Kill Poverty

It's Blog Action Day (tomorrow) and this year's theme is poverty. I have griped about Blog Action Day in the past (volume of voice does not equate to change). This year there is a bigger focus on action (good), so act. It's time for open source activism, so do your thang.

If you think for one second that a green planet will do any good for a world of souls suffocated by despair, think again.

There are countless ways to kick poverty's ass. If you're reading my blog then you probably want to take advantage of social media for your own cause. In that case check out Skelliewag's 30 tips on for beating poverty with technology (hat tip to Jared).

My recommended action: Learn more about microfinance and do something to further the work of microlending organizations near you. It's not just about Kiva (although they've done a great job raising awareness for microfinance at large).
  • Grameen Foundation: Check out their FAQs on microfinance. Each year, more than 18 million people around the world die from poverty.
  • NEST: The 3-legged stool is here. Nest helps imoverished women artisans in developing countries by selling their wares on the open market and giving them micro loans to sustain their work.
  • See Call + Response with a friend. It's opening week at the theaters. By buying tickets, you will not only help keep it in cinemas longer, you'll also want to thwart modern slavery like never before. I've seen it twice - it's tremendous.

    Proceedsf for Call + Response (a 100% nonprofit film) go towards groups working to end slavery. I love the Outpost store for the Not For Sale campaign - proceeds go back, and you're creating sustainable business opportunities for emancipated people. Smart!
Give money. It's a recession. Don't waste money on holiday gifts - give donations on behalf of your loved ones to help your global neighbors. Consider one of the causes above, or anti-genocide and clean water efforts. Poverty takes so many forms, and its perpetually entertwined with health and death. We can fix that.

We really can fix that!

Personal Brand Value or Bust

The wagons are circling. Every agency, corporation, publication and social campaign is amending its Q4 and 2009 game plan. New value propositions are taking shape in recession's dim light. Editorial calendars and ads are being nipped, tucked.

A fine time to consider your own ROI. Social PR practitioners (all employees), like our corporate bodies, need to earn our keep. While the economy hangs in limbo, call an early Auld Lang Syne to anything less than a clearly defined personal value proposition.


"A personal brand is your reputation. Pure and Simple," so says Ross Kimbarovsky of crowdSPRING. It's the culmination of online and offline digital escapades. The outcome of which - ideas, creativity, connections and energy - builds social capital (a.k.a. your brand equity). Your brand equity is leased by your company.

More than reputation, your personal value proposition channels your identity and personality into a meaningful, measurable value. The reason your company will want to keep you.

Consider the same factors for an enterprise's strategic value prop, with a personal twist. This should be easy - social media is by and large a Downfall Darling.

  • What is the unmet need of your target market (the company)?

  • How are you different from "competitors"?

  • Why and how does your performance successfully increase leads and operation efficiency?

  • How are you going to build your market share (value) among your target segments (boss, peers, direct reports).

Ultimately, your personal value proposition is what you do in tangible business results. Jeremy Epstein put together some starting KPIs for personal brand value. Shonali Burke (guestblogging for Kami Huyse) reminds us that ROI is about more than impressions.

Scarcity drives innovation, and competition. Don't let your value proposition go slip sliding away.

[Image credit: Mac(3)]

This is a cross post of my October 14 post on The Buzz Bin.

Recession 2.0 | Watch Your Back, Pass the Mic & Mind Your Manners

"Control of the message" has long been one of the most common potholes in the road to social media success. Tables might turn as those who have resisted now face widespread financial implosion caused by bail fail. Its time to say farewell to cloistered corporate mind sets, instead empowering your people to listen to and connect with other people. After all, employees are a company's greatest asset.

listeningpost Eyes and Ears: Ask Employees to Listen

Feedback is more valuable than ever, and it's never too late to track conversations. Whether a direct comment or overheard, input from stakeholders should flow across silos and be addressed. [Image credit: "Listening Post" by Fenchurch!]

