The Lab; Portnoy Media Group Blog

Follow up on UCLA x425


A few weeks back I joined Chris Lam and Won Novalis for Erik Deutsch‘s class on social media at UCLA.

“I don’t want to be sold, I don’t want you to provide me with information, I don’t even want you to show me a picture of a cat…I want to be INSPIRED! Dan Portnoy did just that by telling his stories.”

Talking with students about what I get to do with clients is truly one of my favorite things. Having the opportunity to talk with students, wipe away misconceptions, pull off the blinders and getting into the nitty gritty of how campaigns, stories and general communication can be used for the best possible good is a real joy.

A few students gave their thoughts on our time together.

“At first glance, what seemed to be just a regular ad campaign with some pretty pictures suddenly became real to me.  It wasn’t just a picture but a picture of a “real” family benefiting from contributions to the United Way. I began to let down my guard. I wasn’t just being “sold,” but now emotionally involved. Suddenly, these guys at the United Way became heroes and they have the red capes to prove it!”


Read more from Kaci Bateau

“Two of the industry’s top social media content creators talked about tactics they’ve used successfully to meet their client’s brand strategy goals. Let’s meet the contenders:

In this corner, Founder of Cup of Joe Social, Chris Lam — previously senior PR strategist for Fandago and Green Dot.

In the other corner, Dan Portnoy, the Head Honcho at Portnoy Media Group. Dan develops effective PR strategies to drive his clients Facebook likes from nil to mill; he’s also a crisis fixer.”

Read more from Jennifer Nguyen




Being paired with Chris Lam is wonderful. I think I learn as much as the students when she walks everyone through her campaigns. She’s smart, strategic and has massive results. The fun/wild part for me is that her methods are so different from my own. Color me impressed.





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.

Talk of God, Talk of Science

We’re teaming up with The Ogilvie Institute to put on their conference about faith and science. Here’s the first teaser, we’ll be posting more about it in the next week.

United Way Celebrates Veterans

This past weekend Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other city officials hosted the 1st Annual Veterans Appreciation Day.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles was on hand to celebrate veterans and launch their report and action plan to support 25,000 veterans returning from service.

“United Way has set a goal to cut post-9/11 veteran unemployment in half by 2017” – Elise Buik

“Given the current state of veteran services, thousands will be unemployed and at risk of poverty or even homelessness, which is why United Way has set a goal to cut post-9/11 veteran unemployment in half by 2017 with a four-pronged strategy that requires a cohesive partnership across all sectors to create a pathway to gainful employment and economic security.” – Elise Buik, CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Portnoy Media teamed up with United Way to talk about why they’re involved – check out the video.

Post SXSW Wrap Up

It’s very obvious to me that I’m getting old. The annual trek to Austin is something that I’m beginning to have a love/hate relationship with.

Great people and great info make the time there really worth attending and it would seem that each year the brands are getting smarter and smarter to court the influence of the tastemakers by bringing out the big guns.

This year went above and beyond. CNN, Pepsi, AOL and Samsung all went to the wall with big offerings. Overall the actual panels and speaking was great – however I thought the panels this year were lacking. During the conference I asked around to see if it was just me or a greater problem. Turns out it wasn’t me, I asked around and we all had the same feeling – many panel speakers seemed unprepared or out of sync with each other, like there was zero prep time.

Highlights and Tips:

Apps, Apps, Apps
I don’t know what the square footage of the Austin Convention Center Exhibition area was but 90% of the booths were hocking an app. It makes sense because Apple has paid out over $2 Billion to developers but none of them really stood out to me. App Developers – How are you standing out?? The secret is not by offering a drawing for an iPad2 (everyone’s doing it!)

Print is not dead
The irony that the largest techie conference uses as much paper as they do is disturbing. Big kudos to the crew at Square Space for their brilliant food truck and use of GREAT print. It was effective and drew me in. Loved it!

Print is still white noise
Making a flyer about your website, new app or product is just silly. Mediocre print is sadly not going anywhere but covered any square inch of space available around the convention center. Interestingly the only people I saw paying attention to the massive flyer covered areas were the people covering them.

Ze Frank blew my doors off!
It’s great find out that the word is bigger than I thought and I’ve got a long way to go. I find it challenging and exciting. Ze walked through several recent projects including Young Me, Now Me and The Chillout Story. I was entranced by his humanity crossed with technology storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Ze since “The Show” but to hear how these emotion laden one-offs are impacting masses and showing true connection are exquisitely beautiful.

The Mentoring Sessions in Film should be adopted by Interactive
It was invaluable to bounce ideas off of leading filmmakers and executives. I wish this was also done by the interactive side of things. Please SXSW make that happen for next year!

