Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ok, massive hiatus. new job has me distracted. but I'll be back

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Every Baby Has a Story Launches

So, it's been a while and this thing is why. Check out my story page. Ok , it's not quite a story yet, but I'll spruce it up.

This project was a mashup of people and technologies that was nail biting. We worked with Goto Media in SanFrancisco on the front end, and on the back end. Try it out. It's super cool

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Penguins, meet Mickey

Disney is buying Club Penguin for $700m. of course!

So who gets Webkins?

Monday, July 30, 2007

PSA Contest Comes Alive

Here we are in PR Week

Health NewsDigest

Yahoo News

and bloggers are startin'

and Digg!! Yey, we have arrived!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Our Badges!

We've have them up since May, but I am debuting my own personal badge now. We created these as part of the WalkAmerica assets and they are totally personalized. People are scooping them up like crazy and we have other widgets and badges on the way.

Our PSA Video Contest is Live

Ok, so when we had the brilliant idea, it was a little newer - more unique, but of course now, everyone has a contest.

Here it is: our very own March of Dimes video PSA contest. The theme is Every Baby has a Story. Complete with cash prize. So there's submissions to YouTube, voting, the whole thing. Plus Tom Bergeron did a submission call to action video for us which is also on YouTube.


Okay so i took a big one - a huge one. Not that nothing has been going on. In fact, it's just the opposite, starting with the next post!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Idol Give Back - Some lessons for all of us

I've always been fascinated by American Idol's marketing genius. At the core is a great family values TV show. The whole family can watch - it cuts across the races, the sexes, and music genres. Around this strong core is the integrated marketing and extension of the product. (very Disney-esqe) - the magazine, the singles, the PR, the web site, the advertisers, and the concerts. But layering on the "Idol Gives Back" theme made their concentric circles fan out even further. They had MySpace in the mix, Disney/ABC, new sponsors, itunes downloads, and it went on and on. The team was fast and furious putting all of it together.

While I agree with Marc Sirkin that the tide may raise all boats - in fact, we had our WalkAmerica weekend right after the broadcast, I do question the charity approach that they took. So they raised all this money on behalf of an entertainment foundation, who is dividing it up between many charities. They are all worthwhile organizations, but it's interesting how they state that your money "could" go to one thing or another but it's actually not specifically designated. And where does fit into the whole thing? Isn't the American public confused by the various URLs? And wasn't Bono pushing Red not White?

We can all learn from the integrated approach - and hopefully more media companies will want to look like heroes. But I'm not sure whether the American public knows exactly where they gave their money - would be fascinating to do a follow up survey....

Friday, April 13, 2007

Long Time No Post

It's true. It's been a little while. Not that I don't have anything to say, in fact I'm in information overload. I'm at the Digital Now Conference. Just heard a speaker, Susan Scott, the author of Fierce Conversations who said a few kernels of gold that are obvious but still need to be stated:

1. The conversation is the relationship. If the conversation stops, so does the relationship. Of course, this is why we need CRM and more specifically a CRM strategy. Because we lose relationships ALL the time. There are just too many to maintain in the way that we know how to maintain them. And a handshake or a nod won't cut it anymore.

2. People make decisions for emotional reasons, rather than economical ones. Good thing to note as a health-related charity - or any charity for that reason.

3. "Master the courage to interrogate reality". How many of us do this at work - this is also known as the brutal facts. Well fine, examine them, but don't ignore them.

4. What conversation are we avoiding that we need to have? Good answer from the audience to this one: what are we doing that has no value. Ah. This is the best one. If we really took this approach - examining how we spend our day based on the value of what we are doing - wouldn't we be so much more productive?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dispatch from the Conference: Social Responsibility

Disclaimer: Loud Punk music playing so not sure if this will make sense - I can multi-task but there's a difference between music and noise.

It's a common theme it seems - this idea of companies needing to be aligned with social responsibility. In the same presentation, by a Baby Boomer, of course, there was a reference to the Gap. Sales have declined because the clothes are too "homogeneous". The same presenter made a reference to Bono as the poster child of this century for social responsibility. Bono - who became an icon well before the Millenial Generation was even born. But the dots weren't connected. We are all well aware that Gap was on board - heavily - with the Red Campaign, so why are they still in decline - shouldn't that be enough reason to shop there?

This notion was flipped by the Millenial generation speaker - Gideon yago of MTV (a "recovering VeeJay"). According to him, their youth/MTV audience doesn't accept celebs as the poster children for causes and they don't want to be told "what they should do". Instead, they want to see themselves - people like them, and what their are doing to contribute to society. They view participation as empowerment - their ability to have an effect. They see Bill Gates as a method for change rather than George Bush.

So sure, there is a big trend in social responsibility, but why is it so hard for us to get corporations on board? At he end of the day it's still about sales, right? Campbells soup saw the uptick last October. But where are the rest of the companies and why aren't they beating down our doors?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Youth Marketing Conference

Well, it looked realy cool - had a good logo, nice vibe, but very expensive. The conference is not quite living up to its promise - same old paper-thing bag - limited refreshments, and, maybe to seem cool, sour patch kids as a snack. Or is that just to be ironic? Some good people and I ALWAYS learn something but this year everyone seems to be talking about the same things. Except here, social networks have been shortened to "socnets" and Google doesn't get mentioned in any presentations. At the end of the day, it circles back to user generated content, ultra customization, and actually, social responsibility.

