Michael Halicki on communications professionals leading nonprofits and marketing parks.

Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride, talks about how he brings diverse groups together, gets the word out about the importance of parks and why communications professionals may be the best people to run nonprofits.


Rudy Fernandez:           Hey, this is Rudy Fernandez, and my guest this episode is Michael Halicki, the Executive Director of Park Pride. It’s a small nonprofit that’s gaining national attention for its outreach efforts. Of course, we’ve talked about the importance of parks, but we also talked about how marketing professionals are playing a bigger role in nonprofits, not just as communicators, but as leaders and directors. We talked about how to bring diverse groups together for one mission, and what for-profits can learn from nonprofits. Check it out. Welcome to Marketing Upheaval.

Earcon:                         You’re listening to Marketing Upheaval, from Creative Outhouse.

Rudy:                           Hey, thanks for listening to Marketing Upheaval. My guest is Michael Halicki, the executive director of Park Pride, a park advocacy nonprofit organization based in Atlanta. It’s gaining national attention. Michael’s had a long career as a leader in nonprofit organizations. Then we’re going to talk about that and Park Pride. Thanks for coming on the podcast.

Michael Halicki:            Glad to be here.

Rudy:                           Michael, I follow you a lot on social media, and you visit a lot of parks and you tell people a lot about parks and I’ve learned a lot. What can you say about parks, especially local parks that are important, that we don’t know?

Michael:                       I think probably the most important thing is that parks are good for you. There’s a lot of research that talks about how parks are good for your health. There’s a lot of growing body of research that talks about a daily dose of nature and the idea that people need to get out into nature on a regular basis, and that when you don’t get that access to nature, it has negative impacts on your physical wellbeing, social wellbeing, and psychological wellbeing. Parks are a place to do that.

Rudy:                           Yeah. Do you advocate for all parks, big parks, local parks?

Michael:                       We do advocate for all parks, but we really think that local parks, where you live, are something that everyone needs. So we keep track of things like the people that, in our service area, live within a 10 minute walk of a park, and we certainly like those signature parks, the destination parks that people will go to. But we think you shouldn’t have to get in a car to drive somewhere to go have a great experience in a park.

Rudy:                           Actually, I should point out, there is an organization that ranks cities or metropolitan areas based on how far people are to a park, and Atlanta went from number 50 to-

Michael:                       42nd.

Rudy:                           To 42nd in a very short amount of time.

Michael:                       It did, yes. Yes. Part of the reason for that is, with the Atlanta BeltLine, we’ve been seeing Atlanta moving from that kind of bottom of the list to moving up in our rankings as we’re adding more parks. The methodology that they use for that effort also changed a little bit to recognize efforts by groups like Park Pride and private philanthropy.

Michael:                       Atlanta actually does better than a lot of other cities in getting private support to help improve our parks. That helped us in our comparative standings. Still, when we look at 42nd out of a 100 cities, we’re in the middle of the road, and so the idea that we moved from 50th to 42nd chose significant increases, but we’re still at a point where we have a work to do.

Rudy:                           How do you get, let’s say, business leaders to get in on that? Because Atlanta is a very business-centric city. How do you convince them that taking the space that could be used for something that they would consider productive, should be a park?

Michael:                       I think that there are a couple of different ways to look at this. One of them is within our commercial districts, we’re seeing increasingly a need for urban parks in those downtown and urban settings, and that’s both a need as we see more people wanting to live closer to Downtown or in Downtown or Midtown, and Buckhead.

Michael:                       Mark Toro, from North American Properties, has talked about the idea that, in commercial real estate, it isn’t just selling the buildings, but it’s the spaces in between that also matter. Those are actually part of the package of why people invest in spaces and why people choose to live and to spend their money in different areas. I think there’s an economic argument to be made that parks are good for business.

Michael:                       I think that when you look at it on a larger level, why companies decide to relocate move with Atlanta, and the quality of life of parks. Again, with the idea of local parks, parks where you live in your neighborhoods and where people are, makes for a better quality of life and that makes Atlanta more competitive with other areas.

