McKinney and Urban Ministries of Durham Check in at Foursquare

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Agency and Downtown Durham’s Emergency Services Provider Use Social Media to Fight Homelessness

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Social media is a great way to educate the community about UMD programs to help the homeless. It also enables us to reach out to potential volunteers and donors and get people talking about something too many of us ignore.

Foursquare fans in downtown Durham might be surprised to see some new check-in locations: an abandoned warehouse, a tent in the woods and a vacant storefront, among other locations. It’s not a mistake but rather a social media initiative created by McKinney for Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD). Launching today, the initiative will highlight these unlikely locations while utilizing the social media platform Foursquare to build awareness of homelessness in Durham.

Key Facts

  • When Foursquare users log on at popular Durham locations, they’ll see some unexpected destinations in their list of “nearby places,” from “old construction site” to “dumpster in the alley.”
  • The “tips” section for each of these unusual locations offers a message about UMD’s focus on homelessness prevention, re-housing, and emergency services.
  • Users can check in to the UMD-created locations -- basically donating their Foursquare status to raise awareness about Urban Ministries of Durham.
  • Friends of users who share their check-ins will see updates like, “Brian C. checked into abandoned doorway,” spurring them on to learn more about the cause.
  • The check-ins also make it possible for Urban Ministries of Durham to track exactly how many users have received and engaged with their messaging.

Supporting Quotes

Patrice Nelson, executive director, Urban Ministries of Durham
“Durham is a thriving city, but there are people in our midst who are struggling. Social media is a great way to educate the community about UMD programs to help the homeless and those at risk move forward in their lives. It also enables us to reach out to potential volunteers and donors and get people talking about something too many of us ignore. Partnering with McKinney gives us yet another tool to spark these conversations that can, in turn, spark change.”

Jonathan Cude, chief creative officer, McKinney
“Our 2009 campaign was an award-winning traditional advertising effort that included television, print and outdoor media. In 2010, we’re taking advantage of new media vehicles to engage people with UMD in a whole new way.”

“We’ve become used to tuning out those things we don’t want to acknowledge. The contrast between the leisure activities of Foursquare and the sober realities that Urban Ministries of Durham addresses will, we hope, shake people out of their comfort zone and show them how they can share some of what they have to help other people enjoy better lives.”

About Urban Ministries of Durham

Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing food, clothing, shelter and supportive services to neighbors in need since 1983. UMD is the initial access point for services through Durham’s homelessness continuum of care network. UMD focuses on homelessness prevention, homeless re-housing, emergency assistance and collaboration with community partners to assist people in need. In addition to the Community Café, Shelter, Food Pantry & Clothing Closet, UMD provides structured case-management services for shelter residents through the Journey Program. This program assists families, residents struggling with addiction, those with special medical/mental health conditions and residents seeking to enhance their job skills to secure employment and housing. For more information on the many services provided by UMD, please visit .

About McKinney

McKinney is an independent advertising agency focused on game-changing ideas that make extraordinary things happen. McKinney is reinventing the conversation between people and brands through the integration of offline, online and social media and through the relevant application of new technologies.

Founded in 1969, the Durham, NC-based agency’s clients include Coldwell Banker, Abbott Nutrition’s EAS, Gold’s Gym, Big Boss Brewery, Nationwide Insurance, Newell Rubbermaid’s Aprica, Nike, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Qwest Communications, Sherwin-Williams, Brown-Forman Corporation and Zenph Sound Innovations. For more information, visit or McKinney’s blog at , or follow @McKinney on Twitter.

UMD Media Contact
Amy Barefoot
Barefoot Public
(919) 451-3515

McKinney Media Contact
Janet Northen
EVP, Director Agency Communications


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