Tag Archives: generations

an armistice is not peace

tweets from itswanny about north koreaEarlier this week, Andrew (@itsswanny) began following the news about the earthquake in North Korea. He was watching @breakingnews, a news feed that serves the twitter community. They reported an earthquake in North Korea. It was clear very quickly, to @breakingnews, to @itsswanny, and to many other people that this wasn’t a normal earthquake.

Andrew’s interest was triggered by his interest in showing the value of non-traditional news organizations in reporting breaking news. It likely wasn’t triggered by a personal connection, though he knows that there is a very personal connection to the actions in Korea.

My dad spent a couple years of his life in Korea, and the rest of his life being affected by that experience. He watched friends die, holding at least one during those last moments. Because of his role in the military, he was aware of horrible things that happened to many people on many sides of that conflict. He was seriously wounded. Memorial Day has never been an abstract concept for him.

He didn’t talk much about his experiences. I remember only three short conversations. I did, however, do some reading to understand better what had happened.  (The book I read, among others, was The Korean War by Max Hastings. I have it here on my shelf.)

At times, Dad referred to the fact that it wasn’t an officially declared war. It was called a “police action” by President Truman. For not being a war, Dad thought, there was a lot that looked like war.

The fighting ended in 1953 with an armistice, a truce. The line that was drawn when the fighting stopped wasn’t far from the where the line had been when the fighting started.  The battleline had moved far south and north and south on the peninsula before stopping.

There was a lot of fighting and destruction and death for no apparent purpose, and no apparent peace.

That’s been troubling me all week.

Two generations have reached adulthood since my dad was nearly killed in a war that wasn’t a war that ended without peace.

How often, I ave been thinking, do we move to avoidance rather than peace? How often are we willing to accept a suspension of conflict rather than waging peace? How often do the agreements that seem to cover over something lead to trouble for the generations that follow?

At this point, there is nothing Dad can do about this unresolved, reboiling conflict, though I am sure he prays. At this point, Andrew’s interest is more in the reportage than the resolution of the real-world conflict. (Though you can see from the picture that he was involved in his own peacemaking police action just before the earthquake on the other side of the world.)

At this point, I don’t know what I can do. About the tension between nations, that is.

About highlighting the need to wage peace, however, I can start to do something.

Starting with mentioning it.



a case of word of mouth marketing

Andy Sernovitz is changing how I think.

I got an advance copy of the revised edition of  Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. (I got it free. I acknowledge that up front.)

Andy talks about talking, about getting people talking about your product, your company, your ministry, your brand, your blog. Much of what he says seems obvious, until you step back and say, “It makes sense, but why aren’t we doing that.” Andy helps you think about how to do it.

His definition of word of mouth marketing is simple:

Giving people a reason to talk about your stuff and making it easier for that conversation to take place.

People talk all the time. People talk about businesses, about people, about institutions, about problems. What Andy is suggesting is that we can help people want to talk about us.  For businesses, this is huge. It’s also huge for nonprofits, churches, and even individuals.

At the heart of his book  are the 5Ts of word-of-mouth marketing: talkers, topics, tools, taking part, and tracking. Let me explain them by using a completely self-serving example.

Young people in love: a word of mouth case study

Our son Andrew and I entered a blogging contest. You write a post. It goes up at thetalentbuzz.com. After two weeks, the post with the most unique visitors wins a $1000 gift card. If we win the gift card, Andrew gets $1000 for an engagement ring (really).

We wrote a post together, talking about some quality college seniors, the kind you would want to attract to your organization, who are moving away from the social networks that some of us are moving toward. (Here’s the post: How will you find them?) The argument is that “we” encourage companies to get on Facebook and Twitter, and at least some college kids are moving away from those platforms.

This is the perfect project for talking about word-of-mouth. The more people that we can get to visit our post, the more likely we are to win. The more people we get talking about the ideas in the post, the more everyone wins.

T#1: Talkers

You start by identifying your talkers. Andrew is working on his networks.  I’m coming to you.  What are his? He’s been involved at one discussion site for more than 7 years. He’s got credibility there. Who are mine? The people who have been learning about my family and my thinking for the past 3 years of blogging here.

Everyone, every organization, every congregation, every blog, every company has talkers, people who care. Sometimes there aren’t many, but usually there are some. Find them. Figure out who they are. Figure out what they are interested in. Customers, fans, grandparents, friends, colleagues, suppliers–depending on your setting, these are talkers.

My talkers include some of you. Some of you are interested in me. Some of you are interested in social media. Some of you are interested in church. This particular project will most connect with the “social media” and “me” talkers. I think.

T#2: Topics

The next thing you do is to give your talkers topics, something to talk about. I could, for example, talk about the contest (“Clink on this link and help us win”). I could, on the other hand, appeal to romance (“Click on this link and help Andrew win the card and buy his girlfriend an engagement ring”).

But how are those topics related to you, to my talkers? What is your interest in helping us win, whatever the romantic appeal?

If I understand Andy, some of you already talk about how I look at things. What I would need to do is give you something new about how I look at things.

I’ve been giving people information about Andrew for a long time. Last summer, for example, the readers of smallbizsurvival.com met him when I talked about his small business experience. (They are coming). I’ve spent the last year at gnmparents.com writing about what I’ve learned about parenting, starting with a several weeks series about Andrew. (This one talks about Andrew and Allie and soccer.)

Thus, you already know about Andrew. The new topic is “this kid I’ve heard about isn’t pursuing communication the same way his dad is, and this kid is part of the future.”

T#3: Tools

Once you have a topic, give your talkers tools to make it easy for them to talk about you. For example, if you are a not-for-profit, forget making business cards for yourself. Make them for your volunteers.

Following Andy’s advice, I’m going for simple.

1. I’m asking for your help.

2. I’ll be putting this in an email to some friends, making it easy to forward.

3. And I’ll figure out how to create a “tell-a-friend” link of some sort.

Ironically, I’ll also use Twitter. The point of our post is that Andrew’s friends are not using Twitter. However, a number of mine are.

T#4: Taking Part

Once a conversation starts, word-of-mouth marketing demands that you get involved. It’s a conversation, not a speech.  I’ve got to be active in any comments that are happening at thetalentbuzz.com, for example. This includes responding to criticisms that this campaign is all about buzz and not about substance.

I also need to keep writing about other things. I need to stay connected.

T#5: Tracking

Finally, keeping track of the conversation is important. Where are people talking about this project? Is it showing up in other blogs, tweets, or forums? I’ll come back to this in a few days.


So there you go. A post that reviews a book, tries to generate traffic for a blog post contest, teaches about a marketing concept, tries to start a generational conversation, and maintains some transparency. I’ll let you decide how I did. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit the post Andrew and I wrote (How will you find them).