Tag Archives: internet

A world without internet sucks. Sandy proves that Revolution is real.

I’ve been holed up at the Holiday Inn Express for the past few days.

Note to self: NEVER stay at a Holiday Inn Express again.

After almost 24 hours in the dark, I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for heat, electricity and potable water.

But you know what I’m really grateful for?

The internet.

Wifi specifically.

When Sandy first hit creating the blackout and taking out my internet, I thought I’d be fine.

Both my phones were 4G LTE and my iPad was a 3G.

Who needs wifi?

But Sandy’s devastation took out cell towers too.

And my sanity with them.

If you thought making calls was challenging, getting on the internet using a cellular signal was virtually impossible.

If you could access the internet, trying to get anything to download was like Chinese water torture.

We’re not even going to talk about what this was doing to battery life.

I found myself despairing for lack of connectivity.

How would I survive?

Woe is me!!

Luckily there was a vacancy at the HIE, and I found my salvation.

But others were not so lucky.

As I turned on the boob tube, I saw Sandy’s true devastation.

Breaking news stories talked about people’s desperate attempts to keep their devices powered.

One station talked of one boy’s ordeal trying to get uptown to a charging station.

A charging station?

With no buses or subways running, there was little he could do.

He offered his two drained and useless devices, like Christ showing his crucifixion wounds to wary disciples, as proof.

Noooooooo!

I could watch no more.

I quickly turned the channel to reruns of the King of Queens.

That Kevin James is a hoot.

A world without electricity?

Sure you’re right.

What…are we going to descend into lawlessness?

Fight at gas pumps, loot empty stores and homes, and run amuck in the streets?

Wait a minute…

Who would have thunk that the creators of Revolution were really onto something?

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How Do You Dethrone Charles Rangel? Guerilla Style. Welcome to Team Morgan!

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Vince Morgan looking dapper at our lunch meeting at Settepani.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been working with Vincent Morgan and his campaign to become the next Congressman for the 15th District of New York, a seat currently occupied by Charles Rangel.

In 2010, we ran an unsuccessful bid to unseat Rangel, who was in the midst of an ethics investigation, and perhaps more vulnerable than he had ever been in his 40 years on office.

Although we ran a smart race, we did things the traditional way, and were very careful not to say anything too polarizing or controversial about Mr. Rangel.

We wanted Vince to be the focus of our efforts and not Mr. Rangel, who everyone else seemed to be gunning for.

We are now, once again, in an election cycle, and with an election under our belt, we feel confident that the results will be different, this time around.

Why?

Well for one, it’s a presidential election year. People typically turn out to vote in greater numbers when the president is on the bill. In the last primary election, Rangel won with less than 20,000 votes. In a District with over 200,000 registered Democrats, that screams apathy. It says that folks weren’t particularly interested in the race OR that they weren’t interested enough to vote for Rangel OR that they believed that Rangel’s re-election was a foregone conclusion. Whatever the case the last time around, this year, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Second, we know what we’re up against. In the last election, we were green. We had no idea what we were doing or what to expect. Although we were very passionate about getting Vince elected, our strategy for how we’d accomplish that was untested. This time around, we’ve got a game plan. We’ve got a great (and growing) team of experts. Our message is tight and our candidate is out early, raising awareness about his campaign.

Third, we are raising money. Everyone in this politics game knows that you need money to run a campaign. Nearly everyone in the race last time raised and spent more money than we did. This time around, raising money is of paramount importance to our efforts. Even though folks aren’t pouring boatloads of money into our coffers (yet), we’re focused on fundraising. What’s interesting is that it seems that everyone else is finding fundraising challenging too.

Fourth, our street game is bananas. Unlike anyone else in the race or planning on running, Vince has young legs and is ready to walk the entire district. We’re actively recruiting young college students, who have unbridled energy and a real desire to participate in the political process to add to our street team. Keep your eyes on the streets in Harlem, in the coming days, and you’ll see what I mean.