Rudy:                           I’ve wondered, this is Marketing Upheaval and how things have changed in marketing, it’s hard enough to sell actual things. I can manufacture something-

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           … and you sell a thing that somebody needs. With the changing environment, what is it like to be a nonprofit and approach businesses to say, “Here, we need you to give us money or sponsor something or support something?” How do you approach that? What does a marketing plan look like for a nonprofit?

Michael:                       One thing that I’ll say is it’s constantly evolving and changing. You need to be nimble. I do think, in this day and age with technology, that there are platforms that are more accessible to groups at a much cheaper cost, but those same channels are much more crowded out by other folks who aren’t restricted from those different areas.

Michael:                       I think that there’s a need to, much like in traditional marketing, of figuring out who your customer is, who you’re trying to reach, that there’s a tendency I know in the for-profit set of things to want to market to everyone, and you can’t market to everyone. Well, same thing in our nonprofit community, we look at people who care about parks as our first group.

Michael:                       The second group that we look at are people who care about health, and if you can convince them that parks help to improve health, then they offer parks too. People that are interested in other issues, and if you can show them how parks improve, that they’re good for economic development, they’re good for health, they help to protect the environment by cooling areas, then you can get other folks on board with parks. Then there’s a whole a group of what I think of as park adjacent issues.

Michael:                       Park Pride is working in collaboration with partners that work on parks, trees, trails and watersheds, all with the idea that, I really don’t need to spend my energy trying to convince people why they shouldn’t care about trees, they should care about parks. It’s really about how all of this stuff fits together and that we’re ultimately all on the same team. That also makes sense with our audience, because there aren’t like the tree people and then the park people and then the water or the river people, or the bike people, that a lot of the folks who care about one of these things cares about all those things.

Rudy:                           I’m going to actually get back to the collaborative thing later. Now, because of all the changes, it’s less expensive but more crowded. What are some of the channels you use?

Michael:                       One of the things that I’ve learned, and actually, Rudy, you shared this with me. There was a book called Juicing the Orange, that I read and took to heart, that was really about the importance of strong creative as opposed to really just looking at the idea of flooding the airwaves, and really, if you can come up with ways that you’re really talking directly to audiences and getting them to care, that that’s far more impactful than having a lot of money and crappy creative.

Michael:                       I think that there’s been a lot that we’ve done since I’ve come to Park Pride. People used to say that we were the best kept secret. They don’t say that anymore. They say other things, but they don’t say that, and it’s because of the fact that we, with our strategic plan, prioritized the visibility, the branding, getting our website together. It was a strong platform, not just for the folks who were already knew us, but for people who don’t know us.

Michael:                       I think that we’ve spent a lot of time investing on that side of things to try to make sure that we’re going beyond the choir. Part of it also is not resting on your laurels, but figuring out ways that you’re engaging in current realities and current events, and showing that you’re relevant and not just phoning it in, in terms of any of your messaging. I think, that, combined with a level of passion and authenticity, cuts through the clutter.

Rudy:                           When you have a nonprofit you’ve alluded resources, how do you keep up with all those things?

Michael:                       Well, I was laughing because a friend of mine … When I first took this job at Park Pride, people asked me how the new job is, and I would say it was everything I hoped for and more. His response was, “My day and night job is naming your job as your day and night job.” I do find, with social media these days, that the idea of a cyclical new cycle doesn’t really fit anymore. Things are perpetually in play.

Michael:                       I find that there’s a need to really stay connected and to pay attention to what’s going on and to look at different opportunities to get your organization, your brand out there. I think if you don’t have that mindset, if you’re going with the idea that I don’t do those types of things, then you’re really relying on having people only connect with you on your terms, and I think your potential for your audience goes way down.

Rudy:                           Yeah, I’m seeing that a lot. The more I talk to people, some common threads and that is that your brand used to be a brand belonging to you, now your brand belongs to people who are part of you or feel like they’re-

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           … a part of you.

Michael:                       As well as those who suddenly feel like you’re not living up to your full potential and let you know about it.

Rudy:                           How do you handle that? One of the things, having worked in nonprofits, and really more so the more people engaged with any brand, but certainly nonprofits, there’s a lot of passion there.

