think I can completely disagree if you argue Snyder is still the best, even if he hasn’t been at his best the past couple of seasons.I think if Gundy wins the Big 12 this year, then the answer becomes undeniably yes, he is the best. Until then, the topic remains up for debate. Just not among OSU fans.
–Javarius Barksdale-BlairR-Fr.6-0175 NameClassHeightWeight –Lamarcus MortonFr.6-1165 Kick/Punt ReturnerWith all the playmakers on OSU’s roster, there is really no excuse for us not to see an exciting return or two this season. I have a feeling we’ll see more than that.Tyron Johnson is the first name that comes to mind. He already announced he would be involved in both kick and punt returns. Jalen McCleskey, it appears. will remain in the mix on punts. Expect someone like LD Brown to get a chance as well.If he doesn’t redshirt — I think he will — Chuba Hubbard could showcase his world-class speed in the return game. He’s gotten some burn at the position so far in fall camp. Throw in obvious stud Tylan Wallace or Dillon Stoner or Ja’Ron Wilson. Like I said, the Cowboys have no shortage of playmakers. 1Matt AmmendolaR-So.5-9195 4Madre HarperSo.6-1190 Place KickerThere is some good news on this front. It appears that long-range threat Matt Ammendola has made strides since the start of fall camp. Early in the spring, Mike Gundy said “Philly” was perfect on the long kicks but lacked consistency on the short, intermediate attempts. Reminds me of a certain Heisman candidate.Following OSU’s second fall scrimmage, Gundy talked about Ammendola’s progress.“Matt’s doing good,” said Gundy. “I like the timing of his kicks. Our protection’s been good. He looks comfortable in my opinion. I think he’s developed. It helped that he was kicking last year, even in a kickoff role. I think that kind of helped him through the adjustment of playing in what would be a pressure situation. Kickers are always in pressure situations so I like where he’s at at this time.”Behind the walk-on Ammendola is true freshman Jake McClure, an incoming scholarship kicker who was ranked as the No. 40 kicker in the 2017 class by ESPN and the No. 8 punter by 247 Sports.We know Ammendola has the leg. His one kick attempt last year was good from 53 yards and tied for fourth-best in OSU history. If he can handle the pressure and stay consistent it will go a long way in shoring up a crucial but overlooked need for the Cowboys.Predicted Depth Chart We’ve already looked at three position battles on offense that need to be sorted out this week. Now let’s turn our eyes to defense and special teams.CornerbackIt’s been the most-asked question for Oklahoma State since losing seniors Ashton Lampkin and Lenzy Pipkins last year. How good will Oklahoma State be at cornerback? The mystery increased with senior corners Ramon Richards and Darius Curry moving to safety.After practice on Wednesday, Mike Gundy talked about what he likes about his secondary and why it could be on the right track moving forward.“We’ve had to move guys around back there for a number of years and I think now we’ve finally settled on some young players that can stay there and have the bodies to play that position for a number of years,” said Gundy.AdChoices广告Those bodies are virtually all 6 foot-plus and rangy and athletic — traits needed to cover some of the outside threats Big 12 teams will throw at you.More exciting than their measureables is the actual skill that guys like A.J. Green and Rodarius Williams possess. Glenn Spencer even told PFB that moving Ramon Richards to safety was partially motivated by a desire to get some of these young corners on the field.“Ramon’s all about what’s best for us,” Spencer told PFB. “To get the best 11 on the field, that’s the best move.”Add in Adrian Baker, the most experienced of the bunch, who was slated to contribute on last year’s national championship defense before he got injured. And Madre Harper is aggressive and can make plays as well. Those would be my educated guess for the top four but expect some fluidity on the depth chart.While the coaching staff likes what they’ve seen from their young corners, to expect zero growing pains would be unrealistic and unreasonable. But what we’ve heard from the coaching staff and other players is promising for the corner position moving forward.Predicted Depth Chart 2Jake McClureFr.6-3195 3Matt HockettR-Jr.6-2215 –Bryce BalousR-So.5-11185 NameClassHeightWeight 2Rodarius WilliamsR-Fr.6-0180 4Kevin MahonR-Sr.6-0195 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. 1A.J. GreenSo.6-1180 –Malik KearseSr.6-0170 3Adrian BakerSr.5-11180
Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate with supporters. But if your emails aren’t reaching inboxes, aren’t sparking interest with a thoughtful subject line, or are too generic, there’s a chance your supporters won’t read them at all. Below are a few tips to help you personalize messages and refine your delivery strategy so that your emails are read (and enjoyed). Customize the “From” fieldThere’s nothing special or memorable about receiving an email from “office” or [email protected] But when you personalize the “From” address to send your campaign from an actual person, such as your executive director or a beneficiary of your work, you’ve taken the first step in creating a relationship with your supporters.Limit your subject line lengthThe perfect subject line length is up for debate. The rule of thumb is a 40 character limit, but some email clients display only the first 25. When in doubt, test across as many email clients as you can, and take a look at your open rates as you test.Perfect subject line copy You’ve got only one chance to make a good first impression. Your email subject lines can show how much you respect your constituents’ busy schedules by telling them exactly what they’ll find inside. Always avoid using ALL CAPS, dollar signs, and exclamation points, all of which will raise flags for spam filters. You should also avoid using words such as “free,” “help,” or “invite.” Try “complimentary,” “assistance,” and “confirm” instead. To increase your email delivery rates further, always use a spam filter test (Constant Contact has a great spam checker!) to scour your email header, subject line, body, and footer.Make it personal Formal salutations like “Dear Sir or Madam” can be appropriate when writing long form letters by hand, but with email, the expectations are less formal. Feel free to address your recipients with a familiar “Hi,” followed by their first name—provided of course that you have followed the email list building best practice of asking for first and last names.Bring it to a closeThe same advice to keep your content personal applies when signing off. Feel free to thank your supporters and be sincere, but remember to sign off with your own name to personalize the email further. Some organizations like to include a small photo of the sender to create an even more personal touch. The email’s closing also provides you with the chance to add one more reminder using a post script (P.S.) to prompt reader action. Be sure to take advantage of this, as it has proven to be one of the most read elements in emails.Test and refineWhen it comes to email marketing to any audience, there is no single proven path to guaranteed success. However, testing and refining your emails will help you better understand your audience and craft messages that raise more money while creating lasting connections.Ready to dive in to professional email marketing? Find out more about Constant Contact and start raising more money for your mission with email marketing. MedSend has raised over half a million online by combiningeffective email marketing with their online fundraising strategy.
In Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, branding and design maven Debbie Millman rounds up thoughts on brands, culture, and marketing from smart folks such as Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, and Virginia Postrel. This collection of interviews is a fascinating read for anyone who is in the business of communication and sharing ideas. Two key qualities of brands appear throughout these conversations between Millman and friends. These two qualities can help you focus your fundraising and marketing to clearly communicate your nonprofit’s unique viewpoint to donors and potential supporters. Identity.Your nonprofit’s brand is much more than your visual identity or carefully crafted slogans. The way your organization portrays itself to the world happens at a deeper level. The passion that fuels your mission, the people on the front lines, and the stories of those you serve— these are more powerful representations of who you are and what you do. Interestingly enough, your brand’s identity can take on a more personal meaning for your audience. When they become donors or volunteers for your cause, supporters take pride in owning the qualities of your organization and make it part of their identity, too. Questions to consider: How is your nonprofit’s true identity portrayed? Is it different than the one you’re publishing in your marketing material? How would supporters of your organization identify themselves as part of your tribe?Promise.Brands can explicitly or implicitly offer promises to their audience—in most cases they do both (whether intended or not). Beyond the explicit promises you make to your donors in your fundraising appeals or in your annual report (we are good stewards of your gift, we will use 90% of funds for program activities), your nonprofit’s brand becomes a promise in itself, implying certain values each time someone encounters your organization. This is why your work to maintain trust and transparency with your donors is vital. Of course when you’re making promises, it’s important to keep them! It’s extremely difficult for an organization to rebound from broken promises in the eyes of their fans.Questions to consider: What promises are you making to your community of supporters? What promise does your brand convey? Do these match what your donors would say?