Fifth, we are masters of all things digital. There is no other candidate in this race with the internet, social media and general online savvy of Team Morgan. Vince is fond of telling the story of how he taught Mr. Rangel how to turn on his computer. And while the story is genuinely funny, it underscores the point that Mr. Rangel is out of touch with so much more than just the District he purports to represent.

Unlike other candidates, Vince is particularly savvy with all things digital. Vince regularly blogs, tweets, FourSquares, updates his Facebook and other social media profiles himself. He’s equally comfortable on his iPhone, iPad2 or Mac. In an increasingly technological age, it is of critical importance that our officials that aren’t technologically out of touch.

Applying the Art of War to a campaign.

Sixth, we’re going guerrilla. If you’ve ever read The Art of War by Sun Tzu, you know that any successful campaign starts with a plan. But rather than being focused on some rigid, fixed strategy, Sun Tzu emphasized the need for flexibility and fluidity, the ability to quickly adapt to changed(ing) situations.

Finally, folks recognize that enough is enough. One of the central themes (and campaign slogan) for this election cycle is that “It’s Time.” It’s time for Rangel to step down. It’s time for cronyism to end. It’s time to re-establish confidence in our elected officials. It’s time that big business did it’s fair share for the people, and not at the expense of the people.

Every once in a while, you’ll notice that I post up about Vince, share a story or link, or ask you to donate to the M4C campaign. I’m going to keep doing that. But I’m also going to write about what’s going on in the campaign, from behind-the-scenes.

Hopefully, you’ll be excited about what we’re doing, and join us…or give us money…or share it with your friends…or give us money…or volunteer to work with the campaign…or give us money.

And if you’re at a total loss for how to get involved, you can just give us money.

So stay tuned for my daily updates and welcome to Team Morgan!

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. But it will be on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

I just finished reading The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Joe Trippi on the Nook app on my iPad.

Great read for 21st century political consultants.

It was a self-imposed homework assignment, for the work that I’ve been doing with Vincent Morgan, the Democratic candidate for Congress I’ve been working with for the past two years.

If you haven’t read it (why would you?) it’s a good read.

It was especially informative for me because in it, Joe talks about the various online and social media strategies Howard Dean’s campaign employed to build it’s base, push Dean’s message and raise money.

To make a long story short, the Dean campaign was really responsible for the both the use and proliferation of the web and social media by political candidates.

Without Howard Dean, there would have been no Obama. Period.

What Howard Dean’s campaign did with the internet and social media, completely bucked traditional notions of what online communities meant, how to galvanize supporters and raise money.

Trippi’s title, an homage to Gil Scott-Heron’s poem and song of the same title, refers to the fact that TV is no longer the dominant medium, especially as it relates to the manner and methods of running a political campaign.

Gil clearly didn't know about iReporting back in the day!

Where campaigns used to pour millions of dollars for television spots, in an effort to frame the issues and influence voters, Trippi posits that online forums, blogs, social media and the web generally, will have greater impact in future races.

As I sit here, thinking about how to apply Trippi’s strategies to Vince’s campaign, I’m brimming with excitement.

Last year, when Vince ran against Rangel, we knew out the gate, that we were in for an uphill battle.

For one, Vince was a relative unknown. Rangel’s name carried all the weight in the world – even in the middle of his ethics controversy.

Vince had no political experience, save a stint working with Rangel several years prior.

The M4C team was pretty inexperienced. It was the first political campaign for most of us.

He hadn’t raised a lot of money, which effectively meant that media buys (and virtually anything else that cost money) were out of the question. Even with Rangel’s ethical issues, he was still sitting on a (relative) war-chest.

This year, it’s a different story.

For one, Vince is no longer an unknown. While he may not evoke the same level of name recognition as Rangel, he is regularly featured in both local and national press.

He’s a frequent political commentator on CNBC, having most recently offered is perspective after the GOP Iowa caucus.

Although Vince still has no formal political experience, his previous run gave him political credibility and experience running a political campaign.

Even though he’s never held formal office, he is being discussed as a viable Democratic candidate, in the same breath as, and alongside other established politicians.

Team Morgan is staffed with experience. From his PR agency, Dash PR, to his finance manager, to his interim campaign manager, the team he’s assembled know their respective charges, and are ready, willing and able to execute accordingly.

But the most important thing, is the impact that social media and online, are having on the strategies we’re developing.

Unlike Charles Rangel, and the rest of the other candidates running (or planning on running) in the next election, Vince is truly technologically savvy.

While other candidates have third parties blogging, tweeting, FourSquaring, updating their Facebook status and generally leaving social media to someone else, Vince is actively engaged in the management of his online personae.

He actively posts articles, videos and pictures he finds to his website, personal and political profiles, and responds to comments he receives.

If you haven't 'Liked" the page, do so now!

And he makes it a point to ‘check-in’ with FourSquare, when he visits any of the restaurants, barbershops, cafes, stores and venues in his daily travels, staying engaged virtually with his growing constituency.

More importantly, he knows how important it is to get the formula, of online and offline activities, right.

As Joe Trippi noted in his book, virtually every political campaign, candidate and politician, has a website, Facebook page, etc. They would be remiss, in the post-Obama era, not to.

But having an online presence, and utilizing it effectively, are two drastically different things.

Our goal, in 2012, is to master the use of online and social media tools and put Vince in office.

That means we’ve got to raise his profile, raise money, get people off their butts and into voting booths on election day.

I’m confident that we’re going to do just that.

But don’t take my word for it.

Check in on the campaign from time to time and see how we’re doing.

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Seven Tips for making it online (as an artist)

A few days ago, Chris Anokute was on Entertainment Tonight, where he talked about the importance of social media and the internet for artists looking to be discovered.

And I’ve recently been approached by a number of performing artists and musicians for advice on how to break into the industry.

Several years ago, I posted an article about tips on doing just that.

So I thought I’d resurrect that article, since it clearly still has application today – with a few tweaks of course.

Here are seven tips for making it as an artist online.

1. Utilize existing networks – YouTube has replaced MySpace as the source for finding new music. YouTube gives visitors an easy way to connect with and share your music without having to be your ‘friend’ which is a significant advantage over the former social networking giant.  Online stores such as iTunes and Snocap give you the ability to include your product in their online sales infratstructure, and services such as Paypal allow you to conduct direct-to-consumer sales. Your use of/and affiliation with these brands, give consumers the confidence that the product they are purchasing is quality because it is associated with recognized quality brands.

2. Give it away for free – Sounds ridiculous right? But its totally true that if you give something away, it usually induces a desire to purchase. Victoria Secrets mails out cards to recipients who are given a free pair of panties! When you walk into the store to collect your free pair of underwear, they politely ask if you want to purchase a bra to accompany them. Of course, presented with such an offer, who could refuse? This strategy is the exact same philosophy, offer them a wallpaper if they buy a ringtone, a free month’s subscription when you sign up for two months. Its a ‘freemium.’ Look it up.

3. Cultivate an extensive e-mail Twitter database – you are constantly in contact with people in your daily comings-and-goings. The next innovator, billionaire, neurosurgeon, politician could be right next to you. On an online environment, these potential links exist, and its nothing but an e-mail Tweet away. By creating an extensive e-mail Twitter following, you are creating a means of turning as many people as you know, into a possible source of future sales.

4. Offer your songs for sale – a branded website is great for building awareness about your projects and one should offer your products for sale simultaneously with any promotional effort you undertake. The beauty of the internet (and mobile) is the instant gratification component and instant decision making based on the desire for instant gratification. Failing to immediately offer your product for sale online is a flawed and costly omission.