What mechanisms do you have in place to monitor references of your organization? Is there a point person (community manager) or team paying attention to your brand mentions? Who is responding to feedback and how?

ihaveavoice Hands and Feet: Ask Employees to Engage

Your organization might have stellar strategy, tactics and metrics for social media engagement, but it has to give up the microphone. The voice belongs to your employees. It is time to give them leg room to do more leg work. [Image by JosephGilbert.org.]

"What if someone says the wrong thing to the wrong person?" There are countless best practices to help guide the way. The troops don't need to be serving as brand ambassadors on Second Life, per say. But they should be trusted to exude politeness and enthusiasm for your mission wherever they may roam.

Hint: Good Manners Are Free, Fast and Fruitful [Image by Lady_K]


  • Please: Your network is bigger than you think. Whether asking for a favor or a donation, correspondence should not be limited to email and direct mail. "The ask" can be broadcast by one (or many) to one (or many).

  • Thank you: Expressions of gratitude should be profuse. ("Nice to meet you" is an alternate form of the common "Gracias.") Recognition and appreciation can lead to higher engagement.

  • Congratulations: Kudos are as welcome as the sound of your own name. Everyone likes to be affirmed, for both the big and small things.

It's one thing to ask, thank and congratulate through private messages social network. But the true power comes through public requests and public affirmation. Getting name-dropped by mutual friends and followers is more likely to drive a response your way. Who can make this happen quickly? Your employees.

An organic, bottom up networking mentality will be a competitive lever from this day forward. Let go and go learn.

This is a cross post of my September 30th post on The Buzz Bin.

Why You Must Show Up and Shake Hands (like Cirque du Soleil)

"Influencer relations" demands active networking beyond Twitter and Facebook. Attention spans are thinning, so brand ambassadors (you) have to show up, shake hands and speak well. Be present. Not just online, but out there in the real world.


Basic Networking: Media Events and Tours

Every quarter, one of our clients exhibits at a large media event for the tech industry. Attendance is limited to mostly high-profile reporters and bloggers in a specific tech vertical. The costs of participating are buried by the rich, in-person opportunity to look our media contacts in the eye and put a product and concept in their hands.

Media and blogger tours accomplish the same thing. We've taken several clients to "meet their makers." Each time they come back trailing trophy leads and ultimately landing significant coverage. They took time to show up and shake hands.

Cirque_tent Crashing the Blogger Party (or "Bring Them to Your Tent.")

When BlogWorld brought the bloggers to Las Vegas, Cirque du Soleil took advantage. Chris Brogan's story about the Cirque experience is worth the read. In a nutshell, Cirque's head of social media Jessica Berlin attended the sessions (and afterglow gatherings), interacting with the influential folks on deck.

When one party grew too large, Jessica played an important card: She invited the group of 100 bloggers to a Cirque nightclub.

  • The "red carpet" was rolled out in terms of service and experience.

  • Some bloggers subsequently took in a Cirque show - something that might not have happened without Jessica's involvement.

  • Jessica followed through by thanking Chris on his blog.

  • Cirque channels on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace were already in place to catch overflow.

Questionable Motives? Not So.

Cirque's efforts were chalked up as "an appalling attempt at corporate blogger relations" by Brandon Carlos of PR Ninja. ". . .What Cirque has done here is give VIP status to a group of bloggers who otherwise would have had to wait at the back of the line. . . The term blogger relations is quickly becoming synonymous with bribery. It doesn’t take a genius to see right through Cirque motives."

Meeting influencers half way is not cheap. It is smart. Through basic awareness raising and rewarding fans, you can cash in on good networking and word of mouth.

What about you? Do you think deliberate networking and favors are unethical? Where do you go to meet your influencers?

[Image credits: "Shaking Hands" by Aidan Jones and "Cirque du Soleil by Saltoricco]

This is a cross post of my September 26th post on The Buzz Bin.

Involver: Taking Online Video to the Mat

Online video has been an increasingly hot topic for nonprofits this past year. As fortune would have it, I crashed NetSquared's Net Tuesday meet up while breezing through San Francisco last week. Involver's team of online video demi-gods presented new case studies from Save Darfur and Kiva.

