We Want YOU to Win a Very Special Copy of Pitchfalls

All of us at Claxon are so excited that our first batch of Pitchfalls: Why Bad Pitches Happen to Good People has sold out. Thank you to everyone that played a part in this awesome accomplishment. We like to think we’ve contributed to getting rid of boring elevator pitches forever.


The second batch of Pitchfalls just arrived, and we want to show some appreciation. We’ll be giving away the very first copy of the second batch to one of our Facebook followers. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, check out our Facebook page and press ‘like’. Now is the time – we’ll be choosing and announcing the winner tomorrow May 9th. Thank you again to all of our supporters, and good luck! Remember, visit our Facebook page now and press ‘like’. We can’t wait to give you your copy of Pitchfalls.

Please welcome Tessa Srebro!

Welcome, Tess!
Welcome, Tess!

We are super duper excited to have Tessa Srebro join the Claxon team as our fearless intern this quarter!

Tess is a graduate student in Seattle University’s Masters in Nonprofit Leadership Program. She’s a communications major turned blogger turned public affairs grad student. She’s a word nerd who loves food. And she’s super smart. And super nice. What’s not to love?!

In addition to helping with client work, Tess will be the driving force behind Claxon’s social media efforts. So, if you see an uptick in terms of quantity and quality on Facebook and Twitter, that’s all Tess. She’ll also be blogging about practical ways you can use words to make the world a better place, so watch for her posts.

Please join me in welcoming Tess to the Claxon team–we are grateful for her contributions and couldn’t be more thrilled to have her on board!


”Pretty Please” only works on Grandma

Action buttonWhen was  the last time you said “pretty please?” and got a “well, alright”? Right. You were, like, five years old and asking grandma for a second cookie.

Getting people to notice your organization is a lot tougher than getting grandma to agree to more dessert. These days, stimulus overload is the norm. You’re up against fierce competition for your people’s attention, people like donors, volunteers, advocates and fans. To get their attention (and keep it), your appeals and pitches need to be more sophisticated. Notice I didn’t say complicated. Leonardo da Vinci said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

All of this to say: asking your supporters to take action requires some planning if you’re going to successfully get their attention. John Haydon gives us some great advice on creating compelling calls-to-action. Making it personal, telling stories and offering opportunities to share are some of my faves.

When your Prince Charming turns Snidely Whiplash

(Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports)

The fuss about Lance Armstrong’s “admissions” of guilt has started to die down, partly because the sports world has moved on to something more important: imaginary Twitter girlfriends (ooh, fun!). No doubt some sports PR folks are getting a workout.

When sports figures or other celebrities hit a rough patch (a colossal understatement when it comes to Armstrong, but let’s just call it that), and their names are associated with mission-driven organizations, there’s high potential for collateral damage—duck and cover everyone! Lance was clearly a master compartmentalizer. But the American public? Not so much.

I became a Lance fan when I saw him ride from Dax to Hautecamp in the summer of 2000. This was one of the days when he kicked biking butt. Turns out he was able to do so thanks to his friend, EPO. At the time, my mum was bald as a bat, battling her own cancer. I needed to see what cancer looked like when you survived. This is personal for me, as it is for many. (My mum is fine now, by the way, having unleashed a can of cancer whoop ass of her own.)

So, deep breath, if we put our outrage and disappointment aside we can learn some lessons from how the Livestrong Foundation (who changed their name from the Lance Armstrong Foundation years ago—good call folks!) has managed the potential reputation tsunami brought on by one Mr. Armstrong. Here’s what they did right:

Get in front of the story

Lance “stepped down” from the board of the foundation in November. It was obvious his jig was up and the risk to the Foundation was imminent.  The decision was announced prior to Lance’s public confession (which was really just a formality, don’t ya think?).

When you want to hide, respond and acknowledge

The foundation immediately came out with a statement expressing disappointment in Lance. “See! They think he did something wrong! Just like me!” This creates some space between the organization and the offending celebrity. It establishes a sense of separateness in the eyes of the public, even though their brands have always been closely intertwined.

Focus on your mission

The Livestrong Foundation website is all about the mission to kick cancer’s ass. Aside from some changes to the leadership pages, we’ve seen little sign of the media storm on their website. This sets the expectation that the organization is 100% committed to doing what they’ve been doing. Every quote hitting the media and interwebs from Livestrong since the news broke ends with a continued commitment to their mission.

There’s little question that the Livestrong Foundation will be in a better place to “fight to improve the lives of people affected by cancer” as the scandal dies down.  The doping storm has been brewing for years and the foundation had plenty of opportunity to be prepared. For those of you with public figures representing your brand, here are a few resources that might help, should your Prince Armstrong, er, Charming turn into Snidely Whiplash.


Colorado Nonprofits Crisis Communication Plan

Crisis Communications Tips for Nonprofits

Kivi Leroux Miller’s Advice: Shorten the News Cycle


Videos: from ho-hum to mee-wow!

There’s no doubt that cat videos are all the rage online. There’s even an Internet Cat Video Film Festival. This feline obsession is for reals.

There’s something about cats that effectively mirrors the human experience. Obsession, surprise, melancholy.  The cats, they know how you feel.

In this clip from the Social Good Summit, Jessica Mason from YouTube for Good explains 3 lessons non-profits can learn from cat videos:

  • Tell universal stories
  • Engage regularly
  • Be surprising (yes, folks, this might require taking some risks and getting a little outside your comfort zone)

Taking a few lessons from cat vids might be the purrfect way to add a little mee-wow to your message.

Two quick apologies:
1. To the dog people: dogs are cool too. Totally cool.
2. Those of you who, like me, are totally allergic to cats and, therefore, get itchy just watching these vids. All in the name of making the world a better place, right?

(Photo credit: mashable)

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?