Believing in the Power of Technology to Help Nonprofits: Cabell Foundation and Legal Aid Justice Center

By Communications, Media, Public Relations, Social Media

Laurel HennemanToday’s guest post is by Laurel Henneman. Laurel, the Foundation Relations Manager for the Legal Aid Justice Center, in a former life was a transactional attorney for a large firm in New York City. She now lives in Charlottesville with her family, where she is active in the community and enjoys both local food and Facebook. She appreciates the invitations she has received for Google+, but says they will have to wait until her children are grown or the laundry figures out how to wash itself.

Do you believe in the power of information technology to improve nonprofits’ services, spread the word about important developments, and reach out to supporters? The Cabell Foundation does, and is providing the Legal Aid Justice Center with a $64K “challenge grant” to upgrade our systems. $136K more is needed by December 2011 to meet this challenge. Please contribute if you can, and spread the word to others who might be interested in supporting our work!

For more than 40 years, we have been meeting the civil legal needs of our low-income neighbors with a special focus on vulnerable populations, including children, immigrants, the elderly, and the institutionalized. We now face an urgent need to upgrade the information technology used by our program, in order to meet the increased needs of our clients in a challenging funding environment.

While there are currently some signs of recovery in the broader economy, there are also signs that for the foreseeable future, we should prudently prepare for a “new normal” level of doing more with less. Strategic investments in information technology (including telecommunications, case management, and e-advocacy) are essential for improving the efficiency of our work on behalf of clients, sharing the learning of our advocates with others, and reaching potential funding sources.

As you know so well, state-of-the-art tools in online advocacy now allow nonprofit organizations to disseminate information easily through email and social networking channels, and guide recipients of this information—through simple navigation and a few mouse clicks—to join their cause, contact legislators and other officials to express views on important pending issues, and donate to the continued work on causes they believe in.

Join us in investing in the future of our program and its important service to our low-income neighbors! Click here to donate, or learn more about the Legal Aid Justice Center at If you have questions or want additional information, contact Susan Kruse: susan at, our Donor Relations Manager.


Editor’s Note: Jaggers Communications supports Legal Aid Justice Center with time, talent and dollars and we hope that you will, too.

WTF? Friday: News Sites Allowing Anonymous Commenters

By Communications, Media, Public Relations

I’m pretty angry this morning, so this is not your typical lighthearted Friday post. I was going to do a WTF? Friday video but I didn’t think anyone wanted to see no sleep, mad face Mj, so this is going to have to do.

Here’s what has me fired up: news organizations allowing visitors to their sites to leave anonymous comments. Think about it: the subjects of the news are called out by name; the reporters of the news are certainly not anonymous, but in some cases, newspapers, television stations and other news sources allow comments from people not required to enter their name (and an unpublished e-mail address).

I understand why it’s been handled this way; the thinking is that this fosters more open conversation and indeed, it often does stir the pot successfully. But what we’ve seen — for years now — is that the anonymity is only license for people to be real assholes.

Case in point: a friend and colleague tragically passed away in May of this year. Her parents have decided, as is well within their legal right, to take legal action in the case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the story.  This unleashed dozens (65 as of this writing) of comments, MANY of them cruel, thoughtless, insensitive, ignorant and downright insulting. What good does this do anyone? When I think about the additional harm to my friend’s parents as they will no doubt see the words people cast in their direction from behind the Post’s comment curtain, it makes me incensed.

The discussion is NOT what it could be, if comments were owned; about tort reform, the tragedy of sudden death or retailer responsibility. No. It is, instead just a forum for trolls, haters and idiots clinging to stereotypes and flinging words they don’t have the balls to sign their names to. We KNOW that when people use their names and when the conversation is joined by those being discussed, that the conversation is elevated; that it becomes useful, healthy discussion and that people are overall, more polite. Why not foster that, instead of hate?

Yes, I am angry.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I challenge you to change your comment policy.

My Love for Charlottesville Reaches 4 Million Readers

By Communications, Jaggers Communications News, Media, Public Relations, Social Media

In September’s issue of Woman’s Day magazine (2011) you’re going to see a familiar face. In the feature, A Woman’s Day . . .  in Charlottesville, Virginia I contributed some of my favorite things to do and places to go in this beloved city I call home.