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           Passion is a good thing, but at the same time, yeah, you’re right. If you made this decision and I am an advocate and all of a sudden, I don’t agree with you, I don’t just disagree with you, I disagree with you in a very compassion tone.

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           How do you handle that?

Michael:                       I think part of it is to know what you stand for and what you don’t, and also to … I think if you’re at a point where people talk about with sales, that if you really care about and believe in what you’re doing, it’s not really sales. But in a similar way, I have found that Park Pride plays a unique role within the Green Space Community.

Michael:                       I had a conversation with someone, this morning, over a contentious neighborhood issue and really wondering if there was a group that was out there, that for all of those different individual neighborhood issues, if there was someone who would lift up that cause and just be the tip of the spear to deal with that issue, and was asking me if Park Pride was that group, and truth be told, we’re not.

Michael:                       We’ve been around for 30 years, we’re co-located with the Atlanta parks department. We have offices in Dekalb, we work with citizens who want to make a positive impact on their parks by looking at positive solutions of raising dollars for capital improvements in their parks, activating their parks. When bad things start to happen, where there’s questions of transparency, that there’s issues of sideline deals and you want to know who’s that whistle blower organization, I’m sympathetic to those types of issues, and really want to see positive policy outcomes.

Michael:                       But that’s not the role my organization plays. Now, having said that, Park Pride has the spirit and the values, that we value the wisdom of local experience, and we believe that we shouldn’t speak on behalf of individuals and neighbors in part because the people who speak best for a neighborhood are the neighbors themselves. Our effort is really to try to encourage local groups to speak in to find their own voice, but we’re not waiting on with the red phone and the helicopters for someone to call for an emergency situation, and then deploying the environmental SWAT team. That’s not the role we play.

Rudy:                           There’s no bat signal.

Michael:                       When I came to the organization, I was a little defensive about that. But I’ve actually found we all have roles to play. Now, groups like mine can either play a role of being a trusted advisor to community groups who want to know how to navigate the maze, but also a group that has a rapport with government partners.

Michael:                       We play that middle ground and I think we play it well, and part of that is by knowing what we are, knowing what we’re not, and finding those passionate folks who recognize that having a group like ours makes it so that everyone’s more effective, and that those advocates actually go in with a much better understanding of how to achieve victory than where they are when it’s us versus them.

Rudy:                           How do you get somebody to know and care about Park Pride, if he’s not familiar with the organization or has never cared before?

Michael:                       I’ve given a lot of thought to that, and my answer has changed a lot over the six years that I’ve been executive director. I will say that my initial instincts on this were wrong, because I can intellectualize just about anything and I can give you all the different reasons that parks are good for managing storm water and good for mental health and things along those lines.

Michael:                       There is nothing like the direct experience of having an experience in a park or meeting with people firsthand in the community who have actually been able to take a park that was a mediocre park that’s now a great park that they helped to make happen. That experience, in a very personal level, is something that makes the value of Park Pride come alive. Most of the folks that are on the front lines of Park Pride are not people that were lifetime environmentalists.

Michael:                       They’re neighborhood advocates who want to improve their neighborhood, or sometimes they’re a neighborhood advocate who sees that the park is what’s wrong in their neighborhood and they want to know whose fault it is and who’s problem it is to fix it. Those that continue to point their fingers to try and find somebody else, don’t really find a whole lot of traction with Park Pride. But those that are willing to work with their neighbors, start to get involved and then make a difference, are the ones who see the values.

Michael:                       I learned a lot about the magic of Park Pride, and not by sitting at my computer sending E-mails, but by getting out in the community, going to the parks firsthand. We’ve been doing these walk in the parks where I do a lot of posting on Facebook and Instagram of images of places that I’ve gone. We came up with the idea that there’s a number of people that voyeuristically follow me.

Michael:                       But what if we invited people to just come out and take a walk in the park, and see blue herons and other types of birds that are there in the largest wetland inside 285, and having that direct experience, I think is what makes advocates, it’s less talk, more experience.

