A Run-Down on SOPA and PIPA [Video] Why It Matters

No doubt you’ve seen or heard about the #blackouts over SOPA and PIPA. I have some links and content to share to help spread awareness about the initiatives and why they are important.


The Senate is set to vote on the Internet Censorship Bill on January 24, 2012.

Contact your local Senators and Representatives to tell them that you want to Stop Online Piracy without breaking the Internet. As they currently are written the bills stand to have a negative impact on online freedom of speech – and give an unfair weight of authority to (large) media companies. They need revised, not necessarily thrown-out.

Visit Wikipedia to enter your zip code and contact your state Representatives and Senators to ask them to rewrite, or refuse SOPA and PIPA.




Luckily, President Obama has said that he will veto the bill as it is today. BUT, now is the time to help ALL Legislators, and elected leaders understand that we do not want laws of this nature. Keep the Internet free of unwarranted corporate meddling.

What might happen if the bills were voted in as is?

SOPA PIPA Internet Piracy Censorship Debate
SOPA PIPA Internet Piracy Censorship Debate

On TIMETechland blog, Jerry Brito wrote, “Imagine if the U.K. created a blacklist of American newspapers that its courts found violated celebrities’ privacy? Or what if France blocked American sites it believed contained hate speech?”[22] Similarly, the Center for Democracy and Technology warned, “If SOPA and PIPA are enacted, the US government must be prepared for other governments to follow suit, in service to whatever social policies they believe are important—whether restricting hate speech, insults to public officials, or political dissent.”

Mashable has a pretty nice timeline of events

The Savage (Noble) has written about it: Web-Sharing Blackout

CNET: Silicon Valley Execs Blast SOPA in an Open Letter

PC World: SOPA and PIPA Just the Facts 

Chicago Times: Wikipedia, Google Protest SOPA PIPA Anti-Piracy Proposals

*Please share and please contact your local Representatives to let them know to VOTE NO on the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

Words that Win Over Potential Buyers

Dr. Frank Luntz is a Communications Consultant for .. let’s just say one of the major political parties in America. I have purchased two of his books and believe they present some insightful things worth sharing.

Mr. Luntz focuses quite regularly on words and phrases that people use. But, not just what words people use, rather what words are used to inspire people to action. I tend to think of Luntz’s approach as inspiring action through compelling language; and I think that’s probably how he would see it too.

(Side note: I am not much for the intended manipulation of minds, of which marketing as an industry is sometimes accused of doing.  And this is really a fine line, potentially where the ‘approach’ toward marketing can go from (a) educating people about products and services with compelling stories, to (b) hoodwinking potential buyers with manipulative language). But, what’s the golden rule? Let’s give him, and us, the benefit of the doubt (for now).

Words that Work

I first came across Dr. Luntz’s book, Words That Work while on a trip to Border’s Bookstore. The book is something I read on the way to the Interactive portion of SXSW 2010.

Cover of "Words That Work: It's Not What ...
Cover via Amazon

It begins by laying out Ten Rules for Effective Language, including…

1. use small words;
2. use short sentences;
3. credibility is as important as philosophy;
4. consistency matters;
5. offer something new;
6. sound and texture matter;
7 speak aspirationally;
8. visualize;
9. ask a question; and
10. provide context and explain relevance.

Words that Work is a good book. It touches on political case studies (language used, and perhaps, should have been used), as well as corporate case studies. There are slogans and jingles and an extensive review on effective language throughout. In the political case section (chapter 8), Luntz applies the ten rules to various situations. Here’s an interesting snippet, directly from that section, page 177.

“Rule Ten – Provide Context and Explain Relevance:

For some issues, context, and relevance are the same. In the illegal immigration debate, they were distinct and needed to be addressed individually. I tested dozens of words, phrases, principles, and concepts to determine the most universally acceptable context. The one that came out on top was all of three words: rule of law. Here’s how I told Republicans how to explain it.

“Respect for the Rule of Law is a core fundamental American principle. A nation that either cannot or will not enforce its laws- including immigration law- is inviting abuse of ALL of its laws.””

