Celebrity Star Power To Benefit Urban Battlefields

twitter-grammyMay 24, 2009 See this “Tweet” at left?

That’s the power of Twitter.

Now get this…I’m not even ON Twitter.

You heard right. No Twitter account. That means your content can be ‘tweeted’ even if you’re not the one chirping.

When I see Twitter’s instantaneous ability to get the word out, whether it’s Sting flying in to perform at Narada Michael Walden’s superstar Memorial Day benefit, or the one day only urgency of “lifelong learning lectures” at The Teaching Company where they’re heavily discounting ivy league profs in a Memorial Day sale, I hedge a bit and reconsider.

On one hand, I hate missing out on a good conversation. On the other, to quote Nobel Prize winning chemist William N. Lipscomb, “If your position is everywhere your momentum is zero.” And my media management is in ‘snorkel in high surf’ mode as it is, so the thought of adding more is daunting.

As I mentioned yesterday, S. Neil Vineberg, one of my co-contributors in the collaborative book The Age of Conversation, is a longtime friend of Narada Michael Walden, helping him get the word out about the benefit. I figured I could e-interview Neil Vineberg about the concert, the man and his music and ‘show and tell’ the power of social media using a 24-hour countdown before show time? (Think 24 without the Kiefer role)

nmw-twittersongThe power of Twitter is a perfect demo for the role social media can play with kids and cause-marketing, shades of Beth Kanter’s classic ‘America’s Giving Challenge’ where she scored the $50K national prize from Parade to help out the kids in Cambodia using social media tools.

I wrote about Beth’s amazing work awhile back, and her use of social media for a 24-hour fundraiser to send an orphan to college is legendary in cause-marketing circles.

As you can see by the ability to add music into Twitter from Blip.fm, the feeds have become even more sophisticated in outreach and ‘value-added’ benefit for the buzz-building of ‘show and tell.’

twitter-neilSince I’ve never MET nor spoken with Neil directly, it’s ironic we’ve ‘collaborated’ on two books together (AOC 1 and 2) —but that’s proof positive that in social media,  The Age of Conversation lives onin its many forms.

It also re-establishes the odd and ever-changing face of communication… sometimes you don’t even get to see a face at all!

I keep trying to change all that. I’ve been having a great Facebook dialog about the concert with ANOTHER collaborative gent, John Deneen, protégé of Doug Engelbart, who I’ve never met face to face, and he’s eager to attend Let the Sunshine In too!

So without further ado…

Here’s S. Neil Vineberg, President of Vineberg Communications, who lives, eats, and breathes PR/promotion…(ok, and music, meditation, media, etc) It’s also a refreshing reminder that there are ‘brands doing good’ out there, amidst the vilification of the marketing industry overall.

Shaping Youth: What’s your role and involvement with the NMW Foundation/Let the Sunshine In? And…are you a musician as well?

S. Neil Vineberg: I’m a longtime friend and supporter of Narada Michael Walden and he asked me to help with the concert.

I’ve been selling tickets, consulting the team on branding and messaging, securing some media coverage, and putting together teams of people to flier. Narada has assembled an outstanding group of volunteers to manage the Narada Michael Walden Foundation and organize the concert.

And yes, in addition to my PR firm, I’m also a guitarist. I perform new age/jazz fusion original compositions and works by my guru Sri Chinmoy. Both meditation students of Sri Chinmoy, Narada and I have played music together many times and we’ve known each for many decades. He invited me to play on Whitney Houston’s second album and I cherish his friendship and incredible life.

Shaping Youth: Narada Michael Walden has given back so much to the community, it seems fitting that he’s doing a Memorial Day music concert to address the urban battlefields that took the legs of this child.

nmw-twitter2S. Neil Vineberg: Narada has a giant heart and he was profoundly moved by the unfortunate circumstances that resulted in young Christopher Rodriguez bring paralyzed by a stray bullet while taking a piano lesson. Narada also believes that music can play an important role in bringing harmony and inspiration into the lives of young children so they grow up embracing love versus guns and violence.

For this concert he’s brought his friends together in support of music education in the Bay Area…it’s going to be big. Proceeds from the event will also fund a scholarship at the SF Conservatory of Music.

Shaping Youth: How can we best use mass media and the celebrity factor to do GOOD things in the world?

let-the-sunshine-inS. Neil Vineberg: Years ago I organized a global run for peace that’s now called World Harmony Run today. Many celebrities, including Sir Paul McCartney, Carl Lewis, Narada, Clarence Clemons, Jewel, and heads of state like President Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev, held the Torch.

It’s my experience that celebrities will embrace causes they connect with (if asked) and it’s no surprise that Sting, Earl Klugh, Bob Weir and many others, have joined with Narada for Let the Sunshine In.

Celebrities are important to extending your message because the media love celebrities. A celebrity who is passionate about your story can amplify it in significant ways, especially through the media. Social media tools afford you even greater opportunity for celebrities to reach audiences directly.

I believe Narada Michael Walden will be an outstanding advocate for music education and an end to gun violence…

Shaping Youth: Is the economy hurting ticket sales? How are you using social media to promote Let the Sunshine In?

S. Neil Vineberg: The economy is not helping ticket sales, and Memorial Day Weekend finds many people on vacation. We’ve embraced social media to drive awareness. There is a Facebook group for Let the Sunshine In, and Narada uses Facebook to interact with fans and friends.

I’ve been tweeting about the concert constantly. Several podcasts and videos appear on YouTube. Here’s a video featuring myself and Narada (below) in fact, after one of our early coordination meetings…You can watch other videos here.

This is Narada’s largest event in San Francisco, and the first of many to come. You’ll see him ramp up social media around the Foundation’s work and that will include more Facebook, Twitter, podcasting and blogging…

Thanks, Neil. Good luck with it…I’ll watch the Twitter feeds doing the 24 hour ‘bums rush’ social media blitz, and may even see you there!



  1. Amy I have a Twitter account (set up by my office manager for me) and somehow followers (don’t know how they found me) however I’m inclined to believe sometimes you have to choose your method of madness and stick to it eliminate the extras after deciding how much exposure you need to achieve your goals. therefore in the future I may attempt to understand more right now I’m treading water just getting our new front page launched however I do hear great things about the new social media twitter and I figure by the time I’m ready to learn it something new will have been created and I’m once again at square one.

    Regarding Neil your right we have to decide how we’ll use what we have for the better of our children (all of them everywhere) and I’ll be doing that as well.

    Dorothy from grammology

    Dorothy Stahlnecker’s last blog post..Helping those we love

  2. I “account-share” on Twitter with friends by popping in to join a conversation incognito, but the truth is, when Twitter became the powerhouse player for instantaneous flow of social media information (right up there with Facebook ‘status’ lines and friend feeds) I got deluged with emails of people wanting to ‘follow me’ and felt overwhelmed.

    I know when I get more hands (interns, teens, etc. for follow through) I won’t be as stretched and can go on Twitter freely, but I know myself well enough to know that I won’t be able to ‘not reply’ as I always try to be ‘there’ and fully present…so as Beth Kanter would say, think it through before you commit to use it properly, as it’s all about the ‘value add’ of the conversations and adding to the richness of the content rather than the noise and blather.

    This blog is ‘too rich’ as it is, content wise, and I’m trying to get a ‘visual’ approach going to shorten and limit ‘deep dives’ to maybe one article a week for in-depth analysis, as I’m stretched too thin in other areas…

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