In May, I was invited to London to speak as part of the Jewish Leadership Council’s Lead Division’s newest initiative, Leading In which was created in response to the desire and need for more leadership skills training, expressed by alumni of Lead’s programmes as well as employers within the community. The JLC, in a blog post about the program, explained:
We believe that Jewish communal leaders need both a deep understanding and knowledge of the UK Jewish Community as well as a core range of leadership skills. Leading In consists of regular bi-monthly evening sessions, open to all who are in a leadership position in the community, both lay and professional. Each session will include a leadership skills based session (a choice of three with the option to participate in a fundraising series over several sessions), an opportunity to network and a masterclass with an inspirational, visionary leader.
The event, held at the London Jewish Museum, was attended by 60 lay and professional leaders from more than 30 Jewish communal organizations. Debbie Klein, chair of JW3 (the about-to-launch Jewish Community Centre), gave the opening keynote discussing leadership tips, and participants chose from workshops like, “Inside the mind of a leader” with Jeff Wolfin, “Fundraising” with Jeff Shear (the second in the series), and my session, “Leadership in the Digital Age: Conversing, Commenting and Creating Meaningful Relationships” (available in its entirety – 1 hour, 22 minutes - below.
Over the years, I’ve had a number of people – at the office and in other areas of my life – ask for my advice on everything from PR to online content development and social media engagement. Most of them are just looking to glean some quick advice. So I thought it might be helpful to share a few pieces of advice about media strategy and PR. (A version of this post originally appeared on my blog, My Urban Kvetch.)
For a more comprehensive assessment of your current media strategy, or to work on particular elements of your media outreach, my consulting services are available at reasonable rates.
7 Tips Toward Strengthening Media Strategy
Whether you’re promoting an event that’s happened, or doing strategic outreach to bolster audience support, here are 7 basic elements to consider and tips to keep in mind:
1. Content: It’s cliched to say that content is king, but content is the storytelling core of your strategy. The content will create a connection – intellectual or emotional – to the work you do. Make your first sentence engaging, and give the reader something they can’t find anywhere else. This means not recycling the two paragraphs you’ve used in promoting the event or experience – it’s the story of that event or experience: why is it important, what is the backstory, which fascinating folks are involved…take the reader behind the scenes and give insider information that only attendees would have experienced. Begin with a killer sentence – a riveting question or a surprising quote – once you get people hooked, they’ll read on to find out more about what that first intriguing sentence means.
2. Length: Unless your Communications Department instructs you otherwise, I suggest a length of 400 words (maximum) for blog posts. Originally, about 400 words was be the maximum that would appear on a computer screen. Computers (and screen fonts) come in all sizes these days, but with the human attention span being fragmented, keeping it short and riveting is still a solid strategy. It also keeps you on track, making sure you use words and quotes that count, and helps increase the chance that people will read to the end.
3. Timing: If there’s a fast turnaround needed for a blog post the morning after an event, the best way to do it is to pre-write the bulk of it. This may sound dishonest, but PR people do it all the time – they create skeleton posts with all the stuff that you know ahead of time and is not going to change (the where, what, who, when and why). Then leave spaces for things that personalize the experience and paint “what really happened in the room” – quotes from speakers or attendees, surprises in terms of attendees or reactions or questions, details of the kinds of discussions and partnerships that ensued. The next day, fill in the blanks, massage the language so it doesn’t seem like a composite post, and you’ll have a compelling, authentic post, posted in record time. People will marvel at your efficiency, and you don’t have to reveal this secret to anyone.
4. Tone: Keep the “inside scoop” approach in mind when writing – so it’s not just “this happened, and it brought a lot of things together, and it was interesting,” but really capture the feel of who was there, how they were connecting with the speaker or presentation, and report some of the more interesting comments that go a little deeper and tell a better story than “this was a great event and I hope to attend another one soon.” The “insider info” approach is like crack to people who write and read blogs – even though it’s a calculated strategy, it’s still authentic and special, and that’s what people want. Depending on your organization’s tone, you may opt for more or less formal, but the voice should be factual, authoritative and relatable.