Ditch the Parties and hang out at the lobby bar.
This is the best piece of advice I can give you and I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one thinking it. Most nights I was trying to catch up with a fair amount of people and it was great to just hang out in one place and not have to yell over the thumping bass. The bonus was one night finding Guy Kawasaki and Pam Slim at the next table – I knew it was a good idea!

Talking to 3 different continents during Beth Kanters’ session!
A packed house for Beth’s session on engaging free agents and the best part was talking in real time with new friends in Lebanon and Egypt at the same time. It’s so important for free agents and nonprofits to team up and Beth does an amazing job of making that point. Don’t be a fortress nonprofit and get her book!

Experience SXSW as a team!
I was very fortunate to be with 3 great guys from Out:think Group. I work with these guys everyday and it was great to spend some time with these extremely talented guys without due dates hanging over our heads.

Get some Coulhaus!
I can’t talk enough about this food truck! Just ask Tiffany, we talk about them at least once a week. They’ve got the BEST ice cream sandwiches and Firefox showed how smart they were by bringing them to launch their Firefox Mobile Party. Thanks Firefox!!

Breakfast Tacos and Thunderbird Coffee
Part of my annual trip of SXSW is to see my friend Carrie Graham and hear about all the cool work she’s doing with Mosaic church. This year she took me out for some breakfast tacos and Thunderbird Coffee. The next time you’re in Austin check them out – thank me later.

That’s SXSW for 2011 for me! See you next year!


Gearing up for South by Southwest (SXSW)

Packing up gear and heading to Austin, TX for a weekend of tech, film and general brilliance.

I’m really excited to hear from leading pros around the web about what’s coming up, what’s working, how engagement is happening and general stories of connectedness. Last year was definitely an adventure and this year will be no different. It’s a time where I get to join up with super smart guys like Tim Grahl, Joseph Hinson and Brian Morykon of Out:Think Group. Plus I get to attend great sessions like this one from Josh Kaufman.

Mashable came out with a great list of can’t miss pieces (I will probably miss some of these, however, it’s so much.)

I’m also thrilled to be part of the Twitter peanut gallery at Beth Kanters session on the networked nonprofit. See more about it here. Best part, you can take part while it’s happening just use the hashtag #netnon

Also in the same vein for Nonprofits is a special area hosted by Beaconfire consulting – this is home base for many nonprofit attendees. I’m looking forward to hanging with Eve Simon and Michael Cervino. Check out the lounge here!

This year I’m also attending film events which is going to be intense. As the web landscape continues to provide many distribution tools for indie filmmakers. This is like the OK Corral to the general internet’s Wild West.

I’ll be posting the most interesting tidbits from both types of sessions in the next several days.

Be Safe,


Ideation Conference 2011

This March I’m joining up with a phenomenal bunch of nonprofit leaders, CEO and supporters for The Ideation Conference.  The Ideation Conference is the next step for Idea Campers, the attitude of sharing and improvement is the same but the conference itself steps it up a bit.

This years lineup features a gathering of leaders making a difference in their organization, community and their world.

From the site:

The Ideation Conference is a unique conference experience that gathers some of the most innovative thinkers and practitioners in the field of doing good (e.g., businesses, organizations, etc.) in order to help fellow practitioners develop thoughts and tangible next steps for greater impact in their respective work.

This conference could be called bootcamp, or a shine and polish but bring your team to see the man (or woman) behind the curtain and learn what motivates them, what they’re thinking and what’s on the horizon.

I’m thrilled to be joining this group of movers and shakers and every time I get to see this bunch it’s a great time of joy and lots of laughs – and then I learn something!

Also on the docket for this years lineup:

Aaron Young – Executive Driector of Boys and Girls Club in Santa Monica

Ben Keesey – CEO of Invisible Children

Ben Morrison – Founder of Laugh-Aid, Former Co-Host of Punk’d

Chad Mayer – Executive Director of ShareFest

Charles Lee – CEO of Ideation Consultancy

Chris Heuertz – International Executive Director of Word Made Flesh

Craig Watson – Executive Director of Arts Council for Long Beach

Esther Havens – Humanitarian Photographer

Jeff Shinabarger – Founder of Plywood People

Joel John Roberts – CEO of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless)

JR Kerr – Lead Architect for Aitreni Group

Keith Kall – Executive Director of National Foundation Corporation Development for World Vision

Lee Fox – Founder of KooDooZ

Mark Horvath – Founder of

Mike Foster – Co-Founder of Plain Joe Studios

Nikole Lim – Founder of Freely in Hope

Randy Paynter – Founder of

Rob Morris – Founder of Love146

Rod Arnold – COO of charity: water

Sam Oh – IT Director for Fresh & Easy

Scott Belsky – CEO of Behance

Sean Carasso – Founder of Falling Whistles

Tyler Marrick – Founder of Project7

For more info on the speakers – Click here

This year Ideation has added a day after the conference for a special session with Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen. I’ve already signed up to attend because The 99% conference was SOLD OUT and I want the inside track to the latest info.. And I think you should know about it too.