5. Price your product competitively – do not try to ‘reinvent the wheel. put rims on it.’ Do not assign a value to whatever your are selling, without regard to the market set price, standard practice, law or industry operation, that would make your product either too expensive or under priced. Pricing your product at a price point lower than the competition (at least as an introductory offer, if not sustained as part of a sustained campaign), will generate an initial reaction. If you consistently offer a compelling product and a fair price, your audience will remain loyal and become repeat purchasers.

6. Offer packages – it is hard to resist a bargain. When you bundle products on the internet, the natural reaction of practically all consumers is to evaluate the relative cost for the product. If we perceive that we are saving money, even if we have to spend more than we were originally prepared to spend (when we responded to the introductory offer -OR IF WE HAVE TO SEARCH MORE), then we usually select the option which gives us that savings. But more importantly, you have put more units into the stream of commerce, which is ultimately your objective.

7. Promote your product heavily – online promotions, Tweets, Facebook status updates, Ning, e-mail blasts, banners, hyperlinks, e-flyers, contests, are all techniques to proliferate over the internet. Link your web page to as many different online properties as possible. Make sure that you utilize search engines, meta-tags, heavy descriptions and compelling graphics in everything you doto to inject life and activity around your website. This online activity should be done in conjunction with a word-of-mouth campaign, flyers, posters, etc. The purpose of promotion is to PROMOTE, utilize tactics to make you and your product memorable. Utilizing YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr, to add graphic visual components can go a long way to creating a memorable impression.

At the end of the day, the internet is a vast resource that can help (the right artist or project) go viral in an instant.

If you’re not using these tools to your advantage, I’d suggest you start.

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Self Promotion

In three days, I’ll be moderating a panel entitled “Advertising: The Convergence of TV, Film and Technology.” I’ll be speaking to the members of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA), in St. Thomas USVI, about how to properly leverage their brands in an increasingly interactive world, with these highly interchangeable (and intertwined) mediums.

I was asked to speak at this conference several months ago.  One of the organization’s conference chairs, Elke Suber, invited me based on a discussion we had had over a year ago, when I advised her that if she ever needed a dynamic person to speak at her annual conference, that I was her man.  When she called me, she referenced that call, and said that she had been waiting for the opportunity to bring me in.

The funny thing about this, is the fact that I have known Elke since 1994, when we were both student members of BESLA, attending our first conference in Aruba.  We were both in the audience, listening to panelists speaking about the impact of the internet on the music industry. At one point, I had asked (what I thought was) a simple question about artists (vs labels) registering domain names, which sparked a lot of controversy among other audience members, and became a flash point for the balance of the session.

Afterwards, I was approached by several of the attendees of the session (as well as a few of the panelists), who wanted my opinion about the subject, and exchanged contact information for further discussion stateside.  I found the whole thing rather amusing, since I was still in law school, and didn’t really consider myself an expert on anything, much less the topic of discussion in that session.  But apparently, the way I couched my opinions and posed my questions, left the distinct impression that I knew what I was talking about.

Anyway, that’s how Elke and I met, and why she offered me this speaking opportunity.

When I reflect on that first BESLA conference, I realize that what made my opinions so impactful, was the fact that I held myself out as an authority.  Even though I was still in law school at the time, I spoke with such confidence and intelligently, that I came off as ‘an expert’ on the topic being discussed.  Considering the relative new-ness of the topic being discussed, and the fact that there were relatively few people assessing the overall impact of the internet on revenue streams at the time, the niche issue I raised had (apparently) never crossed the mind of the panelists (and made me look pretty cool).

I’m going to BESLA with a real sense of purpose.  I’ve prepared a sweet Power Point presentation, assembled a nice crew of panelists, and outlined all the points I want to cover.  I realize that there may be a bunch of audience members who may be looking at this topic from an angle that neither myself, or any of my distinguished panelists, may have considered (and who may come off like the ‘expert’ in the audience).  But that’s cool (and to be expected), because, as much as I’m there to impart information on the attendees, I’m also there to promote me.

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