Win: Principles to take your business from ordinary to extraordinary

This book is similarly laid-out in the sense that a principle (or set of principles) is presented, then associative words and phrases are listed along with each of the principles. First, Luntz defines what a winner does, then he suggests 9 principles that all winners abide by.

So, what is a winner? According to Luntz these things help signify what it means to be a winner.

1. the ability to grasp the human dimension of every situation
2. the ability to know what questions to ask and when to ask them
3. the ability to see what doesn’t yet exist and bring it to life
4. the ability to see the challenge, and the solution, from every angle
5. the ability to distinguish the essential from the important
6. the ability and the drive to do more and do it better
7. the ability to communicate their vision passionately and persuasively
8. the ability to move forward when everyone around them is retrenching or slipping backward (huh?)
9. the ability to connect with others spontaneously
10. a curiosity about the unknown
11. a passion for life’s adventures
12. a chemistry with the people the work with and the people they want to influence
13. the willingness to fail and the fortitude to get back up and try again
14. a belief in luck and good fortune
15. a love of life itself

WIN: By Frank Luntz

The principles outlined in the book, known as the Nine P ‘s of Winning, are as follows: People-centeredness (Bill Clinton sited); Paradigm Breaking; Prioritization (being good at it); Perfection; Partnership; Passion; Persuasion; Persistence; and Principled-Action. What’s interesting here, to me, are the phrases and words used to evoke a sense of each of the principles listed. Not that I agree fully, or am very moved by the phrases, but the practice and the involvement of thinking through phrases intrigues me. Here are Luntz’s phrases for the 9 principles of winners.

  • People-centered phrases: I’m listening; I hear you; I get it, I’m listining, I hear you, I get it, I respect you, My commitment, You’re in control, You decide.
  • Paradigm Breaking phrases: You deserve/you have the right to…, Life-changing impact, Breakthrough, A forsensic approach, Re-engineered, American ingenuity, Consumer-driven technology, Patent protected, The new normal, Wow.
  • Prioritization phrases: First principles, First things first, Prevention/ protection, Getting our house in order, If you remember one thing, A straightforward approach, Optimize, Scalable, The bottom line.
  • Perfection phrases: No excuses, Extraordinary/exceptional, Continuous improvement, No surprises, Hassle-free; No worries; Unparalleled flexibility, Real-time, Lasting solutions, Total satisfaction.
  • Partnership phrases: Fully aligned, Inclusion; United; A fresh approach; Independent thinking, Independent certification, Peace of mind, Measurable results, Employee-focused, Personal responsibility.
  • Passion phrases: Imagine, Let me fight for you, Believe in better, Celebrate, Freedom, Life is adventure, .. Will you join me?, Nothing is more important than ___.
  • Persuasion phrases: Stability, Predictability, Insight, Specialist, Performance-driven, Common sense, Reliable/reliability.
  • Persistence phrases: Relentless, Determined, Single-minded-focus, A hands-on approach, Let’s get it done, Let’s get to work.
  • Principled-Cation phrases: Accountability, Strict standards, Corporate culture, Moral compass, Social responsibility, Objective and unbiased, Uncompromising integrity, The simple truth, Chief ethics/ethical officer, Say what you mean and mean what you say.

No doubt these phrases make more sense when accompanied by the arguments and the examples given in each chapter of WIN. All the same, it’s interesting to see what Luntz sees as the language of winners. What about you? Do you believe in a winner’s lexicon? What’s in it in your opinion?

Thanks for reading. Take care.

Start-Ups, Mobile Social Apps and Coding School for All

Of late, I’ve been reading more information about start-ups. I am not sure if the trend is something born out of an interest of my own, or if it’s the circles I’m keeping, but I see it. Perhaps it’s a combination of things, either way I thought I would share a few thoughts and links to interesting articles on start-ups, social mobile apps, and thoughts on coding school.

Private Sharing + Some Start-Ups

In the past week or two, you, like me, may have heard the predictions toward more private sharing of information in 2012. Harris Interactive, commissioned by Posterous, polled 2K people on their new year’s resolutions. The most heralded results where that 44% of people polled set a resolution to “share only with close friends and family.” Similarly, 42% suggested that they wanted to “be more careful about what they share” online.  Many of us like the idea of more filtered, purposeful, and private social media sharing.