Our daughter Charlotte’s world right now is probably familiar to many of you. She’s in the middle of a blissful summer at a few different day and overnight camps. At the end of every day, her mind and creativity are stimulated, she’s made new friends, and she sleeps soundly with a smile on her face. Charlotte finishes the summer inspired, energized, and smarter than ever.As a longtime overnight camper myself, I greatly envy her. Finally, this summer I decided to follow her summer camp strategy lead and am doing something completely different from the everyday. I’m taking a two-month sabbatical to refresh and restore—my first-ever break beyond a brief vacation since I rushed out of college to work.For many, however, a sabbatical isn’t possible, so I wanted to outline effective approaches used by fellow nonprofit staffers and consultants. I became a reboot detective, determined to find what’s working since rebooting is so valuable and so productive in teeing you up for a great fall and beyond.I did what I typically do when I’m looking for answers—ask my friends and colleagues. Here are some of the fantastic approaches I heard from our peers in the field:Seek a different point of view. Gillian Ream Gainsley, who works in communications and development at the Ypsilanti District Library in Michigan, does something very surprising.“My summer camp plan is to go to overnight camp. Literally. I’m on the board of a summer camp and spend a week volunteering there every year. It’s the most rejuvenating part of my year,” Gillian says.“Mostly, it’s a fantastic break. But I do communications for a youth organization, so it’s a great way to take a deep dive into how kids talk and think and feel. You have a much better sense of what their (and their parents’) needs are after a week of 24-hour interaction at camp.”Get together and get outside. Caroline Avakian, founder of Source Rise, which connects journalists with experts in international development, spends more time outdoors and with her family. “Not only is it necessary, but I find that it fuels my work and creativity, making me much more productive during my work time,” she says.Make a commitment to doing summer differently. Unless you’re lucky enough to actually go to summer camp, as Gillian does, it can be super hard to pry yourself away from the day-to-day routine, no matter how much you want to. That’s where I often fall.You’re much more likely to succeed in getting to your own version of summer camp if you formalize your commitment. I did so by telling a few close friends and colleagues about my plan and asking them to keep me honest. My husband is good at policing as well!I’m not alone here. “I have to consciously cut down on work hours to do that,” admits Caroline. “But it’s worth it since my productivity shoots up when I do get down to business. I tend to goal-set instead of clocking in my hours, so as long as I feel I’ve met my goals, I’m happy. That said, my ‘summer camp’ goals tend to be more focused on strategic priorities and organization. That focus gears me up and preps me for the busy fall season.”Take a new approach to the same old. Danielle Brigida, senior manager of social strategy and integration for the National Wildlife Federation, is one of the most creative people I know. She brings that creativity to the way she tackles her work, including her own version of summer camp.Like most of us, a lot of Danielle’s day is spent tackling ongoing challenges. Although the challenges themselves don’t vary wildly, she spices up the way she approaches them: “I break out the sidewalk chalk and the Idea Frisbee in the summer. I grab whomever I’m working with, and I just toss the Frisbee around when we need to think up clever names or ideas around campaigns. We find that moving while we brainstorm really helps.” Work your body, nourish your soul. Many of the folks I spoke with increase their physical activity when summer comes around or add seasonal treats like biking and waterskiing.Danielle, for example, goes way beyond the Idea Frisbee. “I went out on a limb and signed up for a marathon in Iceland in late August,” she says. “So I’m mostly training for that and spending as much time outside as I can. I also try to balance the running with yoga.”Connect with peers in the field to build satisfaction and smarts. Graphic designer Julia Reich uses summer’s slight dip in her firm’s client work to build relationships with other nonprofit marketers and, she hopes, find some strong strategic alliances.How will you get a little summer camp this summer? Please chime in with your comments to share how you recharge and look at things differently. With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.