5 Benefits Of The Blog Interview

downloadWhat is a blog interview? A blog interview is a chance to take a deeper dive with a guest speaker, a community member, a client, or a current employee. Here are the reasons why blog interviews benefit your organization:

1) You Create A Personal Connection With Your Guest Speaker: Non-profits and schools in particular have dozens of speakers visit every year. You never know when you may want to call on someone again, whether to speak, or for networking purposes. By taking the time to sit down with your guest for a few minutes, you provide an opportunity for them to share personal insights not usually addressed in their standard presentation. By providing this listening space, you are able to create a real relationship that can last through time.

2) You Can Ask Questions Related To Your Mission: Perhaps you had an author visit your academy and share secrets about their creative writing process. Your school has a mission statement that encourages students to be “courageous leaders.” Nowhere in the author’s prepared comments did the notion of leadership get mentioned. Through a blog interview you can ask a specific question like: “how have you demonstrated courage as a writer?” The author’s answer can then be tied to your school’s mission statement, further highlighting the value of the visit.

3) You Can Show The Interview To Future Guests: In the words of The Fixx, “One Thing Leads to Another.” Perhaps you are courting a potential guest speaker who is noncommittal, or you have a speaker asking about an honorarium when you have no money in your budget. As part of your enticement you can send a link to an interview that you conducted with another visitor. If that interview happened to be liked over 500 times on Facebook, you can mention that as well. Having previous interview links at your disposal demonstrates that your organization has the ability to promote future speakers.

4) You Can Educate Your Community Members: Blog interviews with guest speakers inevitably spread knowledge to your greater community, but interviews can also be very meaningful internally. Interviews with staff members that share why they are passionate about teaching or community development can bolster a non-profit’s brand. By taking the time to interview employees, you show that your organization cares and appreciates the people who work for the cause on a daily basis. Also, perhaps your executive director used professional development money to go on a research trip to Guatemala. A blog interview upon return can quickly and efficiently share details demonstrating how the funds for the trip were well spent. This is especially useful for maintaining smooth communication with your board of directors.

5) You Create An Historical Document: Interviews generate information that is completely unique to the moment of recording. Once your blog interview is published, it is “out there” for anyone to refer to in the future. Your blog interview shows that your organization feels strongly about the work of a particular author or speaker, in this way, you are adding to the digital footprint of that person. By publishing an interview with your guest, you are increasing their place in history, even if only infinitesimally. You never know when someone in the future will quote your interview as part of their book or article.

Here are two blog interview examples:

This is my interview with ABC News Anchor and Author, Dan Harris:


This is my interview with the Author, Francisco Jimenez:


How have interviews benefited your organization? Send me an email and let me know!

5 Tips For Getting Your Staff Using Social Media

a8947c5ab605b0b2c8142fc8d5a59f4e-2The arithmetic around using social media to expand the impact of your work and brand is undeniable. A small committed group of staff members on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can reach thousands of people. In the non-profit world, organizations compete for students, funds, prestige and recognition. Your employee voices online can give you a competitive edge. Most importantly, enlisting your staff to share stories and successes provides a window into the life-changing work that your organization does on a daily basis. Special thanks to Linda Kern Pelzman from the McLean School in Potomac, Maryland. Linda commented on one of my previous blogs and asked me how to get the social media “party started” at her school. Here goes…

1) Someone Needs To Lead: This is number one for a reason. Your leader is the firestarter, collector, coordinator, motivator and monitor. This person can start by simply figuring out who is already on social media and encourage their efforts. The coordinator can repost content onto your website and onto various social media platforms. This person should be passionate about your organization’s mission and serve as catalyst for others to join your social media soirée. Your coordinator will also be someone who sifts through all of the posts, videos, photos and blogs, separating the gems from the junk. Not all staff-created content needs a wider audience.