5. Images: Any photos accompanying online content should be dynamic. People sitting at tables is one of the least compelling images you can submit. Get up close, take “action photos” – smiling attendees having animated conversations goes a long way image-wise. And if you have access to photos taken by participants, ask participants if you can use their photos – that’s another opportunity for engagement, and it might also help you share the event’s story digitally.
6. Distribution: When the post goes live, do not depend on your Communications or PR department alone to distribute it. This is your work. You know where your audience lives, so make sure they see it by Tweeting, FBing and promoting it in your enewsletters. Send to your “superusers” who have wide networks and are fluent in social media – they’ll help the post get seen.
7. Social media strategy: Social media should be part of the discussions early and often – as you’re visualizing an event or initiative, integrate social media into that plan – it will help you later. Do you have other tips to recommend? Feel free to leave them in the comments section.
Want to drill deeper? Let’s set up a business call to talk. And in the interim, happy content-ing!
Hoping to post here more frequently in the weeks ahead, but since it’s been a while since I did a media roundup, I’ve collected a group of media mentions over the last several months. The pieces are varied and interesting, ranging from reflections on personal conversations with other people to pieces explaining my work with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and with the ROI Community of Jewish Innovators.
The Jewish Journal did a cover story about my work and that of my larger team working on young adult programs and engagement at the Jewish Federation. My program, the NextGen Engagement Initiative – a program of the Federation sponsored by a Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles – got several paragraphs of attention (on page 2 of the online article) for our work in bringing together smaller Jewish organizations in LA for collaboration on the young adult engagement front.
Speaking of young adult engagement, in this series of two posts (so far) – “Getting Engaged, Part 1,” and “Getting Engaged, Part 2: Courting Engagement” I break down what engagement is and isn’t, and suggest principles to keep in mind when planning Jewish (or really, any) programs meant to engage people (especially young adults). These pieces caught the attention of eJewishPhilanthropy, and have led to ongoing discussion about the definition of engagement and how to craft relationships, especially on The Next Jew blog, where author Dan Mendelsohn Aviv ponders the engagement question through an education lens and “wishes there were an App for that.”
I am lucky to have a wide network of friends and colleagues, many of whom are also actively engaging in this conversation on Jewish life, identity and engagement, so occasionally some of our conversations spark writing for me and for others. I am extremely flattered to have been mentioned in these pieces written by Lia Mandelbaum in the Jewish Journal – “Language of the Birds,” which focuses on identity work, and “How I Define ‘Mensch’: Seven People on Unique and Holy Paths,” in which Lia lists and introduces to her readers a few people who have made an impact on her. (I’m on the list, but read it for the other people.:)) An eJewishPhilanthropy post acknowledged my early role in shaping PresenTense, and Drew Kaplan credited me for some observations on assessing the qualitative impact of Birthright Israel and other Jewish identity programs.
And I was interviewed on Israel’s English-language IBA News about the ROI Community and the global scene for Jewish innovation.
What are your thoughts on Jewish engagement and innovation? As always, your comments are welcome.
In light of the recent IPO by social media juggernaut Facebook, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked me some questions about how the Jewish community uses Facebook in a piece titled “Is the Facebook IPO Good for the Jews?”
Pitchfest! Jewish Stories Go Hollywood!
Join G-dcast’s Producer, Screenwriter, and a panel of celebrity judges in an interactive Hollywood style pitchfest. Each team gets a (very) colorful Jewish story that we promise you’ve never heard before and develops its own red carpet, scene-stealing pitch. (We’ll coach you on how the experts do it.) Then send your best rep up on stage to dazzle the executives and convince us why YOUR story should be turned into an animated film. Big sunglasses provided. (Session produced by Sarah Lefton, with supporting cast turns by Sean Mandell, Josh Walters, and Esther Kustanowitz)
Since I’m the “celebrity judge” who lives and works closest to Hollywood (geographically, Beverly Hills ain’t far), bringing the celebrity glamour will be my responsibility. You can check out my new TribeFest speaker’s bio here.
A few weeks ago, I presented at LimmudLA a session titled “Nothing Helps (But This Might Help)” – the subject of the discussion was grief, mourning and coping with loss, and grew from my ongoing experiences in coping with the loss of my mother last May. This session – which I also presented at Limmud in the UK in December – is part of my process in creating a collection of writings about this year of mourning, the Jewish traditions that define it, and my personal reactions to this great loss in my life.
