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SHIFT RESET

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SHIFT RESET STRATEGIES for ADDRESSING SERIOUS ISSUES in a CONNECTED SOCIETY

B R I A N

R E I C H

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Copyright Š 2011 by Brian Reich. All rights reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Published simultaneously in Canada. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the Web at www.copyright.com. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at www.wiley. com/ go/permissions. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. For general information on our other products and services or for technical support, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. For more information about Wiley products, visit our web site at www.wiley.com. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Reich, Brian, 1977Shift & reset : strategies for addressing serious issues in a connected society / Brian Reich. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-470-94267-3 (cloth); ISBN 978-1-118-10782-9 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-118-10780-5 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-118-10781-2 (ebk) 1. Nonprofit organizations. 2. Social problems. 3. Decision making. I. Title. HD62.6.R448 2011 658.4'03—dc22 2011014329 Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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To Henry and Lucy . . . my motivation for wanting to change the world.

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Contents

Foreword

ix

Preface

xiii

Introduction

Knocking the Meteorite Off Its Course

1

Chapter 1

Starting the Shift and Reset Process

7

Chapter 2

Embracing a New Approach: Mission and Measurement

19

Chapter 3

Knowing (Your Audience) Is Half the Battle

55

Chapter 4

Shift Your Language or Get Left Behind

81

Chapter 5

Shift Your Awareness and Really Support Your Mission

109

Shift Your Education and Leverage Everyone’s Passions

141

Shift Your Engagement: It’s about Being Active, Not Just Being Present

171

Shift Your Mobilization Efforts and Perform the Right Actions

201

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

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Contents

Chapter 9

Shift Your Game Plan in Supporting Big Issues

235

The Franken-org: Ways to Increase the Functionality of an Organization and Its Staff (to Drive the Mission)

267

Chapter 11

Stop Doing These Four Things

299

Chapter 12

Once You Have Shifted . . . Now Reset and Think Bigger!

313

After Impact

331

Chapter 10

Chapter 13

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Notes

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About the Author

355

Contributor Biographies

365

Acknowledgments

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Index

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Foreword

W

e live in an unprecedented period of time when almost any individual or organization can be left feeling somewhat unsettled by the changes taking shape in our society. Many years ago when helping to build AOL, I saw firsthand how change could be a positive force as the Internet truly leveled the playing field in terms of access to information and empowering individuals through interactive communications. Today, we are witnessing further advancements in technology that are going so far as to change the social fabric and the kind of networks that define our world. The Web has changed dramatically from a place full of content “destinations” that one would seek out, to content and information that is broadly shared and delivered on an instantaneous, distributed basis. Where and how we consume information, how we engage with brands, organizations, people, and issues we care about are all shifting. But what’s more, if you’re not shifting with them, then you’re running the risk of falling behind. To better enable keeping up, tools that used to be out of reach are now easily accessible. Technology that used to cost thousands is now low cost or available for free and easily accessible. One person can do the job of two, three, or in some cases an entire department. Tasks that seemed impossible just a few short years ago are becoming more reasonable today. The same holds true as we look at our “offline” world—we’re no longer limited to our old networks and ways of interacting. We’ve expanded our circles and are more informed as consumers, as activists, and that offers each of us an unprecedented opportunity to become influencers—to each other and to brands and organizations themselves. While millions of individuals have adapted to changes over recent years, what remains to be answered is how organizations ultimately respond to this new influence. Many are still working in an old world mentality of “if you build it, they will ix

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come,”—having a web site and waiting around for people to find them—when what they really need to be thinking about is how to reach new audiences and harness this new influence and energy into real action. As we look across sectors and assess how the transition to the new reality is taking shape, we find that some companies really “get it” and have taken bold steps to fully leverage this new world of digital possibilities. Same is true with some nonprofits, and even in the public sector, such as with the White House, where citizen engagement has risen to an entirely new level thanks to the Web. But for the most part, no matter the sector, organizations and businesses are still in the business of just figuring it out, and this is particularly true in the philanthropy, nonprofit, and small business. But can this new reality represent new hope for the way we work together or, more important, the way we address complex social challenges? Just as Brian shares in the chapters that follow, even with the newfound openness and transparency that exists today on the Web, there’s an equal amount of frustration with the siloed nature of public, private, and nonprofit work. Given the rich opportunities the new technology advancements can bring, nonprofits and small organizations have a truly unique opportunity to compete and fully leverage new opportunities to establish brands, reach audiences, and advocate for ideas they care about. As Brian makes clear in the book, “The digital tools available today make it relatively easy, in fact, for organizations to deliver unique experiences customized to each individual user.” The sheer size and scale of social networks ensures that there’s plenty of audience for everyone, but it compels organizations to be quick to the game, understand the tools, and fully leverage opportunities where they exist. Perhaps to get a vision of where we need to go we should turn to the young. Young people often don’t see the world in same old silos that many of us were raised with; they have a desire to change the world, and they don’t necessarily care whether they do that through business, nonprofit, or the government. But to truly move beyond these silos we will likely have to move out of our comfort zone and take risks. In the new world we’re living in, we’ve found that experimentation isn’t a luxury—it’s a must. At the Case Foundation, we’ve embraced experimentation in this new world as our way of “figuring it out.” Some might say we’re willing to risk failing fast so that we can learn faster and, hopefully,

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Foreword

xi

succeed faster. In our own efforts to make an impact, we came to the realization that beyond granting money to respected organizations, we might be more impactful if we worked with other sectors, if we more fully leveraged our skills and experiences working side by side with partners, and if we found a way for technology to expand our reach and impact. What that meant is that we had to experiment—we were walking into uncharted territory. Some of our experiments were great successes while others were humbling failures that taught us valuable lessons that we then set about to share with others. However, the most valuable lesson we learned was that if we had hung on to our fear, and not been willing to experiment, we never would have innovated. Change is scary. Change is exhilarating. Change is exhausting. Change is humbling. But change is also inevitable. As I’ve said before, we are in an unprecedented period of significant change, fueled in part by technology but also by people. What remains to be seen is whether we—as individuals, brands, and organizations—can truly embrace that change, and acknowledge that “the way we’re working isn’t working,” to truly create change. I believe we can. Jean Case CEO, The Case Foundation

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Preface

I

originally proposed to write two books at the same time. The first book was designed to address the critical challenges facing our society today, and how apathy, lack of understanding, and broad inconsistencies of organizational commitment were a kind of perfect storm, critically impairing our capacity to solve them. What I wanted to do, in the final analysis, was reenvision how we support causes and address serious issues in the digital age. The second book would have addressed the challenges being faced by individuals and organizations of all stripes (brands and retailers, political organizations and government, foundations and educational institutions, news media and entertainment, new start-ups and established institutions, etc.) in today’s connected society. I wanted to rethink the ways these organizations ought to operate, interact, and communicate in order to survive (never mind thrive). In the end, of course, I realized that there is no difference between the set of challenges facing the cause/philanthropy community specifically and those facing society generally.

We Are All in This Together Addressing serious issues is a team effort. Our shared challenges are pretty clear: • Technology and the Internet are driving significant changes to our society, and these changes are being felt by everyone. The nonprofit community isn’t isolated from everyone else; causes don’t exist in a vacuum. No product, service, idea, campaign, executive, agency, or leader can operate without an understanding of, and appreciation for, people’s lives and the interests they have in the things that are happening all around us. xiii

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• In a connected society, it is simply not possible for any one organization, or type of organization, to bring about lasting or meaningful change on its own. Quite frankly, almost everything needs to change, and that will require coordination and collaboration across all sectors to be successful. It is obvious that we need to work collectively, and in decisively new ways, to address these issues. And we must broaden the scope of our concerns beyond the “isolated” needs of a single organization, market, or sector and instead address these challenges on a global level.

Why I Wrote This Book I wrote this book to get people thinking. Differently. About these great challenges and many more like it. My mission is to make you uncomfortable. I want you to feel excited about the new opportunities that are available, and frustrated that you haven’t made more progress toward your goals. I don’t have specific answers, a plan for you to follow step by step. But I have stories and examples to show how what you are doing isn’t working anymore, and why you need to change how you do everything. Here’s what I can tell you about myself, how I think, and what that means for your reading experience. I am a (little m) media junkie. By (little m) media, of course, I mean the information, experiences, and stuff that fuel our brains and power our conversations. The broad definition of media includes the hundreds and thousands of articles, shows, events, books, toys, ads, gadgets, and everything else that we consume and consider every day. Personally, I read a dozen newspapers each day (mostly online), subscribe to 27 different magazines (all in print), and have more than 1,100 blogs in my reader. I am constantly surfing across new web sites and connecting with other interactive platforms hoping to tap into the vast community of smart people who share their ideas and insights from around, and about what is happening in, the world. I am just as active when it comes to consuming and processing information offline as well. I write. I speak. I teach. I blog. I update my status and share my location. I host a regular podcast show.

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I am that annoying guy who starts up a conversation in the elevator about something I heard you say. I can easily turn a casual dinner conversation with friends into a spirited debate about a pressing issue. And when I don’t have any actual knowledge, you can be confident that I have lots of questions to ask. On a really good day, I can listen and make sense of what other people say as well, or find ways to relate my own experiences to the ones that others have to offer. More than anything, I try to make sense of all the different media that are available, and the stories and insights they might apply to my life, my work, and what’s happening all around me. I love to learn new things, the very process of consuming (little m) media—and, when I get the opportunity, sharing what I think is interesting with others and getting their thoughts in return. I spend my time looking at how people get and share information and what it takes to motivate behavior, especially in the context of serious and complex issues. My professional life has been spent getting people to do something—to show up at events, vote, donate, buy something, tell someone, volunteer, read, watch, anything. My passion is behavior change—getting people to think and act differently. I have poured my experiences from a lifetime of personal and professional commitment to serious issues into this book. I have a perspective that has been honed over years of writing, teaching, and discussing what is happening in the world, and how we can all impact that work. And I have a set of deeply held beliefs, and my sense of personal responsibility, to doing something important in the world, hopefully with a positive and meaningful impact.

How To Read This Book The book you are about to read begins with an overview of how the Internet and technology are reshaping our world; it addresses the implications for individuals, organizations, and global society; and it articulates a set of principles for how to approach the challenges of today differently. Each successive chapter turns to specific challenges that need to be addressed, and introduces actionable strategies and solutions for how we can shift and reset our thinking and action. Overall, this book promotes the idea that we need to reshape policies, build capacity, develop talent, improve marketing and

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promotion (including storytelling, media relations, outreach and engagement, advertising, etc.), and revisit our methods for fundraising and partnerships/collaboration. The focus (or onus) is placed equally across sectors—government and political organizations, news and media, entertainment, sports, marketers and advertisers, educational institutions, thought leaders, brands and corporations, as well as nonprofits, foundations, and charities. All of us, individually, are called to task as well. I conducted interviews with more than two dozen organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and practitioners whose experiences and insights provide powerful evidence to support these important calls to action. I have also weaved together media coverage, research, and personal experiences. And to whatever extent possible, my analysis includes recent events, such as the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, some of whose outcomes were far from certain as we went to print. To help balance the big thinking with practical insights and actions that anyone could take, this book also includes the following: • Principles. At the beginning of the chapter, these principles are designed to summarize broader opportunities and challenge you to think about your next set of actions in a different way. • Solutions. Toward the end of the chapter, you will find one or two short essays contributed by innovators and practitioners that offer some additional perspective and expertise around the issues being discussed. • Must-Reads. Following the Solutions section is a list of relevant, timely, compelling, interesting, or fun information worth considering at the end of the chapter. A must-read could be a book or an article, but also a video, podcast, event, and so on. (There are no limits to the format by which you consume it.) In addition, I am committed to providing specific action items that relate to the broad recommendations that are provided throughout the book. But I want those action items to be timely and relevant, so in most cases I will make them available online. Be sure to visit www.shiftandreset.com as you read the book, for

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more details. And I love hearing from my readers (e-mail is brian@ shiftandreset.com)—so please share your own ideas or ask questions as you proceed through the book as well. I invite and encourage you to read this book cover to cover, every page, every detail, but it’s not written with that expectation in mind. That’s not how I read books. The books I have on my desk, keep next to my bed, and carry around with me remain relevant over time. They are not just informative and interesting, they are useful and adaptable. I expect that each person who reads this book will bring his or her own experiences and perspectives. I hope— dare I say expect—that everyone will find sections in the pages of this book that they find valuable. And I trust that after reading some or all of the book, you will be motivated to continue the conversation—online and offline. This book reflects how my brain works. It will be helpful to anyone looking for inspiration, answers, direction, permission, and more. The stories, interviews, examples, facts, quotes, numbers, snarky comments, and personal experiences that you find in these pages—this is what flows in and out of my head, across my desk, and through everything that I do. This is a snapshot of how I am thinking and what I believe others will benefit from knowing and understanding. More than anything, I wrote this book to be a resource that you can have on your desk, keep next to your bed, or carry around with you in your bag. If you prefer to keep a copy on your smartphone or tablet, I’m okay with that, too. My hope is that you squirm a bit when reading this book. When you understand that feeling; when you sit with it; when you consider how your individual behaviors could change . . . your approaches might be altered. That’s when things will change. That’s when the real fun begins and we really start to make something happen. Oh, and one more thing: I don’t have all the answers. Not even close. There is no shortage of incredible books, brilliant minds, inspirational stories, and exciting organizations to look to for guidance and insight on how to solve serious issues. I have read more than I can count. In fact, I am overwhelmed every day by the volume of people who want to do more, do better, try harder, work smarter, explore new things, and solve real problems. But I also know from experience that many of the best efforts go unfinished. The best practices and strategies that are outlined in best-selling and highly regarded books, and by the most brilliant

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of scholars, activists, educators, and practitioners, are never fully embraced. My hope is that through this book I can call attention to the incredible ideas that these and many other amazing people offer each day. Shift & Reset wasn’t created to compete with these books, but rather to help unlock the amazing insights that they offer in new and powerful ways.

A Shift in Thinking: Learning from the Blame Game Trust me, I want to think positively and be excited about all the options that could be explored. I am a glass-half-full kind of person at my core. But there are real, pressing, critical needs to be addressed in our society. There is huge potential that has not yet been unlocked and a lot of problems that need to be fixed, and having a rosy outlook all the time isn’t going to get the job done. Thus, I have tried to take a different approach with this book. I have decided that the positive and aspirational/inspirational approach to meeting the challenges that exist today—personally and in the larger context of the world in which I live and work—is simply not something I can endorse. There are plenty of people taking that approach. It isn’t working for me. I followed other people’s paths in hopes of finding my own success for a long time and more recently have realized that was probably not a good fit for my personality, and it doesn’t offer anyone else a set of examples they might learn from, either. I wrote this book because I know we can solve real problems, we can address complex issues and embrace life to the fullest at a point in history that is riper with potential than any ever imagined. But that’s not enough. The important stuff is not happening right now. Not enough is getting done. But why not? Well, there is plenty of blame to go around. I blame the media for telling the wrong story—promoting what drives attention and delivers ratings, instead of helping people to understand and take action. I blame politicians for making promises—but not living up to them, and sending a message that politics is more important than public service. I blame government for passing laws and promoting policies that don’t do enough to help people, instead of connecting and serving the needs and interests of the community.

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I blame corporations for saying they care, but not changing (enough about) how they act—when they could serve their customers, contribute to the world, and make money. I blame nonnprofits for not doing enough to advance their causes—for mistaking awareness for action, and tools for answers; for being afraid to try new things when they have the great potential to educate, engage, and mobilize people to action. I blame the people who fund projects, invest in ideas, and promote new ventures for maintaining the status quo and sticking to old ways of doing things, instead of making it possible for new things to happen. I blame our elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and graduate schools for not teaching people differently—for not adapting quickly enough to changing times, and preparing the next generation of leaders, innovators, and activists. Most of all, I blame you. If we used our individual and collective power, for purchasing and advocating, for organizing and educating, none of the other institutions and organizations could resist the call to change. I blame you for not using your creativity, your passion, your technology prowess, your business acumen, your experience, your insights, your vast networks, your significant influence, and your bold ideas to do more, to fix the problems that exist in the world and address the challenges that continue to challenge our society. And, of course, I blame myself for not thinking differently and using the channels and platforms that are available to me—and emerging every day—to promote new ideas, ask tough questions, challenge assumptions, ask for help, work differently, change my behavior . . . and more. ●●●

I can, however, also take responsibility for the better role I can play, the bigger contribution I can make, and fully embrace what I know I can help to create. This is most important because it represents a shift in thinking. Helping to foster a greater appreciation for the need to shift and reset our thinking when we address serious issues is why I wrote this book. I am confident in our ability, individually and collectively, to address serious issues—but not in the ways we are currently organized. To make a difference in the world, we

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need to change the way we approach this challenge. That may not seem all that original, but it is a different way of thinking. I wrote this book to get you to do the same—to shift and reset your ways of operating, communicating, organizing, educating, mobilizing, and everything else. The more people who embrace this, the faster change will happen.

Resetting Your Mind: Committing to Doing Better I am angry. There are real problems facing the world, and we, as a society, are not doing enough to address them in the right ways, not the ways we know are possible. The old way isn’t working, and we know it. We continue to reward the same behaviors we have rewarded in the past while expecting different results. We profess interest in really doing things differently but settle into routines that are comfortable and safe, and we are fooling ourselves. There are lots of excuses for not making real, demonstrable changes in the way we live, work, and how we interact as individuals and engage in groups/communities. I have heard them all. I have used many of them myself. But they are bullshit. All excuses are. A person either truly, deeply, genuinely cares about changing things or he doesn’t. You can step up and do what it takes, in whatever way you can, or you need to acknowledge your limits and accept the results. What might be possible if we were really committed, as individuals and as a society? I’ve thought a lot about this, and instead of remaining angry, I choose to embrace the question and figure out how I can use the anger to make things happen. I won’t apologize for making my opinions known. That may not be the best business strategy—to dispense tough love—but I think it is necessary. I don’t have any more tolerance left for people who suggest they are interested in changing, exploring, experimenting, and innovating but aren’t willing to stay committed when things get bumpy. I have no interest in working with people who want to do the same old boring stuff. I refuse to keep quiet when I see something that I believe is important—and needs to change—heading in the wrong direction. There will always be compromises, sacrifices, and choices to be made, but there is no need to settle. So, while nobody wants to hear that they are failing—myself included—sometimes it has to be said. Failing isn’t a bad thing;

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making mistakes is, in fact, a very important part of learning. There is so much that we can achieve, so much potential that can be realized, when we have the guts to point out when there is more to accomplish and push for that change to occur—and I won’t apologize later for not having done my part to push a little harder and demand a little more. I am unyielding. I expect a lot from myself and from others. I know change is hard and exhausting, but we can achieve more. We can break out of old patterns. We can blow up the systems and structures that hold us back, but it will take real commitment: every day and all the time. I am committed, more than ever, to doing my part, and I realize I need to keep pushing myself to stay committed. The challenge of getting people to think differently and try new things seems to grow in me every day and there is no excuse to give up when things get tough. There are no days off—no holidays or weekends away—from trying to be awesome or do awesome things. ●●●

In order to break cycles of inaction, organizational structures and approaches that are currently in place to support ventures and foster innovation must be abandoned. Instead of measuring success by attracting a mass audience for a simple offering, we should look to build ventures that benefit from the unique and powerful commitments that small, dedicated, passionate audiences can make. We should look at how to shift and adapt the commitments that organizations are making, and how they share them with the world. We should examine how the reach and influence of the crowd can help individual companies, as well as communities, to achieve their desired results. We should look for more opportunities to bring together disparate ideas, across sectors and disciplines, so the silos that exist within organizations and sectors (and the self-reinforcing beliefs that stifle true creativity and change) can finally be abandoned. If we do this—if we think bigger and stay committed—we can make innovation a shared interest and common opportunity and not just the domain of a handful of people and groups. As I noted earlier, this book promotes the idea that we need to reshape policies, build capacity, develop talent, improve marketing and promotion (including storytelling, media relations, outreach

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and engagement, advertising, etc.), and revisit our methods for fund-raising and partnerships/collaboration. Chapter by chapter, I outline what isn’t working with our current approach and what options exist and evidence proves that a different way of addressing serious issues is both possible and necessary. And after you read the book and have those insights, I hope you will find yourself in a position to shift and reset the way you operate, as an individual and in relation to the organizations you work for, or with, regarding the issues you care about and the problems you work to solve every day. Of course, this book is just the beginning of the conversation. As you read, and especially when you finish reading, log on to www .shiftandreset.com for more information and to continue the learning. And again, I love hearing from my readers (e-mail is brian@ shiftandreset.com)—feel free to disagree or shower me with affection, share your own ideas, or ask a question.

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INTRODUCTION

Knocking the Meteorite Off Its Course

C

lose your eyes . . . okay, well, open them so you can keep reading, but pretend they are closed for effect. I want you to imagine that you are standing outside on a beautiful, warm, sunny day. You’ve been working hard to raise awareness about a pressing issue or promote the good work of your organization on behalf of an important cause. Suddenly, the sky begins to darken. An ominous-looking shadow blankets you and your surroundings. The ground beneath you begins to shake. A giant meteorite is approaching. If it hits, everything you know will be affected. Everything you know will change—and not in a good way. The meteorite in this story represents all the challenges that you face in addressing serious issues in today’s connected age. For brands and marketers, the meteorite represents the control that customers now have over their information experience—the knowledge that there are other products besides yours that meet their needs. For political organizers, the meteorite represents all the anger and frustration felt by citizens and the apathy toward voting and activism that it fosters. For nonprofit organizations and charities, the meteorite is the lack of resources and interest that potential 1

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supporters are willing to give to your efforts. If we don’t do something, that meteorite is going to strike the planet, and everything it hits will be destroyed. Your organization will fold. Your customers will disappear. Your job will no longer be necessary.

