HOW TO: Mobilize Viral Swarms via Network Mapping

Relationships are the heart of many successful social media outreach efforts. They help fuel viral success (second only to exceptional content) and serve as a catalyst for self-organizing online swarms. You need to be able to visualize connections and influence, however, before you can strategically leverage relationships to reach and inspire target audiences. That's where network mapping comes in. Depending on your objectives, you can map social media … [Read more...]

ICT Success = People First and Technologies Last

Does my recent rave review about xPotomac's innovations mean I think all conferences should feature mind maps and tweets instead of PowerPoints? I hope it goes without saying "of course not!" Why? Due to POST, which I've written about before briefly. POST is a useful acronym coined by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, the authors of Groundswell. It stands for People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technologies. The acronym is a reminder to always start information … [Read more...]

The ‘Knowledge Management’ Cure?

A potential cure exists for the lack of sound communications strategy plaguing the U.S. military in the very places sound strategy is needed most to curb Islamist extremism.  As I’ve blogged about before, it’s mindboggling that the suggested reason for obvious blunders is large contractors hoping to make an easy buck pushing sales/ marketing/attitudinal communications to enact change versus the more effective behavioral/ strategic communications approach. The … [Read more...]

Channeling Sun Tzu, Not Orwell’s 1984

Sadness. Shock. Disbelief. These are the emotions I felt reading a recent report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College indicating the U.S. military's information operations (IO) and strategic communication efforts were bungled in the very places they were needed most to curb Islamist extremism. As I've blogged about before, it's mindboggling that the suggested reason is large contractors hoping to make an easy buck … [Read more...]

Case Study: Behavioral Communications Done Right

Editor's Note: I am pretty upset about the U.S. military’s mind-boggling bungling of information operations (IO) and strategic communications programs, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here's a positive post on psychological operations in Colombia to break up what will be a series of critiques (I have another post planned on why lying, except in battle planning in the spirit of Sun Tzu, is counterproductive to stabilization and democratization). Also, on a full … [Read more...]

Parallels with ‘Fake’ Mandela Signer Hiring Problem?

What do the South African government officials who hired the "fake" sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial have in common with U.S. military commands charged with contracting communication firms for information operations (IO) and strategic communication efforts? Apparently, hiring people without the necessary expertise because they have no background in the area. According to a fascinating report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. … [Read more...]

3 Ways ICTs Remove ‘Classic’ Barriers to Action

Using public communications to get people to change their behaviors and routines can be hard. If it were not hard, there would be no smokers, drunk drivers, overweight people, new HIV/AIDS infections, etc. But thanks to information and communications technologies (ICTs), some of the barriers classic communications theories pointed to as repressing behavior change are today smaller or, in some cases, eliminated. Here are three ways ICTs make affecting change a … [Read more...]

Mobilizing Grassroots Communities with Social Media

Editor's Note: Shonali Burke recently let me know about some exciting public relations work she is doing for the nonprofit Center for Community Change and connected me with Zack Langway, its digital campaign director. Zack is also the digital campaign director for its nonprofit sister organization, the Campaign for Community Change. Both organizations are doing some innovative work using social media for grassroots organizing of low-income people and people of … [Read more...]

Need for Strategists, Not Tactical Wizards

Editor's Note: The Twitter button counter is malfunctioning on this post. I write a lot about social media. How it is important. How it is changing the communications field in fascinating—but sometimes wacky—ways. Today, I am going to step back a bit. While social media represents a massive shift in the way we communicate and inspire action, it is not a magic bullet that enables you to ignore timeless communications principles. Like any other form of … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Precise Strategies Liberate

A sound communications strategy or creative brief is the most important part of a successful communications campaign or product. It is the firm foundation determining how your communications mix (i.e., public relations, advertising, promotion, and direct marketing) will work together to achieve your communications objectives. It is the genesis of every word you write, every product you produce, every conversation you start. All too often, however, communicators … [Read more...]

HOW TO: Ground VOA’s Global Ambitions in Reality

Just after reading a fascinating post on Mobile Mahaal, an innovative experiment making radio more interactive in Afghanistan, I read another by Kim Andrew Elliott on proposed Voice of America (VOA) budget cuts and programs "under other names." Kim wrote: "Congress should not spend money on an international news service that the private sector can accomplish at no cost to the taxpayers." Kim's comment was in reaction to a post on the Mountain Runner blog by David … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Concentrate on Relationships

Groundswell is so far the best book on social media I've ever read. Written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (and recently updated), the book is a must read for anyone who pieces together coherant communications strategies. My favorite quote — "concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies" — supports the book's four steps for social media planning: (1) people, (2) objectives, (3) strategy, and (4) technology. It also sets the stage for a brilliant … [Read more...]

An Influencer Is an Influencer Is an Influencer?

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," is a Gertrude Stein quote we've all heard reminding us things are what they are no matter what you call them. In the communications world, however, the term "influencer" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing. One communications practitioner may define and apply the influencer concept in a way worlds apart from a second practitioner, though both are trying to harness influencers to change ideas, motivate new … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Do Aid Workers Need PR 101?

I ran across a first this week. A video of a TED Talk I didn't find remotely jaw-dropping, informative, or inspiring. The video, my October 2011 video clip of the month, features Amy Lockwood, deputy director of Stanford's Center for Innovation in Global Health talking about promoting condoms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Her ingenuous idea? Something "perhaps the donor agencies had just missed out on... … [Read more...]

Following the Organizing Advice of Mao Tse-tung?

“The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with.” —Marty Feldman Did you know a '60s-era campaign organizing strategy inspired by Mao Tse-tung foreshadowed social media's power? From Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics: "In his recent book, How to Win an Election, Stephen C.  Shadegg [Barry Goldwater 's Campaign Advisor] cites a statement attributed to Mao Tse-tung: 'Give me just two or three men … [Read more...]