Archive | August, 2012

Badge of Honor—The Police Website That Will ARREST YOUR MIND.

26 Aug

The Milwaukee Police Department’s new website

That rumble just heard in the Midwest was Milwaukee’s former Police Chief Harold Brier turning in his grave.

The tough-as-nails chief ruled Cream City’s industrial streets for 20 years with shoe leather and shear force.  But now one of his successors has added a decidedly different weapon to his belt, one that is more strategic, social, and dare I say it—entertaining.

The result just may send that rumble through cyberspace as well.

Milwaukee’s Most Wanted on

The new website just rolled out by Milwaukee Police redefines government communication.  The sleek design, easy navigation and bold 3D visual imagry effectively brands the department as crime fighters and invites the public to get involved through smart interactive content.

Scroll down the screen and the site takes the user seamlessly through calendar-based crime reports, statistics, Milwaukee’s Most Wanted, and sharable profiles of everyday heroes.

The heroes page on

According to AdAge, the website was the brain child of current Chief Edward Flynn who enlisted ad agency Cramer-Krasselt to help them create a website that people would want to visit.  The goal is to enlist citizens to “Be a Force” in their own neighborhoods by empowering them with easily accessible information about what’s happening along their own block.

The old chief in an older time would never have conceived of such a strategic communication weapon as this.  It begs every organization—government or not—to assess how many old chiefs it has stuck in the past.

Hail to the new chief.

A Diabetic’s Guide to Eating at the State Fair!

25 Aug


OK, it’s once again time for the annual trek to the 320 acres of fried food on a stick we call the Minnesota State Fair.

For most hearty Minnesotans, a visit to the fair is the one day where fun replaces common sense, where a balanced diet is as foreign as a balanced budget is to congress.

At the extreme risk of being “That Guy,” the fair poses a challenge for folks who really DO have to watch their diet.  As a parent of two children with type-1 diabetes, a day at the fair is a constant guessing game of how to insulin dose and carb-cover.  Get it wrong, and blood sugars go through the roof and the girls feel sick for the next day.  It’s even worse for cardiac patients who have to keep a keen eye on their fat and cholesterol.

The dietitians at Park Nicollet’s International Diabetes Center have put together a wonderful Food Facts list to help us navigate the fair and still have a lot of fun.  Under the guise of ‘knowledge is power’ they’ve broken down the calorie, carb, and fat content of most of the major food items.

“They don’t need to derail their diet, they don’t need to feel like they’re stuck outside of the group and not enjoying anything,” said Park Nicollet dietitian Mary Ziotas Zacharatos.  “They’re able to eat the things that they like and have more awareness of what their putting in their mouth.”

Park Nicollet Dietitian Mary Ziotas Zacharatos says to enjoy the fair, go with a bunch of friends and share small samples of food.

One of biggest offenders is the Booming Onion.  At 1,565 calories it has 186 grams of carb and 84 grams of fat.

“Most people don’t think about it because it’s an onion and it’s got a little bit of batter on it. But it really could derail your diet,” said Zacharatos.

Those fried cheese curds are another food item to be aware of.  One little paper tray of those golden nuggets of heaven actually add up to 533 calories, and 34 grams of carb and another 34 grams of fat.

Believe it or not, a better choice is a corn dog.  At 210 calories, it only contains 25 grams of carb and ten grams of fat.  Zacharatos says it’s a nearly perfect blend of protein, carb and fat for walking around at the fair.

Zacharatos says you don’t necessarily have to avoid some of the higher calorie and carb food items, just SHARE them.

“The best part about the state fair is to go with a whole group of people and just try a bunch of different things.  That way you can enjoy everything,” said Zacharatos.

Social Media ROI — Turning “Likes” Into Cash For Somalia

10 Aug

“Though it’s only half a month away, the media’s gone.                           An entertaining scandal broke today, but I can’t move on.”                           – Helicopters, by Barenaked Ladies

Somali refugees recieving a sack of rice distributed by the American Refugee Committee in Mogadishu. (Courtesy ARC)

Like a flash in the night, they opened eyes.  The television lenses that zoomed in on Somalia a year ago focused the world’s attention on a devastating famine that killed 30,000 children in the span of just three months.  And then, with the click of a Klieg light they were gone.  Just another story, another crisis that turns on and off in a world preoccupied with the latest live trend on Twitter.