Path has been growing an active and sizable user-base lately.

Mobile app, and social network Path has received a fair amount of attention lately for being darling child of the moment as an increased preference for private sharing emerges.

Michael Arrington’s No One Goes to Facebook Anymore It’s Too Crowded, along with Loic Le Meur’s Path is Where the A List Hangs Out, Don’t Tell Anyone both touch on the subject. Path though not alone in the more-private sharing sphere (see Posterous and Outspot) has been hitting it’s stride of late scoring 100K user (past Oct.) and enjoying a 30% hike in activity since (Nov.) relaunch.

In start-up talk I uncovered a list of Y Combinator (as well as other incubators) funded projects; 500 Start-Ups list of ventures is another lead on new tech sites. Some friends of mine are launching a very cool start-up geared toward helping creatives build useful networks of suppliers, partners, etc. Sign up for private beta now.

Both Tech Crunch and Mashable have fresh, interesting articles on start-ups. Start-up Weekend’s wrap up; and Start-Ups to Watch respectively. Also, Forbes gets in the action with a post on New York city’s burgeoning Tech scene. Lastly, AngelList – new to me – provides a good list of tech tools and sites for consideration (new tools = new abilities). I like Parking Panda.

Social Apps Anyone?

Another topic, revived of late, has been that of apps. From It’s 2012. Should My Brand Build a Social App?, to “The Future of Apps…” I am seeing some thoughtful inquiry toward the business function and desire of having an app for that – (whatever ‘that’ may be).

Coding School for All! – Wait, what?

Learn to code | Codeacademy
CodeAcademy, with it's Learn to Code campaign, capitalizes on genuine interest and time of year to generate some buzz.

A meme in itself, a proliferation of CodeAcademy has inspired many resolutions in past week or two. Learn to code is an alluring command as so many of us find ourselves empowered, and yet magnetized to the Internet. I’m not sure everyone needs to code (New York’s Mayor), but damn if I wouldn’t like to know more than I do.

I have basic HTML knowledge, and don’t mean to discourage anyone from bettering themselves with a little developer knowledge. The ‘bandwagon’ though does roll around a gather people up though from time to time. I wonder how many new year’s resolutions – in general – are being fulfilled each year come March.


In the bonus section this week I’m going to share a Stuck in Customs post shared with me via Om and Ross, DSLRs Are a Dying Breed – 3 Generation Cameras are the Future. How’s about a peek into the future?

Thanks for reading. Have a great week.

How Non-Profits Are Using Social Media to Strengthen their Missions

As many of you may know, I have worked in the past with various non-profits helping them understand and build social media campaigns.

Among the list of non-profits I’ve worked with The March of Dimes, First Tee SVPA, Historic York, Inc., and Downtown Inc, few have been as memorable to me as Riley’s Toys Foundation (RTF). Started by a 4 year old and her mother RTF helps send toys to children in refugee camps and orphanages. In addition to overseeing the development of their website and storybook, I helped Riley’s Toys Foundation with their Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Flickr page. These channels have helped bridge a gap between the organization and potential donors, beneficiaries, and the like.

Today, however, I wanted to take a little time to look at how a few other non-profits are using social media to achieve their missions.

Fundraising with Social Media

In January 2010 a devastating earthquake hit Haiti leaving an already struggling nation to pick up the pieces. The American Red Cross is one organization that not only understood the need for help in Haiti, but they were poised and able to do something about it. By creating a network of connections before they needed it, the American Red Cross was able to quickly and successfully leverage social media connections when it needed to.

American Red Cross leveraged it's Social Network for big gain.

The initial call to action started on their website but soon made it’s way to the American Red Cross social media accounts. From there, the pleas for help traveled into the personal networks of those (who were tightly and loosely) connected to the organization. The entire event played out and was not only shared, but has been praised and archived online.

“When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, American Red Cross quickly sent their text-to-donate message across their social media outlets and it quickly became viral. Within a week, they raised $5M from texting alone. Over $20M was raised in a matter of months.”

