Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Focus. It's a word that's coming up a lot for me lately - at work, at home, at church. Most days I have more on my plate than can possibly be accomplished in 16 hours of awake time so I do my best to "concentrate my attention or energy on something." The challenge for me is - focus on WHAT?!

Organizations, like people, hate to focus. It means putting a stake in the ground, standing for something and being accountable. It means leaving other stuff out. But there is great power in focus, i.e. determining what you do best and pursuing that goal/objective/task relentlessly.

Last week, I was privileged to attend a 4-day sales training for my company. There was a lot of talk about customer-focus, creating "win-win" solutions and utilizing research to build accounts. Still, I think what impressed me most was the emphasis on the need for discipline and focus in all world-class organizations.

I hope you work for or have the chance to build a world-class organization one day. Our time on this earth is too short to run willy nilly from one task to the next - chasing our tails and constantly putting out fires. Making real, lasting change requires stepping back to "assess the next" and put it to paper. Making real, lasting change also means making hard choices and forgoing certain options.

The next time you're sitting at your desk deciding what to do next. I hope you'll take a moment to stop, breathe and remember what you care about and why you’re here. Then do the next right thing that will lead you to your goal.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vote Today on the Best Nonprofit Tagline!

My frolleague, Nancy Schwartz, author of Getting Attention - a great blog about all things marketing for nonprofits - is running the 2009 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards.

She wants you to vote today on the best nonprofit tagline.

Here's why I voted and you should too.
  • Get a sense of the way your peers describe their organizations.

  • Get a sense of what does and doesn't work in nonprofit communications.

  • Get your creative juices flowing. (Is your own tagline working for you?)

  • Get a FREE copy of the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report.
The 60 tagline finalists have been culled from over 1,700 entries in 13 categories, including grantmaking.

Polls close midnight, Wednesday, September 30th.

Happy voting!


Don't Write Crappy Content!

Check out my column in Fundraising Success this month.

Remember "Green Eggs and Ham," the famous children's book by Dr. Seuss? Sam wants X to try his new breakfast. When X refuses, Sam keeps trying to serve it up in exciting new ways — on a boat, on a plane, in a house, on a train — until finally X tries it and thanks Sam for his persistence.

We have a similar content strategy for nonprofit marketing. The only difference is no one is thanking us for repurposing bad content.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Most PR Bad. This PR Good.

Read this.
Jocelyn -

We haven't met; I am the 'chief storyteller' for GamesThatGive, a new startup that creates casual video games that people can play, for free, and raise money for charity. I know, I am a fan, and I thought that you might find what GamesThatGive is doing interesting. So, that's why I am reaching out.

Full transparency - I want you, or someone from the nonprofit times, to think GamesThatGive is cool enough that you will write about it, tell your friends, shout from the rooftops, and similar. Of course, I have spent a lot of time working in the PR business, so I know how awful being pitched can be. My goal is to make this email not like all those other pitches you may have received.

Ok - Here is what you need to know:

- went live about two months ago, as a beta, but our big public rollout just started. Not only do I think you might find what we are doing on the site interesting, but we know that the people who read your stuff are interested in supporting charities and causes, and probably don't mind playing a few games every now and then.

- The model behind GamesThatGive is simple: people play really cool games, for free, and by doing so, help generate donations for our partner charities. That's it. No catch.

- How do we do this? The games are sponsored by advertisers, and we donate 70% of the ad revenue generated to the charities. If you do the math, that has the potential to be a lot of money for some really terrific causes.

- Our charity partners include Feeding America, the United Way, the US Fund for UNICEF, DoSomething, and about a dozen others. We have limited the number of charities that we invited to be on the platform, because we wanted to help raise a massive amount of money for these groups -- we have learned the lesson of other social and game platforms trying to raise money for charity and won't dilute the experience by allowing every nonprofit in the world to participate.

- Our advertisers, to date, include Dominos Pizza, Pepsi, and Mastercard. And in addition to their advertising presence, all our advertisers will be offering coupons or incentives for people to play.

That's about it. Like I said, the site went live two months ago, but promotion really begins in earnest today. We have about 3500 registered users so far and the early statistics have shown that people are coming back to play (average of 2+ times per day), and playing for a long time (average time on site right now is more than 13 minutes). Those are big numbers, and we are obviously very excited about the potential for the site.

I have a background document I can send you, with more detail, as well as a 'thinking paper' that we released providing some arguments about why we think GamesThatGive is pretty special.

As I said above, my hope is that you will think what we are doing at GamesThatGive is pretty cool and help to get the word out. If it would help, I would also love to connect you for a conversation with our CEO Adam Archer, or one of the other folks on the senior leadership team, who can walk you through the ins and outs of this in more detail.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions. You can shoot me an email or call me at anytime (978-793-1393).

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Mike Wood
Chief Storyteller
GamesThatGive, Inc.
m: 978.793.1393

Don't just play. Give.
It's an EXCELLENT example of a pitch. So good in fact that I'm sharing it with you even though I'm not into online games.

Here is why it works:

1. It's PERSONAL. I actually felt like this release was written just for me.

2. It's written for the Web. (News flash! If you want bloggers to sell your stuff don't send us traditional releases for print media. Chunk up your copy. Keep it short and sweet. This will make it easy for us to cut and paste and pass along.

3. It's authentic. Mike's voice mirrors the stuff he sells - games. This makes the release resonate. A stiff, formal release wouldn't be true to the brand/image and service he is promoting.