Rudy:                           It’s like a social media, but without technology?

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           In fact, we did that walk in a park in my neighborhood.

Michael:                       Right, right. Yes, we did.

Rudy:                           You’ve had leadership roles at other nonprofits as well. What have you seen change in here, in the last, let’s say, five, 10 years in terms of how you, for example, seek funding or get advocates or get people to know about the organization? What have you seen change?

Michael:                       I’ve worked at different organizations and played different roles within them. The one thought that occurs to me when you’re bringing up what’s changed over time is that there is this cyclical effort or this cyclical situation with the economy of recession and boom times and those different issues, and it’s almost like working for entirely different nonprofits in those different time periods.

Michael:                       Those dynamics I know are true very much in the private sector and in the government and the government side of things, and I do think that there are ways that nonprofits are a nice to have, and so when you get into different points during the recession that we had last go around, being in a management role within a nonprofit was not a fun job. I have found, since I’ve come to Park Pride over the past six years knock on wood, every year has been an increase in support to the organization and expansion of our mission.

Michael:                       We’ve gone through two strategic plans, and one is more ambitious than the next. That has been, in some respects, I’d like to think it’s something to do with my leadership, but it’s also been a function of the economy and what you can do to do more for your mission in good times. But in the back of my mind, it’s the fact that that’s not going to last forever, and how do you prepare for those types of situations? There’s things we do with …

Michael:                       We have a reserve fund, and on staffing, you don’t want to overstep your bounds because that’s that much further you would need to contract. There’s issues along those lines. Certainly, over the past decade, I’ve seen with nonprofits and Park Pride is no exemption, a diversification is key. Figuring out ways that you’re not reliant on a single sector, because if that one single sector goes away, so does your nonprofit.

Rudy:                           How do those touch points take place? I mean, obviously, they’re going to the park, meeting people face to face. That hasn’t changed.

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           Obviously, there has to be some sort of trust. There’s obviously some form of faith. Is there anything else in terms of how you communicate and how you get the word out? Social media, of course.

Michael:                       Right. I think there are ways, that there’s different channels that we’ve developed over time, of ways to make sure that we’re reaching out to people who care about specific issues that for them are more important than the broader issue. There’s also, I think, a need with an organization like mine, Park Pride is a locally based nonprofit, and the personalities that are there, not just with me as executive director, but our volunteer manager, are almost sub-brands into themselves.

Michael:                       I think that can be a strength because people give to people, they don’t give to causes, and so people will follow the leadership of people, or feel like people are doing good work and they want to support that work, and that’s a real strength to our organization. But we also need to figure out ways that we transition those folks to make it so that they actually understand the cause so that as one person goes out the door, so does that support.

Michael:                       That’s something that we have been working on to institutionalize those efforts. Some of it also gets to a capacity issue, because as executive director, while I’m keeping up all these different relationships, there’s a capacity level of how many I can actually handle. There’s ways that we really need to get them to be champions, not just of me, but of the organization. Similarly, if someone comes for an individual program, they do a volunteer event, we might want to get them to see other programs and things like that, so they see the full picture of the organization.

Rudy:                           Yeah, sort of a cross sell.

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           I know you’ve heard this, there is a big push, here in the last few years, for corporations to communicate their purpose, their broader purpose. Why they exist other than making money? How they contribute to their communities? Which of course, is what nonprofits have done from the beginning because that’s usually their mission. What do you think the for-profit world can learn from nonprofits?

Michael:                       That’s a good question, because I think there’s been a lot, these days, of not just social enterprises, but I think of, within our space, groups like REI, that are very much their values and their get outside campaigns and things along those lines, that they’re building not just a customer base but a constituency. I think that’s true with Park Pride, that typically within nonprofits, the people that are supporting the organization and those that benefit aren’t the same people.

Michael:                       Oftentimes, there are people that are more affluent, that are writing big checks to the organization and then that’s allowing us to provide programs in different places that don’t have those deep pockets and that kind of thing. I think that there’s a way that some of that can be, with nonprofits, is purely redistributive. It’s really taking wealth from some areas and deploying it in other areas, and that’s certainly true with social service nonprofits.

