The Lab; Portnoy Media Group Blog

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Buying the right gift for a marketing executive can be tough. So here’s a small suggestion- get Them The Non-Profit Narrative! As a help, the book is on sale at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Go Grab it today!

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Portnoy Media Group uses the influence of social networks to expand your organization's voice and tell your story. We connect people with your mission and enable your brand to be shared, discovered, and connected. Work with us as we empower your organization to dramatically extend your online presence and increase donations.

How To Win Christmas


This years Holiday shopping season has been legendary already. And we’re not at Thanksgiving.

The big guns are out. Reports of locations opening for record hours (Kmart is open for 41 hours straight) The camping out has already started at Phoenix area Best Buy’s.

There’s a lot happening and I know that panicked execs are under a time crunch (This holiday season is 5 days shorter than last year due to a late Thanksgiving) and their bonuses are up for grabs if they aren’t aggressive. The corporations are in this to make money and the masses are signing up in droves for discount deals and price breakers. Social commentary aside, it sounds like a match made in heaven. cause and effect. Done and done.

But I’d like to insert an alternative of a company that is playing by those same rules but their tactics are decidedly different. I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of their european sensibilities or its just such a drastic change from what we’re being bombarded with here in America.

I humbly submit “The Bear and the Hare” by John Lewis. A new commercial for a campaign, complete with backstory. A mix media story that nods to the Rankin/Bass cartoons of our youth but at the same time modern and lush with all the things we require for a good campaign.

Take a great song from Keane and have Lilly Allen cover it with some Christmas sheen and you’re off!

The process of making this commercial is as compelling as the spot itself. In some ways, may be more so. My mouth was agape as I watched the old school techniques blending with new technologies. Take a look.

The campaign has multi-channel, multi-platform appeal too. Social media characters to encourage engagement and give further proof of the story world they’ve created.


All complete with a hashtag to track interaction #bearandhare


Also digitally there’s an iPad app to explore the world further, games for kids to get involved with the brand and move quick. The app is free but only available in the UK.

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Additionally the lines of digital and the inshore experience are completely blurred. This is really the most brilliant piece of it. There’s a digital card maker and you can explore the bear’s cave with lavish displays, additional merchandise all supporting the new brand.

Plus you can buy the Lilly Allen single from the commercial.

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This commercial and campaign was not cheap. Initial reports say the price tag was £7?Million. However, as a result of such a compelling world, the hiring of experts and providing multiple channels for expression – sales are up £101.45?million, 10.7 per cent up on 2012. See the full article here.


  • Don’t be afraid to dream big.
  • Make sure your use your strengths. For John Lewis it was multi channels experience, foot traffic and current audience.
  • Gather talented people behind a great vision.
  • Invest!
  • The multi channel experience should be seamless.
  • Create an experience with your brand. The Bear and The Hare is a new classic for John Lewis and will probably mean additional chapters in the future. The money has spoken.

This sounds a whole lot better than suiting your business in a race to the bottom with door busters. What say you?

Guest Post – Brad Voigt

Editors Note: I love getting feedback and hearing about how a conversation, a coaching time or something I’ve worked on or created has been able to inspire or educate. So I thought it’d be a good idea to have some of the people who are doing amazing and creative things talk about how we intersect. Today’s post is from Brad Voigt, he’s an amazing guy that has been leading within YoungLife for several years. I asked him to share some of his thoughts on The Non-Profit Narrative. Take it away Brad!

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Seth Godin says every organization has a tribe.  The three criteria of a tribe are: 1.  People are connected to an idea.  2.  People are connected to a leader.  3.  People are connected to one another.  When I read this about four years ago I felt my role as a non-profit leader shift.  Ten years of non-profit leadership in the same community and it felt like we were losing ground. There wasn’t the same buzz in the air although we were doing the same good work we had done previously.  It almost felt like everyone was distracted or somehow our audiences’ attention span had shortened.

