{Heal the World} Social Media lessons, #12for12K and a little 501c3 action (updated)

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Is it me or has the communications world gone bonkers in the past two weeks? First PRSA last week, then Aunty B & the Gen-Y coffee issue this week and now another communications professional taking to her blog to call out a peer about his social media non-profit project?

Am I missing something here?

In a post that went up on Monday, Barbara Talisman questioned the legitimacy of a decently well-known, online charitable brand called 12For12K. Started by Danny Brown, the organization’s main goals are to raise $12,000 dollars per organization per month and also raise awareness for each of these causes using social media.

In case you were wondering, Danny Brown has over 15,000 followers on Twitter. That’s not a small amount of cookies.

Anyway, I found two things to be very disturbing about the “speaking out loud” post on Talisman’s website: 1) Her facts are wrong, she takes low blows at Mr. Brown and she uses loaded words rather than fully explaining her points and 2) she completely misses the ball on what social media is about.

I. Facts, Blows & Points of Interest

Using words like “allegedly”

Allegedly – I have to ask if it was a campaign to raise money or raise awareness and business for Danny Brown. (And I realize by writing this I am only playing into the hype!)

are what journalism professors teach their students how to do when writing about convicts, criminals and serial rapists in hard news reporting. This is a term used by reporters so that they don’t “convict” the accused before he/she goes to trial. This word is used so that a newspaper cannot be sued for slander, for example, should the accused actually be proven not guilty. Hence, the we have the word “alleged.”

Danny's official 12for12K logo and his self photo

Talisman also said:-

I find it interesting Danny selected a photo where he is not looking at the camera or you.

I’m confused as to whether the issue at hand here is a) social media NOT working to raise awareness b) social media not being used effectively as a money maker c) whether Danny Brown should have been looking at the camera and/or d) all of the above and some more.

The original author goes on to say things like:-

Unfortunately, with the exception of Share our Strength, none of the charities have come close to raising the $12,000. While Danny has created quite a presence for himself and a groundswell of Tweets and RTs on and off – it has not resulted in these charities reaching their goal.

But my question is, does it matter, at the end of the day if these charities reached $12,000?

1) They are getting awareness
2) They are getting some money
3) Most of all, we are in a worldwide recession

Talisman continued…

Like old fashioned fundraising success comes from:

* Good case for support
* Urgency – now not tomorrow or next month
* Connection – to the cause or leadership
* People give to people – give because someone asked

This isn’t always the case. Each individual non-profit organization gains money based on their presence, people’s connections to them and awareness. Also, nothing happens over night. As even, Talisman said, “we are six months into Danny Brown’s well intentioned 12for12K campaign.”

So again, I’m left questioning the motives behind this “call out.”

12For12K chose organizations like UNICEF, War Child, Stop the Silence and Doctors without Borders to name a few. These are not small cookie 501c3 organizations.

So enough about that. I’ll leave you to read the original post here.

On that note, Danny Brown did take to his blog to write a response and two things immediately struck me (I read Talisman’s post before Brown’s [below]):

I thought I recognized the name and company – you contacted me earlier this year through email (and then phone call) suggesting that donations raised go to your company instead of the charities. You would then use this money to “consult” these charities.

Our goal is to raise a certain aim, and while we’ve fallen short of that, we’ve still raised almost $50,000.

The thing is, you don’t need to read Mr. Brown’s response to know any of this stuff. If anyone took the time to ask him, or shuffle through the information on the 12for12K website, guess what? They would know all of that already.

II. Social Media

Social media is about authenticity, interaction, awareness and engagement. It’s quantifiable yes, but it’s also not the sales division of a corporation, it’s a part of the communications department.

FACTS:

  • With over 15,000 followers and over 32,000 tweets on Twitter and over 3,000 “listeners” on his RSS feed via Feedburner, Danny Brown is interacting.
  • He’s also a user of Facebook’s Network Blogs, FriendFeed, Posterous and various “outlets.” He manages all of these accounts himself. That my friends is authenticity. His tells you his message; how he wants to be perceived. End of story.
  • Most of all, ask and he’ll answer — go ahead and try it. That’s what we call engagement.
  • Also, did you know that 12for12K offers an online resource to bloggers to continue to raise awareness about the charities of their choice? You can find it here.
  • And even if you didn’t donate to any of the 12for12K charities — if you paid attention to Danny, you now know who they are aka awareness.

A few PR lessons to be learned:-

1) Never write angry.
Emotions will bring out words you might wish you never said. Or thoughts that maybe weren’t so clear.

2) Get all your facts in order before you choose to make assumptions.
Bing and Google will not forget, and Twitter’s new search … well, that has the lads and ladies at TechCrunch, Mashable and alike talking…

3) If you want to be considered a professional, keep it professional.
Don’t discriminate against someone because you don’t like how they aren’t looking into the camera. Maybe they aren’t photogenic? Maybe they are trying to be artistic? Maybe they have wonky eyes?

UPDATE: September 23, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. ET

Counter posts to Talisman:-

Most of all — an apology from Mrs. Talisman:-

http://talismantol.wordpress.com/2009/09/23/mea-culpa-to-12for12k/

END ##

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Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 SashaH. Muradali. All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. Wow. It really bothers me when people call out others because they don't like the way they're doing charity. I mean, seriously? It's amazing that Danny took the TIME and ENERGY to work at raising this money for these organizations. So what if he didn't reach his goal! Would you rather have $0 or $1500?! I'm pretty sure all charities would say the latter.

    When we did Knoxville Twestival, a few comments came through the blog that were very rude and accusing like this. It bothered me because I know I spent A LOT of my personal, spare time on this event and was really proud of what we were able to accomplish. But I think the lesson learned is that there are always going to be those critical, cynics out there…really, you just have to ignore them and go about your business.

    But anyway, great post! Thanks for shedding some light on this!

  2. Nicely put. As a 12for12k supporter I would like to add that yes, we are trying to be better, but we need to remember, we all all volunteers donating our time, talents, energy and money to very worthy causes.

  3. Thanks for the comment Richard.

    Well said 🙂

  4. Hi Nicole,

    That's what I'm saying. I mean it's one thing to call someone out because they aren't doing a good job. But if the only reason you can come up with that they are “bad” is that they haven't me their goal — then that's a problem…with the accuser.

    What makes this situation absolutely terrible is that the accusing didn't have all of her facts, didn't speak to the person she was questioning and also took low blows at the person of which her wrath was directed at.

    That's not professional in the slightest.

    I heard about the issues with the Twestival from the comments on Danny's blogspace following his repsonse to Talisman. And you are right, people will always be negative. But I think it's up to free space and people like us to change the tone, set the record straight etc.,

    Thanks Nicole 🙂

  5. Thanks for the comment Richard.

    Well said 🙂

  6. Hi Nicole,

    That's what I'm saying. I mean it's one thing to call someone out because they aren't doing a good job. But if the only reason you can come up with that they are “bad” is that they haven't me their goal — then that's a problem…with the accuser.

    What makes this situation absolutely terrible is that the accusing didn't have all of her facts, didn't speak to the person she was questioning and also took low blows at the person of which her wrath was directed at.

    That's not professional in the slightest.

    I heard about the issues with the Twestival from the comments on Danny's blogspace following his repsonse to Talisman. And you are right, people will always be negative. But I think it's up to free space and people like us to change the tone, set the record straight etc.,

    Thanks Nicole 🙂

  7. Thanks for the comment Richard.

    Well said 🙂

  8. Hi Nicole,

    That's what I'm saying. I mean it's one thing to call someone out because they aren't doing a good job. But if the only reason you can come up with that they are “bad” is that they haven't me their goal — then that's a problem…with the accuser.

    What makes this situation absolutely terrible is that the accusing didn't have all of her facts, didn't speak to the person she was questioning and also took low blows at the person of which her wrath was directed at.

    That's not professional in the slightest.

    I heard about the issues with the Twestival from the comments on Danny's blogspace following his repsonse to Talisman. And you are right, people will always be negative. But I think it's up to free space and people like us to change the tone, set the record straight etc.,

    Thanks Nicole 🙂

  9. Hey there miss,

    I'm not sure how, but I missed this first time around – my bad!

    Suffice to say, THANK YOU for a serious and well thought out post, and for your awesome support and help with 12for12k. The likes of Barbara Talisman and others can say what they like about efforts like 12for12k, but there's one key reason that I take them all with a pinch of salt:

    We don't charge charities to help them. She does. So why not do it right, call yourself a For Profit consultant, and leave the free help, awareness building and more to those that are trying to do something without needing to charge non-profits for it..?

    Thanks again, miss – you rock. 🙂