New Blog Site

28 05 2011

SoupKnife is now writing Blog3PO

As I’m shifting gears as I move to Arizona and slowing down my ‘working habit.’ I’ve decided to continue this blog and, perhaps more importantly, start writing a new blog. Blog3PO will be a site where I can write about things that interest me, without any particular continuity. I just want to start writing again and get my creative motor turning. There will be some travel, some tech, some reviews and a whole lot of various things that interest me at the time. I’m hoping to have a fun conversation, and I hope you’re in it. Stay tuned!

Blog3PO





Get Better Search Rankings Through Hyperlinking

21 03 2010

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Get Noticed Now.

Use Hyperlinks For Better Search Ranks

It’s such a familiar object and so prevalent in everyday life that it’s almost easy to overlook the significance of the hyperlink . If you are unaware what a hyperlink is, please read on or select this hyperlink. </sarcasm>

A hyperlink, or “link,” is a virtual reference to a document or source online that a reader can follow automatically and directly to information. According to Rodolfo Baggio and Magda Corigliano’s On the Importance of Hyperlinks: A Network Science Approach, “hyperlinks are the essence of the World Wide Web.”

Hyperlinks provide a rapid means to interconnect relevant data in non-sequential order.  Baggio explains that this process mimics “the associative nonlinear process” that people use to logically search for inter-related information. Meaning, the information is linked in a way that is useful to the users and makes the Internet easier to surf.

Hyperlinking grew extensively with the commercialization of the Internet. With the masses came common topics and social interests that served as the mechanisms underlying the proliferation of links. This collective interest favored the build up of ‘communities of interest,’ like our beloved social media structures.  Links now represent the social ties between the individuals who own Web sites. Often, they’re sites more interesting than this one. ; )

However, hyperlinks are more than just a quick reference to data. Search engines, like google, use hyperlinks and thier respective uses to rank the positioning of your Web site on its search result pages. Baggio explains “the nature of the links between sites is one of the major determinants of a Web site’s positioning,” and that it’s “crucial to online success.”

Hyperlinks are pivotal to building better positioning for SEOs. Likewise, Ben Cotton of Social Web Thing offers advice on how to best economize your social media presence and how to best diversify your online portfolio to “boost your personal SEO.” This is a great compilation of Web advice I wish I would have seen a couple years ago. It features a lot of common sense best practices that otherwise would had taken a while to understand.

About.com suggest that you don’t add “Click Here” type links, but rather to add relevant links to increase your page rank amongst Web searches. The relevance factor increases your composite ranking based on how many links you have, who you are linked to, the number of links used and the relevance. About issues these best practices for users:

  • Use links to highlight relevant words or phrases.
  • Use links to move readers between your own Web pages.
  • Don’t over link. A sea of blue links means nothing will stand out.

And most importantly, don’t “click here,” “read more,” or look at “this.”

Now that we have mastered hyperlinks, let’s work on the Call to Action Button!





More Bang For Your Buck: Nonprofit Web Design Principles

22 01 2010

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More Bang For Your Buck

Nonprofit Web Design Principles

As a nonprofit organization, you’ve done so much with so little for so long that I’m betting you can do just about anything with nothing forever. Here are a few simple Web design principles to stretch your buck and flex your NPO muscle.

Keep it simple: First thing’s first, pretend like you know nothing about your site and consider how readily apparent your intent is. Is your purpose clear enough that a first time visitor, with little knowledge about your organization, can find your site and move to act?

Be sure to let them know what’s in it for them upfront. Spell it out for your audience so they don’t miss an opportunity to the dreaded “curse of knowledge.”

“Pare down your homepage content and give them a concise, yet clear and accurate taste of what you’re about.” – Network for Good.

Enable users: Next, enable your users! As a nonprofit, you need all the help you can get to cut down the costs of overhead. Make sure your site is readily accessible for interested parties. Ensure easy to find links, tabs or widgets for your respective needs.

Make your Site contribution-friendly: If you need volunteers or donations, ensure you have a tab that streamlines the donation process. The Salvation Army puts the bucket in your face; they won’t make you look for it – hopefully. Also, don’t limit your visitors to monetary gifts. An anecdotal story for your media kit might be worth more than a fistful of change.

For instance, the March of Dimes’ Shareyourstory.org allows users to donate experience instead of monetary contributions. This allows a sense of community and volunteering without exhausting member’s wallets and it reduces the cost of content.

Make your Site media-friendly: While you are at it, throw a media link up on your NPO’s Site. If you have a talented writer, throw in a media kit. If you have a fancy Web guy, throw in some digital media to lure in the press or an NPO-friendly blogger.

Use free resources: Actually, since we’re on the subject, don’t over work your Web guy. Why not use the free applications that already exist? Want to host a photo-petition but don’t have the storage space? Why not enlist Flickr? That’s what Oxfam did according to Britt Bravo’s blog, Have Fun, Do Good.