The good news in all of this is that marketers are realizing that causes can really help support a brand - that young people will value cause associations and it will effect choice. I saw the pink Campbell's soup label up on screen, heard (again) about Relay for Life in SL, and the Boy Scouts of America presented research. This "millenial generation", which seems to be the phrase winning out here, is very brand conscious and they are willing to pay more for what they want.

As a parent I want to croak.

As a nonprofit employee, I see enormous opportunity with this segment. More or less untapped. As long as we make it fun and add a customizable experience. In fact, that dovetails nicely into the basis for the Skoll Foundation for instance. This idea of "social entrepreneurs". Kids can come up with better ways of fundraising, so why don't we just let them go. Do it whatever way they know how and just bring it back when you're done. Maybe there's an Eppybird out there for us, but are we stiffling the geyser?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Marketing and Relationships

I keep coming back to what Stengel said in his address to AAAA (my previous post). Marketing is all about relationships - particularly for charities. Why do I give to one and not the other? Invariably it's my personal connection.

David Weinberger, the author of the Cluetrain Manifesto (among many other things)is going to further confirm the importance of "relationships" in his keynote at the next Womma conference, where he will:
"unravel the ways in which the Internet and Web 2.0 technology are changing the way companies market themselves. Hint: It's all about relationships".

Ah - what a concept. Not selling, selling, selling but saying "let's hang out together". At MOD we are trying to figure this out: how do you establish and manage millions of relationships that will last a lifetime? How do you attract people at every demographic and psychographic stage? And then how do we turn them into customer evangelists - which is the only way to make this possible?

Monday, March 05, 2007

P&G marketer tells the agencies what's up

I love this keynote address by Jim Stengel of P&G. It's all about customer relationships, which I think is the key to .Org 2.0. We're all behind the CRM eightball and still talking at people instead of with them. It's a big shift for the sector, but once we can enable constiuents to join the conversation - what a conversation we will have.

Friday, March 02, 2007 and the future of micro-networks

Cnet came out with this story about ning taking on myspace. A lofty goal but I wouldn't bet against Marc Andreessen. We found this mentality especially true when we built Share Your Story. Instead of using the blogoshpere as it existed, we created our own community around the subject matter - with blogs, boards, IM, etc. Keeping it focused on the subject, and allowing the various communication paltforms to emerge around personal tastes within that subject served us well - better than if we had formed a "group" in a more global space.

However, in terms of myspace, although I have no love for the site itself, the benefit to an existence there is the power of the extended network - that goes beyond one subject area. For general interest in the March of Dimes, for instance, why limit the exposure? We have looked at Ning for an upcoming project and found it on the opposite extreme from myspace - a little rigid, a little "out of the box". And we'd have to drive the volume ourselves.

So we'll see what becomes of "the next myspace", which I'm sure is in VC pitches all over the world...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Voicemail vs. Text Debate

To each his own I suppose. I was impressed by the iphone's handling of voice mail message - they render as text on your iphone so you can figure out whether you need to listen to them right away. I would prefer the text myself, but if I had a long commute I can see why I'd probably feel just the opposite. We'll always have the people who would choose to have their email spoken to them our their voicemail read to them - it always comes back to consumer choice. I wonder if soon we'll be opting in to voicemail marketing in addition to text message marketing - and won't they be one in the same?

David Pogue fo the NY Times has an article today called Freedom for Prisoners of Voice Mail where he talks about software to enable the voicemail to email transition to happen. Of course, it was popular in the UK first - as is everything that has to do with the phone.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Citizen-led everything

A quote from today's New York Times:

"This is all being made up as we go along. It is difficult to apply the old ways campaigns were run in late 20th century to this new wide-open citizen-led politics."
SIMON ROSENBERG, of the New Democrat Network, on politicians’ use of the Internet.

This was a reaction to the fact that Edwards has decided to keep "two liberal feminist bloggers" on his staff. If he dismisses them, he could face off with the blogging community - an acknowledgement of their power.

This is timely with regard to my push for both the acknowledgement of this power and also organizational - as well as personal - transparency. The age of a one way conversation is over. People want to be engaged - they want to see behind the curtain. Where is the political reality show? Isn't it time?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Second Life Blues

So, I have been pushing it, and I want to do it, but I have had some not-so-great experiences and they are overwhelming the good ones to date:

1. Tried to buy an island. It's been 2 weeks and still no word. How long does it take to put something on the grid? Take my money - PLEASE!

2. Tried to participate in an "event" from my home computer. My computer is a few years old but still a pretty decent Dell. NO CAN DO. I was at the ivillage Girls Night Out Fashion Show and the seats wouldn't even render. Leads me to believe that there is definitely a finite number of people who can be in the same place at the same time without the system really feeling it. And is it worth all that work for 150 visitors?

