#VIDEO: Ken Sterns’s Book Offers Tough Love To Nonprofit Economy

Ken Sterns has served as CEO of National Public Radio, arguably one of the best-known nonprofits in the country. He supports The American Red Cross, and has served on the boards of a number of charities. So when his book, And Charity for All argues that the nonprofit sector is a huge part of the American economy, yet the least productive sector as well, people listen. And they should.

Mr. Sterns was recently interviewed at The Huffington Post, as he joined a roundtable (‘multiscreen’) discussion that included Alexander Berger at GiveWell; Dr. John Brothers, founder of Quidoo Consulting; and Rigo Sabarino, President and CEO of St. Barnabas Senior Services. The interview begins with him throwing down the gauntlet, wondering if the nonprofit community is even worth preserving.


| Category Advice, Advocacy, Book, Book Review, Civics, Community, Cross-Post, Development, Fundraising, Interview, Marketing, National/International, News and Current Affairs, Nonprofit, Opinion, Politics, Public Media, Public Relations, Publications, Reviews, Storytelling, Strategic Marketing, Video Interview | | Comments Off

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#Interview: Allison Fine, Author & Analyst — Examines Intersection of Social Media & Social Change

Allison Fine HeadshotAllison Fine researches and writes about the intersection of social media and social change. She is the co-author (with Beth Kanter) of the bestselling book, The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, as well as the award-winning Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age. She hosts a monthly podcast for The Chronicle of Philanthropy called “Social Good.” The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

MKC: You’ve researched and written about social media and how it could impact democracy in the 21st century. Is the Occupy Wall Street movement along the lines of what you were envisioning?

ALLISON: Occupy Wall Street is absolutely part of the same DNA of social protests that we’ve seen for about the last ten years or so. They are widely distributed – meaning there’s no centralized organizing person or organization. They are fueled, but not caused, by social media – the ability to share messages, share photos, share videos, which are very powerful, is part of what’s stirring the pot and helping to organize the events. Occupy Wall Street has some of the drawbacks of this kind of mobilizing as well: the lack of a centralized message and the lack of goals. Whether or not those ultimately stop the momentum for these self-organized efforts locally will be interesting to watch.


| Category Blogs, Book Review, Campaigns, Case Study, Cause Marketing, Communications, Community, Cross-Post, Crowdfunding, Development, Direct Mail, Donor Acquisition, Fundraising, Grants, Grants and Funding, Interview, Major Gifts, Marketing, Marketing Skills, Nonprofit, Permission Marketing, Resource, Reviews, Social Media, Special Series, Sponsorship, Strategic Marketing, Technology, Technology for Nonprofits, Tools, Twitter | | 1 Comments

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#Communications: Fine Tune Twitter Use To Enrich Outreach

The Twitter Bird Offers A Profitable ROIThe idea of using Twitter can overwhelm some, and how to use it as a smart tool for strategic engagement seems downright contradictory to many. Yet as the social-networking platform matures – Rather, as the people who use it explore that myriad ways to make it work for them – an ever growing number of provable strategies are being developed. A significant part of what can bring success to your nonprofit or small business is not simply the adoption of the platform, but the honing of the strategy that makes that makes it work for you.

One of the leaders of  the use of social media in the business and nonprofit world is Brian Solis, whose most recent book is Engage! Revised and Updated: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web. Brian has also shared some of his most successful tactics in a recent article in FastCompany magazine – and we want you to be aware of some of them.


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#Interview: Nedra Kline Weinreich, Social Marketer, Author, and Owner of the “Spare Change” Blog

Nedra Kline Weinreich PhotoNedra Kline Weinreich is a widely recognized expert on social marketing (not to be confused with social media marketing). Her book Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide is considered a classic, and she blogs about social marketing issues at the Spare Change blog. Her consulting clients include federal, state, local and international organizations. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

MKC: How do you define social marketing?

NEDRA: Basically it’s using the tools and techniques of commercial marketing and applying them to health and social issues. It’s focused on changing behavior. We’re not as interested in just raising awareness or changing attitudes, we have to stay focused on behavior change. That’s our ultimate goal, our bottom line.

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#BookReview: Ten Steps On The Road To ‘Presentation Zen’

Powerpoint/Excel Template

This is a repost of an article that originally appeared on the MKCREATIVE blog in May, 2010.

The business/education/PR presentation got a boost in the ’90s when Microsoft PowerPoint gave us the opportunity to turn the staid lecture (from Lectio, ‘to read’) into a multi-media extravaganza of bullet points and pie charts and popping 15-point stars. And many of us have been suffering through them ever since. Perhaps the greatest problem with Powerpoint or Apple’s Keynote is just how easy it is to bring something together that seems pretty catchy to the person who has to give the presentation. Ease-of-use is hardly a drawback to software, but it can be a drawback to those in your audience 15 rows back who does not share the same enthusiasm for the small yellow print on the blue background.