In a town like this, a feature in a major national women’s magazine is news . . . so last night I was on the local affiliates of both CBS and NBC, talking about the experience and how I chose what to share with the magazine’s readers, in case they plan on visiting.

I love the flow of this process: I blogged about 32 small things we like about Charlottesville –> that attracted a reporter to my blog when she was looking for a “woman in Charlottesville.” She said, while Googling, “I just kept running into you.” –> Interview completed, article developed, family portrait taken by local photographer Chris Scott (thank you, again Chris!) –> Article appears –> television coverage on two stations –> I’m blogging about the experience. Full circle!


Here’s the TV news clip from CBS-19:


Netflix: Will you Take Your Popcorn and Go Somewhere Else?

By Media, Social Media

I am not surprised at all about the Netflix announcement that they’ll be raising rates and separating DVD rental from streaming fees.

Come on: how many have you said or thought, for real? We’re paying one price and we can stream all we want AND have DVDs delivered to our house?

I love Netflix and have been a devoted subscriber for more than seven years. I’ve bought the service for parents, grandparents and my sister’s family. I’ve streamed movies on my iPad and watched whole seasons of premium channel TV shows (I love The Wire) on DVD.

The news, though, has seriously pissed off fans, leading to assumptions that Netflix is about to lose its hold on our hearts and our entertainment dollars. The company announced the changes via blog post generating (as of this writing) more than 11,000 comments, most negative, about the additional costs. Most people complain about the lack of selection for streaming movies, vs. what’s available on DVD. It’s a tough choice to make, but at an additional, at least $6 per month per household, one that most people will consider.

The announcement and backlash has spawned dozens of blogger recommendations for alternatives to Netflix for those taking their money and moving on.

I feel a lot of loyalty to the service and will approach the change this way; we’re planning to cut back to one DVD out at a time, and keeping the unlimited streaming. My hope is that the streaming library will improve — and fast — even if its in response to the droves moving away from Netflix.

As far as the way Netflix chose to share the information, I think time will tell whether the jump all the way into the pool approach was helpful or harmful. They could have soft pedaled it, floating the idea that they might be looking at rate changes, or done it incrementally, over time. But instead, they went ahead with the full announcement, left themselves open to feedback, comments and even hatred on their blog and on Facebook. This was brave and admirable. Now, what will they DO with that feedback? Will they back down? Change direction? Stick to their guns? Time will tell.

The changes go into effect September 1, 2011.

What do you think about the way the information was released? Are you a Netflix user? Will you switch to something else, or change the way you subscribe, based on these changes, or do you still think Netflix is the greatest thing since film was invented? Now Daily Beast; When Will Print Be Extinct?

By Media

As I’ve written in the past, I’ve been a long time Newsweek subscriber. The publication has evolved, congruent with the ascendance of new editors, but no more dramatic change has occurred than when Tina Brown took the helm.

Newsweek, essentially, became The Daily Beast, a different animal than what traditional Newsweek readers and subscribers sought. The change, made ever more dramatic by changes to the look and style of the publication, ultimately made us discontinue our subscription, after more than 15 years of weekly cover-to-cover reading.

News this week is that the URL will no longer exist; that all the content will be found on The Daily Beast’s site.

From New York Magazine:

Starting July 19, we hear, will no longer exist. Instead that URL will redirect users to a channel on the Daily Beast site, like its current “politics,” “entertainment,” and “fashion” verticals. The Newsweek channel will still have all the archived magazine content from before (unlike TimeNewsweek puts all of its print content online), and it will be edited and updated once a day to rotate features. Newsweek/Daily Beast editor Tina Brown and Chief Digital Officer Daniel Blackman decided it made the most sense to have all-new non-magazine content appear on the Beast homepage.

What does this mean for the printed edition? Will it continue to be mailed, added to newsstands and archived in libraries? Unlikely. I predict a short life span for the printed pages from here on out. This may be outstanding news for Newsweek’s arch rival Time, but the days of printed news, delivered weekly are days gone by. News happens too fast for weeklies to be relevant, and its no surprise to me that this is where we’re landing.

What do you think? Are you a Newsweek or Time reader or subscriber? Will you, if you have read the printed magazines, read the same content online instead? Do you already?