The Lab; Portnoy Media Group Blog

Beware Online “filter bubbles”

Make sure you’re balancing your information vegetables with information dessert

From TED:

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
Read our community Q&A with Eli (featuring 10 ways to turn off the filter bubble):



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.

In a few hours I’m sharing the stage with Mark Horvath (@Hardlynormal) to talk with homeless service agencies in attendance about how new/social media tools are at their disposal for greater connectivity, greater awareness and greater fundraising.

Mark has had HUGE success in rallying support to his cause of It’s raw, real and unedited. His mode of using social media with shock and awe is well suited to his personality and you can’t argue the results he gets with over 50,000 views a month on his YouTube channel.

As Mark and I started talking about what to share with our group this morning it was interesting to hear him talk about entry points into social media for these agencies. Because Mark understands the principles of communication in this new mode, he knows that how he uses the medium and interacts with so many on a daily basis won’t work with the same kind of success for a 100 year old shelter in Kansas City, MO.

For Example: One of my favorite videos from Mark

This video is as raw as it gets. Barry talks frankly about what he’s living in, what his life is about and his hope for the future. His life hits me like a truck. Living in tunnels under Las Vegas, Barry’s struggles are so much more urgent than anything I have happening in my life.

This video is a small part in the narrative that and Mark are telling. Mark’s a crusader and gives glimpses into the vast spectrum of lives that are intersecting with homelessness. Families in cheap hotels, women couch surfing, a man living in Central Park. Their stories make up the multiple faces of homelessness and Mark is campaigning for change. His tactics blitzkreig our lives, slap us around and ask if we’re going to let it continue. The drum that he’s been banging has attracted the attention of Google, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and dozens of news outlets.

He’s had success but if you did the exact same thing, there would be some ripples and in the end you’d be referred to as, “Oh, you’re doing things just like!”

What can we learn?

  • Mark’s style fits his organization and personality – find yours and tell your story.
  • There was a need and Mark got started helping – he “shipped it“. There have been adjustments and refinements along the way to make sure that he’s connecting. Even to the point of starting because his tribe told him that was needed.
  • This didn’t exist 3 years ago – a new market/community around an idea.
  • A great example of acquisition – he can go to this community for help/resources. The housing of @LostAwareness by @Skip1 is a great move from the community – Check out the video

In the next post (Part II) I’ll sum up what we talked about in our session at The National Alliance to End Family Homelessness Conference and profile an organization that’s in the digital space that uses the same principles but it looks different. Here’s a hint.


URM Board members Stan Gerlach and David Dow pose with Andy Bales (center) at the AFP awards

Los Angeles – The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals held their National Philanthropy Day Awards yesterday at the Beverly Hilton.  Hosted by Leeza Gibbons, these awards highlighted the best in LA for philanthropy.

From the LA Chapter AFP Website:

National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) is one day set aside each year for the purpose of recognizing the great contribution philanthropy makes to our society and to honor individuals, businesses and support organizations that are active in the philanthropic community.  NPD was founded by Los Angeles philanthropist and attorney Doug Freeman.  The first NPD awards luncheon was held in cities across the country in 1986, after President Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 15 as National Philanthropy Day. Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch penned the music and lyrics for “Now, More Than Ever,” the anthem for the event.  Since then, NPD is celebrated in all fifty states and Canada.  NPD offers an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of charitable giving and the spirit that makes such generosity possible.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Los Angeles Chapter (GLAC), a nonprofit organization that provides education and support to promote ethical and effective fundraising practices, will honor the following people and organizations at the National Philanthropy Day® awards luncheon.


presented by The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation
Will be awarded at the event.

Disability Legal Rights Center
Goodwill Industries of Southern California
Runner Up – The Harmony Project
Mar Vista Family Center
Para Los Niños
Salvation Army of Southern California

Winner – Union Rescue Mission

As the winner was being announced by Matthew Zarcufsky, he sited that URM had stepped up to meet the need of the greater Los Angeles area and increased services 45% in this economy.  He also sited this summers need to raise 2.8 Million Dollars in less than 40 days to keep Hope Gardens, URM’s women and children center, from closing it’s doors. The team at URM rallied their community and raised 3.8 Million dollars in just 37 days through seven different mediums!  The outpouring from the community was so great through bloggers and people sharing info on facebook and Twitter. It even prompted Hope Gardens volunteer and  NCIS star Pauley Perrette to join Twitter and lead a rally cry for the ladies. Thanks Pauley!!

Portnoy Media Group is proud to tell the URM story in the digital medium and be part of the team that helped make that a reality. Lead by a strong team at URM and joined by direct mail legends Grizzard Communications and the brilliant filmmaking of Chronicle Project


Deidox Launches Pii Chui

The latest film from Deidox released today, the second international film in the series. The short film is the true story of a Burmese refugee now living in Thailand who finds a strength that only comes from God.

