Flickr: Alan EnglishThe adventure in question is my first-time sabbatical which runs through early September.

I’m taking this time to reboot, and to see what bubbles up. And I hope to return with a practice for personal nourishment firmly in place, and the confidence and ability to mesh that more effectively with my job. That’s the work behind the work I want to do better.

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Nancy Schwartz on June 25, 2014 in Professional Development | 4 comments
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Tom_FurtwanglerGuest blogger Tom Furtwangler manages digital communications and social media for a large international development nonprofit based on the west coast.

There’s a headline arms race on the web these days. Upworthy’s “curiosity gap” approach to click-enticing headlines is now widely imitated and even parodied. You know what I mean: those “You won’t believe…” headlines that we don’t believe anymore.

I love Upworthy, and I regularly send communications colleagues to their amazing “How to make that one thing go viral” slide deck. Read it and take their advice: for every post, write twenty five headlines, test them, and then maybe write twenty five more, and a good, clickable one will eventually emerge.

“You won’t believe…”

As communicators, the advocacy goals or financial success of our organizations often hinges on attracting sufficient attention to the issues we are writing about. But as we share our stories on social media, at what point does our use of highly enticing headlines cross the curiosity gap and venture into territory that’s closer to clickbait pandering, potentially damaging our brand?

Seeing the following recent headline made me realized how far things have shifted: You Won’t Believe How One Chemical Company Tried to Discredit a Scientist’s Research. Can you guess whose story that is? No, not Upworthy. Not Business Insider. Not Viralnova. Nope, it’s a tease for a post on the website of venerable PBS newsmagazine Moyers and Company. When I saw that, I thought, “If Bill Moyers can do Upworthy-style headlines, my nonprofit can do it too.”

I brought that example to our next blog planning meeting. Soon, our nonprofit’s headlines got more provocative (a bit). We shared them on Facebook. Our clicks went up. But everyone else is doing it too. And like me, you’ve probably noticed that increasingly, headlines I’m seeing (and clicking) from reliable news sources simply aren’t delivering on their promise.

This recent headline from NPR, for example, Apple Jacks The Headphone Port, appeared in my Facebook newsfeed with the subhead, “Industry folks and Apple fanatics are upset about the company’s plan to lose the standard 3.5mm connector…” The article, however, dials back the rhetoric significantly, saying, “It’s a possibility.” Not a plan, simply a possibility. That’s pretty far from the done deal implied by the headline. Or this example from PBS Nova, a paragon of science reporting: “Scientists have found a way to make people aware that they’re dreaming by sending gamma waves into their brains.” Is that what we get when we click? No again. In fact the article itself quotes a Wired writer who says, “I think these headlines are getting carried away.”

Curiosity Gap or Credibility Gap?

These days, my team uses a headline mantra I first heard from my colleague Anna. “Deliver on the promise,” we remind each other, as we narrow the list of draft headlines for each blog post.Don’t leave readers disappointed that the content they are reading is different from the tease that they clicked.

Exploit the curiosity gap, sure. Tease a little. It’s a proven click-increaser. But don’t sacrifice your brand’s credibility in the process. Deliver on the promise.

How far is your organization willing to take your headlines? I’d love to hear about your experience and opinion.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news. 

Guest Blogger on July 9, 2014 in Email and E-Newsletters | 4 comments
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Please post your open nonprofit marketing positions here

keepcalmwebAdministrative Assistant, The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County (San Luis Obispo, CA)

Communications Officer, The Raikes Foundation (Seattle, WA)

Digital Engagement Officer, International Rescue Committee
(New York,  NY)

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Nancy Schwartz on July 8, 2014 in Jobs and Hiring | 0 comments
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Please post your open nonprofit marketing positions here

newjobAdvertising & Media Strategist, PETA (Los Angeles, CA)

Communications & Resource Development Coordinator, COFI (Chicago, IL)

Communications Director, The Center for Popular Democracy (New York of Washington, DC)

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Nancy Schwartz on July 1, 2014 in Jobs and Hiring | 1 comment
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Please post your open nonprofit marketing positions here

New-Job-Financial-Checklistweb2Chief Marketing Officer, National Aquarium (Baltimore, MD)

Communications Associate, The Anti-Violence Project
(New York, NY)

Communications Coordinator, Blue Shield of California Foundation (Chico, CA)

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Nancy Schwartz on June 23, 2014 in Jobs and Hiring | 1 comment
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Watch the video here

So proud of these girls in our town who are pushing back on being blamed for “distracting” boys with their outfits, and getting punished for it. Punishments include having to wear a huge Scarlet Letter-ish “shirt of shame” for the rest of the day, totally covering their bodies.

But I’m thrilled that this group of girls has mobilized to protest this code and punishments. They are utilizing the online communications tools that make now organizing so much easier to build and scale. And they know how to message! Check out the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction.

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Nancy Schwartz on June 18, 2014 in Advocacy | 6 comments

Please post your open nonprofit marketing positions here

peanutsCommunications Counselor, Full Court Communications (Oakland, CA)

Communications Manager, The Education Alliance
(New York, NY)

Communications Specialist, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (Austin, TX)

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Nancy Schwartz on June 16, 2014 in Jobs and Hiring | 1 comment
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Use summer to rejeuvenate I’m seeking your ideas this time round!

Please tell me (in the comments below) what your summer camp looks like—i.e. how are you planning to use summer to get inspired, energized and even smarter? And how will you integrate that experience and the results into your work approach and/or activities in the fall.

Pls share your ideas and hopes here. I’ll report out via a guest post for Network for Good.

BTW, here’s my plan.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news.

Nancy Schwartz on June 10, 2014 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Please post your open nonprofit marketing positions here

poodlejobwebAdvertising Manager, DonorDigital (Berkeley, CA or Washington, DC)

Communications Associate, The Whitney Museum of Art (New York, NY)

Communications and Events Manager, Raw Artworks
(Lynn, MA)

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Nancy Schwartz on June 9, 2014 in Jobs and Hiring | 1 comment
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Patricia-Brooks-photo-imageGuest blogger, Patricia Brooks guides client orgs to reach and motivate people through traditional and new media sources. She’s a 24/7 newshound and loves to match the right story with the right journalist.

Freedom of the press is one of the founding principles of American democracy, and the press is our vehicle for making our voices heard and driving change.

As a U.S. media relations specialist, I am fortunate to base my career on our first amendment right to press. But it breaks my heart that more Americans (and nonprofits) don’t appreciate the their power when it comes to the media.

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Guest Blogger on June 5, 2014 in Media Relations and Press | 5 comments
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