So I set out to read as much as I could, I desired to be the leader the tribe needed.  However, stress followed me around, not only were we losing attention in our community but year after year we were not gaining ground on a deficit we had carried for over ten years.

Fast forward to May 9th, 2012, I’m doing what all great leaders do when finances are tight…I was checking Twitter.  Across my feed comes a tweet about a new book on Amazon about Non-Profit story telling.  Plus, it’s FREE on the Kindle for a limited time!  This was a no brainer right?  I immediately downloaded the book and start tearing my way though it.  Three days later and I’m through the whole book.  When I finish it feels like I finally received the training I wanted for 12 years.

Connecting with people as a leader and connecting these people to one another was not holding me back as a tribe leader.  But Dan’s book taught me how to connect people to an idea, this is where I felt the struggle.  For years I thought the “idea” our tribe needed to connect to was a vision statement.  I was so wrong.  The “idea” people wanted to be connected to was not a simple tagline, they wanted to be connected to a story.  An amazing story playing out in the north suburbs of Kansas City where some kids have everything they need and other kids have hardly anything. The story has amazing characters from adult volunteers, staff, teachers, donors, parents, and kids.  At the heart of the story is an organization, which calls these characters into action becoming the hero for local high school kids.

Dan’s book taught me our organization is on the Hero’s Journey. I started to recognize our inciting incident, the reason we must move forward for local kids.  I stopped sharing only the positives to our tribe because I learned great stories are filled with struggle.  People relate to struggle.  Fast forward to now and our tribe is more engaged than ever.  After nearly 14 years of barely making it within our annual budget and trying to get a very large deficit off our back we conquered our financial issues.  We didn’t see a significant increase in “new” donors.  Instead, we saw a significant increase in our tribe in every resource: financial, time, labor, etc.

I want to thank the Portnoy Media Group, and especially Dan for being so generous.  This new way of seeing our story and communicating it the right way has energized our local organization. We’ve stopped inviting people into our organization and now invite people to participate in an incredible story!  Make sure you have read the Non-Profit Narrative!

Connect with Brad

4Liters in the Classroom


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Here’s the second video product we’ve launched for DIGDEEP

This Spring, educators in Southern California challenged their students to try 4Liters and used the flexible, multi-disciplinary curriculum to bring that experience into their classrooms.

I sat down with Maggie Lauder and Joe Kim to get their take on the program and why it’s important for students, teachers and communities.

This project has multiple angles of entry for DIGDEEP’s multiple audiences and it’s important that they back that up with video for easy accessibility.

In an effort to raise awareness and funds for clean water access and conservation, is launching its first annual anti-water poverty campaign asking people to live on just four liters of water a day for up to five days.

LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 17, 2013– A staggering 783 million people worldwide do not have access to enough clean water to live a full and healthy life. Human beings need at least 4 liters (the equivalent of 2 large soda bottles) of water a day to survive and require closer to 50 liters a day to stay healthy in the long term. While nearly a billion people survive on just 4 liters of water a day or less, the average American uses up to 550 liters of water every day, the highest water consumption rate in the world.

“Access to clean water is a basic human right,” states George McGraw, Executive Director, DIGDEEP Water. “Here in the U.S. we consume so much water with such easy access, that we often forget water’s importance to human lives and livelihoods. Even in the U.S. nearly 13% of Native Americans lack clean water or working toilets. Water poverty is more prevalent in under-developed countries; 4,500 children die every day from water borne diseases, and nearly 80% of disease worldwide stems from dirty water. But this is a crisis that affects everyone, and it’s time we find the perspective we need to take action.”

The 4Liter Challenge (4Liters) is a way for anyone to experience the daily struggle of living on a limited amount of water. The challenge exposes Americans to the true value of clean water and provides them with a deeper connection to water access projects combating poverty worldwide. People are encouraged to sign up at, an interactive web tool that will help them fundraise, live-blog and share their experiences across social networks. also offers a free multi-disciplinary curriculum for middle and high school educators bringing themes of water poverty and human rights into the classroom.