In the coming weeks I’ll share a bit more about my workshop. Join me for the Ideation Conference and then stick around for i2i – See you then!

UPDATE: Just got the inside scoop for a 10% discount code. Use IDEA10 when you register and save  some cash!


Why I’m Sponsoring The Idea Camp

In 2007, I was made aware of the existence of human trafficking. It was a 12 minute conversation. It was one of those that I can remember all the circumstances – what I was doing, what my initial thoughts were and the jaw dropping reality that would cause me to shift my entire life just 5 months later.

Since the inception of the Idea Camp – I’ve felt it very important to be involved. At previous camps (Irvine, Washington DC) I’ve had the privilege and the pleasure to facilitate workshops, meet incredible people and build strong relationships with many attendees. It’s not hard to rally behind a group of people more interested in solving problems and learning skills with action in mind than another fad. I’m proud that Charles Lee and his team are putting a lot on the line to have conversations and facilitate workshops around the entire porn industry, sex trafficking and Internet safety. If you haven’t seen some of the more recent responses, please check them out to see what I’m talking about.

We’re especially thrilled to be a part of the Idea Camp crowd in just a few short days. Over the past couple years we’ve had the privilege of working with International Justice Mission on the launch of its film “At the End of Slavery” and again blogging about its “5 Weeks for Freedom” this past summer. We’ve also been left so enthralled with the film “Kavi” (8 months prior to the Oscar nomination) that we had to work with Director Gregg Helvey at any cost.

If I were to think about the best place for the PMG brand to show up, my first thought is not the Idea Camp about sex. The “knee jerk” reaction by many in just hearing about this subject matter has been to blast or condemn. This same condemnation could easily affect my company and place the brand in harm’s way.

Truth is, I’ve never wanted to helm an ordinary agency.

My hope is that this Idea Camp is a game changer. I don’t have any doubts about those who will be there (and watching online) – they want to see change and are willing to be the hands and feet to make it happen. I’m fully counting on great networking with many from around the country, sharing laughs and tears that true connection brings.

I hope to see you there!

Register here


What the Frebby?

A dear friend recently asked me to do the honor of being a judge at the Frebby Awards. Funny name?  Yes.  Valuable?  Also yes.  So, just what are the Frebby Awards?  The Frebbies are the product of Paprika Studios, and are designed to recognize the “Best of” the web in Fresno, CA.  Broken down into six main categories (Inspiration, Commerce, Communication, Action, Connection, Informational) and the just-for-fun category Frebby Favorite, nominees will be judged on creativity, effectiveness, expertise and innovation.

Know an individual or business in Fresno deserving of an inaugural Frebby Award?  Nominate them here.  The deadline to enter is this Wednesday, September 15.

Frebby.  Fun to say.  Fun to do.

Portnoy Media Group is proud to join Radar LA and What Gives!? for this production.

The Hardly Normal Cup of Coffee

Join Social Media maven Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) for your morning cuppa at South by Southwest in Austin, TX. (SXSW)

Each morning Mark will chat about using Social Media for Social Good with a panel of genius communicators in the world of tech and non-profit. His guests have each set the standard for “now communication” within their niche.

The show films live in The Beacon: Lounge with a Conscience (NonProfit Lounge) March 13, 14 & 15th and will be airing online at The What Gives Ustream account.

Guest Lineup

Chris Brogan
President of the New Marketing Labs (, widely-read blogger, trendsetter, and co-author of the breakaway book, Trust Agents.

Beth Kanter
Author of “Beth’s Blog: How Non-Profits Can Use Social Media,” expert consultant to the non-profit world on Social Media strategy.

Jeff Pulver
Technology Anthropologist, Entrepreneur, Storyteller and Producer of the #140 Conference.

Kari Saratovsky
VP of Social Innovation, The Case Foundation (

Chris Noble
President of Cause Media Group

Tony Steward of
Known for their large-scale community creation muscle, will share about the ins and outs of community interaction.

The Hardly Normal Cup of Coffee is a morning broadcast not to be missed. These discussions will infuse tech heads with an informational buzz sure to wake the mind and heart. Mark Horvath, a homeless advocate and hope coach by nature, will lead an new interview conversation each day at the non-profit lounge. Each episode will stream live to his website.

With the world getting flatter and flatter, the lines of best practices on the web for non-profit and for profit businesses is becoming slim, the distinction is in the approach.

Strategic Partners


The Beacon is located on the 3rd floor of the Austin Convention Center, Room 8B—smack in the heart of the Greater Good Campus.