Presenting to Non-Profits

I recently attended a breakfast meeting called the Executive Roundtable for Non-Profits in Westchester County, a small group of professionals representing such non-profits here as the American Red Cross, the Greyston Foundation, several hospitals, and several independent public relations/marketing professionals. They were a friendly group fascinated at how non-profits nationwide are using social media with great success. There were lots of good questions, and I was especially impressed with how the local chapter of the Red Cross is reaching out via social media.

As I’ve mentioned here before, there’s a huge learning curve when it comes to using social media, and that continues. But I’ve seen the interest and experience literally explode in the last two years. And this group was no exception. While most in the room had personal Facebook pages, at least one person did not. Had I met with the same group three years ago, it would have been a completely different picture. At any rate, here’s my presentation from the breakfast meeting.

Non Profits and Social Media

Top Dog — For a Day, At Least

Just imagine my shock this morning, when I received a few emails congratulating me for being a Featured Blogger on today. Hooray! A little attention is good for the ego. Bloggers is a website that lists hundreds, perhaps thousands, of blogs. It’s a community of bloggers who keep in touch with one another, vote for each other’s websites, and learn tips and tricks of the blogging trade from one another. I’m far from being one of the site’s most popular bloggers, and I certainly don’t blog for money, so it’s encouraging to be recognized for my efforts — even if it only lasts 24 hours. Thanks to Bloggers for making my day!

ESchool News: Avoiding Social Media Gaffes

After having just participated in a webinar about social media policies for school districts, I was fortunate to run across this article by Nora Carr of the Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. It’s another example of how school public relations professionals are providing oars to those of us still navigating the unclear waters of social media. Among other points, Ms. Carr (who received the Presidents Award this year from the National School Public Relations Association) notes: “Legitimate concerns regarding federal e-Rate dollars and Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) regulations aside, avoiding social media isn’t the answer.”

The article also lists 11 tips to “avoid committing major social media gaffes,” including the development of guidelines, keeping your personal business private, and resisting any temptation to accept “friend requests” students and even parents on social networking sites. At the same time, while policies and procedures can help, school districts also need to teach and train employees to use social media wisely, writes Ms. Carr.

Great advice.

My NSPRA Presentation 2010

I presented on Tuesday, July 13, to about 95 school PR professionals gathered at the Westin Charlotte for the National School PR Association‘s annual conference. The title of my presentation, “Indispensable Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools,” examined best practices and a included few how-tos on using Facebook, Twitter, Issuu, Picasa, Flickr and other tools in the educational public relations industry and workplace. You can see this presentation and others I’ve delivered at Here is the July 13th presentation.

Snow Days and Webinars

nominate-meThere’s nothing like being sent home early, because of a thick and growing blanket of snow, because I can get back to learning more about social media at my kitchen table.

Today’s learning experience was provided by the EdSocialMedia Summit, a conference held in Chestnut Hill, MA, for private school officials centered squarely on the topic of using social media to promote your schools. Because I have two important presentations coming up in March and July, I tuned in. And, surrounded by falling snow and with a space heater aimed directly at my frozen toes, I learned.

Jesse Bardo of the Northfield Mount Hermon School, located in Mount Hermon, MA, walked us through that school’s Facebook page and presence. Among other points Mr. Bardo made:

— Use Facebook Insight for your fan pages to track and analyze your hits, your fans, and they visit and use your site. The free Insight tool allows you to look at your fans based on gender and age range, for example.
— Plan out how you will post to Facebook and other social media sites; don’t just post in a haphazard way.
— Get your fans involved in the site by providing them with richer browsing experiences. Always link to other places when you have that opportunity. (Your district’s Flickr account, Wikipedia, etc.)
–Pur your Facebook fan page address everywhere, including on your website, the school’s business cards and in your email signatures.

Travis Warren, president and founder of Whipple Hill Communications, noted that you can monitor mentions of your school or district by searching Google this way: -site: That simple query will bring up mentions of your district and other sites created on behalf of your district. You can dump that information into a PowerPoint presentation, for example, and show it to your superintendents/heads of school.