The reality for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Somalia is that survival is not a pop culture status update.  At the end of each day, the only status that matters is if they’re still alive.  But it led the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee to pose dire question—could it harness the power of social media to actually feed people?  Their answer has them converting “Likes” into food.

In the late summer of 2011, ARC in collaboration with the California design firm IDEO launched the I Am a Star for Somalia campaign.  The goal was to use social media to encourage people around the world to do small things to help ARC fight the famine.  By encouraging people to become part of the “Star” community, they were essentially asking them to take an inward view of the crisis rather than just watch it on TV.  This summer, ARC has advanced the campaign with the effort serving as a blue print for non-profits seeking to earn a return on investment in their social media ventures.

Paper chain hanging in the ARC headquarters in Minneapolis.

ARC secured a $50,000 pledge from Hormuud Telecommunications, Mogadishu’s largest phone provider, to support food distribution in ARC’s refugee camps.  But rather than simply accept a check, ARC designed a campaign to engage followers and build a broader community and awareness to the Somali crisis.  They tied the pledge directly into their “I Am a Star” efforts with the goal of gathering 50,000 Facebook engagements—each one generating a dollar from Hormuud’s pledge.

But ARC took it one step further.  For every engagement, volunteers build a link in a paper chain that is now spreads throughout the ARC headquarters.  Pictures and status updates are added on the progress of the chain which in turns builds more support from followers.

“To us I think they represent the links between people around the world who are showing solidarity for Somalia,” said ARC’s Daniel Wordsworth.

American Refugee Committee President Daniel Wordsworth.

“And I think it’s also a physical way that people can demonstrate their commitment but also a way for the people in Somalia to see people in Malaysia, Yemen, London and Sweden coming together in helping Somalia get through this.”

For non-profits and businesses alike, ARC has adopted an effective model that uses social media for community building and fundraising.  It begins with an issue and then a highly strategic and goal-oriented response with built in performance measures.  In this case, ARC began with the famine crisis, formed its “Star” campaign, secured a pledge and then used the pledge to build a community, awareness and money.   But equally important in the campaign is ARC’s target of a goal and a deadline—50,000 engagements by August 11.  The goal gives the campaign a mechanism by which ARC and its followers can measure progress, and the deadline gives it urgency for people to act.

Figure 1

But most important, ARC has now built a sustainable community for Somalia.  By generating upwards of 30,000 additional followers to its “Star” campaign, it can now use that community as leverage to gain more pledges, more engagement, and distribute more food.  (Figure 1)  It becomes a circular model for future campaigns and famine relief—and all of it as the TV lights shift to the latest Twitter trend.

“I think we all know that famines come and people see it on the news and then a year later it’s hard to remember it all,” said Wordsworth.  “So I think that what we’re trying to do is keep Somalia in the forefront of people’s minds.”

Twinkies Strikes Gold–The Best Olympics Ad You Wont See

1 Aug

Perhaps one of the best advertisements of the Olympics is one you won’t see on NBC.

The folks from Hostess have created a whimsical and brilliant social media film that simply says there are Olympians… and then there’s the rest of us.  And for the rest of us, there is a special golden reward—Twinkies.


The ad created by the Berstein-Rein agency takes the well established Theory of Trying and turns it on its head.  (Think Home Depot: “You can do it, we can help.)

But as fun as this ad is to watch, it’s also a strategically smart piece of communication and critically timed as Hostess goes through bankruptcy.  It targets every person who has tried at something and failed.  Because that includes most of us, it guarantees that fans of the ad will share it on social media.

Additionally, it speaks to what marketers would call lapsed users—consumers who haven’t bought Twinkies in a while. It reminds them that Twinkies are still here, still good, still golden.

So go ahead, treat yourself. (You know you want to)


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