To be sure, some presenters are masters of the technology – which is to say, masters as presenting their materials, with Keynote or Powerpoint adding enough to keep the mind focused, not flogged. And watching some great presenters is a wonderful way to pick up the skills required to prepare your own materials (Please Note: I have yet to say ‘prepare your Powerpoint/Keynote’). Though, as at least one cheeky academic posted, sometimes seeing the greats present their materials makes us mere mortals too ‘stupid’ to deal with the less-than-stellar business report or academic paper.


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#Tech: New Book Argues For New Education To Prepare New Economy

Students with iPods

Technology IS the classroom

Yesterday we talked about how America’s ‘GI-Generation’ (those 73 and older) were embracing internet and social-media technologies faster than any other segment of the population as a way to stay engaged with family and the larger world. Today want to introduce a new book that argues we are educating our youngest Americans for the nineteenth century, rather than for the twenty first. The book is Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn and the author is Cathy Davidson of Duke University’s English Department.

Her thesis is that we have had the internet for a generation now, and it’s time teach toward its paradigm: interactivity, creative interruption, flexibility of ‘work time’ and ‘play time’, and a stress on collaboration rather than individual hoop-jumping. The response from the tech-minded press is universally favorable. Response from the academic press? So far, the mute button is pressed (which might be relevant as I suggest below).


| Category Book Review, Communications, Community, Education: General, Interview, News and Current Affairs, Opinion, Politics, Publications, Reviews, Technology, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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#Interview: Sarah Durham, Nonprofit Communications Strategist & Author of “Brandraising”

This interview series is produced with the generous support of the Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising Zone.

Sarah Durham left the world of corporate communications and marketing in 1994 to launch Big Duck, an agency that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help them communicate effectively so they can fulfill their missions. She is the author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Increase Visibility and Raise Money through Smart Communications (Jossey-Bass, 2010). The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

MKC: First of all, as Chico Marx once asked, “Why a Duck?”

Sarah: I think the true answer is deep and Freudian and subliminal, but the conscious answer is, when I was starting Big Duck, I was leaving Disney Consumer Products, where I had worked on some of the branding issues around Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and I think I had the mice, the ducks and the dogs in my head. I wanted to come up with something that had the personality I was going for – creative, playful and sort of open-ended and flexible. (more…)

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#PublicPolicy: Consumer Protection Agency Drifts From Public Discourse

The media (with good reason) have concentrated recently on the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the pseudo-grilling Goldman Sachs got by Congresspeople desperate to look tough to their constituents, and the British election that has resulted in a hung Parliament. Discussion of the formation of a Consumer Protection Agency has drifted off the radar, which we believe is unfortunate. Indeed, yesterday’s plunge-and-slight-recovery on Wall Street surely argues for the need of such an agency because so much of our economy runs on our faith in trades done in traders’ computers on our behalf. The notion of such an agency is hardly foreign to our economy. Every state has has one form or another of a CPA ready to hear appeals and offer services. But will the states lead the way to the federal level, as California did for car emissions?


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#Opinion: Like Rome Before the Fall? Not Yet (According to the New York Times)

Article by Piers Brendon. Originally published in the New York Times.

Vice President Joe Biden complains that he is being driven crazy because so many people are betting on America’s demise. Reports of it are not just exaggerated; they are, he insists, ridiculous. Like President Obama, he will not accept “second place” for the United States. Despite the present crippling budget deficit and the crushing burden of projected debt, he denies that the country is destined to fulfill a “prophecy that we are going to be a great nation that has failed because we lost control of our economy and overextended.” (more…)

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How New Media is Encouraging Social Change

The Hatcher Group have just released a great report on how non-profits have been using social media to build support and to call to action their supporters. The report is based on surveys and interviews held with thirty non-profits to see how they are using such new media as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. (more…)

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Graphic Design : Visual Comparisons

Graphic Design : Visual Comparisons (by Pentagram founders, Alan Fletcher, Colin Forbes, and Bob Gill) is used at the MKCREATIVE Design studio to remind ourselves what great design is about and why we strive to create it. This collection of designs, logos, headlines, and conceptual pieces is a reminder that sometimes “less is more” and that the most effective solution is not always the most obvious.

From the introduction (1963 paperback edition), “…The vast majority of advertisements, posters, television commercials, booklets and other printed matter clutter our environment and insult our intelligence.

And besides, they are so monumentally boring.