There seem to be plenty of low budget methods out there if you’re creative enough, just don’t forget the first thing you learned in college economics. Actually, it’s something that anyone with a bank account already knows – resources are scarce, and the cost of every expenditure is the price of the next best option foregone. Even if you have the resources to spare, it’s better to make every penny ride as long as it can in this market. Simple Web design can increase the effectiveness of your nonprofit.





Scared of Presentations?

24 11 2009

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Scared of Presentations?

5 Easy Steps Towards Better Presentation Skills

Everyone has heard the urban legend that states “more people are afraid of public speaking than death.”

Thanks to blogger and Toast Master Richard Garber, I was able to locate the well cited date in The 14 Worst Human Fears list in the 1977 Book of Lists. In the study, 41 percent of people feared speaking before a group, while only 19 percent feared death comparitively. This data was skewed into the “more people are afraid of public speaking than death” urban legend we hear today.

Tirelessly, I looked for some data along these lines, but I was unable to find any such figures; however, I dug up an article in the Archives of General Psychology that claimed that one in three respondents reported “excessive anxiety” when they spoke to “large audiences. This study, conducted by three doctors with impressive acronyms, also reported that the onset of this fear appeared in half of the study by 13 years of age and that 90 percent of participants in the study were shaking at the podium by the age of 20.

I thought I’d do my part to relieve this anxiety by making presentations a little easier with these personal tips. These tips are loosely  based on George Mason University’s The Short Guide To Effective Presentations.

So here is the skinny.

1. Know your mission: Determine your purpose by establishing what you want your audience to know and how you would like them to act on this knowledge.

2. Establish your target: (target audience that is) Analyze your audience and tailor your message according to their age, education level, knowledge about your topic and attitude toward the topic.

3. Gather intelligence: Gather enough information to write an effective presentation, then adjust the information as to avoid overwhelming the audience with too much information. Remember, it’s better to recall all of some, than none of all.

4. Operational pictures: Add interest with relevant images. Never add a photo that doesn’t add to the message or embody the emphasis of the topic. Only use charts, graphs or illustrations if they are simple enough to understand and increase the audience’s understanding.

5. Train: Practice, practice, practice and then? Practice! Ideally, research your topic until you feel like an expert. When you feel comfortable with the content, run through the presentation. Preferably, practice out loud with your visuals. If at all possible, record your practice and make notes about eye contact, movements, uses of gestures, tone, enthusiasm, pace and voice projection.

Quicksprout blogger, Neil Pate, points out that this recorded practice run can be a great tool to catch errors because You usually don’t notice when you say ‘uhm,’ ‘ah,’ or any other useless word frequently, but the audience does. It gets quite irritating.” Pate also recommends that you “Show some movement – People are more engaged with an animated speaker.”

A quick word on the visuals – I’ve never fancied myself as a great writer, but I’m a solid writer. More importantly, I’m good with visuals and drawing interest. I’m not saying that visuals will carry your presentation, but visuals can garner attention and carry interest through your content. For expert advice on your visual layout and slides, most specifically for PowerPoint and Keynote, I recommend that you check out Presentation Zen.

The visual rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Pate warns, Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides; they are there to listen to you present.”

If you need more insight, this You Tube video provides comical parody into the problems associated with, in this instance, PowerPoint presentations and zealous naivety.





4 Easy Steps Towards Bigger Donations

2 11 2009

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Get More Cheese!

4 Easy Steps Towards Bigger Donations!

Do happier donors equal bigger bucks for your non-profit? Well, according to an article written in the Public Relations Review by Julie O’Neil, they do. Most non-profit studies seem to reiterate the importance of cultivating the relationship between the donor and the organization, especially in times of economic distress.

According to the findings of that study, there seems to be a two-year threshold for when donors’ perceptions of trust and satisfaction become relatively high and they begin to increase their donations; however, getting to this stage can be a daunting task for any organization.

Many organizations spend their time mass soliciting the public looking for new donors when they should be focusing on strengthening their ties with familiar donors. In a paper published in the Journal of Communication Management, Richard Waters said that “if an organization want to ensure its longevity, then it should be prepared to dedicate time to developing  relationships with its donors.”

So how do we best cultivate these relationships? Here are four easy steps:

1. Create interpersonal dynamics to generate trust with the donor. A recent Brookings Institution report indicated that donors were most concerned that non-profit organizations did not spend donations wisely. Organizations need to develop trust through transparency. Studies indicate that when a donor perceives the accurate use of donations in a timely manner, they are more likely to donate. This gives the donor the assurance that the donation was needed and used responsibly.

2. Groom your donor relationships with a sense of commitment. Lets face it; you’re not going to ask someone to the prom if you think they might switch schools before the big dance, and donors feel the same way. Donors are more likely to give to causes that display a worthiness of a donation. An organization that demonstrates longevity and devotion to a cause is prone to receive more gifts.