Involver (think "engager" not "revolver") offers an intriguing platform with the goal of "making video marketing accessible to all." The company has essentially widgetized videos. It's one thing to simply embed a video (an ubiquitous feature for most video networks). Then there's Involver shooting the moon, making it "stupid easy" to share and grab, take action and subscribe through their supported videos. Their demo video is a good example.

Involver's Nikki Serapio (who disclosed previous work with Save Darfur), named the problem with video.

  1. Distribution: Getting it out there

  2. Engagement: When presented the right way video is instrumental to taking action

  3. Tracking: Which video viewers are the true enthusiasts who can be engaged?

Involver_Nikki From the company's website: "Our current self-serve end-to-end platform is the starting point for any marketer planning to create a video campaign for social networks. We let companies build, launch, promote, manage and monitor video campaigns that reach millions of social networking users with the greatest opportunity to convert viewers into customers. [Image credit: Involver]

Building shareability and calls to action into a video = easy engagement.

Using the Involver platform for a few months, Kiva.org garnered video 160,000 video views, 66,000 of which were organic.

  • The average number of times each campaign member asked friends to watch the video: 12.7

  • Number of people who added the Kiva video to their Facebook profiles: 1,400.

Creative incentives = more word of mouth.

Save Darfur established a points-based incentive program for their video campaign (e.g., 10 points for passing on a video, 5 points for submitting a photo.)

  • They found that the people who were forwarding videos, getting points and leaving comments were the same folks who helped offline.

  • It helps that people tend to care about what others are doing - with thanks due to the meandering, nosey ping-filled feeds of Facebook.

The point, as Nikki aptly puts, is to make a video immediately shareable so it's easy to evangelize.

Similar groups offer platforms for cause-focused videos. Involver's is the first seamless mechanism I've seen that allows you to bundle more than the regular grab and share features of a video widget. Take a look at CauseCast and DoGooderTV (from See3) for more options.

This is a cross post of my September 16th post on The Buzz Bin blog.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Much of a marketer's job depends on working out from a clearly defined measurable objective. Then massaging, fine tuning and scaling to get to Point B. Business objectives and strategy keep us well within spheres of influence but often prevent coloring outside the lines.

Where's the guts in that? The glory of creativity and innovation behind all the pragmatic strategy. A driving force that's worth fighting for on the marketing home front. A daring target that keeps your team - and you - poised for brilliant execution at a moment's notice. The big hairy audacious goal. [Image credit: DP&d]


The BHAG is a term from Good to Great, but our clients own it. When they name the BHAG, marching orders crystallize. It's messy and non-linear, but voracious. Just the ticket for a little magic.

We were given a bold BHAG last week. After confirming several measurable targets for community engagement and development, our marketing contact laid down the cards: "We want to be the leading social media case study for nonprofits." It's big, it's hairy, and it's audacious. Something we can sink our teeth into.

It took a chain of BHAG's to arrive at this particular juncture with this particular project. From my perspective, it started with personal determination.

For years, my own mission has been to help nonprofits and social causes communicate more effectively - most currently through social media. Livingston Communications is taking this vision seriously on a more powerful scale. As a firm, we have decided to become more socially focused. Our aim is to become a social enterprise - one part traditional accounts, one part social causes.

The only expectations we're worried about are our own. And we set the bar pretty high.

Big Hairy Audacious Goal Setting

  • Set your own mission. A personal BHAG.

  • Challenge your marketing department and leadership to set a big hairy audacious goal. Realistically, your BHAG must drive core objectives, so set the goal within reach. Nobody ever said the stars are off limits, just brush up on the Hedgehog Concept.

  • Build your team with people who thrive on the same BHAG. Fire feeds fire.

  • Say 'yes' to periodic gut checks. Appoint people who are smarter than you to help get your head out of - or back in - the clouds.

  • Let the world know when you've met your BHAG. Aim even higher next time.
[Image credit for big hair: unknown]
p.s. This is a cross post of my September 9th post on The Buzz Bin.