Me-Blogged by PSFK

I was surprised and excited today when the awesome guys over at PSFK blogged my responses to a Q&A we did in preparation for the event at SxSW Saturday. Here is the full post, thanks guys!


unicef-renee hamilton-global issues

For our upcoming PSFK SALON at SXSW this year, we’ve invited Renee Alexander to discuss the future of mobile marketing. Renee is Social Media Manager at UNICEF USA. Here are a few questions we asked her in preparation for the event.

What is the most exciting challenge that UNICEF USA is addressing right now?

Challenges are exciting aren’t they? From my perspective it is rejuvenating the brand. Making this historic, venerable organization relevant to the next generation of donor and supporter. This is not to say making it “cool” or “hip” or in-authentic, but the challenge is in introducing or re-introducing the magnitude of what we do and how people can plug in.

Are there any other projects that are currently inspiring your work?

We’re inspired by projects both in and outside of the non-profit world that inspire action and are actually led by the supporters. The social web has spawned a new breed of grassroots activism that has allowed deeper connections to  causes and brands while making taking action and making change easier.

What emerging trend, idea, or technology are your excited to see develop in the future?

Of course mobile is exciting. It’s the always on and always on you connector. Being able to share content, get feedback and inspire people wherever they are is exciting. What’s incredible about mobile is that it has implications across business segments here from fundraising and development which heretofore we have seen with SMS text to give campaigns to in the field projects such as mobile tags on field tents with vital information. We know that even in some of the most destitute developing countries, many families and even children have mobile phones. Imagine the education and community development potential there!

What has been the impact of social media on UNICEF USA’s work?

Beyond communicating information on UNICEF USA’s work in the field, social has really been a prime touch point for younger donors and supporters. To date the use of social has been more management and engagement, in the coming year it’s about pushing the envelope, being strategic and adding  real fundraising goals into the mix.

Introducing Haiti 365; BE THEIR VOICE

I am so excited about my first big project as Social Media Manager for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.  Below is a preview of my upcoming blog post on the Haiti 365 Project that was dreamed up with myself, our team at USF and the incredible team at Cause Media Group StudioGood (I LOVE YOU MJ). I’d love your input, support, comments etc on what you think about this site. If you know me at all you know that my mission is to create real action and engagement using social as an entry point not an endgame. I feel like we are beginning  to accomplish that with this campaign and am infinitely proud of it.  I spent 2 days crying as the user-generated videos came in and we saw such a diversity of messaging, ages and locations and all of them truly passionate and dedicated to the cause.

From the U.S. Fund for UNICEF blog:

Last week marked the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. While much has been done to stabilize the country, there is yet very much left to do. To mark this somber anniversary, UNICEF USA was not content to hold a one-time event or create a social media campaign that lasts a day and doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Instead, we wanted to create something that focuses on what we really need; a long-term, dedicated team of people united to support the children of Haiti and keep them at the forefront of the countries rebuilding efforts. What evolved is the Haiti 365 project, designed as a call to service for people who are passionate about making true progress for Haiti’s kids.

Through the social media enabled micro-site supporters can sign-up via e-mail to commit to a year of service to Haiti’s children. Throughout the year, those who sign on will receive calls to action when needed. The first such call took place earlier this week when the New York Times posted an article about Haiti’s Recovery that completely left-out the most valuable asset to recover, Haiti’s children. Haiti 365 supporters were asked to write letters to the editor in the first of many actions we will collectively take to make sure the children are the story. Also on Haiti 365, we have captures snippets of first person stories and experiences from the children themselves. These stories will continue to be rotated as we capture more and more of the heart-breaking yet ever hopeful accounts of life in Haiti for a young person. Once you have read one of these stories you are prompted to bring that story to life by creating a video.

The videos are perhaps the most incredible part of this project. In the Voices of Haiti 365 gallery there is an ever-growing collection of user-generated videos from all ages, races, backgrounds and localities featuring one common message WE SUPPORT YOU. These video messages (over 100 of them so far) are an incredible example of how people are doing more than “click-through” activism to support this cause. Some famous faces are present in the gallery including NBA stars Sam Dalembert and Pau Gasol, music and television superstar and UNICEF Ambassador Selena Gomez and actress/humanitarian Mia Farrow with many more to come.

The Haiti 365 project will continue to grow with some exciting developments soon to be announced. If you have not already signed-up or created your video please do so. Get your church, school, family, neighborhood involved and become a real part of the solution for Haiti. Through the Haiti 365 project you really can BE THEIR VOICE!

The old Man and the Little boy

I have frequently in my life written about the injustice to our elders we do in this country. How we are the only culture that devalues our wisest generation. I had a wonderfully serendipitous occurrence years ago when I had written a letter to the editor on this very subject to the Virginia Pilot in Norfolk. I wrote about how my generation looks at elders as bad drivers and people who smell weird and don’t get us. We fail to realize that the things we find cool, like rock n roll, the internet, jeans, freedom, etc were made possible by the old f.a.r.t.s. we sigh and grumble about while waiting in line at the market.

As fate would have it, this letter ran on Veterans Day and was very well received. Lots of responses poured in from veterans, revolutionaries and even a few teen-agers whose parents made them read it and saw the light (i hope). Anyway, the following day an elderly gentleman stumbled into my office. This was odd because my office at the time was in an unmarked building on the 4th floor with  no signage or ease of entry from the ground level. This gentleman wanted to buy a boat.

He wanted to buy a boat to take home to his wife and children; he had just gotten a great job and was determined to by a bout from a Norfolk boat builder. The reality was this gentleman was well over 70 and had boarded a bus from Maryland bound for Norfolk after having walked out of the front door of a home for veterans. He had Alzheimer’s and was lost; though ironically his resolve never let on. The perplexing thing about Alzheimer’s is that the people seem totally resolute and normal, they have no clue they are stricken. It’s sad and odd and disturbing and yet weirdly comforting to me. The few folks that I have come in contact with that have this ailment actually seem fairly at piece most of the time; it’s the loved ones that suffer constantly.

But I am digressing from my point. My co-worker was headed to Portsmouth and drove the gentleman (I think his name was Harry) to the VA hospital there. I recently left Operation Smile as Social Media Strategist, not because I wasn’t happy or didn’t love the work, but I felt the call to help lot’s of causes…use my wacky, creative, strategic mind to help veterans and Alzheimer’s patients and animals and kids in the city that can’t get out of the vicious cycle of poverty and crime.

So I am working with a mobile innovations company, trying to find real solutions to help change the world and I am super excited about some of the things we have on the white board. As I was setting up our Twitter account and following my favorite Twitterers (where’s my list thingy) I came across this incredible thing that the mighty John Haydon’s son is doing to help veterans. His son is doing a “Kick-A-Thon” to help the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. A tear came to my eye, my lack of blogging streak ended and I got my credit card out. WE NEED kids like this to help make the world a better place, John must have done something good there because this is an incredible thing, I am hoping you will click here and donate too. And more-over, if you have a little human in your house, how can you get them to open there eyes to need and do something about it?

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems that inspired me a s a child to get involved with the elderly-

The Little Boy and the Old Man by Shel Silverstein

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

little boy an old man