3. Generate a sense of satisfaction for the donor. It’s important to associate positive feelings within the giver. My mother will be the first one to admit that the look in her Black Lab’s eyes brings her as much joy as the treat in her hand evokes in her dog. If the donor is going to continue their support, the benefits must outweigh the costs of charity. The satisfaction of the donor leads to longevity and recommendations among others.

4. Establish a sense of control mutuality between the organization and the donor. Nobody wants to feel controlled. There must be a perceived balance of power and mutual esteem. The organization should strive to reciprocate the kindness of the giver in some form or effort.

These are just the tip of the iceberg examples for cultivating better donor relationships. Even profitable businesses can stand to gain from these relationship maxims.Your NGO or non-profit needs to plan and tailor a personal procedure based on these principles. Greg Fox of DonorPower says that “The future lies with those who serve the donors,” and that “Raising money the old way is getting harder and harder to do.”





7 Easy Twitter Commands Every Rookie Should Know

19 10 2009

twitter

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TWIT-101 95?:

Seven Easy Twitter Commands Every Rookie Should Know

In the age of quickly evolving media and trend hopping journalists, it’s rather difficult to stay abreast of the social media curve. While I was researching a simple class assignment, I quickly noticed a lack of readily available Twitter codes. After a couple of simple Google searches I had yet to discover a simple list of basic Twitter commands. To remedy this, I gathered a basic, novice level list of esoteric Twitter lexicon.


Okay, so let’s start on the assumption that if you’re looking for commands, then you probably have an account and can at least post a 140-character comment. We can further deduce that if you’re an entry-level tweeter, then most of your content is nothing more than mediocre everyday nothingness. Now, let’s get you a little more advanced.


Replies – When you see a post you would like to reply to, select the swirling arrow “reply” icon under the trash icon, or select The Jetsons looking “Sprocket” on the user’s profile page. Twitter will automatically generate a “text field” in your comment section with the “@” sign, followed by the user’s screen name so you can reply. (i.e. @user) Once you’ve typed your message, it will insert a link to that user in your post and post it in their feed.

Direct Message – (DM) You can message other Twitter users directly without public posts by selecting “Message” on the user’s profile page in the “Actions” section on the right side of the profile.

Hat Tips – (HT) The Hat Tip is the Twitter code to acknowledge a user’s post, specifically one of particular achievement or in recognition of informative value. It’s the literal likening to the proverbial tip o’ the hat.

Hashtags(#) You can use the hashtags on Twitter by affixing a tag, or “key word,” to your comment. To do so, place the pound sign character (#) next to the word you wish to tag, without a space between them. This tag links your comment to a specific group of similar tags and even the “Trending Topics” section of Twitter if the topic generates enough popularity. Hashtags, when affixed and shared to a group of users, are useful in lumping in group tweets for a specific purpose.

ReTweet – (RT) When a Twitter user wishes to repost, or retweet, they may do so by citing the original tweeter. Do this by simply affixing an “RT,” then “@” and then the username of the original message, followed by the original post. Of course, the 140-word character limit still applies. Most veteran Twitters stay well under the 140-character limit to allow space for RT attribution so you can cite them.

Overheard – (OH) Overheard is an anonymous re-tweet – Use “OH” to re-post a tweet when the user wishes to hide or protect the tweet’s originator.

Heard Through – (HT) Use this command to re-tweet something heard in life from a twitter user. To do so, affix “HT,” the “@,” and the username. Then feel like a nerd for retweeting a real life conversation.

Okay, someone needs to say it; that last Tweet-Trick ranks as the ’40-year-old-virgin’ comment, on a scale of one-to-nerd. Also, is it just me, or does that Twitter bird remind anyone else of a hastily drawn Snow White style Disney animation knockoff? Speaking of mistaken, was anyone else’s mind blown when they realized that the Disney ‘D’ wasn’t a ‘G’?

Be sure to HT@longo05 when you bite one of those last quotes. ; )

For more information on Twitter: There is a 13-step beginners’ guide from TwiTip, a social media approach from The Spinks Blog, and even the simplest YouTube explanation of twitter by CommonCraft.





Revolution!

19 10 2009

revolution

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Revolution: (noun) rev·o·lu·tion [ rèvvə lsh'n ](rev·o·lu·tions)

  1. overthrow of government
  2. major change
  3. complete circular turn

This is my first, of hopefully many, post announcing the SK2.0 direction. I’ve changed up the SK site to be a little less journalism and a lot more public relations oriented. The scope of this blog is more focused to discuss public relations and strategic communications, specifically for non-profits and veterans issues.

The revolution has begun. So, there may not be the undermining of an established order, per say, but there is going to be a major change and a coming of full circle for the SK site. So let’s let this revolution unfold, or come full circle if I may, and let the first shots ring out and echo in the silence of the net.








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