Monday, November 15, 2010

Ministry In The Age of Social Media

Article from Ministry Today

Welcome to ministry in the age of social media, where more and more pastors nationwide are awakening to the belief that social media is an effective way to reach not just their own flocks but those beyond their congregations as well.

"Did you miss Sunday service this morning?" reads a post—complete with video link—on the Facebook page of The Potter's House, the Dallas megachurch led by Bishop T.D. Jakes. "Come join us for the Sunday Service Rebroadcast, we have a word just for you." The page has more than 109,000 followers.

According to a recent Nielsen Co. study, Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter—a 43 percent increase over the year before. Churches are increasingly planting their flags in cyberspace, with profile pages teasing upcoming or past sermons, noting meetings and special events, culling for volunteers or posting a verse of the day.

Such strategies are espoused by even Pope Benedict XVI, whom digital news source Mashable dubbed "the social media pontiff" for urging priests to use new technologies to bring people to the church.

"If St. Paul were alive today, he would have a BlackBerry, a laptop and a blog," wrote Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas in the introduction to the blog he began writing last year for parishioners.

Social media's casual and interactive nature is especially well-suited to purposes such as establishing community and conducting outreach, especially in bigger congregations where one can be lost amid the crowd.

"The larger the church, the more important staying connected with people becomes," said Mike Buster, executive pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the Dallas area, with a weekend attendance of more than 14,000 at two campuses. The church's Facebook page lets people check church activity schedules, preview Sunday services, see photos of sponsored events and submit prayer requests.

Facebook is now used by 47 percent of churches, according to unreleased survey results compiled by evangelical research firm LifeWay Research in Nashville, Tenn. And it's not just for those who already belong. When it comes to drawing those looking to join a religious community, an online presence is a near necessity.

"If people are going to consider your church, they're going to consider it first online," said Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research president. "They're going to wonder: 'What is it like? What's going on?' And if you don't tell them, they're not going to come."

While social media offer unprecedented outreach opportunities, there are some things it can't accomplish, such as simply visiting a member or churchgoer in the hospital. It also presents challenges for pastors—for instance, not letting his or her church lose sight of the mission and message while ensuring that the convenience of cyber-community doesn't substitute for the real thing.

"Church requires feet and faces, not just electrons and avatars," Stetzer said. "Social media can be the tool, but not the goal."

Evangelical blogger Kent Shaffer, author of Oklahoma City-based Church Relevance, agreed. "Church social media shouldn't be about broadcasting oneself and spamming the masses," he said via e-mail. Instead, used well, it can enhance a church's mission without distracting from it.

Prestonwood's Buster is aware of the dangers. "We will never allow social media to replace personal contact or the sharing of Christ through people," he said. "It will not replace our face-to-face evangelism."

In the meantime, churches are just keeping up with the times.

Source: The Dallas Morning News 11-14-10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Tips To Brand Yourself

by Ophelia Livingston, CEO of OWL Risk Management Consulting
Helping Your Business Grow Using Social Media

Small Business
What's your brand? You may not know it, but if you've created a book, CD, or DVD, you've already started developing a brand.

Small businesses have always been focused on building the brand names of their companies and for good reason. How else would people know they exist, what they offer and even where they're located. Some small businesses invest in expensive PR companies, hoping for publicity in mainstream news outlets. Others, such as bootstrapper entrepreneurs, use guerilla marketing tactics to generate interest with almost no budget. We're living in a world where consumers and journalists alike are looking to connect directly with entrepreneurs and hear their stories. It's not just about what your company does, but why you started it, its purpose and your vision. Social technologies, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, have enabled entrepreneurs to become known, connect directly with their audience and build relationships on a global scale. As a small business, you need to become the brand.

Strong branding can help develop your following and expand your audience. But what is a brand? In its simplest form, a brand is a noun: the name attached to a product or service. In reality, however, a brand encompasses many more intangible aspects of a product or service; it is a collection of feelings and perceptions about quality, image, lifestyle, and status. A brand creates in the minds of customers and prospects the perception that there is no product or service on the market quite like yours. In short, a brand offers the customer a guarantee of a specific value or benefit from a product and then delivers on it.

Step 1: Define Your Core Value
To begin proactively establishing your brand, you'll need to ask yourself a few questions. What value do you want your target audience to receive as a result of listening to your CD, watching your DVD, or reading your book? What benefits can you give your customers in the course of reading, listening to, or viewing your work? Is your brand an experience, such as an emotional connection, or does it offer educational value? Essentially, what do you want to communicate through your offering?