Pitching bloggers is different from pitching traditional journalists. Don't be sloppy but do speak in the voice of the media. Blogging is less formal than print so you can and should take this into account when doing outreach.

Also, you should ALWAYS know your customer before trying to connect. Bloggers and journalists are people too! We want good tips and we want to believe that you care about the work we do. Remember good PR is about good RELATIONSHIPS.


P.S. I LOVE that Mike's title is Chief Storyteller. Again, this title may not work for all PR pros but it's a perfect fit with Mike's brand.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is Facebook the New Phonebook?

The Yellow Pages landed on our doorstep last week and sat there for a couple of days. Both my husband and I feel guilty about tossing out ALL THAT PAPER. (At least, that's my excuse for not recycling it.) On the other hand neither of us wants to bring it inside because what's the point? I don't know about you but I haven't opened a phone book, specifically the Yellow Pages, in years. Instead, when I want to find a business I look it up via this service called (you may have heard of it) Google.

It's the same when I want to connect with people I don't know. But in the case of individuals, instead of the White Pages, I use Facebook and Linkedin.

This has me thinking, is Facebook the new phonebook?

I mean, with 200 million + members, is Facebook quickly becoming our collective resource for research on new friends, family and colleagues? And what about businesses? Will there come a day when all searching for businesses is done online?

Finally, and maybe most important of all, what will happen to the people and organizations who aren't on Facebook? Will they invisible?


P.S. My friend Evan Parker from The Nature Conservancy (I've been talking a lot about him lately) is the one who seeded this idea that Facebook is now the new phonebook. You can see more re: what he thinks here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So More People Can Drink Clean Water

The story of charity: water - The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.

In the past 2 years of blogging I've never highlighted a specific charitable campaign unless it was to illustrate a marketing or fundraising principle. Today is different. My mom just turned 61 and for her September birthday I made a donation to charity: water.

Charity: water is elegant in its' simplicity.

"Water changes everything. Our vision is simple and ambitious: clean, safe drinking water for everyone on the planet."
Their website graphics, photos and videos from the field do more justice to their cause than a million miles of text. Learn from their marketing. Watch their videos. Please donate now.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FREE Social Media Training Starts Thursday!

The Case Foundation has put together a great lineup of free tutorials on all things social media for nonprofits. The program, called Gear Up for Giving, starts Thursday, Sept. 10th. See the video above for an overview of the program.

Speakers include:
No registration is required.

Gear Up for Giving is the precursor to the second America's Giving Challenge and aims to get nonprofits ready for entry into this fall's online fundraising contest. (You may remember that the Case Foundation ran a similar contest in Dec. 2007. ) Interested in learning more about the inaugural America's Giving Challenge? Read the Assessment and Reflection Report by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine.

FYI, you don't have to enter the Giving Challenge to attend the tutorials so be sure to check them out. Finally, in addition to the tutorials, Gear Up for Giving has archived some of the best social media resources on their site, including the fantastic videos by Common Craft which explain Twitter, Blogging and other social media tools "in plain English."

Good luck and happy learning!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Summer (Uh, I Mean Fall) Reading List

Here is my fall reading list. (Who wants to read books about marketing on vacation anyway?) And you? What's on your nightstand?

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future - If you're like me and you missed Daniel Pink's fantastic overview of why we should get more serious about using our right-brain skills like empathy, storytelling and making meaning, pick this book up today. He makes a persuasive case for why we need to cultivate our creative minds in the Conceptual Age and he also shows us how to do it.

Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science - Sticking with the brain science theme, I enjoyed Management Rewired by Charles S. Jacobs. While it's not technically a marketing book, there is some great information from the scientific community on how to be a better leader. It's also fascinating to learn that neuroscience is now validating what many of us already knew - the best leaders motivate by getting us excited about our work for its' own sake vs. feeding us carrots or beating us with sticks.

Here Come's Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations - Clay Shirky's classic provides some great examples of how regular folks (like you and I) are using online tools to come together and change the world. He also shows how organizations often get in the way of organizing. (Really?) I especially liked the chapter about how teenagers in Belarus used flash mobs to expose and organize against the fascist regime. Andy Carvin has also blogged about the Belarus case study here.

The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein is a quick and well-written overview of all things Twitter. If you haven't conquered the Twitterverse yet, this guide will help you get your tweet on! BTW, U CAN FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER HERE!

And if you're wondering about my non-marketing reads...

I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - Another new oldie for me, this is a beautiful and funny book written from the perspective of an autistic, teenage boy. You'll love the way this book makes you think about how different people think and how this effects their world view.

Life is Short but Wide and Family - According to the foreword, J. California Cooper was discovered by Alice Walker. If that's not endorsement enough, read this first paragraph of Life is Short but Wide. (Wow!)

"Occasionally, actually quite often, someone will refer to a family or person as dysfunctional. Which, I believe is a sign of ignorance, for the obvious reason that 70 or 80 percent of all the people who have ever lived were dysfunctional. The other 20 to 30 percent tried to be, or had sense enough to be, a little wiser. Among them, the greatest were disliked, hated, killed or crucified. And they weren't perfect, except one."
I love California Cooper's voice. In fact, I've never read anything like it. Read it for the pure joy of reading. Also read it to gain a sense of the power of voice and then continue to refine your own.

Next up...

Free! The Future of Business by Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, Wired.