Michael:                       But to some degree with Park Pride, we find that some of our work has made possible in some of the poor areas because of the generosity of those who have greater capacity, and from corporate champions and those who really want to emphasize those groups who need additional support in order to have great parks where they live. I think that there’s some elements of that.

Michael:                       But just on the broader idea of a constituency or a movement, that I think that there are for-profit causes that tap into this idea of a broader constituency that isn’t just that transactional effort of buy my product. I really think that that is the area that nonprofits really shine, and I think those are companies that figure out ways to tap into those types of things are the ones that I would want to work for. They’re the brands that I’m most loyal to.

Michael:                       I do think that there are some ways that, these days, you really need to figure out how you’re defining yourself, and ultimately, whatever you’re selling, you’re selling something other than the material benefits of that product. I think nonprofits provide an endless series of avenues of channels to look at ways that you’re taking those intangibles and packaging them for people to affiliate.

Rudy:                           You mentioned an example, affluent people writing a check so that money can go to a less affluent neighborhood to build a park, let’s say. What motivates them to do that? What is the connection that they make? What motivates someone to write that check?

Michael:                       I think that there are different types of donors for different reasons, that there are some that are motivated by rational arguments, so making the case that this is a problem that needs to be addressed, of the idea that everyone needs to have access to a daily dose of nature, for example, and then finding that people live in more asphalt jungles where there’s no greenery and they need that.

Michael:                       Some cases, there is someone who is more of the lead with their head, where if you have a research study that you can point out, you can point out an example of little Jimmy who lives in this neighborhood who doesn’t have access, and with your support, we can actually solve that problem. That’s the way to make things happen. There’s some folks where they see the things that have happened in their neighborhood.

Michael:                       They have great parks, but not everyone does, and they feel like they would like to … that they have some sense of obligation, not just to support their efforts locally but to try and support things so other folks in other areas have those types of benefits. I think it is something that there’s a variety of different pathways to get there, but I do think that part of it relates to a sense of community and the idea that you want to … If you live in an area that needs help, you’re supporting for one reason. If you’re in an area that is really great but you feel like you know other peoples don’t have that, sometimes that’s the motivation.

Rudy:                           You’ve mentioned, for example, REI, and I heard you quote someone one time, that says, “People don’t care what you know until they know what that you care.”

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           I think it’s easier for for-profit to fall into the trap of people don’t know that they care.

Michael:                       Right.

Rudy:                           Do you think that that’s an advantage, let’s say, a nonprofit might have over a for-profit?

Michael:                       I still find that this idea of people don’t care what you know unless they know you care, to me, what that speaks to is the need for authenticity and the idea of building trust in your communications. That if you’re just there to tell people what they need to know and you’re not there to listen, at a certain point, people check out. I think that there’s a tendency, sometimes with folks that are really smart and passionate about issues, to just fill up people’s heads with what they know and that their theory of change is, that will solve the world’s problems.

Michael:                       That assumes, of course, that that person has all the answers. I can tell you right now that Park Pride doesn’t have all the answers, that looking at the issues that we’re doing on parks, we’re living in a very dynamic city and there’s a lot of changes that are happening and we don’t have all the answers. Some cases, the idea of being up front with those types of issues and also working with groups to help them deal with the issues that they care about … Our client is not the parks, it’s really the people.

Michael:                       But I think when we go out into communities and we start talking about parks, people assume that we’re just about the parks. Every neighborhood is different, and when you start presuming you know what the community needs, they’ll tell you when you’re wrong, and it’s a lot easier if you start off with showing them that you care and asking them what they care about, and then figuring out how our issues fit into the things they care about.

Rudy:                           We can tell you’re passionate about Park Pride, and everybody I’ve ever met in a nonprofit is obviously passionate about that nonprofit. What kind of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a career in nonprofit?

Michael:                       Couple of things. I think that I have found, from my career, that there have been three distinct arenas for my efforts. One has been what’s my day job and how do I get involved, and I think that within the nonprofit community in Atlanta, it is very insular, but it’s also a small community. Once you get in, you can move up and navigate from there.