But, the American Red Cross didn’t stop there. They continue to update, relate news, and to share stories and the importance of their work in Haiti via their website. Donation distribution charts, press updates, stories from the field, maps, and even podcasts documenting the developments are all available on their website.


  1. Build if before you need it – online and off, this makes sense.
  2. Campaigns are a quick get; programs are are a day-in-day-out commitment.  Both help make a solid online communications strategy.
  3. Use the service and/or the tools that fit the project.

Creating a Workshop Community with Social Media

Sick Kids is a hospital in Ontario, Canada. One of the many task the hospital has is that of educating doctors on the latest medical practices and procedures. Rob Petersen of Barn Raisers tells it this way…

“The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, set up a wiki, CasafinOntario Wiki, for Doctors to access resources and share “best practices.” Over 400 physicians participated in the Wiki and comparisons were made between those who did and did not. CafasinOntario Wiki users reported higher levels of practice change, greater CAFAS knowledge, and greater satisfaction with CAFAS implementation supports. Not only did they feel their learning curve had been accelerated thanks to the wiki, they felt more comfortable with transition.”

This case is an interesting one for me. No doubt networks like Ning provide similar capabilities as the wiki mentioned in this case study. Namely, the ability to collaborate with others, the ability to have user profiles, the ability to update information, and the ability to provide private or open access – are all capabilities provided by both wikis and Ning network sites.

The RSS Feeds on the website provide access to constantly updated information.

As a point of commentary, Google has made some strides toward making similar types of abilities (tools and functions) available through it’s new network, Google Plus (aka Google+). Specifically, the ability to host video chats with multiple other users, called hangouts, and more recently added to this, the ability to use Google Docs during a hangout – all of this serves to challenge what can be seen as accessible online collaborative opportunities.


  1. Social technologies allow new ways for creative and constructive collaboration. Be on the lookout for tools that work for you.
  2. Make important information archived, accessible (e.g. RSS), timely, keyword smart, and enjoyable to consume.
  3. Measure, measure, measure. Measure the impact of your efforts to get a sense of your accomplishments, gains, and any needs for re-directs.

Digital + Analog Relationships = Increased Connectivity

Lastly, the Museum of Life & Science in Raleigh, N.C.provides a good example of a non-profit using social media for outreach.

Prior to launching a new Dinosaur Trail representatives from the museum hosted a behind the scenes event for influential local bloggers and twitter users. The visitors were encouraged to take photos, tweet and blog about their experience and the new trail. Highlighting the importance of creating compelling, target-focused content, the museum also created their own set of blogs and connection points to support and fuel social media efforts with relevant content.  

More than 100 bloggers and tweeples attended the event promoting the soon-to-be-opened dinosaur trail. And the museum set up feeds to watch for, tag, and use the exposure generated from the influential attendees. Many of us who have been in the social media marketing field for even a little while know of Wayne Sutton. Sutton happens to be one of the influential bloggers that attended the museum’s pre-launch event. He wrote a blog post about his experience, highlighting what he thought worked with the campaign.


  1. Reciprocity rules; what you give is what you get. Be generous and gracious.
  2. Involving others in offline and online activities is important to growing support.
  3. Making others feel special and allowing them to participate can go a long way.

In Sum

The tools are only a means to an end. Social media is powerful in it’s ability to connect to, disseminate, and make accessible the information that is important to an organization and it’s constituents. Likes on Facebook, though, don’t keep the lights on in the office. The relationships that made the fundraising, education, community building, and outreach possible are ultimately what matter for non-profits and NGOs. Connecting with people in real ways to hear their stories, help them reach insights, to help bridge the gap from where they are and where they need to be should ultimately be the major driver of your mission. Social media can help galvanize these important relationships, but it’s important to keep in mind that the tools alone won’t do the work.

Here are a few consistently reliable non-profit resources to help you stay grounded, equipped for growth, and inspired.

Certainly there are more cases worthy of review, and there are more ways that non-profits can benefit from adopting new technologies to support their missions. If you know of other examples worth sharing, please do share them below.

Thanks for reading!
And, take care.