This is the intro for that session – what followed was a round robin of the people in the room, which I’m cutting out to preserve their privacy.
I hope to post more audio clips as I become more familiar with the audio editing software.
I’m honored to have been named one of the Top Ten Jewish Influencers by the National Jewish Outreach Program.
Finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges and evaluated based on creative and strategic use of social media to positively impact the Jewish community. The achievement was also covered in the Huffington Post.
I’m honored to share company with the other members of the top ten, all of whom are prominent in the Jewish social media world, and to be recognized for the value I try to bring into the world through social media.
Thanks to everyone at NJOP and Jewish Tweets who had a hand in this decision – here’s to us all – top ten and beyond – using our online and offline influence to bring value, comfort, intellectual stimulation, laughter, joy and unity to people everywhere. May it always be our privilege.
2011 was quite a year, for some great reasons and one really sad one.
We’ll start with the sad first in this post, and hopefully build towards joy from there. As the Psalm says, “they who sow in tears harvest with joy.”
In May, my mother, Shulamit E. Kustanowitz, lost her battle with two serious illnesses. Losing her has been the most earth-shattering experience of my life, and I’m dealing with it every day in some way. My writing has changed, both in frequency and in tone, and I haven’t been diligent about updating my blogs and websites, because it just didn’t seem important and because I felt, for a while, as if I’d lost command of the words. So it’s taking me a while to return to posting about my publications and achievements, and to the daily business of musing on things social media- and technology-related.
But there have been moments, even within a year of mourning, which are worth celebrating. I was thrilled to be named to the Big Jewcy , a list of 100 Jews to watch, which this year also featured my brother (we were the first siblings to make the list the same year, and the piece about me was published on my birthday, by coincidence). I presented at the 2011 General Assembly in Denver, JHub (social entrepreneurship hub in London), and the UK’s Limmud Conference, moderated at the Jewish Federation’s Day of Jewish Learning and Culture, and made 2012 plans to present or moderate sessions at LimmudLA (next weekend), Jewlicious (the weekend after), and the ROI Summit in Jerusalem (June). A friend also made me laugh with his Gefilte Fish Invaders game/Rosh Hashanah greeting card, which got me quoted in the Jewish Week’s Jewish Techs blog. So life does go on.
I’m working on getting my writing going again, and some of that is happening in a longer chunk of text that I’m referring to as a “book” and which might just be one some day, tentatively titled “Nothing Helps (But This Might Help): Loss, Grief and Unintentional Comedy in a Year of Mourning.” Some of it is likely to pop up on the web in various places – on my blogs or on websites – and hopefully to be finished before the end of 2012. (At least that’s my current estimate.) But I’m also balancing that with some lighter pieces, some focusing on culture or comedy, or other such smile-provoking subjects, and will likely produce several other pieces about Jewish life and contemporary culture, because – let’s face it – I do what I do.
Like I said, 2011 was quite a year. Here’s to a 2012 of gratitude, productivity, health, healing, laughter and eventually, joy. Thanks for your continued support.
Greetings, readers. Apologies to you all for the delay in posting – my mother fell ill in April, and passed away in May. Since then, I’ve been making my way back, slowly, into a new reality, trying to get back to normal. So here I am, accepting offers for speaking engagements and setting my travel schedule for fall 2011. I’ll be in San Francisco and Berkeley (September); New York City, New Jersey and Oakland, CA (October); Denver, CO (November); and London, UK (December). Contact me for details, or stay tuned to this space or to MyUrbanKvetch.com for updates and details.
Also, I’ve published a number of pieces that might be of interest – most of the posts are from my own blog focus on my processing the loss of my mother, but one continues to explore the Jewish innovation scene.
“Innovation at Any Age” (eJewishPhilanthropy)
“Eulogy for My Mother” (My Urban Kvetch)
“E-Ma’ariv: Contemplating the Evening Prayers” (My Urban Kvetch)
“Marzipan and Meaning: Jerusalem Reflections” (My Urban Kvetch)