Step 2: Create a Logo
Businesses, blogs – even individuals – can stand to benefit from a compelling and memorable logo. The best logos are almost surprisingly simplistic; for example, think of the lowercase “f” that immediately brings Facebook to mind. The reason why logos are so important in the branding process is that people tend to remember images more vividly than they remember words and names, so if you can create a visual representation of yourself or your business that really stands out, you’ve already accomplished half of the branding battle.

Step 3: Become An Expert On Something That Relates To Your Business
Small businesses looking to garner media attention, attract new clients and build their businesses should focus on becoming an expert in their field. For instance, Alexa von Tobel, CEO of, has branded herself as a personal finance expert for young people. As a result, Fox Business, The New York Times, and other media outlets have interviewed Alexa, which provides exposure for her company. Avoid establishing an expertise that's irrelevant to your corporate mission, goals, and vision because you'll be wasting your time. If you own a record label, it's probably not wise to brand yourself as a nutrition expert.

Step 4: Focus on Making Genuine Connections
All too often, people think of networking as something they “have to” do for their business, and the entire process is suddenly imbued with a sense of dreadful phoniness. The real key to successful networking is to make an effort to forge real connections with people, both online and off. Every blog you contact for linkbacks should be one that you actually read and enjoy; every person you hand a business card to should be someone with whom you have found common ground. It may take a little extra work to network this way, but it will be far more effective in the long run.

Step 5: Establish a Website or Blog Under Your Full Name
The media and your customers both use search engines to research you, connect with you and potentially either do business with you or interview you. That's why you need to purchase your full name as a domain name ( By developing either a static website or a blog under your domain name, you will own the first result for your name in Google and other search engines. This should be a separate site than your company's website. After purchasing your domain name, add your picture, a bio, your e-mail address and links to the rest of your online presence (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). This way, people can get in touch with you in their medium of choice. Claim your name before someone else does.

Step 6: Infuse Your Brand into Your Work
The first place to start building your brand is in your work itself. For example, an author's distinct writing style is part of a brand that will help readers know what they can expect to get out of reading a particular book, whether that style is grim and terrifying, or light-hearted and humorous. Audiences who expect a certain kind of listening, viewing, or reading experience will be drawn to music, film, or writing in the style and genre that delivers what they're looking for. Defining what category (or categories) your work falls into is critical to helping your customers find you.

Step 7: Carry Your Brand Through Your Marketing Materials
You can further develop the signature look and feel of your brand through your product's design and marketing materials. For example, choosing similar but distinctive layouts and cover artwork for multiple products can help develop the brand of a series. Designing a website and press kit that are consistent with your product's themes will also help you brand your marketing efforts.

Step 8. Learn How To Be a Good Source
Find out which media sources your audience reads, listens to or watches, research the types of content they provide and locate the exact gatekeeper to pitch. You or your publicist can also e-mail journalists and editors in response to one of their articles, with a note that you are available to comment on future articles. If and when a journalist e-mails or calls you for an interview, respond with haste because they are typically on deadline for their stories. Answer their questions thoroughly, while making sure that you get your message across.

When you're interviewed by the media, you will always be able to promote your company through your byline, which will help build both yours and your company's brand. Once the interview is complete, send a follow-up e-mail asking if they have any more questions, and make sure you include your bio and your picture.

Step 9: Generate Brand Awareness Through Networking

You should be connecting with other small businesses in your industry using social networks, such as or and commenting on their blogs. Networking is one of the best ways to become known in your industry. By forming relationships with people in your audience you can grow your business relationships and your brand long-term.

The four rules of networking that you should keep in mind are mutualism, giving, targeting and reconnecting.
• Mutualism: You have to create win-win relationships in business, making sure that you don't benefit more than the other party.
• Giving: Help someone out, before asking for anything in return. This makes people want to support you.
• Targeting: You want to be very specific with the types of people you network with, in order to save time and to attract the right people to your brand.
• Reconnecting: Never lose touch, that way networking contacts remember you when new opportunities surface.

Step 10: Be Consistent
Consistent messaging is the key to successful branding. It is essential that you establish your core values from the beginning of your body of work and return to them frequently. For example, the creator of a weight-loss workout video could establish his or her brand as being reliable, easy to follow, and consistently producing results. To reinforce that particular brand, the filmmaker could carry that "can do" attitude over into any related book or print publications, provide examples of success stories on the video's website, and regularly update a blog with health tips. Finally, if the values you want to portray as a musician, writer, or filmmaker are different from your personal or professional values, consider adopting a pseudonym and establishing an alternative brand for that identity.

Building your brand identity in these seemingly small ways will enhance your credibility and promote customer loyalty. Creating a rock-solid brand identity will cultivate one of the strongest competitive advantages there is: mind share, which is the process of fostering favorable attitudes toward a product or organization. As a result, customers will think of you first when they think of your product category. If you consistently deliver on your brand's promise, customers will return time and again, bringing new customers with them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm New To CinchCast and I'm Loving It! So What Is It?

For the record, I'm new to Cinchcast, a combined micro-podcasting and tweeting netwroking website. As a busy professional I'm always on the go, traveling and talking to many people. Now I have a way to instantly share my ideas and conversations with others through Cinchcast. I’ve recently added the cinchcast widget to my blog and website.

It is the unofficial brain child of BlogTalkRadio and Twitter. Cinchcast is available for Smartphones, iPhones and Androids phones. There are six Cinch tips that I want to talk to you about.

Cinchast Marketing Tips
1. Busy Executives & Professionals
Professionals are always on the run, but cinch now provides a very simple and effective way for CEO’s, Presidents and executives to engage conversation with their market, prospects, customers and users of social media services. Pre-Twitter times made it somewhat difficult for these executives to take time to engage in social media and communicate with their market. When twitter came around it became even easier for these very executives to fulfill their communication duties and now for the post twitter times we’re looking at Cinchcast. Now it will really be a cinch for these executives to communicate important messages. All they have to do is make a very quick phone call from the number associated to their accounts and leave a message, in a matter of minutes it will be available to the entire Cinchast community and the followers of said account. Cinchcast will be excellent for the CEO, The Professional or the busy executive always on the go.

2. Personal Touch
Keep in touch with bloggers, send a holiday greeting, or a very quick follow up message. Cinchcast will make it very easy for you to connect with influential members of your niche or business market.

3. Memos & Announcements
Spread Company announcements, memos, info about specials, deals and sales, what better way than to pick up your office phone and send a voice memo to thousands of members on the Cinchast service? In a matter of minutes everyone will hear about your sale any special deals or get up-to-date information on your company or business ventures.

4. Promoting
Promote your blog, website, news, and pretty much anything you’d like to promote; Cinchast allows to blast a voice recorded message about your sites or anything you’d like to promote and in addition to blasting your message you can also add links to them so that folks can follow them directly. On the road, not a problem! The minute you get to the office log in to your cinch account and edit the cinch, add your link and your good to go.

5. Success Stories
If your running a customer driven business and you’re offering a product then it’s great to share success stories with your cinchers. If you sound confident, excited and honest about your message then the cinchers will probably check out what you’re talking about.

6. Relationships
If you’ve heard about relationship marketing then you probably know that Cinchast provides great opportunity for building the relationship marketing facet of your business. Whether you’re a blogger, running a store, or managing any sort of online or offline business you probably understand the value of long-term returns on your efforts. Building relationships has become much easier and sharing information about your product or business is one of the main keys in developing those relationships. Cinchcast allows you to build your community, have them know you and in return help you to establish and expand your brand.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Avoiding Fraud and Scams During The Holiday Season

by Ophelia W. Livingston

Word of mouth is fraud's worst enemy!
The holidays are traditionally a time of giving, yet they're also a time when crooks try to take advantage of consumers. During the holiday season, scams targeting your pocketbook tend to pop up more frequently, so please be aware! Listed below are several fraud and scams that are circling around and making stops in your inbox and/or mailbox.

Holiday Electronic Greeting Cards

Seems harmless, right? How could a nice card of caterpillars hugging hurt anyone? Well, they've become so popular that scam artists have started using them as bait for installing malware on your computer. This is especially true around holiday times – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, etc. when millions of people send or receive e-greeting cards and e-gift cards. Here's how it works:
You receive an email letting you know that "a friend" has sent you a holiday greeting card. When you click the link to open the card, you are either directed to a site with malware on it, or you'll be asked to install a video plug-in or some other kind of software so you can view the card.

"Smishing" is the newest twist on "phishing" - when you get an email from a supposedly trustworthy source like your bank or PayPal, claiming there's a problem with your account. The scammers hope you'll click the link in the scam email and enter in all your account information that they in turn use to steal your money.

Instead of an email, the "smishers" send you an SMS text message to your phone. The text says there's something wrong with your account and they provide a phone number they hope you'll call and then be duped into providing all your information. How can you prevent getting "smished"? Do your research. Before even thinking about calling the number, Google it. If it's a legitimate number, it should match the information on the financial institution's official website. If it's a scam, you'll probably uncover websites full of other people who also got "smished" and want to talk about it.

Nigerian Email Scam
This scam has been used for over ten years and is sent out to victims via letter, e-mail, and fax. It consists of a message stating the sender has a large sum of money, usually around 35 million, and needs help transferring it out of Nigeria, or some other place. As a reward for your help, the sender promises to pay you a few million dollars.