Michael:                       Most of the positions I’ve moved into, I knew about before they were advertised and I was approached to say, “You’d be great for this position,” and it’s easier to get a job when you have a job. I think getting into the nonprofit sector, if that’s what you want to do, you need to figure out a way to get in.

Rudy:                           How do you do that?

Michael:                       I think part of that is to find one that fits your needs, and it’s hard with nonprofits in terms of salary and things along those lines, that you have a skill or an ability that they need and then you have an alignment both in terms of the issue but also the values. You really need to find that match. But the day job is one piece of this. The second part is to volunteer, and to this day, I’m involved with nonprofits beyond the one that I work for.

Michael:                       I would encourage folks, if you work for one nonprofit, find a nonprofit that’s in a completely different area of what you don’t work in already, because it helps you open up that whole world to your experience. Then there’s the professional development side of things, and I distinguish that from the volunteer, because the volunteer’s really building your social network and the causes you care about. But the third area is really looking at, what are the skills and abilities and the areas that you need to develop to build upon your strengths?

Rudy:                           As I’ve seen you work, I think your superpower is the ability to bring diverse people together. For example, the Clean Air Campaign. You had the Department of Transportation, you had environmental groups, you had local traffic organizations, and everybody had their own agenda. But you were able to bring them together to agree on the same things, and you were able to do that at Southface, as well. I remember sitting in groups with maybe a couple 100 other nonprofits, and get them all on the same page. I don’t know how you do that. How do you do that?

Michael:                       I think part of it is, I have worked for a variety of different causes. Earlier in my career, I did a stint in state government. I’ve worked for a for-profit PR firm, I worked for a corporation, I’ve worked for now three different nonprofits, and I volunteered for at least half a dozen. Part of it is that I’ve walked a mile in a variety of different shoes, and I’ve recognized the merits of each.

Michael:                       I also, with all of that, I know a lot of people. A lot of the people that are in those different audiences aren’t strangers to me, and I built up a certain level of trust with folks that my mentor at Southface, Dennis Creech, was someone that I always respected the fact that he worked for the movement first and for the business of Southface second.

Michael:                       I think if there’s ways that, again, people don’t care what you know unless they know you care, that if you’re really just genuinely out there to make the world a better place and to figure out ways that all the different folks that have talents and abilities and strengths to bring to the table, have a chance to shine, that there’s something that’s disarming about that kind of an approach. We spend so much time sometimes fighting with each other when we could do so much more good if we actually directed that towards the problem.

Michael:                       I think that that also is something that I think has come of age over the past 10, 20 years. There used to be a much more of a top town butts and seats kind of management mentality, and I think these days, the true leaders in the room are people that can manage below, they can manage laterally, are people that are on the same level as them, and they can manage above people who outrank them and could tell them where they need to go and they would have to go, but making the case of why they should be part of the direction that you’re going as well.

Michael:                       I think I do have more of a participatory management style, where I’m looking for how do we find the center that moves everyone forward? Increasingly, I find I’m not alone. There’s a lot of those people that are out there, and then it just becomes an effort of building that kind of consensus. There is a way that that will work in your favor, that once you get the ball rolling, the naysayers and those that really want to stop things just … it’s harder to fight than to go along.

Rudy:                           Yeah. So you just find the common interests, and they can tell that you’re full in on it?

Michael:                       Right, and that I’m not just about me, that it’ll be a win-win, and that kind of thing.

Rudy:                           Yeah, it’s funny. Going back to nonprofits, we’ve worked with them. As Creative Outhouse, we’ve worked with a lot of nonprofits. It seems like in years past, everything we did for nonprofits, now we’re being asked to do for for-profits. Because there is their point to spend less on their resources, so you have a lot of people doing many different jobs, just like always in nonprofits.

Rudy:                           Again, the purpose thing is we’re not just selling doohickeys, we want to talk about how we’re having a broader impact on our world and our community. I don’t know if you observed this, having seen both sizes. The business world is moving more towards where the nonprofit world has been all along.