Producer Dave Mahanes and Director Brent Gudgel have teamed up for the 7th installment in the Deidox series.  Also rounding out the crew for the film are Chris Sinclair (cinematographer), Jordan Innes (editor), Jeremiah Belt (color correctionist), & Joshua Myers (music composer), and Gade Maxka (Thailand line producer and translator).

Over the last two years the deidox series has been challenging (Li Yang), gritty (Deon), and full of hope (Lindsay).  A study guide and bonus features from behind the scenes are included with each digital download.

The price range is $1.99 (iPod) to $24.99 (HD)

Check out Pii Chui by clicking here.

Another great collaboration of Portnoy Media Group with Out:think Group to make the launch fast and painless.


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.

The Latest from Deidox – Alyssa

Today launched the 6th film from the creative team of Brent Gudgel and Dave Mahanes. The latest film, Deidox | Alyssa, gives us the glimpse of a girl in Simi Valley, CA walking us through part of her life. The idea of faith takes on a very real component in this short film and is anything but cheesy. The short clocks in at 4:37 was shot on Canon 5D and 7D.

This is another triumph for the creative team at Chronicle Project. What struck me the most throughout the film is the sound. Josh Myers (Cinecue, Burn the Stereo) has done an incredible job to capture the tone and further story tempo throughout this short.

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Extreme Mobility Camps

Portnoy Media, along with the brilliance from The Out:Think Group, had the fortunate pleasure of working with this team to create a new film page. In the coming weeks we’ll be launching a few other changes on the site as well, for now Check out Deidox | Alyssa.


How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Thanks to my friend, Ryan Sisson (website), for posting this fantastic talk from Simon Sinek via facebook.

Please take the 18 minutes and check out this talk:

I’ve never heard of Simon Sinek before but I’ve come to trust the crew picking speakers at TED to be on top of their game. Personally I found the story of Samuel Pierpont Langley to be the largest tragedy in this talk. The guy with the most promise and possibility let the Wright Brothers run away with the technology. Discovery was his primary objective and became blind to seeing any other possibilities, what other markets could he have leveraged his knowledge into and connected to the masses, made money or influenced technology.

How does your company engage it’s clientele? Is your why the inspiration or the response?

Pick up Mr. Sinek’s book Start With Why


Mr. Portnoy, the Professor?

This past fall I was invited to the campus of Pepperdine University to talk with students in the PR/Marketing major and those involved in the local PRSSA chapter abut what life after college looks like. After several visits I was struck with a notion.

What if I walked with a class through some real world experiences while still enrolled in school?

Not exactly an internship, something with more of a safety net. A bit of a group think with direct input from a professor as well as a real world coach. The more college students I talk with or have worked with experience a wake up call when they hit the workplace. That seemed like an issue, so I did some thinking and found that there were some resources at my fingertips.

So I pitched an idea to my contact at Pepperdine (Dr. Emily Kinsky) and it looked like this:

The Project

Engage 10,000 college students to move from awareness to volunteers to advocates. Using all forms of PR (new and traditional media tools) to aid in the current campaigns created by URM and it’s partners – The class would work to catalyze the masses to being the solution to homelessness in Los Angeles.

Portnoy Media Group and Union Rescue Mission would work with the team to navigate the waters of Los Angeles non-profit PR and would formulate a feasible, real world plan with the chapter and then put it into action.

How Pepperdine wins:
Hands on creativity and implementation on a real world scenario. It’s a great resume piece for the students and provides instant feedback on success or failure. The students gain access to a client that is involved in every form of media production (print, film, broadcast, radio, web). URM and PMG could also give feedback on the process and the presentation from each team.

How URM wins:
Additional creative minds thinking about the plight of homelessness in Los Angeles. The result would be a microcosm of how URM engages college students and would then have solutions for maximum involvement.

How Portnoy Media Group Wins:
Additional minds creating content/ideas to aid with a current client.
I’d be looking for new ideas to accessibility and with all that brain power helping PMG aid URM in their endeavors of fundraising, awareness, volunteerism and advocacy.
An easy way to work along side and interact with students to identify good intern candidates.

The Final
The final presentations were several weeks ago and URM’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Jacqui Groseth, was on site for the final. All three pitches showed some similarities on how best to reach the students on their campus. Each team had identified a low cost/no cost option that would have maximum effectiveness for talking to college students throughout the Los Angeles area. I couldn’t have been happier with the way the project turned out and look forward to similar collaborations in the future. Big thanks to Dr. Kinsky for her risk taking!

Are you a school looking for a guest lecture? Contact Dan here

Click to check out Union Rescue Mission

Click to check out Pepperdine’s School of Communication


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.