Once you respond stating your willingness to help, the sender explains that there are transfer fees for the transaction, and that you'll need to pay them. Surprise!! You get deeper and deeper into the scam as the money supposedly gets closer and closer to your bank account, but can't seem to quite get there without an increasing amount of money from you. These emails are constantly being modified. A new one message supposedly comes from a rich Iraqi businessman trying to get 120 million dollars out of the country. Here's a sample:

To learn more about Nigerian Email scams go to:

Auction Fraud (eBay and Yahoo Auctions)
Auction fraud was the second most reported consumer fraud complaint to the FTC, totaling 51,000 auction complaints in 2002. The fraud is simple - put up a fake ad on eBay, let someone "win" the bid and send in their money, but never send out the merchandise. To learn more visit

"You've Won a Prize!" Lottery Scam
We all want to be winners, but if someone calls you on the telephone and offers you the chance to receive a "major" credit card, a prize, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data -- such as your Social Security number, credit card number or expiration date, or mother's maiden name -- ask them to send you a written application form.

If they won't do it, tell them you're not interested and hang up. If they will, review the application carefully when you receive it and make sure it's going to a company or financial institution that's well-known and reputable. The Better Business Bureau can give you information about businesses that have been the subject of complaints.

Phony Identity Theft Protection or Credit Repair Scams
The Federal Trade Commission has warned that some companies that claim to be identity theft prevention services are scam artists trying to get your driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, Social Security number and credit and bank account numbers. Don't ever give out any personal information over the phone or online unless you are familiar with the business that is asking for it. If you are unsure about a firm, check it out with the Better Business Bureau. Credit repair scams offer to erase accurate negative information from your credit file so you can qualify for a credit card, auto loan, home mortgage, or a job.

The scam: The scam artists who promote these services can't deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit. The companies that advertise credit repair services appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. Not only can't they provide you with a clean credit record, but they also may be encouraging you to violate federal law. If you follow their advice by lying on a loan or credit application, misrepresenting your Social Security number, or getting an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses, you will be committing fraud.

"Make Millions Stuffing Envelopes!" Scam
These business opportunities make it sound easy to start a business that will bring lots of income without much work or cash outlay. The solicitations trumpet unbelievable earnings claims of $140 a day, $1,000 a day, or more, and claim that the business doesn't involve selling, meetings, or personal contact with others, or that someone else will do all the work.
Many business opportunity solicitations claim to offer a way to make money in an Internet-related business. Short on details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a telephone number to call for more information. In many cases, you'll be told to leave your name and telephone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch. The scam: Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate opportunities to earn money.

To learn more contact OWL Risk Management Consulting at or call 1-866-579-7475

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adults Using Mobile Phones

A study by Pew Internet was recently released, which focused on mobile phone behavior among American adults. In this study, it was determined that 72% of American adult cell phone users send and receive text messages on a regular basis. While this is similar to the percentage of American teens that send and receive texts (87%), American adults still send about 1/5 the number of text than their teenage counterparts. A number of other interesting findings were included in this study, the most interesting of which are illustrated below:

African American and English-speaking Hispanics are more likely to own a cell phone and to use their handset more intensively than their white counterparts.

87% of African Americans and English-speaking Hispanics own cell phones, compared to 80% of whites.
12% of African American and 14% of English-speaking Hispanics make and receive more than 30 calls a day on their mobile phones. 4% of whites report placing and receive that many calls.
African American and Hispanic texters typical send and receive 10 texts a day; whites who text typically send and receive 5 texts a day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tips on Preventing Crime on Church Property

What Can You Do?
Criminals like an easy target. Lessen the likelihood of becoming a theft victim by making it difficult for burglars to obtain you church's valuables. A self-assessment, paired with advice from your local police department, along with the simple tips listed below, may give you the information you need to better protect your property.

Enlist Aid from Others
Play cops and robbers. Pretend you are a thief. Walk around your church, looking for ways you could get into the church and steal valuables. Ask someone unfamiliar with your building to do the same. Note vulnerabilities and patch them.

Befriend the boys in blue. Call your local police or sheriff's department and invite them to tour your ministry buildings. Most crime prevention officers could identify several ways to improve your security—at little or no cost.

Call on neighbors. Consider joining or starting a Neighborhood Watch program. With the whole neighborhood keeping an eye on your property, the likelihood of a property crime is greatly reduced.

Strengthen Security Measures
Lock up the keys. Control access to the church by limiting the number keys you pass out to various ministry leaders. When someone leaves the ministry, make sure that person returns the same key that you gave him or her.

Sound an alarm. A good alarm system offers three lines of defense: Window stickers that alert criminals to its presence, an audible alarm, and a monitoring system that dispatches police.

Keep an eye on the place. Consider placing video cameras at target areas of the property. This defensive move will not only deter potential burglars, but it will aid the law if a burglar does trespass.

Revival time tabernacle men order my steps in your word - Lyrics