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Embrace Eccentricity: Takeaways from the MCN Technology and Communications Conference

The following blog is by Alyssa Roach

In Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Nonprofits, communications professionals, technology managers, and fundraisers (and let’s be real, at many organizations, all those jobs are one position) are working to strategically adapt to new technologies, while still meeting the double bottom line. The April 9th Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Technology and Communications Conference brought hundreds of non-profiteers to examine topics like web design, social media, technical project management, and more. As a member of YNPN, I was thrilled to receive a scholarship to the event. I was impressed by the knowledge and passion of the presenters, particularly the keynote which was delivered by Madeline Stanionis, Principal & Creative Director at M&R.

main.jpgStanionis’s plenary “Technology Changes Everything,” touched on the new processes that have radically shaped our society in the last few decades. She also spoke to the importance of authenticity, creativity, and fun in a world that is increasingly bombarded by products to buy, gadgets to try, and worthy organizations to donate their time and money to. Having worked on projects with American Cancer Society, the Smithsonian, and Mozilla, Stanionis shared stories of marketing and development campaigns that went from “meh” to wildly successful. One such example is Planned Parenthood. Stanionis explained that in leveraging their Executive Director, Cecilia Richard’s personality, they made the Planned Parenthood brand more engaging. Her tactic for making an organization stand out in a sea of content is to embrace eccentricity. Stanionis put it the best when she said “The internet is 75% normal and 25% weird.”

In order to tap into the inner weird we all have, we also must be comfortable with creativity – whether that creativity is generating fantastic ideas ... or not. One thing Stanionis said that stuck with me was to not equivocate. Never say ‘this is a dumb idea but…’ You don’t have to have the best idea, just get it out there and start the conversation.

As a person who has never considered myself creative, Stanionis’s speech was refreshing and inspiring. In order to get your message across to the most people in the most impactful way, you have to throw out your rule book and be comfortable with getting weird.


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