3. Red Cross - I had so many high hopes. Not sure why they are on their own island that has others on it. Confusing and uninspired from my friends with the massive budget. Don't bother to search the Red Cross site - no discussion of it there.

4. What about the other worlds? Virtual Laguna Beach - built by MTV is on it's own platform and Marc Sirkin is thinking of doing the same in Machinima- but without some sort compatibility or at least collective registration, how can we pass from one sim to another? Is there a future for a standard platform? Maybe one just for nonprofits?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Folksonomy vs. architecture

We have been mulling over whether the traditional nav bar architecture is a dying breed. With the forthcoming ubiquity of Tag Clouds - is it really necessary to categorize information?

I would argue that in the case of content sites, architecture and search are still vital components, where the information can, in fact, be categorized. But in the case of flickr or YouTube, where architecture is nearly impossible, Tag Clouds - and search, of course - are the only way to go. YouTube does, in fact, have a nav bar, but I find it relatively useless. Now that I think about it, when tagging is such a prominent feature of their site, where is their tag cloud? Hey!
Morgan Stanley Research

At the Web 2.0 Summit, Mary Meeker gave an incredibly comprehensive presentation on the state of the Internet. Her report was presented in November, and even a few months later the data has increased at a staggering rate. The good news is that her team keeps updating their research docket. They examine overall trends, Advertising , Interactive Content - the whole gamut - a really great resource.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Global Mobile

So there are 2.7 billions mobile phone users and "messaging is the biggest app on the planet". Alan Moore and Tomi T Ahonen try to put it into perspective in their detailed post:

  • 800 million cars
  • 1.3 billion land line telephones
  • 1.5 billion tvs
  • 1.4 billion credit cards
  • 850 million pcs
  • 1.1 billion people on the internet
  • 2.7 billion mobile phone users

He goes into these in-depth, but the sheer numbers speak volumes about where we are and where we're going. I expect the PC number will increase to over a billion once the lower cost pcs are produced. Nicholas Negroponte's project, One Laptop Per Child, or at least one of his competitors, will hopefully create exponential growth in the developing world.

But that's certainly not the point here. Mobile is the most profound technological achievement in terms of communication that we've ever known. And once the newer devices - the convergent devices, have proliferated, it's a whole new ballgame. How will we distinguish between a PC and a phone?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Kudos to Katrin Verclas and others on this site - focused on mobile phones for civic engagement. MobileActive delves deeply into what is being accomplished on this platform globally - the least of which is in this country, but that will soon change...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Second Life

So, there has been much debate on whether Second Life has a sustainable future. Marc Sirkin has weighed in on the subject, as has Clay Shirkey , and true, the sheer numbers may not be truly telling the whole story. It took me about 2 years to take it seriously myself, but now we are finally moving forward. Here's where I think the future lies for this: the integration between web site and deep link into second life. For now, the barrier is too great - you need to download a file, create your avatar, and figure out how to navigate. But once SL becomes more ubiquitous, that transition could be almost seemless.

Imagine for instance, that you are shopping for a house. You look on one of the real estate sites but want to take a closer look. You are teleported into the house itself - you can walk upstairs check out the closets - everything. Much less time and effort than making an appt and physically showing up. You don't have to see ugly furniture either!

That's where the value is for me, we just have to wait for the usability to catch up. It's a bit too techy for the average user, and I personally have felt the bugs each time I go in, but whether it is Second Life or some other virtual world - or tool, we'll be seeing more of it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Going to vs. Pulling in your audience

I have been a big believer of late of finding your audience where they live. How can you fight with the sheer volume of some of the social networking sites like myspace or facebook? But, in some cases, the right place really doesn't exist. We are struggling with that now, and I think we might contradict my recommendation. The difference to me and the reason we built Share Your Story, is that you would build a space around a common interest, whereas the other social networking sites are built around individuals who you may or may not be connected to. There were no great sites for parents of preemies when we started Share so it was easy to justify. The other argument for "owning" the space is the safety and trust issue. When our name is on it, they know it is not for commercial purposes and we can protect the community. That's important to the members and a reason for coming back.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Just when you htought it was safe to develop for SMS or .mobi platforms, Steve Jobs does it agin - he redefines convergence and we are right back where we started...

Change This

Another great site for challenging ideas - this one complete with manifestos:
Change This

Friday, January 05, 2007

Second Life

Ok - I finally went for it, inspired by the Alzheimer's association. Man, it is time consuming and a little scary. But there are 2 million members at this point and there were about 16,000 people live during my session. I must admit, I didn't get too far - I was overwhelmed by selecting my avatar's wardrobe and her "look" - I couldn't find the right pair of jeans, which is, I suppose a reflection of reality. Other stories from the MOD office: Rob found himself in a nigh club dancing and he couldn't turn it off - he is still dancing in limbo in Second Life. Susan found herself "naked" on an "island" and couldn't figure out how to geet dressed again. I'm so curious about certain things - is there crime? Where does your avatar hand out when you aren't there? And why isn't there an SNL skit on this?