What Are the Chances? The meteorite isn’t actually going to hit the earth (we hope). It’s usually just a baseball-size piece of our solar system that finds its way through our atmosphere, anyway. A hundred tons of material from space enters the atmosphere every day, but the vast majority is small, weighing only a few milligrams apiece, and they are usually broken apart or burn up during their trip. And most meteorites aren’t very dangerous. The handful that have hit the earth have left giant craters in the spot where they landed, but no human in the past 1,000 years is known to have been killed by a meteorite or by the effects of its impact. The possibility is there, of course, but in 2010, the Pew Center for the People and Press, along with the Smithsonian, conducted a survey that measured people’s faith in the future of the world and found that fewer than one-third (31 percent) say an asteroid (the term for a meteorite before it enters Earth’s atmosphere) will definitely or probably hit Earth.1 In fact, the public sees many potential dangers looming in the decades ahead, but very few were concerned about the possibility that an asteroid will collide with Earth. While a giant piece of rock from outer space might not hit the Earth anytime soon, the metaphor is useful because the problems are real. People face unconventional threats every day and must continually find solutions to altogether new challenges. Solving these new challenges will require not only unprecedented efforts but also enlisting new actors, and Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions Poll makes abundantly clear that we have the least faith in the very institution constitutionally tasked with social change. Indeed, a record low 11 percent of Americans have “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of confidence in Congress to solve problems—and that number only slightly hedges out the previous record (set back in 2008) for mistrust. It is astonishing how in decline our faith appears to be across the board. How many of us today trust the criminal justice system? Twenty-seven percent. That’s more than the percentage of us who trust newspapers (25 percent;

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Introduction

3

television news registers an even lower 22 percent). And these abysmal numbers only get bleaker when it comes to banks (23 percent), organized labor (20 percent), big business (19 percent) and HMOs (19 percent).2 The cover story for the 2011 January/February edition of Foreign Policy magazine captures the essence of this sentiment with its headline “American Decline: This Time It’s for Real.” What is paradoxical—and, in fact, disturbing—is the fact that even though individuals going through today’s recession trust Congress less, they also rely on it more.3 It is precisely this finding that Paul Guiliano and Antonio Spilimbergo detail in the core of their National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, “Growing Up in a Recession: Beliefs and the Macroeconomy.” As Guiliano and Spilimbergo note, it is only one of several ways in which individuals today find themselves in limbo: On the one hand, recession-hit individuals believe that the government should intervene more, so they lean more to the left. On the other hand, these individuals distrust institutions, believing them to be ineffective, therefore leaning more to the right.4

Where does that leave them? Where does that leave us? And to whom can we turn for leadership and guidance? We have begun to realize that our institutions—government, nonprofits and charities, foundations, media, corporations, even our educational institutions—are too slow to embrace the need for change (or, worse, not up to the task at all). While these problems seem insurmountable, they are not. We actually have all the tools we need. Our education and experiences have prepared us to help redirect the future and improve society. Most importantly, we share something very important—a belief and determination to give back more to the world than we take and to achieve more than the generations that came before us.

Instigating the Change You see, we can knock this situation (our proverbial meteorite) off course, even just a little, and see dramatic effects. And if we knock the meteorite off course by just one degree, just a tiny little shift, two things happen that are really exciting. First, we save the planet; crisis averted. Your organization is saved, your job is safe, and there

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4

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is once again a possibility that we can address the issues in a meaningful and measurable way. Now consider the second benefit of knocking the meteorite off course, and keep in mind that before a meteorite finds its way through the atmosphere, it is just a piece of rock moving through space (albeit at speeds upwards of 30,000 miles per hour). It is a rock is being propelled by a series of wonderful gravitational pulls and when that giant piece of space rock is knocked off its course, even just a little, new and powerful things happen. Its gravitational forces start to spin in different ways, opening up all new sorts of possibilities. Similarly, when you expend energy toward changing a situation, new markets can be created, new solutions can be forged, new ideas can be developed, and new partnerships can be explored. Countless game-changing opportunities are created when a meteorite is thrown off course. Eliminating the fear of the impending strike and the hesitation that comes from the fear can provide you with the ability to radically change how you think about everything from marketing and communications to operations and funding, as well as the way you engage and support your customers and audiences and the way you behave as individuals and interact in communities. Everything can change. So how can we incite these changes? We can convene the best experts and most successful practitioners and seek their input. We can avoid locking ourselves into one platform and commit to constantly changing and innovating. We can build and rebuild, and make adjustments to everything we do in real time. But even before those things, we need to adjust to thinking differently. We need to shift the way we communicate, organize, operate, and interact before the opportunity for change materializes. We need to embrace and establish new roles and responsibilities for ourselves and for the institutions that govern and lead our society. Once we shift our way of thinking, we then need to reset everything we know about how to address serious issues in a connected society and act. â—?â—?â—?

The situation you are in currently demands that you become more involved. It demands that you establish your own views and

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Introduction

5

demonstrate your own passion instead of repeating the slogans and case studies promoted by others. It demands that you do a better job listening to other viewpoints and leave open the possibility of trying new things. It demands that you seek out knowledge and thirst for information to become part of an informed majority that helps to shape the course of your nation. Shifting and resetting everything you know is not an easy task. By the time you finish reading this book, though, you should have new ideas, examples, data, inspiration, and encouragement to shift and reset something, if not everything, you know about and give you the inspiration to address the serious issues you are facing. Good luck.

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1

CHAPTER

Starting the Shift and Reset Process

Shane Johnson © 2011.

I don’t care if it is trending— eat your vegetables.

7

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8

Shift & Reset

O

ver the past two decades, the emerging information economy has hurtled us at warp speed into uncharted territory. Today, we are part of an information ecoystem unique to human civilization. We are consuming and producing media. We are getting and sharing information with (potentially) vast audiences. And we are doing all of these things on new platforms, for new reasons. Every aspect of our society has changed, and continues to evolve and adapt. Given the sheer scope of this change—and the new set of challenges it presents—it is not surprising that we sometimes feel overwhelmed. It’s normal and part of the reason we like to shrink this change down into smaller, more manageable pieces: breaking it down is the only way we can talk about the multitude of trends in business (flattening), technology (opening), and community (connecting). Technology and the Internet have changed not only how we communicate—the physiology of platforms, mechanisms, and tools—but the psychology of communicating itself: why, when, and where we choose to engage with one another, online and off. In daily practice, a lot of this by now feels rote or hardwired. Didn’t like that New York Times op-ed about eradicating global poverty? Draft your own opinion piece and publicly disagree with its author—on his site and yours. Along with these radical changes, it is no surprise that our own expectations and patterns of behavior and communication have begun to shift as well. What, where, and how we want to see and hear things is, today, substantially different than the ways in which we did even a decade ago. The kinds of relationships and support systems we need from organizations have changed. And, what is more, the way that we understand ourselves as individuals in relation to the world—the way we think about and articulate our identities—has been reconfigured while our connection to issues and events defining our world has been transformed. Part of this transformation has to do with the compounding and exponential speed of information. Information is moving

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Starting the Shift and Reset Process

9

faster, and no less critically, long-standing disparities of access to this information are abating. The familiar image of a global village, a term coined six decades ago by Marshall McLuhan,1 has begun to feel less like a tired abstraction and more like a term that is now clear but no longer is required. But it is not just the ubiquity of technology or the reach of the Internet that enables us to spread our messages farther, and to more people, today. It’s also the concomitant rise in use of social platforms worldwide that confirms we are one global, interconnected community capable of taking action on issues we are passionate about with one another. The readily available tools of the past decade have afforded citizens of all nations the platform from which to speak truth to power (or anything else, as we will discuss in Chapter 5). Anyone in the world can spark a bottom-up, grassrootsfueled movement with a level of power and speed that no individual or entity could have reasonably hoped to generate in the past.

A Wake-up Call Structurally, these changes in society have been massively disruptive, and our daily lives bear the imprint. Yet as the Great Recession makes abundantly clear, disruption alone does not automatically translate into sustained positive action or lasting shifts in human behavior. Disruptions, if we are to harvest their potential energy, require us to rethink our usual practices. How should organizations that seek solutions to important, regional, national, and transnational issues operate in today’s interconnected society? Which kinds of operational structures make sense now? Which do not? How do we measure impact? How can I be more effective? The passions and interests of individuals around the world must be refocused and redirected if we are going to keep pace with the challenges that are created as society advances. The way we promote big ideas, fund new ventures, and pursue different opportunities should advance as well, to enable faster rates of change and spur more game-changing innovation. Success in this new era will not only look different but require new metrics for measurement. Some of these already exist; others will evolve or be devised as needed. But the time for change is, unequivocally, now. One decade into the 21st century, the new technologies are no longer so new to us, but still familiar are our most urgent social problems. With all of

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10

Shift & Reset

the issues crowding our vision, competing for our attention, and confronting us today, with greater regularity than ever before, misdirected resources and glaring organizational inefficiencies can no longer be tolerated. The first step toward waking up from the status quo is to think differently and embrace it: what you’re doing isn’t working anymore and there is vast potential in this change. None of us are immune to this criticism, harsh though it may sound. Cause marketers, governmental agencies, individual philanthropists, nonprofits, foundations, charities, investment advisers, and advocates all bear some part of the responsibility for the state of the world today. At the same time, we are seeing an increase in bottom-up energy and dedication to transnational issues from a wider variety of participants than ever before. This is not a paradox. We must acknowledge that constant, frenetic activity does not equate to drive change on its own. Our current failure to effectively channel the new groundswell of energy is, loudly and clearly, a mandate to change our existing structures and practices. We must rethink everything.

The Need for Better Marketing Most people believe that marketers are great communicators. After all, from a lifetime exposure to advertisements, most of us have intuited what it is that marketers do: their work involves communicating something specific about “X” product or service. So, if a marketer’s professional expertise, then, is communication (or “dressing up ‘the sell’ as relevant information”), why shouldn’t marketers be able to communicate topics of substance just as effectively as they frame and brand products? Relying on this assumption is a dangerous one in the context of serious issues. For starters, there’s almost no real-world evidence to suggest that marketers can (or are willing to) communicate complex problems at the level of detail necessary for sustained involvement. As we will explore in Chapter 8, today’s problems require more of their audiences than short-form, immediate action. Marketers have no idea how to keep an audience motivated, engaged, and aware beyond the passing and infrequent attempt at a direct sale because they misunderstand the challenge as a whole. Addressing a cause or finding a solution to a serious issue is not the same thing as increasing consumption. Getting someone to buy

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Starting the Shift and Reset Process

11

something doesn’t, in most cases, change the world (in the ways that people generally argue are necessary). Therefore, positioning something as new, different, or attractive—the common attributes that marketers assign to products and services when introducing them to the public—may not always be the most appropriate. When Barack Obama first ran for president, he was described as new, different, and attractive, in the context of politics. But his perception, in the eyes of voters, quickly changed when he became president and was forced to address a different, more complex set of challenges as the nation’s leader. If you can’t rely on new and different when it comes to solving a problem or serving a need, what options remain? Frankly, I don’t think new, different, and attractive is the only, or even best, approach. Better always seems to make more sense. Most marketers lack a clear understanding of how to engage audiences deeply on both an emotional level (the hook) and an intellectual level (the sustained engagement phase). For marketers, this is a binary proposition; fundamentally, either/or. They usually go one way or the other. However, there are many recent examples, of which MyBarackObama.com is one of the most visible, making it clear there is no need to just choose one or the other. Gone is the era when big-budget advertising and marketing could redeem a shoddy product. You can’t buy access any more than you can buy people’s understanding. But our patterns are changing. Thanks to digital and social media, we are each continuously engaged in areas that we find interesting, with people who we previously didn’t know existed. We are consumed in casual conversations and overwhelmed with ill-advised advertising and marketing ventures. Our “likes” matter, but our feelings are overlooked. A review that my friend posts on Facebook can have a determining influence on the likelihood of my purchasing a ticket to a movie or maybe even the career path I choose to pursue. Our connected society isn’t made up of just one channel, though. It’s a whole ecosystem of opportunities to be influenced, and we have to recognize this new, open world and get comfortable with letting thousands of new platforms bloom, take shape, and flourish. Of course, the explosion of these platforms means fragmented consumer attention and media budgets. The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with them. The playing field is level (or leveling) with

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a new focus on the quality of what is said, how much is achieved, and the relationship that is formed. Anyone and everyone can be a media company and produce, promote, and gain traction for their public offering. However, the expectations that consumers have today are higher than ever before, and marketers have no shortage of ways to alienate those they are trying to reach. Historically, the marketing of serious issues has followed the same patterns of product marketing: the simpler the communication, the easier it will be to deliver to a broader audience. As such, large, globally important issues—AIDS, hunger, poverty, and the like—have been boiled down to a tagline, assigned a celebrity advocate, or captured in a heart-wrenching story. This approach has its benefits, but evidence suggests—while the mass-communication approach of a cause or serious issue helps to raise awareness and interest for a cause and a larger audience is able to receive and process the simpler message—the simpler presentation artificially limits the potential for deep engagement and ongoing interest. This trend of simplification has only gotten worse in recent years, and the blame is (sometimes) appropriately placed squarely on the technology that powers our communications today. People argue that the new platforms and channels we use to access information have set up patterns where only short-form, quick, and light content can break through. This argument, however, is flawed. Technology does not deserve all of the blame because this problem existed long before blogs, Twitter, or other platforms became available. The truth is, people are interested in serious issues. When given access to information of all kinds like never before, people actually spend more time exploring issues in depth. They pursue issues that interest them on a personal level because of a connection to a family member or friend, because of a professional interest, and, in very limited cases, because a campaign to promote an issue piqued their curiosity. All of these new avenues are therefore opportunities: chances for marketers and promoters of serious issues to go deeper and embrace the complexities of how their audiences find causes to be passionate about. These avenues are opportunities to challenge the audience in new ways. For this to work, the marketing messages have to be compelling, sustained, and properly aligned with the interests of those they are intended to reach. Marketers also need faith that the audience will

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13

do their part, and then the math is pretty simple: the more depth of message that an organization is willing to share, the more creditability they will build with their potential audience. The more credibility they have, the more time people spend engaging with their issues and the greater the likelihood that they will not only retain that information but act upon it if they find it valuable.

No More Excuses: An Invitation The connected society in which we live exists both online and offline. We are constantly connected in new and compelling ways. Conversation is important, but so is trust. All the benefits of a solid relationship between an organization and the people it serves are lost unless they enable and support meaningful, measurable actions. Many organizations are right now focused on how to create a community. This is an especially dangerous mistake for nonprofits and other groups working in the context of serious issues. You will be hard-pressed to “create” a community of dedicated, passionate followers, especially ones with the least time and money to waste. Step one is usually to figure out where to find them. From there, you must find ways to tap into that audience, add value to its experience, and support the independent efforts of the members already working on behalf of the cause. Everyone has an excuse as to why this is difficult or why an action is unlikely to succeed. But they are just excuses—and a modicum of self-reflection will betray just how ill advised the majority of them are. For starters, serving your audience in a way that they respect and respond to is the core mission of every organization. This is not a new concept. If you don’t have a good product to offer, nobody is going to buy it. And if customers are getting more and more information across different devices and platforms, you need to be a part of those conversations. It’s a no-brainer. Every business involves relationships and requires trust in order to transact. Your organization must deliver value in the form of information that allows people to make smart decisions about you, the issues that matter to you, and the opportunities that you are driving. A common excuse is: “This is scary and I can’t do it.” Sure— what you don’t know is always scary. My high school chemistry teacher used to say, “It is always easier to sit on the couch than it is to go running.” But keep in mind the ancillary benefits of new

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14

Shift & Reset

conversations. Social networks, mobile devices, and other new channels are increasingly essential components in how we build our offline lives. Initiating and/or solidifying lasting offline relationships is one of the crucial things that social media makes substantially easier for us all. There’s no denying that these tools are an ineluctable part of how we function in the world today. So, for now, take fear off the list of reasons you can’t try something different. Sure, you might embarrass yourself a little, but that’s a good thing. It’s called learning. You may even fail. That’s okay, too. Just fail fast and fail forward. Fail openly and train your attention on learning from mistakes, instead of always trying to prevent them. And rid yourself of the perception that you don’t have time or sufficient experience to pursue these new opportunities— it’s all in your head. The entire world is figuring out, in real time, how to leverage new tools and channels. Nobody has completely figured it out. You have just as much capacity and potential to create real change as anyone else, and probably more if you have a clear sense of what you need to accomplish. Taking the steps to embrace new avenues can be scary, but it can’t be avoided. If your organization values its existing relationships, then you just have no choice. You must make time for shifting your usual practices and rethinking your processes. Each one of us has the ability to transform the way the world thinks about critically important issues, and each of us brings a different set of insights, experiences, and perspectives to it. Taken collectively, we can and will challenge established structures. We will call into question the agreed-upon protocols for how work gets done. Indeed, even the most successful companies and leaders of today will have their ideas challenged. But the radical shifts that we expect to see haven’t happened yet—not fully or in the ways we think are needed, and not in the ways that we now know are possible. The tools and channels created in the past decade have generated a lot of excitement and attention. But the underlying models and structures that are driving innovation—and creating the marketplace for new companies—have not fully changed. While technology can facilitate new activities and behaviors, the rest is up to us. The content we deliver, the communities we support—all of these still matter, now more than ever. Today’s successes don’t come as a result of good communications or creative marketing. A flashy launch doesn’t generate the

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Starting the Shift and Reset Process

15

same kind of excitement it did in the past. Most new ideas, no matter how good, don’t even break through, and the ones that do are struggling to scale or to generate revenue (see Chapter 11). Given that the public is more engaged than ever before, more capable of collecting and sharing information with a wider audience—for free—than at any point in our history, we can draw on a larger audience in the shaping and supporting of companies and innovations than ever before. As a more diverse, interested, and interesting culture emerges, we will have unprecedented opportunities to engage, to drive participation, and to mobilize people to act. This is your invitation.

Go Big or Go Home Very few organizations have yet to fully embrace the potential that technology and the Internet have created. Part of the problem has to do with the complicated relationship between nonprofit organizations and their funders. In no uncertain terms, the relationship is broken. Funders favor short-term, quarter-to-quarter results over innovation and experimentation that come with no guarantees. Funders want wins, not tries. After all, it is their money that enables the work of so many essential nonprofits, and we are beholden to them. Nonetheless, there are other models for this relationship (some of which we will discuss in Chapter 9), and funders, like all other partners in a cause, must embrace risk and support more ambitious projects because greater risk brings bigger rewards. Funders alone aren’t to blame for organizations’ not being able to take full advantage of new opportunities. At all levels, frankly, there haven’t been many organizations making the kinds of necessary changes, like swapping out their existing talent for fresh perspectives or restructuring their organizations to permanently remove existing silos. Even the largest and most highly regarded organizations are barely scratching the surface of what is possible. Put another way: Everyone is failing at something. Our government has vast stores of data—and the responsibility to serve the public’s interest—but moves at a glacial pace compared to the corporations that bring new products and services to market each quarter.

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Organizations are spending too much time trying to contain and control all facets of these new conversations, but it’s the content of the messages—how they relate to their audience or the ways that an individual or group’s ideas might fit with the rest of the information experience—that really motivates action and drives outcomes. Indeed, it is the individuals—real people, the audience, the community—that have greater potential for influence than any one organization controlling a conversation can even begin to imagine. Organizations should be looking to support and enhance the interests of their audience, to engage them in the conversations, and listen to what they are saying. The willingness and ability to meet the needs of individuals who have demonstrated interest will be the litmus tests by which organizations succeed or fail in the future. One mistake that organizations continue to make is the rote replication of past successes. What went viral? What worked last week? What new gadget? These questions do not get you anywhere once divorced from the why. To cite a recent example of this, when Old Spice struck viral gold with the “Old Spice Guy” series of online videos, countless organizations followed suit to create their own “Old Spice Guy for [fill-in-the-blank industry]” and, quite predictably, they all failed because the approach was wrong from the get-go. You must figure out what your unique goals are and how the new tools can be most effectively used to accomplish them. By defining unique objectives for your organization at the outset, a lot of the later questions about strategy, tactics, and resources begin to answer themselves without as much trial and error. This has always been true for organizations and is even truer today. There are huge barriers to overcome—and challenges that need to be addressed inside organizations, and beyond their walls and their purview. Externally, the landscape has changed; every new venture is in direct competition with thousands of others for the limited attention span of a finite audience. And carving that audience into smaller and smaller demographic niches, however useful, presents new communication challenges: your message becomes that much more important. Beyond losing sight of major goals and desired outcomes, another mistake organizations make is simply failing to recognize what the audience wants and expects. From a very practical standpoint, organizations can do a better job watching what people are

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17

doing, observing behavior—and it is especially easy now with the multitude of platforms available where people are spending their time and expressing their interests. Observe what’s working, what options exist, and how they are being used. Shortly after that, you have to figure out why. Lurk. Listen. Get involved and ask questions. Across all sectors, there are conversations taking place and experiments happening that will yield valuable insights. There are internal pressures to consider as well. Staff and partners—especially those who have demonstrated success in the past with the “tried-and-true” methods—may not be ready or willing to cede control and try something new. None of this is terribly surprising. Nonetheless, our ability to calm these fears, address the important questions, and respond to criticism will be one measure of success. That these significant shifts might be difficult, noisy, and occasionally messy is a given, as is that some might even lead to unanticipated outcomes. But none of these difficulties serves as a reasonable argument for maintaining the status quo.

Don’t Forget to Be Impressed Arguably the most important thing you can do, especially in the age of social media where authenticity is necessary, is to be aware of what you’re actually doing. You may not be impressed with the new things you’re up to, but the “you” of 10 years ago would be amazed. A lot of us suffer from what William Gibson calls “future fatigue,” an affliction that makes everything—even the most revolutionary change—begin to feel humdrum and not quite so dramatic or revolutionary. Remember when you first felt the tectonics of the Internet’s growth shifting beneath you? When the future felt like it was cascading in endless, exhilarating waves of innovation? This type of game-changing innovation can be overwhelming, especially if you think you missed something critical in the lead-up to the digital revolution. Now, innovations come faster—and they come in even more dramatic fashion—but they’ve become so commonplace that we’re barely even aware of them. This is why it is essential for you to remain vigilant, to stay alert and keep looking at how other organizations are exploring and experimenting. You may find you didn’t even know about the small changes being made or that the tools being used even existed. As Darren Cahr has observed, the “changes

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Shift & Reset

that take place on your web site or on your other online platforms may seem incremental or minor,” but look again and maybe it is just that “you’ve just become inured to the feeling of change.” Restoring your sense of wonder, being impressed, and, in turn, impressing upon your audience the power and potential of the digital age may be the most important steps you take in launching your business into the world of social media.

In Summary Without a clear focus on what you want to achieve, and an obvious way to measure whether you are achieving your goals, you are unlikely to make any real progress. In the next chapter, we’ll explore how the models, approaches, and policies that govern how we approach our work on serious issues—and the ways we recognize and measure our successes—need to be reimagined.

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2

CHAPTER

Embracing a New Approach MISSION AND MEASUREMENT

Shane Johnson © 2011.

I found the cure! I found the cure! Of course, now we’re all out of jobs. 19

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Principles 1. You must understand “why” something happens in order to decide how to respond. 2. Amazing tools and mountains of data are virtually worthless unless you can understand how they can be applied to help address a specific challenge. 3. Marketing and communication must have a role within the mission of an organization. 4. Not only do the ways we get and share information—mediated by technology—have considerable influence on the way we think and act; they change the way organizations must define and pursue their work. 5. It is no longer enough to serve causes by building large organizations and growing awareness of issues; we must find and pursue meaningful, measurable solutions.

T

he new tools and channels for distributing products and information created over the past few years have, understandably, generated excitement and attention. Yet the structures that continue to dominate—that is, the models, approaches, and policies that are creating the marketplace for the way organizations operate— haven’t fully changed. More and more is being tried, but at times it feels like less and less is being accomplished. And while we are all busier, the net effects these new tools and channels have on our work are not so easy to measure. It’s time for a new approach. We must begin by recognizing that the ways that we reach, educate, engage, and mobilize audiences aren’t as effective as they were in the past. The potential exists, with new forms of media and technology fully integrated into our lives, to accomplish once unimaginable feats. But applying old practices to new platforms has proven to be challenging. Even as our commitment to addressing serious issues grows, the challenges simultaneously seem to worsen. And while technology can facilitate the activities and behaviors we believe are needed, it should not diminish the importance of the content we ultimately deliver to those communities and audiences we support.

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Paging Don Draper: Both the Method and the Conversation Have Changed The way we get and share information—mediated by technology— have considerable influence on the way we think and act. This is a reciprocal exchange. How, when, where, and why we use new technologies is ultimately a function of our own behavioral norms and needs (as well as broader cultural inputs). We are, after all, rational creatures, empowered and enabled by free will. But it doesn’t always feel this way. Particularly in the context of business, technological adoption can be a market-driven imperative more than a legitimate “choice” (see: E-mail). As Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, has observed, “Every technology becomes our partner, because we make it, and then it makes and shapes us in return, and it takes a little time for us to see how that process of mutual unfolding goes.”1 Turkle’s recent book, Alone Together, about the trade-offs between connection/isolation in the digital age, has generated sensational media coverage, in part because many of us feel some ambivalence toward the technologies we use in daily life. The advantage to the technologies is feeling connected: e-mail lets us respond on the go and never miss an important conversation. We are in touch with more people during more hours of the day and have a larger, more diverse network of acquaintances (note: not friends). But, as Turkle suggests, it is also possible that we are lonelier than ever as well. It is becoming clearer that in everyday practice technology can push and pull human behavior in new directions, whether we consciously want to go there or not. Take the cell phone, for example. Today, “Where are you?” is one of the first things that many of us (especially those of us with young children) find ourselves asking. We sometimes forget the fact that a mere two decades ago the physical act of calling someone on the telephone obviated this question altogether. You didn’t have to ask because you just knew. A “landline” was, rather explicitly, a physical bridge between one fixed location and another, a distance spanned by however many yards of insulated copper wire. Landline wasn’t even a word because it was synonymous with the telephone’s fixed location. Marketers loved the old information economy. And it’s easy to see why: not only did we all watch the same tube, but people, locations, and their localized interests could be identified by zip code

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and area code. The way in which mass audiences learned about and understood the larger issues of the day was simpler. With a captive audience, the ways to reach and influence behavior were simultaneously more limited and more direct. In turn, is it really any surprise that telemarketers used to ring at dinnertime? So while the home is still—at least “in spirit”—an organizing unit for consumption in our lives today, we are no longer geographically confined to the platform. American mass culture still exists, and its makeup is not only more diverse than ever but constantly adjusted—a consequence of changing demographics as well as the larger influence of multiple forms of media. Instead of any one dominant culture, we now find thousands of interconnected and overlapping communities in which commonalities of experience, tastes and interests, and causes and values are, on their own, enough to qualify for membership. Because these communities form not only within but also across traditional demographic and geographic boundaries, understanding them means throwing out the old scripts for audience segmentation. This has far-reaching implications. How should organizations shape their communication strategies? What types of engagement might they pursue? And what variety of forms can mobilization ultimately take? In addition to these questions about strategies for communication, organizations also must be cognizant that the nature of conversation has shifted. There is some evidence to suggest that niche online communities encourage closed-minded thinking, that they tend to slide toward self-reinforcing silos of belief. As journalist Farhad Manjoo argues in True Enough, “No longer are we merely holding opinions different from one another; we’re also holding different facts.”2 To whatever extent this may be true, these communities are not so terribly difficult to enter from the outside. But there are new barometers of trust, and the nature of dialogue and rules of engagement have changed. The broader trend, certainly, would be more conversations in more formats. Today, every story or event, however big or small, can influence the way we view the world and they don’t have to be splashed across the front page of the newspaper or discussed on cable television to make their way into thought bubbles and chat boxes the world over. They are ongoing, synchronous conversations, and subject to constant revision. Think about how you have

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made sense of or understood major events such as September 11, 2001; or the perspective you had before and after Barack Obama was elected president of the United States; or the way we thought about media and partisan politics in the wake of the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011. Real events influence how people view, and function in, our society. Whether or not we are impacted directly, these events influence how we view the institutions and organizations that organize our world. Even the definition of organize has changed. When tragedy strikes, we look to corporations, media, and government to broker solutions and provide information. And when things go well, when whales are saved or a new class of drugs shows promise in the fight against cancer, we look to media, corporations, and government as leaders just the same. It is their responsibility to teach, support, and inspire us, and our expectations are only growing.

An “Inconvenient Truth” about How Complicated a Small Change Can Be A few years back, I made the decision to change all of the lightbulbs in my house from traditional bulbs to energy-efficient ones. All the awareness that had been created around the issue of climate change made the importance of this small step very clear to me. Not only did I feel personally compelled to reduce the size of my carbon footprint but—because I had worked for Al Gore—I probably had a sense of responsibility to demonstrate that the message I helped craft was resonating. For the record, it’s not like I hadn’t tried to take steps like this in the past. It’s just that my previous efforts had proven difficult to sustain and were quickly abandoned. But recently, something like changing my lightbulbs seemed like a small and easy-to-accomplish step, and the promise of its impact mattered to me. I started with some online research. I reviewed all the relevant environmental media sites and the green-focused orgs, looking for product recommendations or (even better) feedback from other customers. Though I found widespread encouragement to use compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), I had trouble finding out what CFLs were best. Nobody offered a clear answer as to the brand and type best matched to my particular needs. An hour later—and with no answers—I hopped in my nonhybrid, low-gas-mileage, oversized

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SUV and drove, on slightly underinflated tires, to a nearby Home Depot. Alas, to my chagrin, there were no less than 70 different types of bulbs, each one manufactured by a different company and boasting a different set of benefits and features. I felt alone in that warehouse and totally overwhelmed. The world’s largest home improvement store has always made clear that “Along with our quality products, service, price, and selection, we must go the extra mile to give customers knowledgeable advice about merchandise and to help them use those products to their maximum benefit.”3 So I flagged down a Home Depot associate and asked for help. “Which one should I get? Which bulb makes the most sense for my house?” After 15 minutes, I still didn’t have any answers. As my frustration began to grow, I returned to the aisle and reviewed my options. I wasn’t going to leave emptyhanded. In the end, I chose a set of GE lightbulbs. GE made my current lightbulbs—and they worked just fine—so it seemed reasonable to assume that CFLs made by GE would work as well. I also remembered their brand promise, “We Bring Good Things to Life” (which has recently been superseded by “Ecomagination”—the practical meaning of which I am still trying to determine). Because of my existing relationship with GE, and my trust in their brand, I was even willing to pay a little bit more for the CFLs. That trust had built up over time based largely on my positive past experience and the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. I was convinced the company had my best interests in mind when they created their products. At long last, I arrived at home and immediately proceeded to screw in my new lightbulbs. But, despite my best efforts, I had not gotten the outcome that I wanted. I had managed to turn my living room into a high school cafeteria, my office into a morgue. The seemingly basic play of light that I’d enjoyed from my traditional bulbs was not replicated by my new, more energy efficient bulbs. My expectations weren’t met. The time I had spent and the money I had invested had all been wasted. I take full responsibility for my choices, especially when it comes to my home. I also acknowledge that when it comes to my home, as is the case with my family, my work, and most things in which I am committed or involved, my expectations are quite high. Still, even my basic expectations weren’t met in this case. And I was upset. The whole experience proved to be incredibly frustrating.

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It didn’t have to be this way: • GE could have made it clearer that the statement “We Bring Good Things to Life” was about an array of products—a tagline born of focus groups and copy wizards—not, as you might think, a commitment that the company expected to meet on every transaction. I should have realized that the tagline suggested an experience, and my situation actually required substantially more knowledge and effort on my part. At best, “we” in this case was meant to suggest a partnership between the corporation and me, toward the desired outcome. • Home Depot could have provided more support in helping me find the product that fit my needs most. I assumed that the company’s suggestion that it listens and responds to the needs of customers, treating them—in their words—as partners, extended to the lighting department. In this instance, I required more guidance on my particular purchase than their motto suggested I’d get. • And Al Gore could have done more to help me fulfill his challenge. After a career in politics and public service, Gore has become the world’s leading advocate for the environment. I know firsthand how passionate and knowledgeable the Nobel Prize- and Oscar-winning former vice president is about this issue, so I was surprised that his global promotion campaign wasn’t constructed to support individual actions like those I was trying to pursue. The simple point is this: this basic act of changing your lightbulbs for the better should be far easier to complete. I was, after all, personally motivated to make change, and not everyone is going to bring such enthusiasm to adopting greener technologies. For people who aren’t thinking deeply about these issues, the task likely proved even more challenging, and the relatively small group of people who have committed themselves to these types of basic climate-friendly efforts suggests that is true. Changing lightbulbs is just one tiny action to improve the world; you could imagine it gets more challenging—and potentially more frustrating—the further committed someone tries to become to improvements.

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As a society, we need to do more than simply provide alternate products and solutions that people can purchase. We need to make it easier for people to change their behaviors, to make different choices, whether they are conscious of that shift or not. Indeed, as consumers, a single frustrating experience has a determining influence on the way we feel about a given brand going forward. In my case, the repercussions from the experience included: • The next time I have to buy a dishwasher or refrigerator, if a GE product is an option, I will remember my lightbulb experience and be sure to take a long, hard look at the other competing brands (and advise my friends to do the same). • The next time I have a question about some home improvement project, instead of Home Depot, I will likely visit another chain, such as Lowe’s, or maybe my local hardware store, in hopes of finding better guidance and support. • And as for Al Gore or any other level of advocate who urges a “simple” action, I will not join their list, follow their instructions, or get passionate about their movement any time soon. From one simple experience, my impression of all of these things has changed. Each of their brands has been colored by my experience, and, in this case, it was negative. Is my reaction entirely fair? Probably not. But it is how most people feel after experiencing similar frustrations and disappointments, and these types of disappointments lead to similar outcomes in areas other than brand purchase. ● ● ●

The general lesson for brands and organizations, given today’s increase in social media communication, is this: you have a lot to lose at the hands of a small but dedicated coterie of dissatisfied customers. Ask Motrin, Toyota, Taco Bell, and countless other companies that have been pulled into very public, and very damaging, battles over their inability to live up to the expectations that consumers have for their products and services. A big corporation like GE may be insulated from some of the criticism I’ve offered here, but bad publicity is more than just a headache for the consumer

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relations department of your operation. Consumer frustration, particularly in a highly connected, fast-moving world, can reasonably lead to going out of business without much stretch of the imagination. Companies must put customers at the start of the value chain, not at the end. And this is true for every organization, including those who are seeking to address serious issues, whether marketing is involved or not. With so much at stake, organizations have no choice but to engage in open dialogue with customers or communities, especially those who feel they have been mistreated.

Why “Why?” Matters Why do we do the things we do? This question has been the terrain of philosophers, theologians, neurologists, biologists, economists, and sociologists for a long time, and each will give you a different answer. Charles Darwin, a naturalist, had a lot to say on the subject. And if you want a second opinion, you could also visit the second-floor astrologist down the street and learn that, really, you’ve had no choice all along: your birth date is your cosmic destiny. In my estimation, though, most of our decisions sit at the tail end of a long and extremely complicated series of smaller assessments. Some of these are quite rational; some of them are not. For now, let’s assume our answers fall into one (or more) of the following six broad categories: 1. Basic needs. Basic needs are easy to understand. They are the things we need in order to survive. This includes food, shelter, and water. 2. Convenience and efficiency. We all like saving time and effort. Anything that promises to make us more productive with our time, or preserve what we already have earned, is a big plus. 3. Peace of mind. You might call this “security.” We want to know we are safe, so we buy burglar alarms, motion-detecting lights, and even surveillance cameras. Because we want to know our families, our homes, and our businesses will be okay in the event of disaster, we buy insurance. 4. Appeals to image or ego. It’s probably difficult to overstate the extent to which we do and buy things because we like them or because we think others will like them. Both reasons loop

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back to the same circuitry of self-image. And image- or egobased decisions are, at their core, emotion-based decisions. Logic has no place here; it’s all about how something makes us feel. 5. Entertainment. People like to have fun. People like to laugh. People like to feel. People are willing to purchase experiences and stuff, in which the reward is straightforward emotional release. No practical arguments needed. 6. Money. The desire to save money or increase wealth undergirds a lot of what we do day to day. Beyond our basic needs, money helps us meet a lot of our life goals: it translates into convenience, peace of mind, satisfying our ego, and having fun. It’s not tremendously surprising that people will invest in things that promise to either save them money or make them money. Each of these categories provides a generalized framework for assessing human motivation. We all prioritize differently, and while activity is easy to measure, context proves a lot squishier. Understanding the “why” that motivates people is the key to success. And the “what” and “why” are often confused. Remember back in the old days when people kept precise and regimented schedules? And I’m not talking about military personnel here. Rather, most Americans not so long ago maintained static (and more or less nationally synchronized) schedules. Work at 9:00. Home by 6:00 or 6:30, depending on the traffic. Couch at 8:00. Leno or Letterman as a nightlight for foreplay just before midnight. This synchronization and the past nature of broadcasting made communication and marketing a fundamentally different challenge in prior years. Today, technology makes most of our work schedules asynchronous. We adapt our lives to satisfy our individual necessities and preferences. We are able to access information and take action, on terms we set, without planning or consistent commitment. Technology changes the former and facilitates the latter. Marketers and others who need to communicate with an audience or seek to motivate action must adapt accordingly. But we can’t begin to make sense of what needs to shift—or how we might engage, educate, and mobilize audiences differently— without a better understanding of what now drives individual behaviors. We can’t make the appropriate shifts until we’ve asked “why.”

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Why will this audience be motivated to buy, donate time or energy, invest resources, or join? Why does this audience trust one organization while ignoring another? Why won’t all audiences do the same? That’s what we really want to know. It is impossible to communicate effectively with our audiences unless we have the answers to these questions. Social media has made the “why” simultaneously more transparent and more acutely individuated. What we now can recognize is that people “like” things that inspire them and so share what they connect with emotionally. Social is fundamentally emotional. Case in point: Blippy, a micro-social network on which users link their iTunes account, their Amazon account, and their credit cards. Each time a user purchases a new book, buys electronics, or downloads music, Blippy can broadcast, “Brian just bought the Jay-Z CD for $9.99 on iTunes.” At the risk of reduction, this demonstrates exactly what social networking is all about: the Jay-Z CD becomes not only a defining characteristic of who Brian is, and what his interests are, but also a broadcasted image of who he wants to be. That is one tool, and one example, out of millions. But the same patterns of behavior appear time and time again. Of course, our desire for genuine, personal connections is nothing new. It is strange, then, that in the efforts of organizations to humanize their outreach—to personalize their programming to particular individuals or groups, for instance—these efforts appear to be largely driven by technology. As Brian Solis, the author of Engage (which examines the social media landscape and how to effectively use it to succeed in business) told me: We don’t need to humanize the processes as much as we need to humanize the story. That really starts with trying to identify who we’re trying to reach, how they’re connected with one another, and how we could step into the process of their lives. But all the information is readily available. We just have to pay better attention to it.4

But with technology being given so much authority in creating connections between brands and individuals, the nerds are left to drive the strategy. The emphasis is put on tactics like “social customer relationship management,” which only approximates an understanding of what it means to be social, when attention should be paid to the expectations and behaviors of the audience.

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As audiences become increasingly social, it can be useful to think of consumers as composites—as unique sums of two different (albeit overlapped) “selfs.” • The first is the familiar consumer who shows up at your store to make purchases. Eric Arnson argues this consumer wants to know who and where to go to in the event that things go wrong—what he calls “‘Arm’s-Length Accountability’ (in case you need to Choke-’Em-by-the-Neck).” • The second self is the social consumer—the consumer who wants information about your product, who expects to interact with other shoppers, and who demands customer support. For the social consumer, “why” is paramount, while for the familiar consumer, the confirmed relationship or the established routine provides a reliable outcome. There has always been a bit of the familiar consumer in all of us. But we are all social consumers. Each consumer, and more broadly every individual in your audience, has both a specific set of needs and behaviors that must be recognized, and an expectation that they can find or create their own unique experiences. Consider, for example, Facebook, with over 600 million users. It would be easy to think of the world’s largest social network as a mass audience, all sharing the same attributes because of their shared membership. In reality, Facebook ought to be conceptualized as 600 million individuals. Each individual uses Facebook differently, at different times, in different places, on different platforms, for different reasons. There is an expansive variety of whys to be explored. And individual communities within Facebook routinely evolve unique sets of behavioral norms for how people interact online. Take, for example, the recent phenomenon of “White Walling” (or, as it’s sometimes called, the “Super Log-Off”), a practice popular among younger users for the most part. “White Walling” means that users deactivate their accounts each and every time they logoff of Facebook. Why? Because that way they don’t risk having their profile “vandalized” or modified without their knowledge or consent. The next time they want to use Facebook, these users simply log in, reactivate their accounts, and start networking again. Evidently, for these users, this risk of sharing intimate information

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does not outweigh the greater pros of using Facebook—they rejoin regularly and remain active. But in doing so, they exert a more iron-fisted control of the experience. Another example is the tug-of-war between organizational privacy policies and individual user behaviors, which is playing out across the Web and especially on Facebook. Facebook has taken significant steps, some on their own, and some in response to public pressure, to safeguard user privacy. Each time Facebook updates its privacy policy, for instance, they seek to compel their users to review their settings anew and make appropriate updates. Still, even with all the awareness that Facebook, as well as outside advocates and media, have offered around these issues, only a fraction of the overall user base ever takes the time to carefully review the new policies. Patterns emerge from these behaviors, or lack of behavior in some cases, and the individual and collective habits continue to be transformed. None of these individual behaviors are intended for mass consumption. Every subgroup is unique, and so are their needs and expectations. A teenager’s decision to White Wall marks a fundamental departure point from the ways in which his or her parents understand and use Facebook. The desire for privacy among individual uses is informed not only by their external experiences and interactions (e.g., what they share and what the response is), but also the user experience on the site itself. This begs the question: do you give people power and control over these important actions when, in the end, very few people will care enough to take the time to do it? There has to be some happy medium between legislating activity and encouraging personal responsibility. In reality, the issues that Facebook is grappling with have less to do with “privacy” than they do with the challenge of shifting behavior on an individual or community level. And the same is true for White Walling. A large audience will use a platform differently than a small and dedicated one, and there are external forces, from offline interactions, that influence how people behave when signed in. The methods that Facebook uses as its audience grows to engage individuals and motivate specific behaviors or action will need to evolve in terms of user experience, and in parallel with changes in how our society functions. Facebook needs to recognize the individual habits of its audience and find multiple ways to adapt its platform to satisfy each specific need.

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And that is now true for every organization. The digital tools available today make it relatively easy for organizations to deliver unique experiences customized to each individual user. For instance, millions of people developed individual profiles on MyBarackObama.com, a social network developed in 2007 to support Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. The online interface looked different depending on who was using it. And the communications that individuals received were not only personalized, they were appropriate to the level of effort and engagement that the individual had previously demonstrated. This customization was based on several factors: the information a user provided, demographic information, and the unique tracking that the campaign was able to build around that user’s demonstrated behaviors. That way, when the campaign needed something from its supporters (e.g., money, time, or energy), its requests were specifically tailored to align with that individual’s unique interests. It should also be noted that just the use of the word My in the name of the system suggested something would be different. While the individuation of experience is happening in a variety of ways, and across all sectors, these modes of personalization continue to fall short of our expectations. Take shopping online. It is by now the norm for most large retail sites to supply you with recommendations—products or services that “you” might like. However, by aggregating all of your confirmed purchases and all of the searches you have made, these algorithms often suggest items that do not remotely align with your interests. At Personal Democracy Forum 2010, Eli Pariser said that the increasing sophistication with which information is filtered for us to consume is reducing our ability to engage with differing points of view. “You don’t get to choose the information that you access, despite what you might think,” Pariser told me. He suggests that this manipulation of the information experience creates a “filter bubble,” made up collectively of the way in which aggregators like Google and social sources like Facebook filter out news and points of view. Giving people just what they want, Pariser argues, can be good for consumers. But it’s ‘bad for the rest of us.” As was the case when a limited number of channels had control over our airwaves and made choices about what programming and information was best for its audience, “the new gatekeepers are making similar decisions, just in an automated way and with a different reasoning.” You don’t

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hear what you need to hear. You aren’t exposed to points of view that challenge or expand our thinking. In fact, there are limits for consumers as well. I have two young kids whom I routinely shop for online. As a result, Amazon.com is convinced that I am a LEGO fanatic, a collector of plastic bath toys, and my literary interests are limited to Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry. While there is some truth in the data-driven recommendations offered, I assure you that my tastes in LEGO products and reading materials are (usually) more diverse, and generally more sophisticated, than those of an infant and a toddler. The critical point here is: data, divorced from an understanding of motivation, is virtually worthless. The technology that drives Amazon. com can’t filter data through the lens of motivation. Instead, it resorts to rote mimicry dressed up as intelligence. Moreover, because it has no real-world behavioral “checks,” unlike MyBarackObama.com, which was supported by a large team of human beings, all united by a common purpose (see Chapter 8), Amazon.com inevitably develops warped profiles of consumers like me. And, from there, the algorithm hums along, magnifying these inaccuracies as it tries to predict future behaviors. It’s a bad loop that gets worse. In this algorithm case, the audience can get overwhelmed by the marketing—there are too many messages, too many options, and too few successes—and what is true here for customers and brands is also true for donors, volunteers, and others who represent the audience of nonprofit organizations, charities, and other groups seeking to address serious issues. Audiences want to understand the choices they are making, and that translates into a desire to learn and feel connected to the brands they support, the products they buy, the issues they think are important, and the organizations that they are willing to support in some way. Without an understanding, the audience feels paralyzed. And when audiences can’t make decisions, they won’t make purchases or contributions, volunteer their time, or show support for a brand or cause—especially in challenging economic times. When they aren’t confident that they are making the right choice, they simply won’t make any choice at all.

Serving Causes versus Solving Them Irrespective of personal motivation, we all share a common desire for certainty. Humans strive to find order in the midst of chaos. This

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is especially true in cases where individuals are presented with seemingly overwhelming challenges, such as when the economic forecast is gloomy and our resources are limited. We want to make smart choices. We want to make sure our energy is well spent. And in the context of causes, we want to know that our contribution, whether in time or treasure, will have a clear and immediate impact. There are more than a million registered nonprofit organizations in the United States, and tens of thousands of new nonprofits are created every year. All of these groups are communicating about their different activities, adding to the crush of marketing messages that people receive each day. They are also competing for the same dollars from the audience, making it challenging for donors to provide the kind of support that will have a real impact. And they are all claiming success, while audiences have trouble seeing the outcomes in terms they can relate to and understand. Without a doubt, there are major challenges facing society today. The organizations that want to raise money or advance a possible solution will benefit from attention and awareness for the cause. But this is also a kind of quicksand that organizations trudge through. Survival becomes more important than the cause; survival means fund-raising; fund-raising means awareness; and the cycle repeats year after year. Meanwhile, the root cause, the reason the organization exists in the first place, remains unaddressed. While some organizations do have that focus, seldom is it their primary measure of success. Far too many organizations are serving causes, not solving them. Scott Belsky, the founder and CEO of Behance and the creator of the Behance Network, the world’s leading platform for creative professionals across all industries, told me, “It really frustrates me how much focus there is on how many people showed up at the event.” He suggested the questions instead should be: “How many individuals have you taken off the streets this year and put in shelters? How many vaccines did you distribute?”5 For Belsky and many others, events are just one of the many examples where the focus has become misplaced. A larger, but no less troubling example is October, which has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can’t miss it; everything is pink. At NFL games, a little pink ribbon adorns each and every NFL jersey and helmet (later auctioned) and game ball (ditto). Each of the referees gets one, too.

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The playing field itself is inscribed. And just before kickoff, pink balloons get released to a pink canvas of afternoon sky. And that is just in sports and, really, only on Sunday. If you aren’t a football fan, you can alternately “shop for the cure” (Saks); “wear denim for the cure” (during Lee National Denim Day); or literally “invest in the cure” (via Kinetics Asset Management; talk to your financial adviser). Sometimes it seems like you can do just about anything for the cure. Let’s say you’re on the go and in the mood for deep-fried chicken breast and want to demonstrate your hunger for the cure—not to worry, friend. KFC’s hot pink “Bucket for the Cure” (est. 2,400 calories, 160 g of fat) has got your back. It is, as Barbara Ehrinreich, a journalist and author, wrote dryly in the wake of her own breast cancer diagnosis, as if “breast cancer has blossomed from wallflower to the most popular girl at the corporate charity prom.”6 I don’t mean to be glib. Obviously, the organizations that are working to cure breast cancer have been staggeringly successful at raising awareness and money, and we should all commend them for these efforts. The Susan G. Komen Foundation, in particular, which oversees and sanctions most of October’s pinkification deserves a lot of credit. The Susan G. Komen Foundation–organized “Race for the Cure,” alone, attracts about a million people annually—an achievement that few, if any, causes compare with. But it’s not enough. At this point, an overwhelming majority of Americans today know that breast cancer is a serious issue.7 I recognize that not so very long ago, this was not the case. Without a doubt, then, valuable work has been done here. But I wonder: • How many people, after seeing their favorite NFL player wearing pink gloves and shoes during a game, take the next step and actually become involved? • How much impact does the pinkification of the world have on the larger effort to solve breast cancer? • What fraction of the profits generated each October by pink products actually goes to funding research in laboratories where cancer cells are being studied? • What happens the rest of the year, when our world is not awash in pink? • And, most importantly, is all this activity moving us closer to finding a cure?

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Consider, for example, how thousands of pink ribbons stack up against the work of an organization like SelfChec.org (which teaches people early self-detection techniques for the cancers that are age-/gender-relevant to them): does the awareness that breast cancer awareness month creates drive more people to get screened, and thus save lives, or does the return on investment from teaching individuals to check themsleves save more lives? In a world where there are unlimited resources and opportunity to educate and engage individuals, we may not need to ask this question. But if causes, like everyone else, must compete for attention and time from the target audience, it’s no longer sufficient to fall short of finding solutions. We will return to these concerns in Chapter 5.

The Determinants of Brand: It Should Be about Experience In 2009, Cone Inc. released the “Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100”8 study, a report that values (and ranks) the brands of some of America’s leading social, environmental, and animal rights organizations.9 It is not surprising that the report generates a lot of buzz— after all, that’s the point of the ranking. People want to talk about which charities were ranked, which ones weren’t, who scored the highest on the list, and why. For better or for worse, people enjoy gossip, intrigue, and whispers of back-room politics, but I think that this is, fundamentally, the wrong discussion to have. Rather, I want to focus on something else: the concept of brand for nonprofit organizations in today’s interconnected society. First, let’s look at the research. Cone began by selecting 100 nonprofits to value and rank based on preexisting “private support- and income-based rankings, such as the “Forbes 200 Largest Nonprofits,” the “Nonprofit Times Top 100,” and the “Chronicle of Philanthropy Top 100,” to identify the largest nonprofits.” We learn that from the FAQ, where Cone also acknowledges that these 100 organizations represent but “a fraction of the 1.5 million total nonprofits in the U.S.”10 This should give us pause. While I do recognize that it isn’t realistic for Cone to rigorously evaluate every nonprofit organization in America, I don’t think that picking the 100 largest nonprofit organizations—“largest,” that is, in terms of revenues—is a propitious starting point. Consider, for a moment, the skepticism

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this approach would provoke in the for-profit sector. Aren’t smart, small, and agile firms consistently lionized? Aren’t large corporations oftentimes synonymous with stale ideas and inefficiency? To be sure, all research can be flawed in some (hopefully small) way and still provide critical insights. But, in my opinion, the Cone study is neither comprehensive nor methodologically sound, and we must consider the analysis through that lens. Setting that aside, my broader objection is that the Cone report tries to assign a value to something—“brand”—that may not be objectively quantifiable. Cone (and its research partner, Intangible Business) explains the methodology and thought process behind its rankings: The brand valuation calculation attempts to derive the amount a nonprofit would be willing to pay for its brand, if it did not already own it, by determining how much money the brand contributes to the organization. This approach is called the “relief from royalty methodology” as it calculates how much the brand owner is relieved from paying by virtue of owning the brand.11

In addition, they enumerate the criteria used to calculate rankings: 1. 2007 revenue. Consolidated, itemized revenue, including but not limited to: direct and indirect public support, government contributions, and alternative revenue streams. 2. Propensity for future growth. Compound annual growth rates (CAGRs), derived from the reported financial data, adjusted to reflect the nonprofit brand’s long-term ability for growth. 3. Brand image. The relative strength of each nonprofit brand’s image derived using eight measures (people’s familiarity with the organization, the organization’s personal relevance to people, share of voice, geographic reach, support base, direct public support, nonprofit efficiency, and growth).12 This is helpful; transparency matters. But I still have two core issues with the report. For starters, calculating the value of a brand, and using that as a way to determine whether an organization is successful (and, by implication, worthy of support going forward) is an exercise in circular logic. Being well known for your activities doesn’t

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have any bearing on whether your efforts are successful or help to fulfill your mission. In fact, the public perception of some of the largest and most influential organizations in the Cone study is anything but pristine. Second, the focus on brand overlooks the extent to which “brand” no longer means what it once did, or provides as much influence over people’s perceptions and decision making. Brand is dictated and tightly controlled by the organization. In the familiar public relations circuitry, organizations talked about the importance of their work and the impact of their actions; they broadcast glossy videos of their volunteers in action; and they published lists of the celebrities and other influentials that had signed on to support their cause. But that is changing. Today, the Internet has significantly altered this ecosystem. Brand is about experience. It is now up to all of us, individually, to decide whether an organization has a strong brand. Personal interests (e.g., our “relationship” or proximity to a certain issue) as well as the interactions that we’ve had with a given group—directly or indirectly, as donors and volunteers or merely observers—tend to be the crucial inputs in that decision. And in the context of global economic uncertainty, what is more, we are all increasingly brand promiscuous, willing to sacrifice some measure of trust for lower prices and costs. Nonprofits still can (and still should) talk about the good work that they are doing as well as the strength of their mission. But marketing and positioning are no longer the determinants of brand today; in their place, individuals use their own personal experiences and the measures of the impact they have through their support, to determine their feelings about a cause or issue-related brand. This is what the Cone report crucially omits. Instead, at the top of its list, you see those groups that have the largest and most sophisticated marketing operations; at the bottom, you see multiple high-impact organizations. And then there are others that are not even on the list at all. In the final analysis, Cone gives a brief acknowledgment to this point, writing: Brand value is ultimately a reflection of the amount of revenue a brand contributes to an organization, and is therefore inherently a financial measure. Nonprofits with large revenues will often have well-known brands that contribute a great deal of revenue to their organizations, in turn giving them high brand values [emphasis mine].13

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This argument assumes that its central point is already proven, using this in support of itself. As such, there can be no attempt to tease out causes from effects. And all of this comes from a report that bills itself as “the first public ranking in the United States to value nonprofit organizations by more than financial standing alone” [emphasis in original].14 Because most people will only see the top-line results from a study like this and never consider the limitations of the data and analysis that were expressed, the perception of these brands being the best is continually reinforced. In the wake of reports like this, our notions of brand, mission, and impact have become confused. In a New York Times article about the Cone Report, Alison DaSilva, Cone’s executive vice president, says that environmental organizations “have spent a lot of time raising awareness” through “calls to action—put a brick in your toilet, turn out the lights—but not for their brands.” Other groups, she argues, like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, enjoy “widespread recognition—but its revenues do not reflect that. . . .”15 What would be a measure of success for these and other organizations? Won’t the answer be different for each group based on whatever they have set their mission to achieve? The results of their study suggest that Cone believes the level of awareness an organization generates about its mission is more important than the actual work it does. And they wouldn’t be alone. In fact, common perception among organizations, as well as those who advise groups on how to build brand and promote serious issues follows this logic. They believe that organizational success is an appropriate outcome, even at the expense of fulfilling an organizational mission. I couldn’t disagree more. Organizations, and those who help them to strategize and communicate, almost universally believe that the work to solve complex problems like these can be reduced to simple messaging, and measured on the strength of a consumer-facing brand, but it is more complex than that. It is more important to actually—and measurably—focus on the causes than talk about them: reduce your carbon footprint, enrich the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and so on. Then, the question boils down to this: is it better to be known for actually doing something, or is it good enough just to be known? Right now, much of the world works to reward groups, and the individuals who lead them, for being well known and well intentioned

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far more than for being truly effective. With this in mind, it then seems that the ego that exists for nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs is no smaller than any other sector. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, though. Perhaps some of the groups that have swollen marketing budgets (and therefore “strong brands”) are also doing the best work, but I’m not convinced. Consumers often suspect marketing to be a kind of cosmetic work, and the Cone list is littered with groups whose flaws or inefficiencies have been documented. In fact, I have supported some of these organizations in the past. I hope to not repeat that mistake today, when many other organizations are doing more tangible work to address the issues and have an impact. These are the groups I choose to support, and I know I am not the only one. ●●●

As audiences, we get to decide what issues matter to us. We have an increasingly significant influence, too, on how those issues are addressed because we get to control the information we listen to. Because our society is structured, at present, to reward high-profile efforts, groups feel justified in trying to build their audience and improve the level of awareness and recognition for their brand. However, individual consumers now have a lot of information at their fingertips to help explain complicated issues—and the work that groups are doing to address them—and each of us can know firsthand how, where, when, and why organizations are having an impact. We can quite literally see what that looks like. What is more, we can begin to conceptualize the meaning of impact in terms of our broader, long-term goal: a sustainable solution. This is the reality of a connected society. It is a reality that nonprofit organizations (among others) cannot afford to ignore because it changes everything about how we operate, communicate, and engage audiences. And it changes the meaning of brand. In explaining the method of its study, Cone includes a kind of disclaimer: “Valuing a nonprofit brand gives organizations a license to demonstrate to companies and other partners that there is an established and justified cost to aligning with nonprofits.”16 I agree with this statement, and I strongly support partnerships and collaborations. I am not so naive as to believe that groups can operate, let

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alone solve major, global problems without devoting some time to fund-raising and partnerships. But the lowest possible amount of organizational energy and resources should be dedicated to these activities. It is shameful that they would be the aspects of an organization’s work that generate the most attention. And yet here we are. We are consistently publicizing and extolling the amount of money an organization has raised, the creativity of its latest ad campaign (which is nearly impossible to measure), and the brand ranking it has received at the end of the year. To some extent, this is the fault of the mainstream media for consistently pushing these stories. But the audience is also to blame for not demanding more accountability and measurable action from nonprofits. We all share responsibility for this state of affairs. I think that nonprofit organizations simply find it easier to talk about the operational aspects of their success, and to use those as the leverage for fund-raising to drive future successes. And that would be fine if the job of a nonprofit organization were to run a nonprofit organization. At best, that is only part of the challenge, and activity is . . . well . . . a measure of activity. But nonprofits are in business to teach children to read, get food to those who desperately need it, keep endangered species from going extinct, and many other extremely important things. What is more, today’s nonprofits are expected to be the leaders in determining how best to tackle the largest and most systemic problems. It is clear that many nonprofit organizations aren’t focusing their energies in the right places. Across the board, far too much time is spent “serving the cause” instead of “solving the cause” these days. And ultimately, the Cone report only gives groups “license” to perpetuate that behavior. What organizations like Cone should study, and what we should be ranking, is the quality of the experience that organizations provide to their audience (the people who need to become aware of an issue, learn more, get connected, who will donate or take action, the media, and others), the efficacy of those efforts in moving us toward a solution, and the impact they have on the issues that they have stated in their mission. As Jim Collins, author and business consultant, writes: “For a social sector organization, performance must be assessed first and foremost relative to the organization’s mission, not its financial results.”17

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Narrower Focus Equals Bigger Opportunity What’s in a name? This is only part of the question. In September 2008, despite a 30-year legacy as the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, America’s Second Harvest shed its image and its name to undergo a massive rebrand, emerging as Feeding America.18 To date, the results of this rebrand have been nothing short of spectacular: in fiscal 2009 alone, Feeding America’s fund-raising grew 34 percent to $75 million, and the quantity of food donated or salvaged increased by 22 percent to 2.6 billion pounds. And 2010 looks even better. Projections indicate that Feeding America’s fund-raising increased 33 percent, netting $100 million while the quantity of food donated or salvaged showed a 15 percent increase, to 3 billion pounds.19 No doubt Feeding America managed a remarkable transformation, but it actually has a lot more to do with mission than name change. The change started in 2006 with new personnel, when America’s Second Harvest brought in Delta Airlines veteran Vicki Escarra as CEO, who in turn hired Wendy MacGregor. A Chicago agency veteran, MacGregor had worked at both Leo Burnett and Starcom and was also a VP of marketing at Hyatt. The two of them are widely credited with the massively successful partnerships and transformations that followed. As MacGregor told me in an interview, “We had an opportunity to be more clear about our role, helping the hungry, and about how to have that crystallize in the public’s mind.”20 She added, “One interesting thing about the rebrand is that it narrowed the scope of what Feeding America does. When you were America’s Second Harvest, anything could reasonably be assigned to the organization. But when the name on the door is Feeding America, there’s a very clear set of outcomes that you’re seeking to drive.”21 Finding a clarity of focus is hard for a lot of organizations because they don’t have a mission that can so easily be measured or described. “We wanted to seize on that simplicity and singularity,” said MacGregor. And yet, at the same time, the issue of addressing hunger is far from simple, and Feeding America would acknowledge that their role in the overall issue is only a small part of what is needed.22

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On a broad level, marketing is about changing consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. Having worked in organizations that were not marketing driven but were for-profit organizations, I learned quickly how critical it was to understand the intersection of marketing and mission. That is, can marketing advance the mission? In the case of Feeding America, the answer is “yes.” However, as MacGregor explained to me, there were still two crucial camps that needed to be in agreement: the board and the membership. This proved easier than MacGregor had initially imagined. The Feeding America board was explicitly in favor of jump-starting the organization. And the network, the “guts” of the organization and people on the front line, felt frustration that hunger wasn’t “on the map,” and by implication, that Feeding America’s massive network on the ground wasn’t on the map, either. “If hunger were a more prominent issue in the public eye,” MacGregor noted, “then Feeding America would be able to do more and help more people.” That intuition proved to be exactly right.23 “You have to ask yourself,” MacGregor explained, “does marketing have a role within the mission?” She continued: Our mission states a clear need for marketing. One of its core components is feeding people through the network of food banks and mobilizing the public to end hunger. And so mobilizing the public was, to me, a call to action or a referendum for marketing. Whenever I talk about anything we’ve done in marketing, it’s always in relation to this mission, and that referendum, because I think there is a call to action. Part of our mission is public engagement.24

And so, as part of its rebranding process, Feeding America worked with its consulting agency (BCG) to develop its very own virtuous cycle. If we initially engage the public, the public will then in turn affect other constituency groups. If members of the public were more engaged in fighting hunger, they would elect people into the government that cared about fighting hunger. They would buy products that supported fighting hunger and so that virtuous cycle starts to

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catch. Thinking about this clearly articulated the need for us to better understand who our target was, what our brand stood for, and how we should go to market.25

Go look at the mission of any nonprofit organization out there today and you will be hard pressed to find an articulation of the value that marketing should play. A cycle, or any theory of change, is hard to tease out. Many of these organizations end up doing great work, but in a resource-constrained environment any money and time and energy that they put toward marketing comes out of their ability to accomplish the mission. Therefore, whenever marketing becomes a part of a nonprofit’s daily work, it must be intimately tied to the mission. That’s the difference between actually fulfilling the outcome, or driving measurable results, and the selling of the cause. At present, there are far too many organizations with expensive marketing departments that are not doing enough, frankly, to accomplish their missions. Nonprofits have become more concerned with keeping the lights on than they are about meeting the needs of the cause. This mirrors the way that for-profit businesses remain obsessed with quarter-to-quarter results and making their numbers than providing the highest-quality and most compelling brand experience, but in the eyes of the audience, these priorities are no longer acceptable (if they ever were). It is time for organizations to reassess their underlying goals.

Put Yourself Out of Business Mission accomplished—this is the goal of every organization. But it means different things and requires very different kinds of measurement in different sectors. For for-profit corporations, the goal is pretty straightforward: “Mission accomplished” means consistent returns for shareholders. Corporate success (or failure) is always a function of the bottom line and gets measured, each quarter, accordingly. CEOs, managers, and other executives are evaluated, in turn, based on their ability to make effective decisions about personnel, strategy, and operations to increase the firm’s overall profitability.

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But in the context of a cause—or, say, the War on Terror—“mission accomplished” can mean something very different. Impact and success are not measured by one battle or a successful operation. And organizations too often lose sight of this fact. We need expiration dates. The Gates Foundation has committed to spending all of its money within 50 years of the death of its last trustee. They’ve said, “We’re going to eradicate malaria in our lifetime. Eradicate, done, over with. And we will put ourselves out of business and we’ll stop working on that. We’ll stop spending against it.” Indeed, organizations pursue a very different choice about how to market, position staff, organize, and pursue serious issues when they have a deadline to meet. They certainly don’t mess around with campaigns that sound really good or with celebrities that might snag some attention but don’t move the needle anywhere close to where it needs to be. And they sure as hell don’t raise money for the sake of keeping the lights on when the end goal is turning the lights off anyway.26 Consider an organization like the March of Dimes, created in 1938, with the specific and important goal of curing polio. All of its attention, resources, and energies were directed toward that one objective. And in 1955, the organization succeeded! This was a staggering, world-changing accomplishment, improving lives not only domestically but all around the world. Mission accomplished. And yet, today, the March of Dimes continues to operate, having broadened its agenda to “improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality”—and Charity Navigator gives it only one out of four stars for efficiency. Oh, and polio has returned as a critical issue in parts of the world. This is a textbook example of what Nancy Lublin, the chief old person at DoSomething, calls “mission creep”: when an organization morphs from one cause to another, inefficiencies tend to multiply. Would it not have been better for March of Dimes to celebrate the early victory and shut down?27 I think so. And I want to argue that “mission accomplished” is actually a singular mandate for those organizations dedicated to solving today’s critical problems, and that mandate is: put yourself out of business. Put yourself out of business by infiltrating and guiding the operations, thinking, and outcomes of everyone and everything

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that, in your estimation, needs to be influenced in order for your cause to be the hot topic. It goes well beyond simply driving awareness or creating attention for an issue. An issue or cause must become embedded in people’s operations so that all efforts can contribute to making progress. That way, as we’ll discuss in Chapters 9 and 10, you can subsequently set in motion the rest of your master plan. As the example of Feeding America makes clear, it is crucial for organizations to align their mission and their marketing in a way that serves their cause. If your goal is to end hunger, use your communications to address that need at its core—not to create a larger organization or continually build your following. Structure your approach, and your team, with that focus in mind. And publicly commit to meeting that goal so that your success is measured not by activity but by your direct impact. A lot of this has to do with marketing, which is, for most businesses, an expected “add-on.” For the overwhelming majority of nonprofits, however, resources are constrained and marketing is luxury. If marketing were a core part of the mission, then it wouldn’t be as much of an add-on or a resource strain. It certainly wouldn’t be a distraction that brought the organization farther away from the ultimate goal of serving that issue because it would be a functional delivery mechanism for what that organization is supposed to do (another argument for making sure that the progress toward an ultimate solution to a serious issue or complex problem is paved by lots of smaller and attainable goals, which keeps the focus from being lost). So, while Susan G. Komen for the Cure does a remarkable job of raising awareness and money, I am not convinced that any of this has very much to do with the organization’s promise: “to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all, and energizing science to find the cures.” The amount of money that ultimately goes to breast cancer research as a result of October’s pinkification is itself up for debate. While Lean Cuisine had a pink ribbon on its boxes of frozen meals, the purchase of the meal did not result in a donation to a breast cancer organization. Instead, consumers had to visit the Lean Cuisine web site and buy a pink Lean Cuisine lunch tote— only then would $5 (of the tote purchase) be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.28

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Consider, however, some of the “15 Guiding Principles” of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Principle 2: “Philanthropy plays an important but limited role.” Principle 7: “We take risks, make big bets, and move with urgency. We are in it for the long haul.” Principle 11: “Delivering results with the resources we have been given is of the utmost importance—and we seek and share information about those results.”29 To be sure, the idea of driving impact is discussed often in the context of causes. There are lots of ways to approach this conversation and different perspectives on measurement. For sure, any complex problem will take time and many steps. Achieving a world without breast cancer is no small undertaking, and not likely something that one organization can achieve on its own. I suspect the Komen folks would agree. But the approach the organization has taken, which has been widely recognized as one of the most aggressive and innovative in the world of nonprofits, seems too focused on the work of their organization. The organization literally took the color pink and converted it into a representation of their cause, and by extension their organization. They decided that “for the cure” wouldn’t just be a tagline, but a concept that they—and they alone—own (The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation spends at least $1 million in donor money every year fighting off any charity that dares to use the words “for the cure” in its name).30 This doesn’t diminish the undeniable good of the work that they are doing. Susan G. Komen offers a powerful and personal experience to millions of people—those who are surviving a cancer diagnosis, their friends and families—which helps to build their brand and enhance their standing. Still, over time, the expectations of donors and advocates will never be sated until, ultimately, Susan G. Komen fulfills its mission. And the evidence to suggest they are making significant progress in that direction is difficult to find. Fatigue is bound to set in. How many times do I have to run the race before we find a cure? How many scoops of pink ice cream must I consume before no more friends and relatives are diagnosed?

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Mission and Measurement By contrast, consider the Campaign for Cancer Prevention, a nonprofit started by Eric Ding, a public health researcher and expert (who is, himself, a cancer survivor). The organization’s mission is “forging alliances between the public, academia, corporations, and institutions in effort to efficiently channel resources for high-paced development of cutting-edge research in cancer prevention, while simultaneously spurring translation and delivery of innovative treatments to the public.”31 Like so many groups today, the Campaign for Cancer Prevention started with a presence on Facebook. Its focus was on spreading reliable information about cancer risk factors and to solicit donations for the three-decade-old epidemiological Nurses’ Health Study. Within a week, the Campaign for Cancer Prevention had signed up 10,000 members, an international support base that jumped to a million within three months. The current membership includes just over 4.5 million people—still small by comparison to the reach of an organization like Komen, but its trajectory and focus are clearly different. The group that Ding started was, at one time, the largest cause on Facebook; now it exists as its own organization. While Ding’s goal is driving innovative cancer research, he also envisions the organization as the launching pad for a new epidemiological cancer study. And perhaps most radically of all, Ding is using his organization as a research tool: he is studying the risk factors of cancer on the audience he has assembled.32 This brings us back to importance of mission. As the name of Ding’s organization makes clear, the Campaign for Cancer Prevention places a critical emphasis on prevention. And while it will take far longer to measure long-term impact, measurable outcomes in the interim will be fulfilling both the organization’s mission and the broader social need. Prevention has also become trendy, so it benefits from outside interest and attention regardless. It is worth recalling that Wendy MacGregor, in her work with Feeding America, refers to seeking more opportunities to raise awareness and build the standing of the brand while also looking for better ways to demonstrate value to her organization’s partners

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and supporters. Feeding America tracks the performance of its brand using the same sophisticated techniques employed by major corporations and marketers, and the organization is devising its own metrics for demonstrating returns to its marketing partners.33 At the heart of this totally new approach, however, is a deep understanding of what they need to achieve and the ways they will pursue their goals. Nonprofits must regard these two components—mission and measurement—as fundamentally dependent on one another. At present, there are far too many organizations out there with far too few delivering tangible results. And there is a real danger that these organizations, taken collectively, are doing something worse than failing to meet the larger needs of our society—they are eating away at our collective patience. For Feeding America, the Campaign for Cancer Prevention, and other groups, there are always going to be some successes that will not be measured by conventional metrics. There will be others, too, that will only yield quantifiable results down the road. And there will be some experiments that fail and give people reason to challenge the approach that they have chosen to employ and even the rebranding effort itself. That’s okay. It is better to make that clear from the beginning with the mission statement than to find out in the future after it is too late.

In Summary The mission of an organization should dictate everything else. This is true whether the organization is a for-profit, nonprofit, or anything else. And success is measured in one very simple way: either an organization accomplishes its mission or it doesn’t. You either achieve the desired results or you fail. There is no third option. The audience that you serve drives how you pursue that mission and whether you can ultimately claim success. In the next chapter, we explore how audiences are changing and what organizations need to understand about how people think and act in order to communicate with, and engage them, effectively.

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Solutions The following essays address how both public and private organizations are reimagining their relationship with the individuals they serve. Simon Mainwairing outlines a new model for corporate citizenship that ensures that the best interests of both individuals and the organizations are appropriately met, while Sarah Granger details the influence that social communications are having on government and public policy.

A New Model of Corporate Citizenship By Simon Mainwaring

At the dawn of this 21st century, the problems of the world remain massive. Nearly 4 billion people live on less than $3 per day, 1 billion are undernourished, and roughly 8 million children die per year before the age of five, many of whom succumb to illnesses that could have been inexpensively treated or prevented. Even without the Great Recession that now encumbers nearly every nation of the developed world, the disparity between the wealthy and the poor has been rising relentlessly. To date, we have relied on governments and philanthropies to attend to these problems. However, it is clear these two pillars of social transformation can no longer meet the scale of our global crises. Government-sponsored social initiatives are increasingly hampered by politics, partisanship, limited financial resources, corruption, and bureaucratic inefficiencies. Due to the recession, nonprofits are rapidly losing donors and billions of dollars in funding, causing many of them to cut back severely on their programs, while others simply close shop. It is time for corporations to accept their social responsibility and become a “third pillar of change” in the world, partnering with governments and philanthropies to meet these challenges. Some might claim that U.S.-based corporations are already doing this, given that they contribute nearly $20 billion to causes through direct charitable contributions and corporate foundation awards. But such numbers are highly misleading because, in reality, most corporations donate only about 1 percent of their total pretax profits to charitable causes and it rarely exceeds 1.5 percent. By comparison, corporations generate trillions of dollars for their shareholders, and top corporate executives receive salaries and bonuses in the tens of millions. For most of the 20th century, corporations hardly made any effort to demonstrate social responsibility to their communities, the country, or the world at large. In the mid-1980s, under pressure from consumers to become more environmentally responsible (which then morphed into today’s larger concern for social responsibility), many companies began a new tactic called “cause-related

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marketing” (CRM), whereby they challenged consumers to buy their products in exchange for their making donations to well-known social causes. CRM campaigns have become a huge success, but they are not sufficient if the goal is truly meaningful corporate social responsibility. The shortcomings of CRM campaigns include: • The proceeds generated from corporate CRM campaigns are very small compared to the profits they generate for corporations. • Top corporate executives remain largely uninvolved in their commitment to serious social transformation. • CRM campaigns are often intended to window dress a company’s reputation rather than sincerely help a cause. This is evidenced by the large number of companies that have been caught “green-washing,” “cause-washing,” and “local-washing.” Taken together, CRM and other forms of corporate charity ultimately reflect an obstinate resistance on the part of corporations to be truly responsible citizens. Adhering staunchly to the economic philosophy of Milton Friedman, Corporate America still tends to insist it has no obligation to anyone but its shareholders. Executives and boards of directors continue to act as if their only responsibilities are to maximize returns for their stockholders. It is time to put an end to this attitude—and it will be up to consumers to do so. Just as they did with the environmental movement, consumers must begin pressuring corporations to accept a far greater degree of responsibility for the role they play in this interconnected, globalized world of the future. Corporations need to recognize that they have a moral and ethical duty of social responsibility in exchange for their license to operate. The future of their profit must therefore be linked to serving higher purposes in the world. As observed by the noted European philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, we can no longer tolerate the hypocrisy of corporate attempts at social responsibility that try to save and protect with one hand while the other hand destroys. In order to truly become a third pillar, corporations must adopt four new behaviors. First, as long as investors demand that they maximize profits, corporations must allow society to deduct more of the costs of the negative externalities they create that are never counted in the corporation’s tax burden. These include such ramifications as pollution, traffic, defense expenditures, dysfunctional families, obesity, and crime. Second, they need to acknowledge and act upon their responsibility to help create a healthy society, because capitalism can survive only if there is prosperity for the majority of people, not just among a small group of the wealthy elite. Third, as Bill Gates suggested in his vision of “creative capitalism,” corporations must search for new ways to define profit by doing business even in the (continued)

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world’s poorest nations. Corporate responsibility and profit can no longer be thought of as mutually exclusive. Finally, corporations must wake up to the reality that we now live in a complex, globalized, interconnected world. They cannot continue to cling to anachronistic ideas about capitalist self-interest that are no longer valid in a world of nearly 7 billion people vying for the same resources while sharing our single fragile planet. Global competitors among the emerging nations, the new tools of communication and connection, and the growing power of citizens and consumers seeking a better world for everyone are going to alter the corporate landscape. Corporations that fail to embrace a new paradigm of social responsibility will be overpowered by those that understand its critical importance in the new world of the 21st century.

Mobile, Global, Virtual, Tangible: Governments Embrace the Social Revolution as Introduced by the Internet By Sarah Granger

The Internet revolution can also be called the social revolution. While some call the interactive development “Web 2.0,” it’s really just an added complexity in the top layer of the stack: link, Internet, transport, application, interaction. And let’s not forget the billions of mobile nodes. With people now connecting from remote parts of the planet, governing this expanded model requires a deeper understanding of how it all works, and where the system can fail. Rather than focusing on who’s doing what right and who’s behind the curve— already covered in extreme detail in other publications—I’d like to instead discuss where we should be going over the next decade. I’ve watched the growth and expansion of the Internet now for 25 years, along with the policies and practices that guide it. Government, not surprisingly, tends to be always behind the curve, adapting only after the mainstream consciousness approaches a comfort level far surpassing those that govern. We have hope. As each new Congress comes into office, and as each new administration brings in younger advisers, we gain an advantage with greater opportunity for technology natives, that is, those of us who grew up with computers, to participate more actively in the public process. Furthermore, through the introduction of crowd sourcing and other tools from government offices and agencies, the opportunity for public participation also increases. We can all share in the governance. Transparency is no longer a vague concept attached to lawmakers flaunting faux clarity; instead, it has become a tangible commodity able to produce real results. Through modern web sites, social media like Twitter, Friendfeed, and blogs, these conversations can take on a deeper collective intelligence, rather than the way

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it was done before (write a letter; get an appointment; talk to a staffer, maybe he sends a memo to another staffer; keep pestering; eventually hope it gets through to the representative, who might then be able to spend one minute contemplating potential action). No longer is the individual 10 nebulous steps away from the global decision makers. Now he or she can have direct access one to two steps back. Certainly, technology could be used to mimic a flattening of government rather than achieving the real thing. This will continue to be an area to monitor. But as long as transparency-focused organizations and watchdog groups do their jobs, and as long as the people pay attention to the government—something much easier to do every day now thanks to new media—we can harness these tools for the greater good. Social innovation on a massive scale can take place, with the government as an aid to this innovation, rather than a deterrent. Now, everything can be documented, sorted, searched, and ideally solved, such as in cases like fixmystreet.com. Entering the realm of too much data, everything moves faster, and our ability to respond to the data on a technical level has not yet matched the collection. While we now have this robust collective intelligence that can be mapped and transmitted to other communities and governments, the resources on a large scale elude us. As we’ve seen with Wikileaks, the ease of access to these mass amounts of data can also cause problems on a variety of levels. In terms of potential acts of cyberterrorism, we have yet to see how far that can go. Overall, we see positive movement. What comes next? Mobile devices have overtaken traditional computers globally and now nationally. These allow for virtual desktops, virtual offices, virtual conversations, and virtual decisions, creating a tangible outflow of work, commerce, and diplomacy. The world may still be full of dangers and horrors, but we now have tools that can help in ways never conceived of before. I’ll never forget my first day at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2003 at the UN in Geneva. In addition to the humility I felt being in the same room as Kofi Annan, the WSIS organizers had put together a series of videos showcasing how technologies have helped global communities. One of the innovations they featured was a mobile device completely controlled through symbols. No common language was needed. These devices can be used to create opportunities in the poorest regions between tribes who otherwise would not be able to trade goods or communicate. This, to me, illustrated the future potential of technology and media for social change. Through innovation, calculated risk, and delicate communication, we can overcome incredible obstacles. And by educating decision makers and stakeholders in government, business, media, and philanthropic organizations, we can increase the speed of our collective response, inevitably breeding a more proactive environment for the global civil society.

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Must-Reads David H. Freedman, Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—and How to Know When Not to Trust Them (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010). John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (New York: Basic Books, 2008). Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants (New York: Viking Adult, 2010). “The Real Cost of Obesity,” McKinsey Quarterly, January 2011, http:// e.mckinseyquarterly.com/1308ecc15layfousibkfulr yaaaaaayu5qgosgltusi yaaaaa. “Dan Ariely on our Buggy Moral Code,” TED Talks, February 2009, www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code.html. Atul Gawande, “The Hot Spotters,” New Yorker, July 24, 2011, www.newyorker.com/ reporting/2011/01/24/110124fa_fact_gawande. “The Good Show,” RadioLab, Season 9, episode 1, December 14, 2010, www.radiolab.org/2010/dec/14/. The Fearless Revolution, http://fearlessrevolution.com/.

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3

CHAPTER

Knowing (Your Audience) Is Half the Battle

Shane Johnson Š 2011.

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Principles 1. Identifying the right target audience is pretty easy. Your focus should be on understanding who they are, how they operate, and what motivates their interest and behavior. 2. People tend to follow some basic patterns. By recognizing and analyzing those patterns we can begin to predict how people will act in the future, and what influence we can have on their behaviors. 3. The most important organ in the decision-making process is the brain, and our understanding of how the brain works—and how that influences our work—is growing daily. 4. The idea behind the long tail is as relevant today as it was back in 2006, and likely growing more relevant still.

A

few years back, when writing Media Rules!, I coined the term transactionalization to describe the challenge that organizations face when developing relationships and serving their audience. I wrote: Transactions take place when any kind of good or service is exchanged for something of value. Typically, that is thought of as an exchange for money—the purchase of a product, for example. With online and offline organizations, and businesses in particular, competing for the attention of the audience, the expectation for many is that transactions will be exactly the same no matter the venue. The result is that every organization has the challenge of meeting the audience’s expectations around each individual interaction. Every conversation, e-mail, visit to a store, search experience online, advertisement, and so on has to meet the audience’s needs, at the speed and with the quality they expect, or audiences are likely to explore one of the countless options that exist elsewhere for them.

Organizations can’t control every aspect of their audience’s experience, only the ones they have direct contact with. You may be able to build up the goodwill by having a string of successes in terms of your interaction with someone, but mistakes are very costly.

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That means every interaction between an organization and an individual member of their audience is a transaction, of equal importance to the one immediately prior or the one to follow. Every review, every welcome you receive when you first enter an office, every e-mail or phone call to customer service impacts the decisionmaking process of your audience on an equally important level. Times have changed, but not that much. You still need to master transactionalization. You still need to ensure that every interaction— those you control, and those that influence people’s understanding and behavior beyond your direct control—that someone has with your organization is helpful to your overall efforts. But organizations must think beyond transactionalization as well now. You can’t measure or process the impact of every piece of information someone gets or share the value of each experience they have. You can’t rely on incremental, measurable, discreet transactions alone if you want to develop a relationship, build trust, and drive action. There needs to be a genuine connection and a shared understanding of how the world works. In addition to the transactions, you need to add a human, personal—and in many ways, social—layer to everything you do. For your transactions to go well, you must understand what your audience is thinking, how they get and share information, what actions they take, and the reasons and motivations behind their choices. When you have that knowledge and can make sense of that information, it becomes far easier to establish a connection. And once you have that connection, knowing more will only make it easier to do everything else that is needed to succeed.

Consider the Snuggie Have you ever heard of a Snuggie? In simple terms, a Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves. And a popular one for sure. Snuggie was first introduced in 2008 through a now-famous infomercial. Nearly 4 million Snuggies were bought during the 2008 holiday season. By the end of 2010, more than 25 million blankets had been sold—the equivalent of one Snuggie for every 12 residents of the United States. There are now 15 styles of the Snuggie, including one with a nylon shell for outdoor use, a Sherpa model with thick white lining, a smaller version for children, and a

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large version for couples (with three armholes—one to be shared). There is even an expanding line for dogs, including a wearable Snuggie and a blanket-topped dog bed. What’s more, the Snuggie has proven surprisingly social. The first all-Snuggie-clad pub crawl took the bars of Cincinnati, Ohio, by storm on January 30, 2009. In the following months, these Snuggie devotees went on to complete over 40 more pub crawls across the nation. Later, a group organized a Snuggie pub crawl in Chicago to raise money for an African orphanage. And did I mention that Snuggies are nonpartisan? A worker at the conservative think tank Americans for Tax Reform started a Facebook page, “The Snuggie Cult,” on which you can see such conservative luminaries as Joe the Plumber, Tucker Carlson, and Andrew Breitbart posing in their own robes.1 The Snuggie has achieved a special status in American popular culture. The Snuggie has been spoofed on 30 Rock and featured on Ellen. On Conan O’Brien’s penultimate episode of the Tonight Show, Conan showcased the 2009 Kentucky Derby winning horse, Mine That Bird, wearing a mink Snuggie while watching restricted NFL Super Bowl footage on a television. (This was a part of a running gag. In the days leading up to Conan’s final appearance on NBC, he vowed to “waste” as much of the network’s money as possible— and the skit cost, by some estimates, $4.8 million. No word yet on the price tag for a mink Snuggie.)2 What made the Snuggie such a success? The answer is simple: it served a perceived need. It can be easy to overlook the fact that, in the pre-Snuggie era, curling up on the couch to watch television presented a series of very real challenges. Blankets would fall off. Even reaching for a beverage meant having to free up your arms, disrupting your coziness. You couldn’t answer the phone without casting off your cover altogether. While it sounds silly at first—and the set of problems it solves, decadent—you’d be hard pressed to find an American who hasn’t had his or her own similar experience with the drawbacks of a blanket. What is surprising, however, is that the wonderful innovation we now know as Snuggie wasn’t really an innovation at all. Nor was the Snuggie even “the first blanket with sleeves”—that distinction belongs to a less well-known competitor, the Slanket (and I mean it literally “belongs” to them: they trademarked it). And then there is the even more obvious option to consider: why not just put on a

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fleece or sweater instead? The Snuggie came to blanket the competition by effectively articulating the real or perceived needs of its audience and then met those needs with an unusual product at the right price point. Undeniably, it seems, the Snuggie has revolutionized the way many people think about blankets (and marketing and infomercials). What it should do, however, is revolutionize the way you think about your audience. Do you know what your audience wants and needs? Do you know what it takes to convince them that what you are doing is important and worthy of their attention (or even cultish devotion)? Do you know what your Snuggie would be? It’s time to find out.

Demographic Doppelgangers It seems obvious that smart organizations would begin by thinking about their audience. These organizations create products that people want. They offer services that address people’s needs. They craft their mission or their focus to align with the causes people care about—a societal [fill-in-the-blank] that people are passionate about and want to see addressed. But before any of those elements are in place, they understand as much as possible about their audience. Identifying the right audience is pretty easy. Smart organizations ask, “To what key segments or categories within the population do we have something to offer?” Then, within those segments or categories, they develop profiles. Demographic information. Psychographic information. But, most important, in creating profiles of the people they will serve, smart organizations look at their individual needs. (It turns out there aren’t that many varieties of needs. And most of our needs are pretty basic. But we’ll come back to that in a minute.) Usually, we begin with demographics—sex, race, age, income, geography, education level, and many more. Globally, these are the measurable (and most commonly measured) characteristics of a human population. Demographic information has been the foundation of audience research for generations. Until recently, it was the only data that we had available, so it was believed to offer enough information to construct a more or less accurate mental

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picture of a person (or of a group of people). You could realistically begin to consider whether your work aligned with, say, the interests of college-educated Norwegian male homeowners, age 25–35, with annual salaries ranging from $60,000 to $80,000. You sort of knew how to approach that challenge. But demographic data is no longer enough. This data becomes especially wanting if we are trying to understand why a person (or group) does the things that he or she does and how we might better serve those needs. Think about it. The demographic information on Brian Reich is essentially a reduction of me to a stripped-down version of nature/nurture: what I have inherited (chromosomes, etc.) and what I have “made” for myself (money, possessions, etc.). But I wouldn’t recognize my own demographic doppelganger on paper. That’s because demographic data, while cognizant of material culture, is woefully ignorant of the cultural gestalt: the thousands of other factors, interests, and pursuits that define us as humans. Think back to the previous chapter’s example with Amazon.com and its ability to only recommend products based on the information that I provided and how inaccurate the suggestions ultimately will be as a result. While it’s true that certain forms of material ownership can, at times, correlate with broader cultural affinities, it is increasingly common for the reality of a situation to be much more complex. In America, for example, owning a Toyota Prius has become a symbol of political liberalism—but it would be absurd to read any sort of causality therein. At best, then, demographic data alone helps us assemble an incomplete profile of our audience. Individuals simply have too many different wants and needs in life for this kind of information to be sufficient or determining. And because today we are all interacting with different media, and in different ways, we are also developing increasingly unique patterns of behavior and unique perspectives. And these, too, have become less fixed and rigid than they once were because there is so much more out there for us to choose from. Two other areas of information help us understand our audience: 1. Psychographics. These are a way of measuring consumers’ beliefs, opinions, and interests. They count psychological information, personality traits (opinions on issues, religious beliefs, music tastes, vehicle type).

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2. Technographics (or what are increasingly being described using the term socialgraphics): These are a way of measuring characteristics and behaviors specifically related to the role of technology in our lives. They measure motivations, usage patterns, attitudes, and the like toward different technologies. They aggregate information about where people go online, how they spend that time, what information sources they rely on, and how they are influenced (an important subset of which concentrates specifically on when, how, and why “friends”—or the people in one’s social graph—influence behaviors, online and off). Behavior is a measure of how people act or have acted. What shows and videos have they watched? How did they spend their time? What kinds of information have they shared? And with whom? Using what tools? What did they do before and after they made a purchase? Where did they go? How did they spend their time? In the digital age, the truth is, almost every behavior is tracked one way or another: online, through mobile phones, through onboard computers in cars, with radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers on products in stores. (And that might be where the utility of RFIDs actually begins, as a recent study makes clear: “Gillette, a leader in the application of [RFID] technology, plans to put a halfbillion RFID tags on individual packages of its razors to track them from the manufacturer to the point of purchase. Nothing would stop Gillette, or any firm, from tracking product use beyond the store.”)3

Using Data toward Creating Solutions Today, the amount of behavioral data available to us can be, frankly, overwhelming. (It is in that spirit that I provided some of my own demographic, psychographic, technographic, and behavioral information in the back of the book!) To be sure, there was less of it available in the past. And to some degree, a deep understanding of human social patterns and behaviors, and what motivated them, may have been less important. This is not the case anymore, however. As concerned as people proclaim to be about privacy—online and offline—we are willing to share, and in some cases unconsciously reveal, far more about ourselves today than in the past. As individuals are increasingly willing to shape and express their individual personalities, and

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pursue their unique interests with so few limitations, this understanding is the necessary starting point for any successful interaction, online or off. You either know your audience and “get” how they operate, or you are left guessing. And as far as strategies go, guesswork turns out to be not only expensive but time consuming and exhausting. So where does that leave us? First, we know that human life—considered up-close, individually, or zoomed-out, collectively— conforms to certain broad patterns. There are individual patterns and there are group patterns; by analyzing both, we can begin to predict how people will act in the future. Take the FBI. The bureau has two investigative units that focus on criminal behavior: the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) and the Behavioral Sciences Unit (BSU). The BAU (which for many is best known because of its presence on the television drama Criminal Minds) works to identify personality traits, behavioral tendencies, and other attributes of an offender based on characteristics of the crime scene. The BSU looks at the personality of a suspect—how they think and what they do—as a method to help solve crimes and prevent future crimes. The BSU moves proactively in the fight against crime, whereas the BAU works on time-sensitive cases. In both cases, they focus more attention on the criminal rather than the crime itself. Historically, criminal investigators relied on physical evidence to dream up suspects, widen the dragnet, and ultimately capture the bad guys. This is the by now familiar terrain of the whodunit genre in literature, film, and (once) radio. Today, the BAU and the BSU have substantially modified that process. Instead of looking “out there” for possible suspects, that search instead centers on the closed-off milieu of a crime scene. Members of these units compile evidence and develop theories based on the psychological aspects of violent crime, patterns of criminal behavior, the socioeconomic background of criminals, motives, and crime scene evidence that might have been ignored. They consider the forensic evidence, the organization of the crime (this is sometimes referred to as “the victimology”), even patterns of criminal behavior in the area. They develop working theories for why the crime was committed—the motive—as well as why the crime was committed in the manner it was committed. Throughout this process, these investigators try, more than anything, to put themselves into the heads of the offenders; they hope

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to gain a better understanding of how, why, who, what, and where the criminal mind is activated. Your job is to be like a member of the FBI’s BAU or BSU. That means going beyond demographic profiling alone for your target audience. That means building a profile of the person you are trying to reach that goes beyond data collection and considers the motivation behind their behaviors. With a complete profile developed, you won’t just understand how people act, but also begin to anticipate their future actions. Then you can shape your decisions about how to organize your work and communicate your value accordingly. We know that people are adopting new technologies to communicate with each other, to get and share more and different kinds of information. We know that people change their behaviors because of the technology they now have in their lives. We also know people change their behaviors deliberately to take advantage of certain technologies. And we know that how we communicate, educate, engage, and mobilize individuals, as well as groups, depends on our understanding of what, when, where, how, and why these interactions are taking place. What we don’t understand, or pay attention to enough, is the “why?” and that is most important—that’s when you start playing around with beliefs and motivations. Eric Arnson told me that also opens up a level of targeting that allows for “attitudinal segmentation.” Attitudinal segmentation allows you understand what customers value and believe in. This typically guides their decision making—how they relate to an entire category. “Let’s say the category is clothing, and you think of clothing as purely functional,” Arnson said. “Well, that’s going to have a determining influence on where you shop and what you buy.”4 There are lots of studies available and plenty of free data being offered that can be used to help inform your audience profiling. No single study will tell you enough about an audience group, or certainly about an individual, to form a complete profile. Taken together, you start to paint a pretty rich portrait. It is important to pay attention to how people act and consider what people want. Ask questions. And continue to build deeper profiles of your targets, including both the people you want to reach and the people who have already indicated they are interested in your work or support your efforts. The closer you can get to understanding why

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someone took a certain action or favored a particular opportunity, the better. For example, my wife and I live in New York City, at least an hour—and in some cases two or more hours—from the nearest grandparent. My parents, as well as my in-laws, want to see my son and daughter as they grow, and my wife and I want them to have a personal connection to their grandparents. Holidays and long weekends aren’t enough. So we Skype (the video calling service). When we first started, none of our parents had ever heard of Skype, let alone downloaded the application to their computers. My mother-in-law needed a new computer just to make video chatting even possible. But we understood how important it was for them to see their grandkids, so we made sure that everything was set up properly, and that our family members felt comfortable using the software. It took time. Still to this day, neither my parents nor my in-laws use the proper lingo or seem comfortable using Skype and other platforms to connect. Not as comfortable as we are, anyway. But they do it—and they truly value the ability to see their grandkids grow up, in “real time,” even if it means doing it through a screen. One of the most referenced statistics is that the fastest-growing segment on Facebook over the past few years is women over the age of 55.5 That makes total sense: older audiences have been slower to get online, or join sites like Facebook, so as the population has begun to embrace social networking, the numbers are going to skyrocket. Facebook is, of course, increasingly the center of people’s social communications universe, and for parents, where people post photos of their kids. When the best option for seeing pictures of your grandkids requires logging on to Facebook, there are some obvious incentives for people to sign up. My mother-in-law, who signed on to Facebook with help from my wife, once proclaimed that she wasn’t motivated to be anyone’s “friend” online, but she was interested in using Facebook to get updates on her grandkids, and their friends, as they were growing up. Today, she posts messages and talks with her own group of friends as well. So the initial reason that motivates someone to sign on to Facebook—to check the status of your kids who never call anymore, for example—alone does not offer enough information to ensure that Facebook, or any other option for reaching your target audience, makes sense. After all, looking at pictures may be

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all that someone is doing, or interested in doing; they may not be playing Facebook games, writing on the walls of arts organizations, or even updating their own status. If your business or your goals don’t have anything to do with viewing pictures of grandchildren, your attempts to connect with people on Facebook will likely miss the mark. These kinds of generational and socioeconomic issues have always existed in communications, but they have become even more acute in the age of social media. And that means they need to be addressed by you and the organization you represent. Demographic data helps to make us aware of these challenges but offers little to support the process of creating solutions. Establishing audience targets and supporting those individuals and groups goes far beyond simple actions and basic transactions. The same set of actions, even the same ways people talk about certain issues and efforts, can mean very different things within different audience groups.

How the Brain Works Today The most important organ in the decision-making process is the brain. Thanks to neuroscience, we are in the midst of a revolution in our understanding of consciousness. We don’t just think anymore, we do. And what we do, and why we do it, becomes the driver of behavior and interest. This is, fundamentally, the science of human decision making. By watching how the brain makes decisions and documenting the mechanisms and structures on which different types of decisions are reliant, we have developed some radically new ideas about why we do all sorts of things. Over the past few decades, our understanding of the inner working of the human mind has grown. As David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times and the author, most recently, of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, observes: geneticists, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and others: are giving us a better grasp of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, predispositions, character traits, and social bonding, precisely those things about which our culture has least to say. Brain science helps fill the hole left by the atrophy of theology and philosophy. . . . A core finding of this work is that we are not primarily the products

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of our conscious thinking. The conscious mind gives us one way of making sense of our environment. But the unconscious mind gives us other, more supple ways . . . [that] allows us to tell a different sort of success story, an inner story to go along with the conventional surface one.6

In other words, we can no longer to choose between connecting with people on an emotional or intellectual level when trying to establish and maintain their interest, and we especially can’t do so when the issues are complex. Rather, we have to do both. Stanford University professor Baba Shiv is the definitive expert in research that probes the various ways in which emotion interferes with rational decision making. He has focused on the interaction between deliberate, analytical processes and the more primitive, visceral paths to a decision. Shiv was one of the first to come up with an empirical demonstration of the neural tug-of-war between, on the one hand, more automatic, emotion-driven, or intuitive processes, and more thoughtful, cognitive processes on the other. In 1999, Shiv, along with his coauthor, Alexander Fedorikhin, ran an experiment showing that participants who had been asked to memorize a seven-digit number were much more likely to choose chocolate cake over fruit salad than those who’d been asked to memorize only a one-digit number. Carrying a lighter cognitive load,” the study explained, meant “the one-digit group had more brain power left to resist the lure of the cake.”7 In another experiment, Shiv set out to demonstrate a strange price-placebo effect: when participants bought an energy drink at a discount, they actually performed worse on a puzzle-solving task than participants who had paid full price for the same drink. “It turns out,” Shiv explained, “you end up becoming dumber if you buy the product at a discount.” Well now—that’s a bold conclusion! What’s behind this proven effect? The answer, apparently, has to do with our unconscious belief equating low price with low quality—a belief that works even though we know, on some level at least, that it’s not always true. “So when you get a drink at a reduced price,” Shiv says, “global beliefs get involved without you being aware of it.”8 In other words, the profiles that we have always created of our audience, and the choices that we make as a result of that

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information, are only surface level. In addition to the analysis and understanding of the characteristics and behaviors of the individuals and groups who represent our target audiences, we must also take into consideration the neurological impacts—how the brain works. Jonah Lehrer, a contributing editor at Wired magazine and the author of How We Decide, writes: Ever since the time of the ancient Greeks, we’ve assumed that humans are rational creatures. When we make a decision, we are supposed to consciously analyze the alternatives and carefully weigh the pros and cons. This simple idea underlies the philosophies of Plato and Descartes; it forms the foundation of modern economics; it drove decades of research in cognitive science. Over time, rationality came to define us. It was, simply put, what made us human.9

There’s only one problem with this assumption, Lehrer explains: it’s wrong. It’s not how the brain works. For the first time in human history, we can look inside our brain and see how we think. It turns out that we weren’t engineered to be rational or logical or even particularly deliberate. Instead, our mind holds a messy network of different areas, many of which are involved with the production of emotion. Whenever we make a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions. Even when we try to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence our judgment.10

And now, even as we begin to get a deeper understanding of how the brain works—and the more nuanced appreciation for what individuals need to connect and engage around an issue is still being developed—the influences that media and technology are having is complicating everything even more. Nicholas Carr, who writes about technology, culture, and economics, explains in his book, The Shallows: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of

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information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.

The danger, Carr warns, is that by keeping our brains constantly buzzing, the belief was that sites like Google were making us smarter. But brain activity is not necessarily better activity, Carr notes: “The real revelation was how quickly and extensively Internet use reroutes people’s neural pathways.” He explains: “. . . Comprehension declined as the number of links increased— whether or not people clicked on them.” After all, your brain still has to decide whether or not to click, so the distraction occurs regardless. The more rich and dynamic the media experience becomes, with images, video, and advertisements embedded into every online experience, the greater the distraction grows as well.11 The information that flows into our working memory, and how we use it, is called our cognitive load. When the load is heavier, our brain is more likely to struggle to process information. When the load is lighter, not only will the brain function more efficiently, but our brains are able to generate more creative and compelling ideas as well. Carr explains: Office workers often glance at their inbox 30–40 times an hour; since each glance breaks our concentration and burdens our working memory, the cognitive penalty can be severe. The penalty is amplified by what brain scientists call “switching costs.” Every time we shift our attention, the brain has to reorient itself, further taxing our mental resources.

Across each instance, and certainly over time, those switching costs add up and have a cumulative effect. People—myself included—welcome the interruption, because each time our brain switches, it is provided a new piece of information, which is seen as valuable and stimulating. The more I read and watch, the more I will know and be able to appreciate. Without a constant stream of information and connection, the fear is that we will become isolated. Carr warns, however: The problem is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify information for

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further study, it’s becoming an end in itself—our preferred method of both learning and analysis.12

We access and consume more, but we know and appreciate less. In other words, our obsession with generating volumes of information, all skimming the surface with the hope that it reaches the largest possible audience, limits our ability to engage at a deeper level. Even if it were possible for the brain to process information that way, the ways that we are pushing information in today’s culture is making it more challenging. The brain, after all, is alive; it changes during the course of our lives and certainly from generation to generation. And when the challenge we are trying to meet involves complex issues—those that will require deep commitments and continued focus to address effectively— the limitations on our ability to succeed become significant, and far-reaching.

Remember the Long Tail More than enough data exists to comprehensively understand what audiences want, how they behave, and what must be delivered to them for you to be successful. Every day, through ratings on Amazon.com, on status updates, and in blog posts, people are offering their opinions and articulating their expectations. When people rate a product poorly, it means they don’t like it. When people complain about a product or situation, they want something to change. The choices for someone offering a product are relatively easy to make based on all that information. But it’s different when the outcome is something with real-life implications— when you need to shift a person’s behavior or get them to take an action around a cause that doesn’t fit within their normal life patterns. In Wired magazine in 2006, Chris Anderson wrote “The Long Tail,” an article about a groundbreaking economic theory—the long tail—that he later expanded into a best-selling book of the same name. He wrote: The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the

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demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. . . . As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and services can be as economically attractive as main-stream fare.13

The long tail changed how businesses and industries from music to politics to health care operated, and gave rise to entirely new forms of commerce, communication and, it seems, human behavior. In basic terms, the long tail demonstrated that it is far less expensive to create good, compelling products and services online—and content that engages people—than it would be to create more traditional forms of media, such as a television ad, or offer the full complement of products in a retail store. For resource-constrained organizations, notably with organizations where cause-related efforts are the focus (could be a nonprofit or the marketing operation within a major corporation that doesn’t devote as many resources to corporate social responsibility issues as product promotion), the long tail means you have an abundance of opportunities to break through and connect deeply with people. The idea behind the long tail is as relevant today as it was back in 2006 and likely growing more relevant still. But the understanding in terms of how it might be applied to human behavior, and to serious issues and causes, still hasn’t fully been embraced. Just as companies that were operating in the pre–long tail era have struggled to shift their approach—they have been trained to be transaction oriented and to work to find the efficiencies in the marketplace—so, too, have groups that are working to address serious issues been slow to adapt. Most organizations are trying to force issues on people, to scare them into paying attention or generate action around a single event. But the commitment that is required is only realistic insofar as individuals feel both emotionally and intellectually connected. They won’t change their behavior or even their way of thinking until they understand and believe something is important. That will take time and far more focused, specific, and nuanced efforts than traditional organizations. Like

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some of the most successful and innovative ventures around today, the solution to addressing serious issues exists somewhere further down the long tail. Perhaps even more important, digital and social media have put much more emphasis on the quality of the product itself. If what you are selling isn’t any good, news will travel fast. A bad product can cause the downfall of a whole business. Just the same, an organization whose mission is to address a serious issue will find itself without support if it can’t deliver on its promise. The long tail ushered in a shift in thinking—from measuring return on investment to return on engagement. It created an environment where more groups, regardless of their size, could break through and have an impact on the market by offering a solid product or service, and continually demonstrating the value of its offering. But for causes and serious issues that have failed to adapt so quickly, it has revealed a significant disconnect between people’s interests and the important work that needs to get done. The challenge today is inertia. Almost everyone acknowledges that the existing ways that we address serious issues aren’t working and professes the need to change their approach—at the organizational level, within the communities that talk about these issues all the time, but also at the individual level. But, in practice, organizations of all types are still investing in the same activities, structuring their work as they have in the past, and so on. And they are expecting different results. The audience is making choices in real time, and they are comfortable with that approach (even if it means less research and less assurance of a particular outcome). Organizations that aren’t able to move quickly are being left behind. Need an example? According to a Yale University Study, substantial majorities of Americans believe that global warming is happening (68 percent), want to learn more about it (75 percent), and trust science and scientists to provide information on the subject (above 70 percent). But the study also says that 43 percent of respondents believe that “punching holes in the ozone layer with rockets” is one of the causes of climate change.14 See the disconnect? Right now, there is general agreement among the population, regardless of political opinion or affiliation, that the top issues

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that need to be addressed are the economy and health care.15 Depending on the year or the economic situation around the world, issues including education and poverty, hunger, and crime will rise to the top of the list. Regardless of the issue, however, the desire is the same: people want solutions. But without a clear understanding of how to proceed and which policies might be correct, they become confused and uninterested in taking action. Politicians fight and no progress is made. In the digital age, the audience has so much control over its information experience that the expectations are very high. The idea of a mass audience is no longer relevant. Aside from the occasional major sporting event or significant happening—often a disaster or tragedy—people don’t tune in for anything as a group. The idea of “shared experiences” is itself challenged and distributed. And even in larger shared experience, there are an infinite number of unique reasons people are there to follow. Mass audiences today are just collections of many smaller, more unique groupings of people.

Understanding the Customer Experience There is no reason that you should walk into a store and not be able to find the exact product you want. That’s what consumers believe and expect today. But that’s what happens. When they are able to find almost anything they want online or, if it doesn’t exist, create it themselves with the available tools, that becomes the norm. When we don’t find a similar experience in the nonvirtual world, we get frustrated. And even though the online shopping experiences that retailers have created bear responsibility for setting these high expectations, and their gimmicks and promises continue to push them higher, there are limits to what is possible. With so many options flooding online, the shopping experience is becoming more challenging and unfulfilling for people. Online and offline, there are too many choices. Sites and stores are too challenging to navigate. The higher the expectations become, the more difficult it is for retailers to make customers happy. Fair or not, that is also part of today’s reality. Individuals feel overwhelmed, and so do the organizations trying to serve them. More money and a greater number of choices

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doesn’t help to satisfy the unique and specific needs people have— and sometimes it makes the situation worse. Customers want value. People want to feel appreciated and connected to something. They want to be treated well, offered support, and given an opportunity to buy something or commit their time and attention to an issue they find important on a personal level. We all think we know what we want, and whom we think we can trust to get our needs met. But if your job is to meet those needs, you have to know what everyone wants and make sure each person gets a chance to have their needs met. That is a monumental task. Thus, for organizations, the challenge is now twofold: On the one hand, you have to do excellent work—offer a great product or service, communicate your issue well, function as an organization in a credible and transparent way, and do that on terms that your audience sets—online, offline, through every interaction they have. At the same time, you have to meet their continually changing and ever-increasing expectations. Both of these things have always been true: the customer has always been right, and they have always had options. It’s even truer today, however, when your audience is more aware of its options and has access to a greater amount of information to help inform their choices. You need to deeply understand the audience you are trying to serve and all of the reasons why. Otherwise, as Brian Solis, the author of Engage, explains, “You could be on Twitter or YouTube or Facebook or any of the other hundreds of different ways to facilitate communication in a digital age and still miss the mark without a deep understanding of the audience.”16 It has always been human nature to listen to our friends, our family, and people we trust—whatever our connection. Increasingly, how individuals and communities get and share information is filtered and influenced by this reality. You can certainly use the old methods of communicating and engaging audiences— push a single message as far as your capacity will allow—and you will see some success. But if you know and understand how your audience is thinking, what actions they take, and the reasons and motivations behind their choices, it becomes far easier to establish a connection. And once you have that connection, knowing more will only make it easier to do everything else that is needed to succeed.

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Solutions The following two essays explore, in depth, how individuals make decisions and what options may exist for how those considerations might be influenced. Homa Zarghamee and John Ifcher take on the issue of choices while Kathleen Hessert puts the idea of celebrity to the test in the context of how people engage around serious issues.

Spend or Save? Study or Party? Smoke or Quit? By Homa Zarghamee and John Ifcher

A great many of our choices, from the trivial to the life changing, can be reduced to the Shakespearean form: to indulge or not to indulge? What may not be an obvious theme in this class of choices is the latent time component: each situation pits “immediate costs and future benefits” against “immediate benefits and future costs.” How we make such choices (dubbed intertemporal choices by economists) reveals a great deal about our time preference—that is, our preference for either immediate utility or future utility. Faced with many such choices, people often indulge more than they want to—so much so that an entire industry is devoted to curbing overindulgence. Some of the biggest players in this industry are nonprofits, with missions as varied as helping alcoholics achieve sobriety (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) and encouraging physical activity and healthy eating (the American Heart Association’s Start! program). Many organizations try to influence time preference by raising awareness: environmental organizations highlight the long-term effects of our myopic attitude toward the environment, and anticrime groups often emphasize eventualities like jail time. Even some religious organizations’ missions can be similarly classified as promoting a longer-run perspective over immediate gratification. Scholars have been deliberating over intertemporal choices for millennia and debating the challenges that such choices produce. While the popular saying “patience is a virtue” dates back to at least the 14th century, the inherent human conflict between the desire for immediate gratification and the aspiration to achieve long-term goals was recognized well before, for example, by early logicians such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. This struggle is also central to the teachings of most religions and underlies much of the modern study of human behavior. For instance, Freud theorized that human behavior was driven by the clash between the id—which desires immediate gratification—and the superego—which attempts to moderate the id’s desires. There is even physiological evidence that there are two separate areas of the brain that process information about immediate versus delayed gratification. How we weigh immediate gratification against long-term goals has been shown, in a wide array of theoretical and empirical studies, to have a profound impact on our lives. In perhaps the most famous of these studies, in the 1960s, the

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psychologist Walter Mischel studied the willpower exerted by children in preschool. The children were presented and left alone with a small snack that they could eat at any time. If they avoided eating the snack, they would be given a larger snack at the end of the experiment. A decade later, the children who avoided eating the small snack outperformed their more impatient classmates on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). More recently, economists have used large national and international survey data and sophisticated statistical analysis to identify the impact of poor selfcontrol on self-reported happiness. In our own studies, we have found that people who agree with the statement, “Nowadays, a person has to live pretty much for today and let tomorrow take care of itself,� are significantly less happy than those who disagree. People like Bruno S. Frey, Christine Benesch, and Alois Stutzer from the University of Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and University of Basel, respectively, found that heavy TV watchers report being less happy and express regret for the amount of TV they watch. In a different paper, Stutzer found that obesity reduces the subjective well-being of individuals who report having limited selfcontrol. Jonathan Gruber and Sendhil Mullainathan from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, respectively, found that cigarette taxes increase happiness among individuals prone to smoke. The authors interpreted the tax as a self-control device, which suggests that a lack of self-control may cause unhappiness. New research also shows the converse of this relationship between myopia and happiness to be true: individuals in happier moods exhibit more patience. We recently conducted an economic experiment with a sample of college students, half of whom watched a funny video clip intended to instill a good mood and half of whom watched a video clip of nature scenes intended to instill a neutral mood. After watching the respective videos, all students made choices between receiving sooner, smaller monetary rewards and later, larger monetary rewards. Subjects who had watched the positive mood–inducing clip had significantly higher preferences for the later, larger rewards. Mood is certainly not the only factor that can affect our time preference. We are more patient over large outcomes than small ones. Making decisions in groups increases our patience. Even the simple framing of an intertemporal choice can fundamentally change behavior. Using data from a large U.S. corporation both before and after it changed its 401(k) plan, Brigitte C. Madrian (Harvard Kennedy School) and Dennis F. Shea of United Health showed that if a 401(k) has to be opted out of instead of into, both participation and savings rates dramatically increase. George Loewenstein and Drazen Prelec of Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively, asked some research subjects whether they would prefer having dinner at a fancy restaurant in one month or two. They asked other subjects a similar question framed differently: whether they would prefer (a) eating at home in one month and at a fancy restaurant in two months, or (continued)

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(b) eating at a fancy restaurant in one month and at home in two months. While the second framing of the question does little more than explicate the likely alternative to eating at the fancy restaurant, subjects asked the first question were far more likely to want the fancy dinner sooner and those asked the second preferred to wait two months for the fancy dinner. Our decision-making environment is also a critical determinant of our time preference. Relapsing into addictive behavior is often the result of a simple cue. Entering a familiar drug-taking environment can break years of sobriety; the smell of a hamburger can mark the end of a successful diet; having a coffee can trigger desires for its old companion, the cigarette. Interestingly, research shows that cues do not only affect patience over related rewards. For example, Xiuping Li of the National University of Singapore shows that exposure to photos of desserts significantly reduces patience for receiving monetary rewards. How can a nonprofit concerned with intertemporal choice use all this research? The most important first step is to try to attract as large an audience as possible. This may be harder than it seems, since it may be that individuals who are more myopic are less likely to seek out such information. Stephan Meier and Charles Sprenger of Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego, respectively, studied a large credit-counseling firm that offered 870 individuals a free brief creditcounseling informational program. The roughly half who accepted the free information turned out to be significantly more patient over monetary rewards than the half that declined. Exploiting the salutary effects of positive mood, groups, and shifts of framing may aid information dissemination. Then it is a matter of getting people to internalize long-term costs with commitment devices. In this vein, Dean Karlan, himself a professor of economics who has studied time preference, helped start a web site called Stickk, where users can create commitment contracts to achieve goals: for example, one can bet $50 that she will not smoke for two weeks. If she loses, she must give $50 through Stickk’s web site to a charitable cause of her choice.

Sports and Causes By Kathleen Hessert

When Peyton Manning interviewed marketing agents prior to beginning his NFL career, each agent who pitched him and his dad, Archie, promised, “We’ll make you Mr. Football. You’ll be on billboards everywhere.” As I sat with them through presentation after presentation, I remember seeing the agents seemingly shrink when Peyton looked them in the eye and said, “I want to prove myself on the field first.” He knew the billboards would come, and so did Eli when it was his turn to top the draft board a few years later. Billboards were standard for soon-to-be multimillionaires projected to be the number one pick in the National Football League draft; so

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were foundations. Yes, there were tax benefits to help defray the multimillion-dollar contracts for the eventual Super Bowl MVP Manning brothers. However, giving back was a part of the fabric of who they are as people, not just as superstars. When Katrina devastated their hometown of New Orleans, they took it personally and were right there to help ease the pain. While they held the hands of the newly homeless and bolstered spirits, Peyton and Eli rallied their ultra-substantial sponsors to fly in planeloads of much needed resources. And the PeyBack Foundation has become a staple contributor to kids in need in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Indiana, not just lending the name and millions of dollars but being intimately and consistently involved in the causes of kids in need. Unlike many, the Manning brothers knew from the start that whether it was college or the NFL, football had provided them a unique platform for doing good. Philanthropy was a part of their leadership equation from day one. On November 18, 2008, “the big guy” launched his first Shaqism on a new medium called Twitter. From the start, I had a sense that Twitter had the potential to grab people. I was intrigued and saw a perfect fit with the 7⬘1⬙, 300plus-pound behemoth Shaquille O’Neal, who at the time played center for the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns. More than a few experts have credited Shaq’s fun-loving approach of engaging fans for migrating Twitter out of the hands of geeks and into mainstream. People were riveted Shaq’s every tweet, from “I’m at the 5 & Diner in Phoenix, Cum C me” to “We’re collecting 10,000 jars of peanut butter to send to Africa at Feed the Children event in Kansas City 2nite.” Within moments people were tweeting back that they had been inspired by Shaq’s benevolence. Tweets of “Where can I donate?” poured in, and I rushed to alert the charity so that they could leverage a flood of newly motivated donors. Within a couple of months, tens of thousands of people signed on to a continuous flood of Shaqisms. By January 2011, 3.5 million followed him on Twitter, and sponsors wanted in. He had found a new medium in which to showcase his wit and wisdom, creating an enormous shift in how NBA fans and those of the sports and entertainment worlds could find what became an everyman’s connection with celebrities and, as @The_Real_Shaq proved, inspire them to act via social media and beyond. Now fast-forward to January 15, 2011. I was sitting in an executive condo with my latest client, Auburn star defensive tackle Nick Fairley. It was just two days after he held a news conference to declare that he would forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft. Not much that I had done with Peyton or Eli was even relevant to Nick. The world had evolved into something vastly different. Traditional media had shrunk dramatically in numbers and influence. Add to that, Peyton and Eli held the moniker of quarterback, the elite position on every NFL team. Nick was a 305pound defensive tackle with a wide grin and strong tendency to be a wrecking ball on the field. (continued)

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The MVP of Auburn’s BCS national championship team also had a tendency to drive an opponent’s face into the dirt. Our BuzzMgr™ social listening tool verified that separating traditional media from social media is as impossible in 2011 as trying to unscramble eggs. Whatever Nick wanted to accomplish off the field, social media would be a part of the game plan. There was a short list of “must do’s” from the start. First, define Nick’s developing brand. Second, determine how he would communicate it, including through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and mobile apps. Third, determine what cause captured his bulging heart and discover the best way to couple genuine passion with a glaring need in whatever community he landed. As of this writing, Nick Fairley is slated to be drafted in the top 10 of the April 2011 draft. My home team—the Carolina Panthers—have the coveted first overall pick. Charlotte puts a premium on its sports stars and team owners being vested in their town and fan base. If there were ever a big city with a small-town warmth, it’s Charlotte, North Carolina. Even its NASCAR superstar, Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon, will vie for his fifth championship in 2011, backed by a first-of-its-kind cause-related sponsorship. Literally millions of loyal NASCAR fans will watch the #24 car “Drive to End Hunger.” Charlotte cares, and so must the celebs Charlotteans will wrap our arms around. Sports stars and teams everywhere don’t simply get attention; they attract curiosity and engender passion like few other professions. The billion-dollar valuations and multimillion-dollar contracts not only elevate them onto daunting pedestals, they hold them to lofty and sometimes unattainable expectations. Fans used to be satisfied to paint their faces, wear their loyalties on their sleeve, and keep a safe distance. No more. As fans, we’ve become vested in their success, and we hope for and, yes, expect a return on our emotional and economic investment. The public is challenged as individuals, families, and communities, and that means we hope and expect our superstars to care about the things we care about and use their clout that we ourselves have given them to make a difference.

Must-Reads Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2009). Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (New York: Penguin Books, 2008). Dan Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (New York: Penguin Books, 2009).

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Richards J. Heuer Jr., Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (www.Military Bookshop.co.uk). S. Bond, K. Carlson, and R. Keeney. “Generating Objectives: Can Decision Makers Articulate What They Want?” Management Science, 2008: 56–70. Dan Ariely, “Are We In Control of Our Own Decisions?” Ted Talk, December 2008, www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_ our_own_decisions.html. Jeremiah Owyang, “Socialgraphics” Web Strategist, www.web-strategist.com/ blog/category/socialgraphics/. “Generations and their Gadgets” (Pew), Reports/2011/Generations-and-gadgets.aspx.

http://pewinternet.org/

“What Makes Us Want To Give Back?” (Inside Influence Report), www.insideinfluence.com/inside-influence-report/2011/01/flowers-twitterand-cross-cultural-gift-giving.html.

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11

CHAPTER

Stop Doing These Four Things

Shane Johnson © 2011.

We’ve got how many? Better call in a celebrity.

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Principles 1. Tools today are used to conduct campaigns, send notices, raise awareness of issues, solicit funds, and do so more efficiently and cost effectively than ever before. But the fact that we can do more doesn’t mean we should. 2. Too many nonprofits are focusing more of their energy on growing and sustaining their organizations and not as much on improving the way they do business or deliver services. 3. Technology gives each of us direct control over the information we consume and the choices about how we spend our time and focus our energy. 4. Case studies perpetuate our focus on activity and give us an excuse to not hold ourselves, or anyone else, accountable for a lack of impact. We need to talk about our experience and expertise differently.

A

n overwhelming volume of content is created online every day. A small fraction of that is worth consuming (and an even smaller fraction than that is probably worth paying for). While there are millions of organizations requesting donations and demanding action, we see precious little meaningful and measurable impact as a result of whatever activity is generated. Organizations send millions of e-mails, but many of the most important conversations or serious issues are overlooked or ignored. People sign petitions online every day with a single mouse click, and launch groups on every conceivable social network and platform available, but those efforts rarely (if ever) achieve critical mass or pique interest among the relevant policymakers—never mind change their votes or influence the real outcomes in society. So, while we generate more and more activity each day, our problems remain, growing ostensibly more entrenched than ever. Because we can use tools now widely available online to conduct campaigns, and send notices, and raise awareness of issues more efficiently and cost effectively than ever before, we have lost sight of

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what real impact looks like, how to change behavior, and how success should be measured. Because offline organizing creates compelling stories and provides a real-time, location-specific reward to people who are participating, we’ve become focused on activity and lost perspective on what is required to really solve serious issues. We’ve settled for low open rates and dollars raised, and names on e-mail lists instead of demanding more from organization leaders. Everyone talks about the transformational power of digital and social media, the contribution that technology and the Internet are having on our society, but for all the changes and advancements, most things about our society are operating largely as they have for a long time. The promise of new technology is scale, reach, and efficiency. By prioritizing ease and speed of delivery over quality of product, the digital age has not made us lazy so much as it has catered to (and therefore amplified) some of our lazier tendencies. Hence, we choose to do more instead of thinking about what we are doing already. We take on new communication platforms without asking ourselves why they will work in ways the old ones did not. We exhaust ourselves by being active, but fail to produce the necessary outcomes. Tools today are used to conduct campaigns, send notices, raise awareness of issues, solicit funds, and do so more efficiently and cost effectively than ever before. We can push products to market, file an update to a news story, or spread a rumor, without ever considering what happens after it leaves our account, but the fact that we can doesn’t mean we should. The fact that we can move faster doesn’t mean that work should take priority over developing relationships and providing value to our audiences. We have prioritized telling a quick story that suggests progress over investing in long-term impact that both changes the world and drives people toward deeper commitments to organizations. We have become too accustomed to measuring success based on the size or popularity of an organization and not the value that the community of supporters places on the work that groups are doing. As long as groups continue to focus on the wrong opportunities, our efforts to address serious issues will continue to stumble. Technology didn’t alone cause the problems that we face in society and, by the same account, it won’t fix them by itself either. No

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application or widget is going to improve our communications or drive more meaningful, measurable action without someone figuring out the best ways it can be used. No single organization or inspired community acting alone can bring about all the different types of change that are needed. There are too many online activities distracting us from the important issues and critical work that needs to be done. There are too many bad habits that are preventing us from pursuing the best solutions. There is so much potential for action, change, impact, and influence today that we should all feel inspired. But we aren’t in a position to take advantage of all those opportunities in the best ways. Too many things are standing in our way. So before we can do more and achieve what we know is possible, we have to stop doing the things that aren’t working. We need to shift the focus away from activities that are nice and interesting, but aren’t important, and start focusing on the things that will help accomplish our goals. This chapter discusses the four things to stop doing.

1: Stop Giving Gifts (and Stop Asking for Them, Too) In December 2009, Google announced they would take the money that they normally spend on creative gifts and lavish parties for their advertising partners and instead give the funds to a list of charitable organizations. Google explained that they would give $20 million to a list of approximately 25 charities: This gift is for someone very special: Everyone. Because charities are experiencing their toughest year in decades, we have committed $20 million to helping those who help us all. Our gift to you is a gift to them. Happy Holidays.1

Google’s decision to give a big chunk of money to charity this year was generous (though small in comparison to the amount of money they could have contributed), and I believe they did it for all the right reasons. But it was also a lazy choice. Google is right—2009 was one of the worst years in recent memory in terms of fund-raising for nonprofits. Donations to nearly every type of charity were down; in some cases, fund-raising hit lows we haven’t seen in a half-century. The trend continued the following year and Google again made a significant donation, following the same model, in 2010 (though with much less fanfare).

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What Google should have known, or been told, is that even in tough economic times, money is not the gift that the nonprofits and charities would benefit most from—and, thus, the “everyone” that Google has generously offered the gift on behalf of won’t benefit much either. Economists argue that the majority of money spent on gifts for others is wasted. Why? Because gifts that people buy for other people are usually poorly matched to the recipients’ preferences. We have become a culture, especially in the United States, where gift giving is expected. But when you ask the recipient, receiving the right gift is far more important than receiving a big gift, or a lot of gifts.2 Google gave a generous gift, but it wasn’t the right gift. You see, the economy is a big part of the reason why people aren’t giving as much money to charity. But there are other important reasons why organizations are having trouble raising money. People make contributions to nonprofit organizations and charities for many reasons—and whatever the motivation, every person has their own expectations of what the organizations they support will do, and what value they will get out of the relationship. Unfortunately, many nonprofits are now focusing more of their energy on growing and sustaining their organizations and not as much on improving the way they do business or deliver services. The audience knows this, and they increasingly feel as if their support is not appreciated or could have greater influence if spent in another capacity, and the result is seen in the recent trend of less giving. Moreover, dumping bad money into a bad system isn’t going to solve anything. And, effectively, that’s what Google did—they made a large and very generous donation that won’t address the real issues that exist for nonprofits: a wasted opportunity. Most nonprofit organizations don’t understand the dramatic changes that are occurring in our society and the influence that technology and the Internet are having on everything we do. You know who does? Google. If Google wanted to give a really meaningful gift, they would help nonprofits and charities to understand how to navigate our rapidly changing, information-driven world. Google could have deployed its super nerds to nonprofits across the country to help them rethink their approaches to information, organizing, and fund-raising. They could have acknowledged that their tools, while powerful, are not the solution to many of the challenges that nonprofits face, and helped direct organizations

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to make smarter choices with how they use their time (and their tools). And even if Google didn’t feel that they knew enough about how nonprofits work to offer that kind of support, they could have made it possible for the people who do—the consultants, practitioners, as well as other organizations who have had success—to work directly with organizations who need more help. In short, there were lots of options for how Google could have supported worthy nonprofits and charities around the country. Cash is only one and, in a lot of ways, is the gift that will have the smallest impact. The best gift Google could have given to the 25 nonprofits on their list in 2009 and 2010, and the “everyone” whom they gave the gift on behalf of would have been knowledge, energy, time, and support—things Google appears to have an abundance of. Nonprofits don’t need as much cash as you think. What nonprofits don’t know how to harness and convert into long-term, sustainable support is technology, media, community, and everything else we have a seeming abundance of in our current age. We have plenty of tools, cash, and attention. What we don’t have are real solutions to the challenges that our society is facing, and deep, systemwide understanding among the organizations that are on the front lines battling every day. I would never suggest that Google take back the $20 million— that is a substantial gift, and I am sure the groups who received the money used it wisely. But Google’s gift should have been seen as a starting point to do something more, and better, to help reshape our society and have the kind of impact that “everyone” wants to see.

2: Stop Creating New Organizations There are more than a million registered nonprofit organizations in the United States, and tens of thousands of new nonprofits are created every year. Corporations are establishing new divisions and special projects focused on social issues all the time. More and more people announce their commitment to help address serious issues every day. Ultimately, everyone ends up competing for the same dollars and the same attention from the public, and fighting to serve the same need. It has to stop. I believe in the benefits of a free market society, so I recognize that a vibrant community of organizations all working to address serious issues will spur new ideas and innovation in how to serve

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the public. Many of the new groups that are launched don’t seem to have commitments that are different, improved, or appropriately focused. And even if they are, there is such a thing as too much. We are overwhelmed. There are simply too many nonprofits, too many new platforms being launched, too many promises being made, too many messages being sent, too many options for people to process—and not enough success or progress being made. More money won’t solve most of the problems, and investing it in the wrong ways will only make the situation worse. Better marketing won’t mask the fact that organizations aren’t achieving their goals. New initiatives, projects, campaigns, and models won’t inspire people to act or help people to focus where the needs are greatest. There is too much noise. Instead of creating more groups or launching new campaigns, we need to take a good, hard look at all the organizations out there and make some choices about which ones are truly effective and worthy of continuing to operate. We need to find the groups that are operating successfully and figure out how to apply their expertise to other areas that are struggling. We need the organizations that are focused in the same areas to collaborate and work collectively to make progress. And we need to get rid of the egos; the people who run organizations and allow their personal interests and their organizational priorities to get in the way of progress on an issue are getting in the way. It is naïve to assume that organizations that are focused on serious issues, and the people who work to support them, are any different that the groups in other sectors and industries. They aren’t. Everyone bears responsibility. In a connected society, the actions of each group and every sector contribute to how everyone else functions. As such, everyone needs to consider how our society is changing and what that means to their work. We need to assess each organization, across all the sectors, and begin to make some serious changes. And until we do, we must also stop creating new organizations. Every time a new organization is created, we make the task more difficult. The energy and resources that are devoted to new ventures, particularly when they overlap in many ways with existing ventures that would benefit from improvements, are being wasted. In May 2010, Jonathan Greenblatt, a self-described “serial social entrepreneur” and the founder of All for Good, wrote that the

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organization he had founded was looking for a strategic partner who could help build on their momentum and scale their impact. After celebrating some of the early success and support of his venture, which was created to make it simpler for people to find and share volunteer activities, he wrote: Looking ahead, we want to find new ways to continue to enable more Americans to serve. We want our product to do more to support our users and their communities. We believe that we best can achieve this goal by deepening our relationships with those organizations who create opportunities on the ground and those who strengthen the enabling environment.”

