Week 2: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Dan Portnoy

Laura Gratta

Laura Gratta

By UCLA X425 Student Laura Gratta

Dan Portnoy (@DanPortnoy) is a content creator. He is also the guy to call in a crisis situation! He has been in the game for 10-plus years and considers himself a ‘fixer.’ Somehow he gets calmer as stress levels rise. In 2006 he started his own company, Portnoy Media Group, and in 2012 he published his book “The Nonprofit Narrative: How Stories Can Save the World.”

Can Portnoy

Can Portnoy

Dan focuses on how a campaign will resonate with its target audience. My favorite quote from his talk is, “You need to know how to reach people, not teach them.” For a campaign to be successful, people need to feel some kind of connection, rather than feel like they are getting a lesson.

When creating a campaign, thinking about the ‘hand off’ in advance is important; how it will resonate with the target audience and how it will be pitched to various outlets? The campaign should be constructed like a three-part story, with a beginning, middle and end.

During the discussion, Dan provided a few analogies that illustrate how to develop great campaigns!

The flower of resonance
Imagine a campaign as a flower in which each part is a flower petal. Each petal will resonate with different people in different ways. If a person is in the middle of the flower, he/she is affected by each part of the campaign, and therefore more involved with the campaign and more likely to take action.

Social media is like a braid
Each social media outlet is like a strand used to create the braid (i.e., campaign). An example of this would be a campaign that tweets in the morning, posts a Facebook status later in the afternoon, and posts a video on YouTube in the evening. All these platforms need to work together to create an effective campaign. If the same thing is posted on each at the same time, there is no reason for the audience to connect with the campaign on multiple platforms. Obviously, the braid approach is derailed if the audience does not connect on multiple platforms.

Campaigns are like ripples
Each piece of a campaign is a ripple – the home page needs to be at the center of the ripple, or the “home base.”

Dan had a lot of knowledge to share with us. Here are some additional things he said that really stood out (all 140 characters or less of course):

  • “A hashtag is a common language across platforms.”
  • “Social media is good for info, email is good for ‘super engagements’ (i.e. purchases or donations).”
  • “Cultivation and acquisition are the best parts of social media.”
  • “If you don’t have a lot of money, act like you have no money. (i.e. go with a grassroots Wayne’s World look and feel).”
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