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I’m Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. Puccini


When you walk to your seat in a movie theater for one of the "Live in HD" broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, your experience begins with the sound: the instantly recognizable, immediately comforting hum of instruments tuning and the audience stirring, piped in live from the Met itself. I heard it when I stepped into the Murdock Theater in Wichita, KS last November to attend the screening of Philip Glass's Satyagraha, part of a season in which I traveled throughout the country, attending the Met's 11 HD broadcasts. It was the same reassuring bustle, whether I was about to see Verdi's Traviata in a theater over a casino in Las Vegas or Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the middle of a snowstorm in Boston.

By Zachary Woolfe as seen in The New York Times

Unleash Creativity


Creativity is an under-celebrated superpower. You hear a lot in nonprofit circles about the importance of telling stories, of measuring our impact, collecting data on relevant metrics, and learning from experience. You hear a lot about the importance of having a coherent strategy, experimenting, and having a better attitude towards failure, about giving up control, engaging your community.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about creativity and the ways organizations can show personality. You don't often hear creativity singled out as a key thing to focus on, but if you bring creativity into your way of doing things success will flow.

By Avi Kaplan as seen in

Winning Conversations with Donors


Laura Fredricks, a fundraising consultant, say she has noticed a disturbing trend. Too often fundraisers use the same formula to seek a gift, whether they are asking for $10,000 or $50,000, instead of tailoring each interaction with a potential donor to the person’s interests and values. That practice wastes time and ensures poor results.

Conversations with donors are too important to use a standard template, Ms. Fredricks said. A guarantee that fundraisers are doing the right thing: They should be a little nervous every time. Otherwise, it’s a sign they are coasting.  She offered her five steps to improving conversations with donors:

By Cody Switzer as seen in the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Four Mobile Marketing Trends


As a marketing professional, I spend a lot of time learning and educating on digital trends. With the current rate of growth, mobile marketing has been one of the most exciting to monitor. The data on user adoption is changing almost daily, with consumers actively changing the way they consume, share, and publish. To keep up with these changes, brands and media companies are regularly making advancements that affect our industry. For this column, I spent some time with my agency's mobile strategy team to define the top four current trends.

By Jessica Richards as seen in Mashable

The Digital Natives


It's every advertiser's worst nightmare: consumers so distracted by a dizzying array of media choices that they no longer notice the commercials supporting them. And its time might be closer than you think. A recent study found that consumers in their 20s ("digital natives") switch media venues about 27 times per nonworking hour—the equivalent of more than 13 times during a standard half-hour TV show.

Image courtesy of lomokev on Flickr

By Brian Steinberg as seen in Advertising Age

User Experience Is Pivotal


The closer you are to your customers, the more relevant your product will be and the more likely you make it for people to choose you. It may seem obvious, but the gap between those that do and those that talk is widening, despite the immediate bottom-line benefits. But more than this, companies that put usefulness at the heart of what they do become part of their customers' lives. Engaging with customers then becomes an ongoing conversation, rather than the stop-start involvement that characterized the 20th century. This makes it much easier for customers to come back and keep coming back.

By Mary Ellen Muckerman as seen in Fast Company

The Growing Google Art Project Initiative


High tech merged with high culture Tuesday at The Art Institute of Chicago when Google, Inc. announced an upgrade to its Google Art Project initiative, adding thousands of works in dozens more countries.The project provides access to more than 30,000 ultra-high resolution images of paintings, sculptures, and photographs from 151 museums and other institutions in 40 countries. Google Art Project launched in February 2011 with about 1,000 artworks from such institutions as the Tate Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Uffizi in Florence, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

By Associated Press as seen in The Washington Post

The New Facebook Timeline


Spent a lot of time learning about and building out your company's existing Facebook page? Oh well: It's pretty much being upended by March 30, whether you like it or not.

Facebook's latest announced round of changes to Pages, the business equivalent of your personal profile page, go live at the end of the month. They remind me of this great quote from Tom Bedecarré, CEO of mega-agency AKQA, at last week's IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: "For clients, Facebook is becoming the Internet," he said. "And for brand marketers, Facebook is the black hole of marketing."

By Hollis Thomases as seen in Inc.

Marketers Need an Image Strategy


It's starting to feel as if this photo frenzy isn't just a passing phase. Maybe there's some inescapable human affection for pretty pictures. We just can't help ourselves. As Antony Young, CEO of Mindshare North America, put it in his recent column for Ad Age: We're seeing a consumer movement toward a more visual culture brought on by technology and media. Smarter devices are prompting more occasions for people to create and consume visual content, while social media is encouraging that content to be shared on multiple platforms.

Facebook will tell you the same. When you talk to its executives or founders about the company's inflection point, they'll all tell you some variation of "It's the pictures, stupid." The Facebook community uploads 250 million photos a day, and one Harvard Business School study estimates that 70 percent of all activities inside the social network--from "liking" and commenting to looking at friends' content or uploading your own--revolves around photos.

By Chas Edwards as seen in Ad Age Digital

Three Things Every Company Can Do


My sister-in-law maintains a list on her smartphone of companies she vows never to patronize again. She calls it her "shit list." It includes big national brands and small local companies and spans restaurants, hotels, Internet providers, airlines, retailers--practically any business with a service component. And she's not alone. Practically everyone has a shit list of some sort, whether mental or recorded, and the incidents that get companies onto these lists have one thing in common: They're nearly always preventable.

Research shows that replacing a dissatisfied customer costs six to seven times as much as retaining a satisfied one, yet many companies have elaborate justifications for continuing to irritate their customers in defiance of economic logic. Instead of taking advantage of the potential for increased profit by keeping customers happy, they maintain a "leaky bucket" approach, spending endlessly to replace those that leave.

By Cale Thompson as seen in Fast Company

Internet-Based Theater


A small Philadelphia-based company called New Paradise Laboratories is re-creating theater for the connected generation. It's incorporating social networks like Facebook, Skype, and Chatroulette into the production and presentation of shows, pulling theater into the virtual space.

This innovative experience takes audiences through a rabbit hole on a visually stimulating online adventure. Stories evolve on social networks with multimedia components from YouTube and Sound Cloud. It can be hard to decipher what's real and what's fiction.

Before shows open on stage, the audience gets to interact with characters on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts. The theater company works with actors to develop the fictional characters on social media accounts.

By Joann Pan as seen in Mashable

Using Pinterest as a Planning Tool


Recently, my colleagues have gone wild for Pinterest. Pinterest is an online sharing tool that allows you to construct virtual bulletin boards to collect and display images from across the web. While some museums are using the tool in clever public-facing ways, that's not what's happening here at the MAH. At our museum, our programs team is using Pinterest to develop ideas for upcoming community events. As staff members and interns discover intriguing activities, products, or artwork on the web, individuals can "pin" items of interest to the boards for specific events (i.e. Fire Festival) or program types (Family Programs). This is particularly effective for us since interns and volunteers are significant contributors to our programmatic team and everyone is on different schedules.

By Nina Simon as seen in Museum 2.0

Digital Advertising Lessons from the For-Profit Industry


Jeff Rosenblum is drinking tea at Soho House, a private club in lower Manhattan, and explaining to me that most advertising doesn't work, and that the entire advertising industry is stuck in the past and desperately needs to be blown up and reinvented-not exactly what I-d expected to hear from a guy who runs an advertising agency that counts Suzuki, Universal Theme Parks, Capital One, and General Mills among its clients. "Advertising hasn't changed since the 1960s," says Rosenblum, 40, the cofounder of a 50-person agency called Questus that specializes in digital media and just won an Agency of the Year award from iMedia, a publication that tracks the online marketing industry. "But we're on the verge of a revolution."

By Dan Lyons as seen in The Daily Beast

Five Simple Steps to Measure Social Media ROI


"The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money." ~Thomas Jefferson

"Show me the money!" ~Tom Cruise

Two very different Toms. Which one are you with? Jefferson? Or Cruise? I suppose both have a point. While Jefferson may have been right on a spiritual level — heck, I love to bask in the warm, gooey, feel-good glow of social media as much as the next Twitterati — many businesses are now in the Cruise camp of: “Show me the money!”

There are, without question, myriad soft benefits of social media: elevated customer service, real-time market research, influencer engagement, crisis management, brand protection, brand equity and word-of-mouth marketing. But, many companies want to be able to see ROI (shocker, I know.) Here’s how to do it in five simple steps.

By Eric Harr as seen in Social Media Today

Tell Your Nonprofit’s Story More Effectively


Storytelling is everywhere in the world of communications — in every other webinar I see advertised, best-selling books, even our politics, where we hear about the narrative of the primaries.

But storytelling is as old as humanity. So why the obsession? Why now? Is it that now we all have the power to tell stories? That the traditional media gatekeepers are no longer so powerful and the consumer is now also the producer of stories? Is it that we all think we can control our own narratives? Is it that by telling or sharing stories we choose, we build an external identity, as we would like to be seen?

By Danny Alpert as seen in Nonprofit Technology Network