Warren also noted that even though your school is mentioned elsewhere, try to refrain from slamming down other sites. Instead, embrace the fact that think well enough of your school to devote a website or a blog to it.

Another tip from Warren, and one that I can predict could become unwieldy for small PR offices — create a Wikipedia entry about your district and regularly update it. If you have well-known alum, you should list them on your Wikipedia page, with a link to their own Wikipedia entry. You can also go in and change their Wikipedia entry to make sure it mentions that they graduated from your school. In the White Plains City School District, one of my clients, we are bound to find well-known graduates we can add to the district’s Wikipedia entry.

A tip from Warren that I am likely to emulate: Using Flickr, the photo sharing site, as a place to build a photo archives collection. At Southern Westchester BOCES, we’re about to embark on a history project — and that will include wading through a basement full of old records, publications and photos. It will be a huge endeavor, but partly because of the social media possibilities, I am now looking forward to it.

To watch some of today’s EdSocialMedia Summit presentations, visit WhippleHill Live and learn something new. That’s what snow days are for!

Presenting at Columbia University

I presented on Web 2.0 tools and technology at Columbia University last week, which was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. Just wandering through the halls at the Teachers College was enough for me. But I also spoke to a small group of educators taking a year-long public engagement class, including teachers from a sister school college, Diné College, a public institution of higher education chartered by the Navajo Nation. It was fascinating.
Although the educators from Diné described their Internet access as “spotty, at best,” they were nothing short of gracious in learning more about how we use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media tools here in my neck of the woods.

Lip Dubs the Rage on YouTube

Gosh, to be in high school or college again.

Technology has changed the way kids learn, they way they have fun, the way they communicate and the way they sing and dance. Just take a look at what’s become all the rage lately –“lip dubbing,” a relatively new phenomenon that takes an age-old idea, adds a Flipcam, some creative planning and YouTube, to create and distribute some of the most clever videos out on the web lately.

Take Shorewood High School and Shorecrest High School, both located near Seattle, Wash., rival schools currently competing on YouTube to make the best lipdub video, with the help of a couple of clever video teachers and about 300 of their closest friends. Videotaped in one take with a handheld videocam, they show hundreds of students individually mouthing the words to Hall & Oates’ “Make My Dreams Come True” (Shorewood) and the Black Eye Peas’ “Heya” (Shorecrest), as the camera moves down hallways, into offices, around corners, outdoors and into lobbies and gymnasiums, every student performer knowing his or her cue (generally).

Shorewood has gone one step further. There, the school videotaped in reverse, with the main lip-syncers learning the lyrics to the song in reverse before shooting began. It’s a hilarious, fun-loving video that features a variety of tricks that look cool in reverse — balloons in the air, paper airplanes, that kind of thing.

Perhaps influenced by the popularity of “Glee,” Fox’s hit show about a bunch of high school theater and musical “nerds” that belong to a glee club, the lip dub videos are reproducing like white mice. Other high schools with lip dub videos include Florida’s Bloomingdale High (performing to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”), Hempfield High School in Pennsylvania (“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus), and Sandwich, Mass., High School’s version of Bowling for Soup’s “High School Never Ends.” Colleges and universities are beginning to join in the fray, with Boston University, Suffolk University and the University of Quebec at Montreal creating more lip dubs.

On Suffolk’s video channel, the school explains that the video was created by students and the Office of University Communications, and provides “a tour through some of Suffolk’s buildings and streets of Boston.”

The Suffolk video was shot with a cast of 50 students, took six weeks to produce and was filmed in one continuous shot. The video was rehearsed for two hours, with individual “scene managers” responsible for the action in each separate location in and around the Suffolk city campus. The lipdub was filmed live and took three “takes”. Not only that, but the video ends with the Suffolk University seal.

Seems to me that these lip dubs could be awesome promotion, public relations and recruiting tools, particularly at the college and university level.

Here’s the Suffolk video: