Cleveland Bridge Project

Now that I am an official Ohio Ambassador, you may remember I vowed not to spend the cold winter sitting on my couch and moping- instead  I want to take advantage of all the activities (whatever they may be) Ohio has to offer.

cool signWell, I am starting early. Thus weekend, fall came in with a bang- cold, windy and rainy. Normally this would mean spending my Saturday night gathered under a blanket, watching the latest Netflix and drinking hot cider. But how could I do that when the Cleveland Bridge Project (an expansion of Ingenuity Fest) was taking place? So I bundled up (with my new Target coat and Target boots of course), sucked it up and went out. Add I’m glad I did! We met up with some of B’s law school friends and explored the bottom level (which I never knew existed!) of the Detroit Superior Bridge.

It was awesome! There were bands playing the entire night, cool art exhibits, tons of people, and things to look at for the entire length of the bridge. Not to mention the fact that we could walk the entire length of the bridge (while cars were driving on the level above) was pretty cool.

ingenuitySome of the highlights: The 36 views of a bridge was neat- some people had creatively put together footage of different parts of the city (during fun activities, too, like St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Wade Oval Wednesdays, etc.) and set them to music. To make it interactive, a guy had created a hands on way for people to vote which scene they’d like to see next- either via the exhibit or their iPhone. Another highlight? The standing water exhibits. On roped off portions of the bridge, you could see what looked like deep areas of standing water- a staircase going down into nothing but water and a room that was vacant but for a few feet of water. I tried to take a picture but the poor lighting (it WAS nighttime on the lower level of a bridge) made it difficult to come out.  A final highlight? The “Tell Me a Joke” guy! There was a guy set up in front of a blue screen with a microphone, asking people to tell him jokes. He was recording them and they’re all going to be compiled and made into some YouTube videos, DVDs etc. I am not one for fame, but I couldn’t help but take part. B’s friend Joey and I told the following joke (per B’s suggestion):

tellmeajokeJoey: Why does a chicken coop have two doors?
Me:  Because if it had four doors it would be a chicken sedan!

Funny I know. So be on the lookout for my five seconds of fame!
All in all it was a worthwhile trip. I got to explore an area of the city I didn’t even know existed, and I managed to spend most of the night off the couch. Success!

Fun With Food – Cheeseburger Cupcakes

For those of you that know me, you know how much I LOVE baking. So I was super excited when about a month ago, the Social Media Club Cleveland had a meeting with the potluck theme of cupcakes and beer. The last time we had this theme I made some red velvet cupcakes. This time, however, I wanted to make something new and different. That’s why I made …. cheeseburger cupcakes!  Here’s what they looked like:

cheeseburger cupcakes

Don’t be jealous — or overimpressed. They were easy – and a hit! Curious how to make them? Here goes.

What you need: Vanilla frosting (I used Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Vanilla); Tubes of decorating frosting — red, green and white; Yellow food coloring; Yellow cupcake mix; Chocolate cupcake mix; Whatever ingredients the cupcake mixes call for.

What you do: Prepare your cupcakes per the mixes’ instructions. Make sure to grease the cupcake tins well so they don’t stick (you’re not going to use cupcake papers).

After the cupcakes have cooled, cut off the tops of the cupcakes – both the chocolate and the vanilla ones. This step reminds me of the Seinfeld “Muffin Top” episode. The tops and bottoms of the chocolate cupcakes will become the burger patties and both parts of the yellow cupcakes will be used as the bun.

Add yellow food coloring to a good amount of the vanilla frosting (now dyed yellow, this will be the American cheese). Then slather the bottom half of the yellow cupcake with the “cheese” and place a burger patty (half of a chocolate cupcake) on top.

Use the white decorative frosting to put small dots on the top of the yellow cupcake — this will look like sesame seeds. Use the red and green decorating frosting to put red and green squiggles on the tops and bottoms of the chocolate cupcakes. This will be the relish or lettuce and ketchup. Now you can put your burgers together — they should be layered yellow cupcake half, chocolate cupcake half, yellow cupcake half.

They were a hit at SMC and I made them again a few weeks later for my soon-to-be niece’s “housewarming” party (it was for the 18 month old’s new playhouse).

cupcakesI can’t take credit for these cupcakes, though – I came across them on Flickr. Check out this Flickr photo group – there are step by step photos if my directions weren’t enough, plus hers came out looking way better than mine!

Good luck and happy baking!

YouTube … Why You Should Take It Seriously

I think a lot of people don’t take YouTube seriously. After all, how many of us associate YouTube with videos like “laughing baby,” “David after dentist” and “Will it Blend?” But  I think YouTube can be very useful for an organization when creating and maintaining its web presence. That’s why I was excited when I was asked to present on YouTube for Nonprofits at a luncheon yesterday with some of my other coworkers (who presented on other social media topics).

Are you also a YouTube naysayer? Do you believe that it’s “just for kids”? Well, to set the record straight (and so you don’t feel left out if you missed my presentation yesterday), I wanted to share with you some statistics and some tips on how to use YouTube – especially if you’re a nonprofit.

Think YouTube is just for kids? Some stats for you to keep in mind (from a Pew Internet Report)

  • The share of online adults who watch videos on video-sharing sites has nearly doubled since 2006
  • 62% of adult internet users watch video online (on a site such as YouTube)
  • 41 % of internet users ages 50-64 watch video online
  • 27% of internet users ages 65 and older watch video online

Clearly, there are more than just young folks checking out videos online and surfing YouTube. So what can you do?

Here are 5 tips for using YouTube, especially for nonprofits.

1) Create a Channel and Make It Yours

The first thing you should do when you decide to create a YouTube presence for your organization is to create and customize your own channel. Upload videos and create playlists. Write a succinct bio about your organization and link back to your website. Add a customized banner (perhaps with your organization’s logo and tagline) and background image. Your visual identity on YouTube should reflect your presence on your other channels (like your website), so your audience can easily recognize you.

2) Upload Your Own Videos and Favorite Others

Don’t feel like you need to immediately populate your channel with hundreds of videos. The best videos often aren’t just “talking heads” or interviews with your organization’s CEO. They tell a story – about your organization, who you’ve helped, what you do. Two to three good videos are better than fifteen boring ones that your subscribers won’t watch. Also, you don’t need a lot of original content to create a YouTube channel. Besides populating your channel with your videos, you can create playlists and favorite other people’s videos. If you stand for a popular cause, chances are you’re not the only one who has created a related video. Search for, rate and favorite other related videos that.

3) Collect Donations

Use YouTube’s call-to-action overlay to link directly on your video to an external donation site or your website. You can also add a “donate” box on your channel page to let people donate to your organization through Google Checkout.

4) Showcase Your Events

Do you host fundraising events? YouTube can be a great way to share events with those who are unable to attend and attract future attendees. You can create a video of the event highlights and upload it to your channel. The video should be no longer than three to five minutes and doesn’t need to be overly edited or produced. Tell your attendees at the event to be on the lookout for the new video(s) on your channel. If you plan on sending a thank you email to attendees, be sure to provide a link to your channel so guests can watch the video and share it with their friends.

5) Integrate Video with All of Your Social Media

Use your other social media involvement to drive traffic to your videos and your YouTube channel. If you’re using Twitter, tweet when you upload a video. Post your videos to your Facebook fan page. In your profiles on other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr, provide not only a link to your nonprofit’s home page, but also to your YouTube channel (and other social media sites). If you have an e-newsletter, link to your channel there. The more ways you share your YouTube presence with your existing networks, the more traffic you’ll drive to your channel.

You Say You Want a Revolution …

Well you know, social media is changing the world. That’s right, I’m talking about a social media revolution. Have you seen this video about the power of social media? I saw it a few months ago and find myself keep coming back to it — there are so many impressive statistics. For example, did you know that if Facebook were its own country, it’d be the 4th largest (right behind the US?)? Or that Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama? Check out the below video to see these stats, and some more (and a shoutout to my alma mater, Boston College). Be prepared to be impressed. If this video doesn’t have you understanding the importance of social media, I give up.