2) Clearly Communicate Your Social Media Goals: The overarching goal should be to use the power of social media to spur awareness, engagement, influence and action that furthers the mission of your organization. This doesn’t have to be one size fits all. For some of your staff, using social media is a form of self-expression, for others it is simply fun. Your social media leader can work with individual staff members to tailor goals that work for them. Perhaps you have a volunteer coordinator who takes amazing photos, but never uses hashtags when tweeting. A goal for that person might be to find ways to make their photos more shareable. A larger goal might be to encourage your head of school to write a bi-monthly blog addressing global education trends.

3) Educate Your Staff: Get some early adopters on board and leverage their knowledge to influence others. Do you already have a staff member who writes a great blog? Their posts can be emailed to all staff, followed by that person leading a lunch conversation, or a more formal workshop on the joys of blog writing. Do you have a prolific tweeter in your midst? Could they share their passion and posting tips with other colleagues? Peer to peer learning is a wonderful way to organically spread your social media mission. Some of your staff may gravitate towards YouTube, others might enjoy posting on LinkedIn. Meet your staff where they are and offer links to webinars or people who can assist them in their social media exploration.

4) Make It Fun And Easy: It is worth mentioning that not only should delving into social media be voluntary for your staff, it should also be something they want to do. Perhaps you have a teacher at your school who loves to take photos of students working on science projects, but never thought to share them on social media. Once they have the experience of a photo being liked 50 times on Facebook they might start to really enjoy the recognition of their work. In order to make social media easy, your coordinator can send out canned messages that are simple to repost. Your organization can also consider allowing a different staff member to take over the Twitter feed for one day a week. Not only will this provide a unique view of your organization, it might hook a person previously unfamiliar with tweeting. Another way to make social media fun is to include a photo station at your next gathering. Your employees can be photographed holding placards with quotes related to your mission.

5) Provide Recognition: We are back to number one, the leader. When a tweet has been retweeted ten times, tell your staff, give a shout out! When appropriate, share the data on how many views a blog has received. If a community member mentions being influenced by some of your staff’s social media postings, tell people. If a posting leads to more online fundraising, celebrate that achievement. It is up to your organization to decide how public you want to be with recognition, but a little head nod goes a long way. Not only are you acknowledging social media success, you are building morale by witnessing and learning from your various staff members.

-I welcome your comments and questions. Perhaps my next blog will help investigate something you are thinking about.

For tips on why you should be blogging, please read:


To learn more about creating a social media ambassador system, please read:


To learn more about providing recognition using social media, please read:




5 Tips for Positioning your Non-Profit as a Thought Leader

thought_leadershipBeing an authentic thought leader is the nucleus of great public relations. Thought leaders are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative thinking. We all have good ideas, but a leading organization harnesses these thoughts and channels them into a public realm that gets a brand recognized and respected. Demonstrating thought leadership allows you to raise more funds and gain greater support for your mission.

1) Create Your Thought Leadership Platform: This starts with identifying your specific areas of expertise. Are you an expert in girls’ education? Do you fulfill your mission statement everyday? Do you understand how to facilitate collaborative community development better than any other non-profit? Your organization may be versed in many arenas, but by narrowing your thought leadership focus, you will be able to build your platform and share your core competencies with an external audience. Owning your message platform will guide your organization with media relations, marketing campaigns, and with your client base.

2) Make Your Website An Educational Hub: What is currently on your website? Some photos, your mission statement, links to information that hasn’t changed in weeks? Websites are enriching portals that you pay to maintain, yet many non-profits don’t take advantage of their full potential. You can use your website on a daily basis to share your thought leadership platform. You can post your own content, blogs, videos, links to articles that highlight members of your community and host online forums. How about posting relevant essays from well-known speakers and thinkers that address your mission statement? What if your website became the desirable place to have this writing shared? Inevitably your website would become dynamic and alive, giving people a reason to visit again and again.

3) Conduct Your Own Research And Publish It: Your school did a comprehensive self-study on students and sleep, resulting in a changed start time for classes. Your non-profit surveyed perceptions about homelessness in San Francisco, finding that tech companies were interested in solving the problem. How difficult is it to write about or publish this wonderful research? In 2013, Phillips Exeter Academy shared the results of their “College Satisfaction Survey” online. The research contains valuable insights into various elite college campuses from the narrative perspectives of Exeter alumni. The findings clearly display the perceptive nature of their grads, while positioning Exeter as a thought leader.

