Storytelling Success = Emotion + Drama + Visuals

People love stories. They warm hearts and bring content to life in a way dry data and left-brained arguments cannot. The Web 2.0 stories they love most unite a positive emotion with dramatic narrative and strong visuals, encouraging people to share and act: Positive emotion: Many people make decisions emotionally, so even the best logic-based arguments often fail to motivate people. When stories trigger a positive emotion, they stimulate good will, right-brain … [Read more...]

Visualizing the Disruptive Power of ICTs

Here's a graphic showing why information and communications technologies (ICTs) represent the power to influence behavior and affect large-scale change at a reasonable price for the first time. The graphic's four cells show how ICTs represent a disruptive technological shift to public communications: Cell 1: Until recently, most traditional advertising and public communications campaigns used the approach shown in Cell 1. Because stakeholder groups were … [Read more...]

The 10 Most Popular Blog Posts for 2012

eVentures in Cyberland: Through the Web 2.0 Looking Glass, and What Communicators Found There! turned 3 years old this fall, and 2012 was my blog's best year. Even though I post less often now that I've returned to semi-full-time work, the blog on average attracted some 2,000 unique visitors a month this year. That's up from a dismal low of 50 unique visitors a month when I first started out in 2009 and an average of 500 unique visitors a month in 2010 and 1,400 … [Read more...]

Can Social Media Build Peace and Understanding?

My compassion turned to shock after reading the caption of a photo of mourners at the funeral of a child killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza earlier this month. The caption indicated the photo's main subject, an elderly woman wearing a bright blue leopard print head scarf, was making the victory sign as women grieved in the background. When I first saw the photo I assumed she was making the peace sign, perhaps to signal her frustration with the fighting between … [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...]

Using #SMEM Lessons Learned for Public Diplomacy

What do natural disasters and social media swarm-fueled diplomatic disasters, such as the recent anti-Islam film riots, have in common? One hundred percent certainty that they will occur regularly, albeit unpredictably. Now that one third of the world's population has Internet access and 79 percent of people in the developing world have a mobile phone (more than the percentage with access to electricity), anything anybody writes on social media, no matter how … [Read more...]

Finding Out Via Facebook Your Husband is Dead

I grew up in a military town during the Vietnam war. I remember my friends' dads going on tours, particularly submarine cruises, for months at a time with little or no communication. There was just a lot of wondering. Today, social media has made life for military families another universe. You can keep connected with military personnel via Facebook and YouTube just about every day. Dads and moms serving abroad can help their kids with their homework, read … [Read more...]

KONY 2012 – Finally a Realistic Theory of Change

Reprinted with permission from the Peace for Sale blog. For background on this post, please see the earlier The making and breaking of KONY 2012 Peace for Sale blog post.  The Enough Project has worked with Funny or Die to produce a pretty funny short film. It's a parody on KONY 2012 with a call to action. The action, however, does not claim to end a war – its goal is to build awareness and to inspire people to send the letter below to President Obama. This is a … [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...]

Web 2.0 Suicide, Not Armageddon, Komen’s Problem

Breast cancer is personal for me. My own grandmother survived breast cancer. Three of my coworkers had breast cancer and one died, leaving two young children. Another friend of mine also survived breast cancer. For that reason, when I received a direct message from Beth Kanter on Twitter asking me to post tweets with #takebackthepink and #supercure during the SuperBowl I did. I supported Beth's efforts to make women's health care accessible to everyone. Every … [Read more...]

Conversation, not Context or Content, is King

What do you think you would need most to harness the Internet to transform Facebook’s privacy policy in Europe? Great storytelling (a.k.a. content)? Opinion leaders or household names driving traffic to your killer web presence and its top-notch user experience (a.k.a. context)? Or an easy way for people to act to support your efforts and spread the word to their friends? (a.k.a. conversation)? Tough one! What turned out to be the answer for Max Schrems, a … [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...]

Understanding Values from Around the World

Today, every organization is a global brand. Thanks to Web 2.0, people from around the world can access your content, discover and interact with other members of your online communities, and add their own voice to the conversation. This is exciting but also a little unnerving. How do you relate to people from another culture? What do you say, or not say, to start a conversation off right? Are there cultural taboos you need to be aware of? Fortunately, a … [Read more...]

HOW TO: Unleash the ‘Crowd’ to Create Change

A Communications 301 rule of thumb is "information alone doesn't change behavior." You might have brilliant left-brained arguments about why people should do something, but if you don't touch them emotionally, they won't be swayed. O.K., maybe they'll give you a thumbs up, but they won't act. Raising awareness is only effective in changing behavior when you have the time and resources to reach the saturation point of "everybody knows that everybody knows that … [Read more...]