U.S. theatrical premiere, Madeleine Albright and what it means for local journalism

Madeline Albright, at left sipping a drink, alongside Vaclav Havel, with his back to the camera, at the Wilma Theater on May 26, 2010.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright seemed to enjoy the production just fine.

That was the lede I submitted to Philadelphia events blog uwishunu in my review of last month’s U.S. premiere of ‘Leaving,’ the first piece in a generation from acclaimed playwright and former Czech President Vaclav Havel, at the Wilma Theater on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City Philadelphia.

Both after leaving the bathroom before the show and sitting in my third-row seat as the curtain opened, I eyed the tiny, graying lady sitting to the right and chatting with Havel, the revolutionary who was on hand to watch the premiere. Both times I gave second glances. The first time, I just thought I recognized her and dismissed it as some Philadelphia notable.

The second time, my guess was clear: that woman was the first female Secretary of State and President Bill Clinton top adviser. I dismissed it again — no security, no commotion, no press. Turns out I was right, and, boy, that has to mean something for the future of news, doesn’t it?

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Back on My Feet blog introduction

Today, I’d like to announce the official content platform for homeless running nonprofit Back on My Feet.

I announced in February my taking a job with the Center City-based organization that uses running clubs to create support around homeless populations seeking to move forward. From my first interview, I highlighted the need to use a blog to share the heavy dosage of content, member stories and updates that come from the nonprofit’s now-four chapters and growing.

I’m very interested in tracking all the web metrics I can, from traffic to social media trends, for Back on My Feet. Launching this blog — a project I initiated and have led — came without question and has been a great source of pride thus far.

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Speaking at Build Your Buzz Workshop with Empowerment Group

That niche vertical or hyperlocal news site that covers your community can be just as valuable as the big newspaper or local TV spot, I told an audience of nearly 20 as a panelist during an Entrepreneurship Week session hosted by the Empowerment Group last month.

The Kensington-based nonprofit who mission is “building a better Philadelphia by spurring economic growth,” hosted the week-long session of events — panels and lectures, workshops and happy hours — for small business owners and those interested in venturing down that path.

For the session on April 7, I joined a panel called ‘Build Your Own Buzz’ that was additionally manned by Alex Mulcahy, the founder of the popular, sustainability-focused GRID Magazine, Jim Sofran, an executive with Chicago-based Groupon and Deni Kasrel, a local marketing agent.

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The Ultimate Runner: Back on My Feet story I penned is anthologized

Well that’s a nice perk of the job.

It wasn’t so long  after I started my job as national media director at homeless running nonprofit Back on My Feet that I was presented with what would be a rewarding opportunity. Not so long  at all after I first started talking about how traditional marketing was just a small part of what I thought mission-orientated nonprofits should be chasing for audience building.

Not a month into the job I heard that HCI — the publishing house that hit a home run(s) with the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series that reigned commercially successful, if critically panned, for 15 years — was finalizing Ultimate Runner, the latest edition of its newest anthology series, and had an opening.

I was working for a running-involved organization with compelling stories and came from a writing background. I also had been blabbing about how we needed to involve ourselves heavily in content creation. This sounded like something to chase.

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Metro cover on Frankford recovery homes, their content partnerships

The cover of a regional edition of the highest circulated daily newspaper in Philadelphia featured a news story of my own yesterday.

Rumors on the possible sale of an alleged drug-infested nuisance property veiled as a recovery home in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood that came out of last week’s Frankford Civic Association meeting was enough to warrant front page coverage of Metro. The property has been seen as something of a rallying call on the issue of illegal ‘recovery homes.’

I attended the meeting as a former resident and occasional contributor to NEast Philly, the Northeast hyperlocal, that started last month a content partnership with the Philadelphia edition of the international free daily newspaper franchise.

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RSS feed back to full and, yes, I added a Facebook Like button

Sixteen months ago, I accepted partial RSS feeds as a necessity for Web metrics. The only question in my mind was how much content should be shared in the summary feed. By last fall, I was transitioning to this self-hosted version of my site and was starting to accept the reasons that convinced me last week to turn the feed of my content here to full-text wherever it goes.

I haven’t totally flipped. I maintain — for now — the stance that, until sponsorships or other ways to monetize full-text feeds are in place, NEast Philly and Technically Philly, as we announced in October, should keep their partial feeds. It comes down to this duality I see.

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CoPress Podcast: Speaking about Technically Philly and NewsInkubator

CoPress co-founders Greg Linch and Daniel Bachhuber at BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0 at Temple University in Philadelphia on April 24, 2010. I spoke with them about Technically Philly and News Inkubator back in December.

I missed the release of the podcast once, and it took a conference four months later to remind me once more.

Back in December, my fellow Technically Philly co-founder Sean Blanda and I spoke to CoPress co-founders Greg Linch and Daniel Bachhuber about our site’s development and its work with News Inkubator, which was passed on in its Knight News Challenge attempt but conversations continue today.

Give it a listen here.

I guess I’ll have to get a copy of the mp3, since the boys are closing down CoPress to focus on other projects.

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Twitter is stupid and other lessons in hyperlocal content strategy: NEast Philly at BarCamp NewsInnovation

The second annual BarCamp NewsInnovation was held last month at Temple University — see my notes here.

In addition to sharing all the failures we’ve had at Technically Philly, I spoke with founder and editor Shannon McDonald about the progress we’ve had with Northeast Philadelphia hyperlocal NEast Philly, including most prominently the breakdown of where our content was coming from.

See here the notes from our 2009 BarCamp presentation on being an online news startup in a print-heavy community.

Below find the notes and slides from this year’s BarCamp presentation entitled: Twitter is stupid…and other foundations of our content strategy.

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Three months of social media growth for nonprofit Back on My Feet

Tracking our Twitter followers from January 2010 to April. Back on My Feet launched a campaign on the Web in January.

Last month marked three months since I started at nonprofit Back on My Feet and launched a concerted effort to share more member stories and help develop a better, broader online relationship with our volunteers, members and supporters.

The first step in that process was to reawaken our social media accounts — the best platforms to create Web communities and ones buttressed by an organizational blog that I hope to more formally announce soon. Because our organization is all about accountability, we wanted to see how we’ve done.

I thought some lessons or benchmarks might be able to be garnered for others interested in social media use by nonprofits or other organizations, so I’ll share our progress below.

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Number of Views:5699

The Philly Post: City departments that need a Web overhaul

As part of a push for a broader readership, back in March Technically Philly announced a content partnership with Philadelphia magazine and its new daily blog.

Fellow co-founder Brian James Kirk has been writing most of the weekly posts, as he’s still freelancing. But last week, I filled in, penning a short feature on five City of Philadelphia departments that could use a touch of Web openness.

The use of technology to transform government has been a growing municipal interest in city halls across the country.

Here, the City of Philadelphia has announced intentions to release a service-orientated 311 iPhone application, it’s applying for ultra high-speed broadband from Google and it’s in hot pursuit of a funded team of developers and technologists which may someday make our every government transparency dreams come true.

The overtures are there, even if the substance hasn’t yet hit the pavement.

Read the rest here.

Number of Views:5154