One hundred percent of funds raised will be sent to DIGDEEP water access projects in South Sudan, Cameroon, and New Mexico. These sustainable projects are built in partnership with local communities in tremendous need. DIGDEEP’s human rights-based model varies from the work of other water charities by using sustainable technology for its water projects and customized, community-led solutions to achieve basic human rights such as health and safety, gender equity, economic empowerment, and prosperity.

Participants and schools are welcome to learn more about water poverty and take The 4Liter Challenge by signing up at The site also features an informational video featuring David Henrie (Wizards of Waverly Place), Jennifer Cadena (The Roommate) and narrated by Drake Bell (Drake & Josh). All participants will live off of 4 liters of water per day for 2-5 days the week of October 14th (October 14 – October 21, 2013). 4Liters aims to transform public perception of water, water consumption and its value and impact on human life. For more information on DIGDEEP please visit




About DIGDEEP Water

Launched in 2011 by international human rights lawyer George McGraw, DIGDEEP is a human rights organization defending and sustaining access to clean water for everyone worldwide. Changing the way people think about water, DIGDEEP focuses on education and advocacy programs exposing people to the issues and solutions of water poverty, consumption and conservation. Through its sustainable and customizable water access projects DIGDEEP has successfully transformed the lives of thousands of people in South Sudan, Cameroon and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. DIGDEEP is committed to ending the injustice of water poverty and 100% of all donations support their water projects in the field. To learn more visit   

Speakeasy – Bill Hader


Check out this interview with Bill Hader talking about stand up comedy, his roll on SNL and writing for South Park.


It’s important to tell your story but it’s also important to show your tribe behind the scenes. Give them the inside scoop.

Paul F. Tompkins has a great rapport with his guests – check out the ManMade show here.


Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing


We lost a great writer today. Elmore Leonard is responsible for many stories that I love including Get ShortyOut of SightHombreMr. Majestyk and Rum Punch, which was filmed as Jackie Brown. Leonard’s short stories include ones that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current TV series on FXJustified.

Here are his 10 rules on writing, may we all learn from this master storyteller.


1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Elmore Leonard





Behind the Scenes with 4Liters


4 Liters is the next campaign from DIGDEEP, a human rights organization that defends water access. They work on the 100% donor model and generally make the world a better place. We’re collaborating for 4Liters, a next generation experience on the need for access to clean water. The campaign launches in the month of October. Here’s a few pictures of the campaign video shoot this Saturday, starring David Henrie (Little Boy, Wizards of Waverly Place ) and Jennifer Cadena (The Roommate, Premonition).


Top Story on Christianity Today

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Today’s Top News – Building Community

Earlier this year, I helped launch a project with Justin McRoberts. Today the top story on Christianity Today was on this project. See what they’re saying:

“The words “pastor” and “artist” aren’t often used for the same person, but Justin McRoberts is an exception that proves the rule. Co-pastor of a church in Concord, California, McRoberts is also a hard-working indie musician and author with a busy touring schedule.

McRoberts’s latest work, The CMYK Project, started with an encouraging letter he received at a difficult time. He began writing letters of his own, and commissioned three different artists to create artwork for a book containing them. What ties the book together is the idea that Jesus is master of everything—especially a community full of lovely, crazy, terrible, and forgiven people. In addition to crafting the book, McRoberts wrote fifteen original songs as a soundtrack. These different elements combine,
much like the four printer’s inks of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, to paint a compelling picture of life together under Christ’s lordship.”

Read the rest of the article here 

The FREE sample chapter and corresponding song are available at Noisetrade.
The whole project is available at his Web Store.
The book is discounted at Amazon.
The Album is getting great ratings at iTunes.

Of Love and Facebook

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Fresh from the lab is a bit of silliness. It’s a story of love in the internet age.

Michael Moore –
Ryn Harrison –

Cinematography by Nate Harrison
Written and Directed by Dan Portnoy

Music by The Wannadies

Let us know what you think.