The blog post went on to describe the organization and introduce a “Request for Information” process for partners to complete.3 Then, in December 2010, All for Good announced that Points of Light would acquire it. Greenblatt wrote: I believe all nonprofits are created with the best of intentions. While many groups accomplish tremendous things, especially in their early years, a large number go on to exceed their expiration date. Their efficacy diminishes over time, yet they persist often simply for the sake of doing so. All for Good is young, but as we looked out toward the future, we contemplated an alternative path. We decided to explore the possibilities of attaining scale via a partnership with an existing organization, even a possible merger. Since nonprofits exist to solve problems rather than build bureaucracies, the notion of consolidation to cement our gains and improve our efficiencies seemed like a worthwhile option.4

In the business world, this happens all the time. Some firms put themselves on the market when ownership wants an exit. Some companies seek to gobble up smaller players with attractive assets. In other cases, two businesses might discover mutual benefit from a merger that enhances the capabilities of both organizations. All for Good offered a powerful platform. Its creation was inspired by the president’s call to service and built by volunteers from Google, YouTube, the Craigslist Foundation, and others. But it wasn’t unique. And it wasn’t the best in the field. The choice to

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embed its technological capabilities into the established network of Points of Light, and allow community organizers and nonprofit leaders to reach more volunteers by building their own unique extensions of the platform, was the best option by far. The alternative would be to compete and cannibalize at the expense of the overall potential for impact. There are lots of incredible nonprofit organizations, focused on serving a particular community in need or addressing an important cause, and doing so efficiently and/or with an innovative approach that drives real, meaningful, measurable impact. And there are people, in the nonprofit community, or coming from outside, looking at ways to apply their knowledge and expertise to solve some of society’s most challenging problems. But for every person inside the nonprofit community who thinks differently, there are hundreds of corporations pumping money into a cause for the sole benefit of improving their brand and reinforcing what doesn’t work. For every organization that has shaken up its leadership, restructured its team, begun to experiment with new and different ways of tackling big issues, there are tens of thousands of other groups who are still stuck in a model that (maybe) worked 20 years ago. Their prospects for having a meaningful, measurable impact on our society are unfortunately limited as a result. We won’t make any progress until that balance shifts, in a big way. And there are plenty of organizations that could go out of business and merge their expertise with others who have a greater capacity to grow their impact or refocus their energy in a way that better serves a specific need or creates more opportunities for others to act. Creating another organization, launching a new campaign, developing more platforms—these efforts, even when done with the best intentions, only serve to get in the way of the more important and immediate changes that are needed.

3: Stop (Over)Using Social Media Technology gives each of us direct control over the information we consume and the choices about how we spend our time and focus our energy. And we can use these tools to help organizations address causes in ways that go well beyond donating, raising awareness, or complaining. As a result, we simply don’t believe (and probably for

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good reason) that government, major corporations, well-known charitable organizations, and far-reaching media properties—the institutions that once offered the guidance, support, and direction for how to address the issues facing our society—know best. We can do it on our own. We don’t need them. Social media are seen, by many, as the solution to challenges in our society. The tools open and flatten organizations, expand the reach of messages, create incredible opportunities for new ideas and innovations to flourish, and enable people to organize and communicate. But social media are far from enough. Social media are just another set of tools—a collection of sites, apps, platforms, and programs that reflect the changing nature of how we interact as people, online and offline. But the hype and expectation for how they will impact the ways we address serious issues, thus far, has far exceeded their results. Many of the most popular tools under the social media umbrella didn’t exist all that long ago, and they may not be around in a year or two. We have learned a tremendous amount about how people interact, what they want, and how they will behave. But we have also dumped tremendous energy into using social media, often at the expense of other, more important improvements. You need to stop overusing what we think of as traditional social media. Everything is social. For individuals and groups, as producers and consumers, whether you are a thinker or a doer—everything we do needs to change, not just the tools and tactics. Most organizations haven’t embraced the new and different ways to engage and mobilize their audiences. Nonprofits invest much of their focus and energy on directing action behind a single, centralized agenda, instead of expanding their reach and looking for the best way to tap into the community (online and offline) to help address issues. They devote resources and attention to a tool—and usually see some response when they do—but also find themselves struggling to keep up, stay current, convert support that exists on one site to somewhere else, and more. Few people understand this, and nobody, in any sector, has figured out exactly what operating in a truly social world entails. In the context of serious issues, few people are looking at the longterm implications that technology and the Internet are having on human behavior and patterns of production and consumption. But there is a flood of new options and applications of technology, and

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new roles and contributions that existing tools and structures can now play. The fear of being left behind, forgotten, or overlooked has always existed but is now more acute/obvious. As the motivation to address this fear grows stronger, our ability to prioritize and focus our efforts to address serious issues is also becoming diluted.

4: Stop Creating Case Studies (or Listening to Them) While case studies are interesting (I’ve used a few in this book, obviously), they don’t actually prove anything. The world is changing so quickly and so significantly, both online and off, that we are desperate to make order out of the chaos. Looking at case studies makes us feel that we have a measure of someone’s capability and expertise, or as a blueprint for success on a project we are about to launch, but this is a flawed exercise. I have had lots of successes in my career, and I’m happy to talk about them. I’ve created videos that garnered over 1.4 million views for a client. I’ve organized vibrant discussions where the audience contributed ideas that led to business success. I’ve launched campaigns that motivated people to vote, volunteer, or become deeply engaged in a social issue. And the lessons that I have learned from those efforts are invaluable in my work every day. I am happy to discuss every one of those projects, and more, at any time. But my ability to generate any of those successes for one client, or one project, does not mean they translate to another situation. The case studies are interesting, but they aren’t transferable. As I’ve said before, there are no models for success anymore. There is no way to emulate what you have done in the past and get the same results again. Good strategy and support will be defined anew in each situation, by each professional, and so on. What is more, the definition(s) of expertise are ever changing. In my first book, Media Rules!, I wrote about what expertise meant in a connected age: Knowledge makes you an expert. Your experience makes you an expert. Your network makes you an expert. Your notoriety makes you an expert. Truly expertise in the current media environment is in the eyes of the beholder. But to be an expert for the long-term, it takes a couple of things. Expertise comes from the skills and knowledge that someone possesses, distinguishing them from a novice or less

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experienced person. People become experts as a result of their membership in a community of practice—a group or partnership around a specific issue or service. You can become an expert simply by being the only one who has experienced something.5

My point was—and my conviction remains—that expertise has to be considered in context. Am I an expert in how to leverage the communications opportunities created by technology because I work in and around the Internet every day? Perhaps. But I am always learning, changing my approach, updating my understanding, and reengineering how I think about the opportunities that are available today. I know there are people with capabilities that far exceed mine. Moreover, my expertise is put to the test every time I have a new client, a new project, and a new opportunity to explore. If I can’t prove that I have some expertise, when needed, it doesn’t matter what I call myself, or how I define it. Look around at the case studies that organizations create. There are a few interesting lessons to be gleaned for sure, but for the most part it’s a pretty limited offering. The groups we hold up as models, because of their size or the level of awareness of their cause, aren’t breaking much new ground. They aren’t working to solve the same problems as you, or have the same resources to apply to the task. Even those who have successfully established their brand or built an audience aren’t necessarily in a position to take what they do and apply it in other circumstances, or adapt their approach to meet the new challenges in the (near) future. Case studies perpetuate our focus on activity (how big your e-mail list is or how much money you give to charity) and give us an excuse to not hold ourselves, or anyone else, accountable for a lack of impact (i.e., whether you are really serving a need or changing things for the better). There is too much emphasis placed on brand (what groups call themselves or say they are doing) and not enough on experience (what is really happening, whether expectations are being met). There is too much energy put into growth (how big can we be, how many people can we reach?) and not enough commitment to sustainability (can we maintain the quality of what we do no matter how many things are choose to do?) or impact (are we achieving our goals?). So how do you demonstrate your ability to address an issue or serve a need if you don’t cite past achievements? Simple: look ahead

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and apply your knowledge and experience toward outlining a possible approach or devising a solution. Instead of using case studies to demonstrate (or consider) someone’s qualifications or past results, test the people who you are considering hiring. Put the people with whom you might work through real-life scenarios, in real time, and judge them on their ability to perform what is needed to succeed. When I am talking with a prospective client, I map out the strategy that I believe they should use, give away a lot of the details, explain my reasoning, and offer my counsel. I am confident that if I can demonstrate my understanding of their needs and outline how I believe they should respond to a situation or address a particular need, I will have proven my value. After all, the work that I will do, if hired (or whatever) will be in real time, so if I can’t perform that way during the interview, what’s to say I can when it really matters. Case studies may be a qualifier. Beyond that, the lessons that someone wrote up from a month ago or a year ago (or even further back) simply don’t apply. A case study is just a snapshot in time, and since the world is moving and changing so rapidly these days, that snapshot is quickly outdated and no longer relevant. If you try to recreate the success that is described in a case study, you end up living in the past, not in the present, and certainly not looking ahead to see how things are changing and what to do next. Expertise is fleeting. With everything moving so quickly, I’m not sure anyone knows what to do. The experience we each have, the time we have all spent working around the tools, the perspective we have gained can, and should, all be applied to our efforts going forward. You can learn from the past and make improvements to everything you do. But it is more important to demonstrate real expertise; that the rules are changing and the tools are different; that today, people who really know what they are doing are at a premium. Right now, we reward case studies. But this needs to change. There are better ways to demonstrate expertise than case studies.

In Summary It is easy to stick to the things you know. And there are still plenty of examples of old models and tired approaches generating dramatic returns. But those successes aren’t sustainable. Drastic, sweeping changes are taking place in our society right now, and every individual and organization must prepare and adapt in their own way.

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Shifting and resetting the way that you think, organize, communicate, operate, and address serious issues will always be a challenge, but even more so when there are stale things in the way. Stop doing the stale and incorrect things, and you’ll find it much easier to do more and better in the future. ●●●

There is an ever-growing list of things that we need to think differently about when considering how to address serious issues. It’s easy to get caught up in the details (the small—but still important— stuff). But we all must learn to embrace how, as individuals and as organizations, these changes impact our work, perspectives, and behaviors; in the next chapter we start thinking bigger about what is now possible.

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About the Author Brian Reich is senior vice president--global editor for Edelman Digital. He is responsible for helping to shape the overall editorial vision for Edelman Digital and Edelman.com and lead internal and external thought leadership and knowledge management for the company’s digital practice around the world. He is the author of two books on technology and organizational behavior—Media Rules!: Mastering Today’s Technology to Connect with and Keep Your Audience (John Wiley & Sons, 2007) and the forthcoming Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues in a Connected Society (John Wiley & Sons, 2011). Brian contributes as a Fast Company expert, hosts a regular podcast discussion about the impact of media and technology on society and teaches consumer behavior and marketing strategy in the graduate school of communications at Columbia University. Brian began his career in politics--working on dozens of campaigns around the country. He spent two years as briefing director to Vice President Gore in the White House and during the 2000 presidential campaign. He has spent the past decade providing strategy, analysis, and support to corporations, nonprofit organizations and charities, media companies, and other groups that are looking to solve complex problems. He has held senior roles at leading digital, PR, and public affairs agencies, including Mindshare Interactive Campaigns, Cone Inc., and EchoDitto. He has led projects for many of the world’s largest and most influential brands and non-profit organizations, as well as media companies, start-ups, and political/advocacy groups. Brian is a frequent keynoter and has spoken at major conferences and events including SXSW Interactive, Personal Democracy Forum, Americans for the Arts National Conference, BlogWorld, NetImpact, the USA Today Philanthropy Forum, SRI in the Rockies, the National Arts Marketing Project Conference, among others.

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Additionally, Brian serves on the board of many organizations and startups. He is Chairman of the board of Investigate West, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art and craft of investigative journalism. He is a senior advisor with iFOCOS, an independent non-profit and non-partisan think tank that uses research, education, and action to improve the digital experience. And he serves as the “Principal Evangelist” for Games That Give, a video game company that allows gamers to earn donations for charity. Brian attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Columbia University. He resides in New York City with his wife Karen Dahl, their son, Henry, and daughter, Lucy.

“What You Are Doing Isn’t Working” Don’t be surprised if Brian tells you that what you are doing isn’t working anymore. Online and off, how we communicate, how we get and share information, what media we consume, and why we do any of this— all of these have changed. And the effects of these changes are being felt by all of us, every day, all of the time. When information is moving faster and people are more closely connected, the expectations we all have for what we want to see and hear changes. The kind of relationship and support we expect from organizations changes in turn. The reality is that very few organizations today grasp just how rapidly or comprehensively our society is changing, let alone the influence that technology and the internet have on our daily lives. There is a broad mandate for change across the board.

From the Womb to the White House Brian ‘walked’ precincts while still in the womb. He carried a Jimmy Carter lunchbox to school. And while most other kids were finishing their homework, Brian was sorting call sheets on the floor of a campaign headquarters or stuffing envelopes in support of a cause or campaign. The early training paid off. The day after Brian graduated high school in 1996 he took over the top spot on a Congressional campaign—an accomplishment that made him, at the time, the youngest campaign manager in the country.

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In the year before he started college, Brian worked as an assistant in the President’s Speechwriting Office at The White House, spending long hours researching and refining material for President Clinton (most notably a paragraph in the 1997 State of the Union address and a set of remarks delivered by President Clinton honoring the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers). Brian achieved a more lasting kind of fame, however, as the unfortunate victim of a practical joke. Vice President Gore had scheduled an off-the-record visit at the Atlanta Braves’ batting practice and Brian signed on to provide a straightforward background briefing. When he delivered, instead, a 41-page “briefing”/tome that supplied not only biographical facts about each player but in-depth histories of the stadium, the league, and the sport, Vice President Gore decided to call Brian personally. The Vice President had managed to track down a couple of arcane details that Brian had inadvertently omitted, and with several senior members of the White House staff eavesdropping (and suppressing laughter) on the other end of the line, the Vice President began to reprimand Brian. After his sophomore year in college, Brian returned to the White House and spent two years as Vice president Gore’s Briefing Director. Brian’s specific charge—to prepare the Vice President’s official briefing book each day—quickly expanded to include a broader range of intelligence and information briefings. In realtime, on-the-go, Brian had to be prepared to provide the Vice President as well as the White House staff with the crucial information they needed. It was a demanding role and Brian thrived in it. Brian also spent the final six months of the 2000 Presidential campaign traveling with the Vice President and his campaign team. At the 2004 Democratic Convention, Brian served as a member of the first-ever digital content team to report on the proceedings. He was the only Democrat credentialed to blog the Republican Convention in 2004. Brian was again on staff during the Democratic Convention in 2008 and was also credentialed to blog the Republican Convention in 2008.

Sports Nut One summer, when he was in his early 20s, Brian set out to visit every major league baseball stadium—a trip subsequently dubbed

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“The Great American Baseball Trip.” This voyage lasted some 64 days and covered more than 18,000 miles. In addition to attending a game in each of the 30 major league cities, Brian visited the Hall of Fame, attended the All-Star Game, and was invited to throw out the first pitch at a Barons game in Birmingham. To this day, that umpire will confirm that Brian threw a damn perfect strike. Of course, it wasn’t only fun and games. Along the way, Brian captured the stories, pictures, and people who populated his adventures, city by city, and published them online (a blog before blogging existed, really). He wrote a weekly newspaper column and served as a correspondent for the Sports Fan Radio Network during the course of his travels as well. What is more, Brian began to develop a perspective on sport that survives into the present, one in which these games are cogent lenses for an understanding of ourselves and of our world. And so it is that, today, Brian writes and speaks about sports from the standpoint of culture, society, economics, or politics. He argues that ballparks and stadiums are staging grounds for some Americans’ most unique and powerful experiences. (In fact, he wrote a paper in college arguing that baseball ought to be considered a form of religion). Brian is also a self-styled authority on the pros and cons of public financing of stadium construction. As a Seattle native, Brian is a devoted fan of the Mariners and the Seahawks. He has recently adopted the New York Knicks as his basketball franchise of choice (but only because the Seattle Supersonics were stolen and re-located to Oklahoma City). Brian bleeds Maize and Blue, along with every other good University of Michigan alum. If you’re lucky, you may even discover him wearing his signature “Michigan Grandma” t-shirt on Saturday morning strolls through his Upper West Side neighborhood.

Media Junkie Brian is a media-junkie. He consumes roughly a dozen newspapers each day, online and/or in print, including the Washington Post, Seattle Times, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Politico, LA Times, Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe for starters. He subscribes to more than 20 magazines including Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, GQ, The New Republic, The New Yorker, New York, and Rolling Stone, among others. He tracks thousands of blogs, looking for insights and trends in conversations about food, fashion, marketing,

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technology, media, innovation, sports, entertainment and pop culture, and more. In fact, if you see Brian on the subway, in a cab, or in an airport, he will probably be reading something, listening to a podcast, and thumbing through something on his phone—and doing all of them at the same time.

Putting the “Little m’s” Back in Media and Marketing Much of Brian’s professional life has been spent thinking about and trying to solve serious issues. In part, that has meant getting people to do things—to show up at events, vote, donate, buy something, tell someone, volunteer, read, watch, and so on. His passion is behavior change: getting people to think and act differently. As such, his focus has been trained on how people get and share information. His particular concern is not only what will motivate but what will change individual and group behaviors. For example: can we successfully market complex issues (in a meaningful and resultsdriven way), and if so, how?

Past Work Experience After leaving the White House in 2000, Brian started his own strategic communications firm, Mouse Communications, which helped political advocacy organizations drive action and mobilize support online. In 2003, Brian joined Mindshare Interactive Campaigns as a Senior Strategic Consultant and Director of Boston Operations. At Mindshare—an interactive agency that helps organizations leverage the communication opportunities created by new technology— Brian led business development and strategic efforts. This meant working around the world with many of the leading corporations (Anheuser Busch), associations (Business Software Alliance) and non-profit organizations (UNICEF, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital). Brian worked as a specialist in business development, strategic support of clients, innovation, and marketing. In 2007, Brian moved to the Boston-based brand strategy and communication agency Cone Inc. as the Director of New Media. Working with each of the agency’s disciplines (Brand Marketing, Cause Branding, Crisis Prevention & Management and Corporate Responsibility) Brian identified opportunities for clients to leverage

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emerging technologies for their campaigns. Moreover, his pioneering work led to the development of several of Cone’s proprietary user-generated media and online measurement tools. Brian’s clients included General Mills, Betty Crocker, Jiffy Lube, Chicco, Western Union, American Heart Association, CVS, Starbucks, Timberland, Nestle Waters North America, Mattel, and others. In 2008, Brian left Cone to launch and direct the Cambridge, MA office for EchoDitto, one of the nation’s most successful online communications. There, he not only set the agency’s general strategic direction but oversaw its marketing and business development activities. Brian’s clients included Mother Jones, The Wilderness Society, Feeding America, Clinton Foundation, Free Press, TripAdvisor, Seventh Generation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Alliance for Climate Protection/We Campaign, and the National Education Association In 2009, Brian started his own firm, little m media, to focus more on conversation and being accessible in the ways that audiences, today, have come to expect—in other words, to practice what he preaches. As managing director, Brian provided hands-on, strategic guidance and support to organizations and corporations; he implements new policies; and he helps fix what isn’t working, online and offline. Clients included Feeding America, TLC, the New York Times and a dozen different media, technology and social enterprise startups.

Books Brian is the author of two books: In Media Rules!: Mastering Today’s Technology to Connect with and Keep Your Audience (John Wiley & Sons,2007), Brian explores broad changes in both technology and society; he discusses how these affect the communications and operations of an organization; and he provides frameworks for understanding how these dynamics play out in the world today. For organizations and individuals alike, Media Rules! is an essential toolkit for harnessing the full potential of social media. In his forthcoming book, Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues in a Connected Society (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), Brian challenges individuals and organizations to re-think how we organize around serious issues. The book offers readers specific opportunities for leaders in media, technology, public policy, education,

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philanthropy, politics, business, and more to engage with and make sense of a constantly changing media landscape. The text is both practical and accessible and helps to distill a wide range of voices—from diplomats to forensics experts, tech gurus to television screenwriters. Additionally, Brian has contributed to the following books: The Age of Conversation (2007) by Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan, eds. The Age of Conversation brought together more than 100 of the leading marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators together in a single publication. Brian’s chapter is called “Putting Media Back in the Middle.” The Age of Conversation II (2008) by Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan, eds. The Age of Conversation II issues a challenge to the business community. Gone are the top-down, command and control messages that held sway through the 20th Century. In are a raft of new techniques that start with listening, responding and action that set the scene for a continuing and evolving dialog about brands, experience, business and community. Brian’s chapter is called “Show Me What You’ve Got.” Age of Conversation III (2009) by Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan, eds. This—the third book in the Age of Conversation series—is crowd sourced, bringing together the world’s leading practitioners to share their stories, perspectives, observations, and strategies. Their diverse insights and varying approaches are a reflection of the global, changing nature of business today. Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice (Daniel Lathrop, Laurel Ruma, 2010 In Brian’s chapter, “Citizens’ View on Open Government,” he sketches out some of the reforms necessary to truly empower ordinary citizens today. Ultimately, he reminds Government 2.0 evangelist that, at the end of the day, their reforms must produce definitive benefits to be successful.

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The River: The Coming of Age of the Internet in Politics and Advocacy The River explores changing attitudes about the internet and politics from 1998 to 2004. Papers/Articles: The following is a partial list of the articles/ papers Brian has written: “We Think Differently” (Feb. 2010) Thinking paper for the WeMedia about how innovation and the formation of ventures must be re-considered in a digitallyenabled, fast-moving, hyper-connected society. “Shift & Reset: Change how you think about change” (Sept. 2010) Thinking paper about global challenges for innovation and change, presented at UN Literacy Day event with Former First Lady Laura Bush. Digital Media’s Keys To Success: Must-Read Content (March 2010) Article about future of media; need to provide audiences with timely, relevant and compelling information (Nieman Reports/Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard). Prepare for Impact: Education Policy Journalism In A New media Age (Summer 2009) Article about shifting challenges of educational leaders in the digital age (for New England Board of Higher Education, based on conference keynote). “The First We President” (Nov. 2008) Thinking paper which explores how technology, and the ways in which people get and share information, influence the Presidency (for WeMedia). Podcast: Brian Reich hosts a regular podcast discussion of issues related to media, technology, and society. This show is designed to bring people together to talk about what’s interesting and important in all of our lives—and what it means. In the past, Brian’s podcast discussions have included politics, television, media, baseball cards, soccer, the influence of digital technologies on foreign policy and LEGOs.

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Teaching: Brian currently teaches “Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategies” at the Graduate School of Strategic Communications at Columbia University. He previously taught “Media, Government and Social Change in a Connected Society” at George Washington’s Graduate School of Political Management. In addition, Brian has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Boston University, DePaul, New York University, and others.

Brian.reich@Edelman.com Twitter.com/brianreich Facebook.com/brianreich Scribd.com/littlemmedia Slideshare.net/brianreich linkedin.com/in/brianreich

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