Buy Local Cleveland!!

As a PR professional, I try not to blatantly post about or talk about my clients on my blog or my Twitter account. How ethical would that be? But every once in a while, a client of mine does something SO COOL that I HAVE to share it with you all.

contributeOne of my clients, Scentsy (they make scented, wickless candle) has created a program to give back to local businesses. It all started out when they were celebrating their fifth anniversary and wanted to give back to the local businesses in their community, Boise. They gave their employees and their families in sum a total of $100,000 to spend at local family-owned buisnesses and held a shopping day this summer to spend the money. The program was such a success (you can see a video of some of the day’s events here), that Scentsy wanted to take the program to a national level — thus inspiring Contribute 2009, big help for small business.

What is Contribute 2009? The goal of Contribute is to inspire 100,000 people to take $50 and spend it at a locally owned business on or around October 12.  Or, looked at it this way:  100,000 people x $50 spent at locally owned businesses = a $5,000,000 economic infusion.  That’s huge.

So why am I sharing this with you? I’ve signed up to take the Contribute 2009 pledge and plan on spending $50 at a local Cleveland business next month. Why don’t you sign up? There are so many ways you can spend your $50 — but here are some of the places I’m thinking:

I’m actually getting excited about all the local Cleveland businesses that I could spend my money on.

Anyone can take the Contribute 2009 pledge. Visit for more information and to pledge to spend $50 to help small businesses on October 12. There’s also a cool tshirt you can buy if you like (you can wear it while you do your shopping – the cost of the shirt covers the shipping). So what do you think? Are you joining me and spending your $50 locally?

The Great Gmail Blackout of 09

Yesterday, Gmail was down. It was out for a few hours, causing mass chaos and widespread panic… well, not entirely. For the few of you out there who don’t depend on Gmail for your email (or those of you that found you could use Gmail from your iPhone or iGoogle) your world went on just as planned (Besides being bombarded on Twitter with GFail messages) and completely unharmed. But what about the rest of us who depend on Gmail for our every day interactions with the outside world? Those of us that use GChat (and its AIM tool) to stay in touch with family and friends? What were we to do?

During this Gmail blackout, I started to wonder, do we (or I) rely too much on the Internet? Have I come to just assume it will always be there? Do we take it for granted?

For me, the answer is clearly yes. I use the Internet for everything. It’s not just the place where I do the majority of research for work, stay in touch with friends, and stay entertained (where else will I find clips from Glee until the show returns next Wed?!) — but it’s where I keep my WHOLE LIFE. I don’t own a personal filing cabinent. I don’t keep hard copies of bills. I don’t even balance a check book. I do EVERYTHING online. Copies of my license, registration, credit cards, birth certificate, and more? All scanned into my computer and saved at a secure website. How do I keep track of my bills and checking account? I go to my bank’s website. I don’t even keep copies of my medical records, past doctor visits or vaccines — after all, a simple click tomy health insurer’s website will reveal all I need to know and more. And when Gmail went dark yesterday, I suddenly realized that my other websites (and by extension, my life) were just as vulnerable.

The Internet turns 40 today. And while 40 seems like a lifetime for me, it’s not that long ago that people didn’t have the Internet to rely on for their everyday needs.

Forty years ago, the Internet was just some crazy idea that most people could probably never envision. Even those involved with its advent probably never even imagined where it would take us today. And while people survived then without the Internet — how would we survive now?

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet, but think about how much we (not even just us social media geeks) rely on it. Sure, there are probably some upsides of a non-Internet world (newspapers and magazines would once again have their hey-day, phone books wouldn’t be a waste of paper, we’d be able to live more private lives and we’d probably all be a little more physically active) but can you imagine a life without the Internet? Would your electricity work? Would building security still work? Would your bank (whether or not you use online banking) still have everyone’s records, and know how much you have in your life savings?

So today, on the birthday of the Internet, I ask you to look back and think about what your life would be like without it. I know mine would be drastically different. And while the Web probably won’t be crashing anytime soon,  I think it’s time I invest in a filing cabinet. Or at least a large folder.