There are, however, some designers and even clients who insist that the public deserve and will respond to much higher standards in graphics. They are convinced, as Charlie Chaplin was convinced, that the best way to entertain the public is to first entertain oneself.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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In Print : Text and Type in the Age of Desktop Publishing

In Print … is a little dated but I’ve found it a useful as introductory text for junior production artists and interns who have little or no real-work production experience.

Written before desktop publishing became the norm for the communications, advertising, and marketing sectors, “In Print” helps the student of graphic design understand the fundamentals associated with modern typography and typesetting. With this “old school” knowledge, junior designers are more likely to create typographical treatments that communicate and illuminate.

From the introduction, “… Alex Brown’s discussion of typography is a compelling reference. Rich in visual detail, the book provides in-depth information about classification of typefaces…. (it) gathers in one volume, all the historical, technical, and historical information print communicators need… Brown also discusses the correction cycle in the context of both traditional and desktop technology; and offers approaches to proofing and text handling to eliminate and reduce corrections.”

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Illuminated Manuscripts : Treasures of The Pierpoint Morgan Library

Illuminated Manuscripts… is a pocket-size collection of medieval and renaissance paintings typically found in books, bibles, scientific works, and the “how-to” reference guides of the day.

This particular volume has seen much use at the MKCREATIVE Design studio. It’s a rich source of inspiration and ideas – we are forever referring to it for guidance and direction. It’s also an interesting window into the lives of those of have gone before us in glorious, vibrant colour.

From the introduction, “…They are like museums between the covers of books and constitute the largest surviving body of painting from this period….(and) since they are parts of books much can also be learned about how earlier men and women lived, what they wrote, read, and thought, and how they used and contributed to knowledge.”

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Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers

After “Purple Cow“, “Permission Marketing…“, a marketing-bible in your pocket, is a must-read. It defined a new marketing paradigm (back in 1999) but is still as relevant today as the “right” way to develop a marketing strategy for the world on Web 3.0 if you want your business to be successful. In a world where hulu, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and iTunes are more relevant than network television, his recipe for success rings true: engage your customers, draw them into your world, develop a long-term relationship with them and marketshare will follow.

Seth Godin, one of the world’s foremost online promoters, offers his best advice for advertising in Permission Marketing. Godin argues that businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional forms of “interruption advertising” in magazines, mailings, or radio and television commercials. He writes that today consumers are bombarded by marketing messages almost everywhere they go. If you want to grab someone’s attention, you first need to get his or her permission with some kind of bait–a free sample, a big discount, a contest, an 800 number, or even just an opinion survey. Once a customer volunteers his or her time, you’re on your way to establishing a long-term relationship and making a sale. “By talking only to volunteers, Permission Marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message,” he writes. “It serves both customers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange.”

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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

I read Blink on a plane to London last year and was thoroughly taken with Gladwell’s thesis: that the brain works very quickly to analyse information and come to a conclusion that informs us through the medium of “a feeling” or a “gut instinct” — all of this taking place in a few seconds and on a sub-conscious level.

“Blink is about the first two seconds of looking–the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of “thin slices” of behavior. The key is to rely on our “adaptive unconscious”–a 24/7 mental valet–that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.”

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Purple Cow : Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable

Purple Cow kicked-off my investigation into the “new” approach to marketing: offer something great — a service, a product, an idea — and then develop a permission-based marketing plan (as opposed to traditional “interruption-based” forms) to reach out to new customers turning them from “strangers into friends”.

“The world is changing ever more rapidly, and the rules of marketing are no different, writes Godin, the field’s reigning guru. The old ways-run-of-the-mill TV commercials, ads in the Wall Street Journal and so on-don’t work like they used to, because such messages are so plentiful that consumers have tuned them out. This means you have to toss out everything you know and do something “remarkable” (the way a purple cow in a field of Guernseys would be remarkable) to have any effect at all, writes Godin (Permission Marketing; Unleashing the Ideavirus).”

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Idea Index: A Portable Guide

Idea Index is a great series we’d like to recommend. This edition is particularly useful when a designer needs to brainstorm different looks and approaches and is pressed for time.

From the dust-jacket: “Don’t let the size fool you. Inside you’ll discover thousands of big ideas for graphic effects and type treatments—via hundreds of prompts designed to stimulate, quicken and expand your creative thinking”.

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Layout Index: A Portable Design Guide

Layout Index is a great series we’d like to recommend. This edition is particularly useful when a designer finds themselves in-a-pinch for design solutions while away from the studio.

From the dust-jacket: “Don’t let the size fool you, Layout Index packs a wallop of inspiration and insight, everything you need is a handy, take-it-along-with-you-everywhere size”.

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