4) Speak At Conferences: This tip is obvious. Speak about your expertise and soon you will have your peers approaching you for guidance and advice. No matter your field, there is usually the “go to” conference where like-minded professionals seek information. For U.S. independent schools this is the annual event for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Look for opportunities in less obvious places too, like global webinars, or perhaps as part of a musical concert, or a paneled discussion hosted by another non-profit. With a strong self-knowledge of your thought leadership platform, you will quickly know if the venue is a good fit for your brand.

5) Encourage Your Staff To Be Social Media Content Experts:  How would it expand your brand if you had 60 of your staff members intelligently posting and commenting on LinkedIn? How many of your staff are currently on LinkedIn or Twitter? Do you know? How many of them write blogs? Start by taking inventory of who is using social media outlets and whether they are speaking to the work of your organization. You can then follow these individuals and regularly repost highlights of their thought leadership on your website. The public recognition of their expertise will no doubt lead to more of your employees taking their thinking to social media.

5 Tips for Creating a Social Media Ambassador System

photo (70)What is a Social Media Ambassador System?

Social media ambassadors are people who are passionate about the work that your organization does. Every good non-profit already has social media ambassadors in their midst. These are people that periodically “like” your updates on Facebook, occasionally retweet your tweets, and perhaps mention you every once in awhile in a blog post. The goal of a social media ambassador system is to shape these individual musicians into an orchestra (or trio, depending on what is needed) that can perform together for your organization at any given moment in time. A thoughtfully created ambassador system can generate awareness of your work, raise funds, cultivate volunteers, ensure attendance at your events, and spread thank yous far and wide. A well-crafted social media ambassador system will significantly expand your reach, and allow you do quality PR/marketing on a limited budget.

1) Recruit The Right Ambassadors:  Social media ambassadors can be your current staff members, your alumni, your clients, your parents, and other supporters. The first step to recruiting is finding out who is active on social media. By reviewing social media profiles you can learn who uses various platforms and whether they might be a good fit for your ambassador system. Not everyone is cut out to be a digital volunteer, approach people who you feel could best represent your organization through their positive participation with social media.

2) Be Clear About Responsibilities: Ideally you are handpicking a team of people who are knowledgeable about your organization, comfortable responding to inquiries and questions, and can speak to the mission of your work. You may tap certain individuals to be retweeters, others to write a post on their Facebook page, or some to simply forward an email to people in their network. The responsibilities of the ambassadors will likely vary depending on what message you are delivering and the social media being used. In order to maintain flexibility, feel free to let your ambassadors know that they can always opt out of participating, or contribute in a way that best suits them.

3) Know When And How To Activate Your Ambassador System: Your executive director is in a photo with the Dalai Lama on the front page of the Washington Post. This is an example of when you would want to activate every member of your team with the goal of posting the newspaper link on all available social media outlets. A longer term goal might include a blog that provides context for the newspaper article with a call to support your organization. There are other times where might simply ask your ambassadors to “like” a particular Facebook post. You can initiate your system by sending a message to your team’s email list with your specific request.

4) Focus on specific goals: Awareness of your work is an easy goal to achieve through a social media ambassador system. Photos and short videos are readily shared and can be circulated quickly. Crowdfunding endeavors can also be invigorated with your ambassador system in place. Requesting volunteers is a good specific goal, as is encouraging people to attend your gala event. A public thank you on social media with personalized comments from your ambassadors is another admirable goal.

5) Recognize Your Ambassadors: Many of your social media ambassadors have a personal brand on the internet. When appropriate, find ways for your organization to promote their projects and work online. If the tweet or blog of an ambassador garners a good deal of attention, be generous with praise and let the entire team know about that success. Depending on the size of your group, consider bringing your ambassadors together for a luncheon where they can receive personal recognition and learn more about your organization’s upcoming plans.