Kristof – a master communicator

Zoe Kessler | Student Life

The changing media environment has drastically affected how professional communicators operate, for the better. One of my favorite professional communicators – Nicholas Kristof has expertly maneuvered and adapted to the changing landscape.

Merging the old with the new:

Nicholas Kristof is an award winning journalist for the New York Times who has completely transformed the way he reports, and engages with his readers, by strategically integrating social media with traditional media. He’s known for his thoughtful columns, many about issues affecting people living below the poverty line in developing countries. His passion for sharing information, travel, and helping people in need introduced him to a new audience when he released “Half the Sky: From Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide” a novel exposing abuse against women. Using social media and the changing media environment, Kristof started a movement. The book release and coverage would not have been as successful if he was limited to traditional media and promotion, but through his blog, website and twitter he was able to promote the book and the movement; in a way that would not have been possible, even ten years ago. He started conversations that didn’t exist.


Again, breaking new grounds and impressing his audience, Kristof recently reported live from the dramatic events in Egypt – via Facebook and twitter. Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab wrote a post about Kristof’s incredible updates, including the reader’s sentiments:

“…The columnist’s pithy updates have occasioned several hundreds of comments from Facebook users — 575 so far for Kristof’s announcement of his trip, 169 for his arrival update, and 261, combined, for the next two. Many of the them are simple, kind expressions of gratitude and caution — “Please be careful” is perhaps the most common reaction to Kristof’s reporting …” The entire post can be found here.

It’s clear that this allowed Kristof to connect with his readers in a deeply personal way, from so far away.

While these updates allow Kristof to share news quickly and to connect with the readers, it also presents challenges. He is in the spotlight – and if anything (violence, etc) happens, he should expect an overwhelming amount of press and potential criticism. In my opinion, his success in the new media space has transformed his identity from a talented columnist and author, to a public news agent – redefining his role from a journalist to anchor. His success using social media also forces him to stay ahead of the curve and act and think faster than before. He must always rely on his judgment to determine if a tweet, or an update, is appropriate.


The opportunities for professional communicators are endless, but as we’re reading in The Cluetrain Manifesto and Groundswell, the connection they can create with their followers is most important. Whether through crafty tweeting, or showing up at meet-ups, professional communicators are much more accessible and personal than before.

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Altrusocialmedia – how altruism+social media is making a splash!

Social media giving platforms – so many options. Part 1

photo by bedrocan

According to, Altruism can be defined as:

1) The principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others, and;

2) The philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others.

Most of us have the desire to do good, whether by work, family, religion or society. I think one way this can be demonstrated is by the integration of social media giving options. There are tons of sites that provide opportunities to donate to, or join a cause, for your favorite non-profit organization. They allow organizations and individuals to use an established platform for giving and fundraising.

There seem to be three biggies in the industry (so far): Facebook Causes, Crowdrise and Jumo. There are a few smaller services that are hoping to make a splash (and which will be described in part 2, next week): FirstGiving, Razoo, TwitPay, ChipIn and Ammado.

But, in my opinion, it’s hard to keep them all straight and figure out how their different. With information from the company sites, Wikipedia and input from a friendly social media expert, I will try to dissect these services in simple terms.

Facebook Causes

What: From their site: A Platform to build tools for people to mobilize their friends for collective action, spread the word to friends of friends and acquaintances, and eventually launch movements that span local communities or even the globe.

Who: Created by Facebook

What people are saying: Causes seems to be the easiest to use and the most integrated of social giving platforms. People are using it but Facebook, as a social networking platform, is trying to differentiate itself from Facebook Causes, which is focused on good.


What: From their site: Crowdrise is about online fundraising, event fundraising, volunteering and having the most fun in the world while doing it.

Who: Founded by actor and activist Edward Norton, producer and activist Shauna Robertson, and the founders of Moosejaw, Robert and Jeffrey Wolfe. It has a lot of celebrity supporters and users.

What people are saying: It’s a good platform and meant to be entertaining, and it is. The company personality is different and raw. It has lost buzz since the initial launch in November 2010.


What: Jumo’s purpose is to connect people to causes before volunteering or donating.  They “make it easy to” find issues you care about, follow the issues, news and updates, and then eventually support their work with money and time.

Who: Founded and directed by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and director of online organizing for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

What people are saying: It’s still in beta form and not providing the best information for the search topics. It also got a lot of buzz when it launched but users have to use Facebook to sign up.

Overall: People like and use Facebook Causes the most. Since most people are on Facebook it makes it easier to share information and garner support.  Have you used one of these tools? What do you think?

To be continued…

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I made it, my first post!

Unbelievable. In the time I’ve agonized over the theme, direction and purpose of this blog I could have authored a novella. It is with great pleasure that I use this first post to touch on the many topics and potential uses I’ve considered for my new virtual space.

First, I thought it would be a great idea to dedicate the blog to a communication or PR topic or trend related to global development issues. Or, similarly I could track organizations I admire and use the blog as a space to post interesting links, news and related tidbits. Then, I could use this blog as an excuse to be in touch with the organizations (since I know some of them already) and remind them that I might be looking for work when I’m done with this program. Strategic and informative, yes, but then it started to feel like a lot of work. I’m not usually lazy, but I want this to be FUN not tedious. Scratch, for now.

Next, I thought it would be smart to relate it to my capstone project. I don’t know what that will be about yet, but I figured this could be a tool to help me sort through my ideas and come to the highly anticipated Ah-ha moment. In fact, I was so certain this would be the blog topic I wrote the “about” section with energetic ignorance, then discovered just one hour later that I will have to propose my capstone project in just two weeks in a research class (no ideas yet). This blog will be in existence for at least 87 more days, so scratch again. (But I left the “about” section up for now.)

Two hours after I realized I have 13 days to come up with a capstone topic, I had another idea. Why don’t I just relax about this blog and make this fun? I’m always making mental notes about great new websites, ideas and people I come across – typically related to PR, communications or social media, maybe this can be a landing space for these discoveries!

Before I finished forming this idea, but managed to finally win another round of Angry Birds, I heard a woman say, “You know what I like about Microwaves? You don’t have to worry if you remembered to turn it off!” I thought that was hilarious, so I wrote it in my iPhone notes section where I keep all the other random and funny things people (and professors) say.  Finally, I had a baby Ah-ha moment (or I’m just craving one so badly I misidentified it for a simple idea). Presto! I will use this space to collect the great quotes, note the innovative organizations, dissect the great tweets and store anything else that I think is worth holding on to. Because so often, great finds are fun and exciting – but only if I remember. This will be my capsule!

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