Rudy:                           Also, something you had mentioned, there is an ownership to the people who you serve and the people who contribute, because if you give a dollar, then now that’s my organization. People feel that way about the brands they use now, and they can voice their opinion. It’s funny how I think businesses moving towards a nonprofit. In many ways, nonprofits sort of communication.

Michael:                       Well, the other thing that I’ll share, and this isn’t exactly where you were going, but it really relates to the value of having a marketing lens and a communications background to deal with management and executive leadership issues but there’s so much clutter out there, that I would make the case that people that are in marketing roles play a more important role than they have ever played in charting the course and the direction for organizations.

Michael:                       Because they have a much more sensitive understanding of the political landscape, the customer landscape in the for-profit side of things. All of the different issues that relate of developing the constituency that you have and that kind of thing. To the point, that can’t necessarily just be delegated down to a mid level person within the organization anymore.

Michael:                       I really think, for any of the folks that are part of this podcast, that are marketing folks and thinking about causes that you feel like the world needs to be changed, and that those issues don’t get the traction that they need, that I think we need to see more people with that kind of communications background moving into leadership positions precisely because they can help navigate those areas and provide leadership for those causes.

Michael:                       They get more work done. There was a day when MBAs were in vogue of, let’s run this nonprofit like a business, and I think there are certain nonprofits that that aligns to, but I think there’s a lot of nonprofits out there. There’s a guy, Andy Goodman, who has a great PowerPoint that I’ve seen of why bad ads happen to good causes. I’ll tell you the reason bad ads happen to good causes.

Michael:                       It’s because of the CEO or the executive director, who doesn’t know good advertising from bad advertising, or good PR from bad PR. I really think that people who have an affinity for the kinds of issues you’re talking about on this podcast, who have a commitment to nonprofit issues, don’t just look at the idea of being a communication’s director, look at the opportunity to lead an organization.

Rudy:                           Last question. The changes that you’ve seen happening here in the last five, 10 years, is there anything that you see coming that it excites you in terms of the changes in how we communicate with people? Is there anything that scares you?

Michael:                       I think that I’ll be curious to see with the social media landscape. Whenever I hear the reports and how long we’ve had Facebook or Instagram, I’m always surprised at how short that period is. It’s really hard for me to see what’s the next iteration. The one thing that has been interesting for me, in just seeing a number of these different changes in how people communicate, is that in some ways that it is both not surprising and in some ways, it’s a complete surprise.

Michael:                       I had brought up the fact that you can never really check out. I think that there is an irony to my going out to different parks and taking pictures and things like that, that I’m never really unplugging and yet that experience is much more of a richer experience if you put the phone away. I do think that we’re figuring out ways that technology can be more ubiquitous, and become part of our lives, but in a way that isn’t as disruptive to them or working against the things that people do.

Michael:                       I’m hopeful that, over time, we will figure out ways that they’re more in harmony with the way that people work and the way that people thrive, the way that people learn. I think there’s a lot that I’ve seen with my kids where they have an expectation on learning, that learning is all on demand. That the moment that I want to learn something, I can go find the answer.

Michael:                       What an amazing thing that is, in terms of just brain technology or the way that technology impacts the way we think, but again, on the flip side, people bring up all the different ways that technology is working against the way that we think. I don’t know. I think that those are the areas that I’m interested to see what’s the next big idea that moves to put technology into a place that we’re able to get more of the good, but address some of the bad.

Rudy:                           More natural to how we function. Thanks very much.

Michael:                       Yeah.

Rudy:                           I think this was a lot of fun.

Michael:                       I enjoyed the conversation.

Rudy:                           We’ll probably talk after I turn this off. Thanks, Michael.

Michael:                       Yep.

Rudy:                           Hey, thanks for listening to Marketing Upheaval, from Creative Outhouse. If you want to learn more about Park Pride and everything they’re doing, visit parkpride.org. For show notes, previous episodes, and previews to upcoming episodes, visit creativeouthouse.com/podcast. If you liked this podcast, please give us five stars, subscribe, and share it with others. Well, that’s it for this episode of Marketing Upheaval. Remember, if the current state of marketing has got you confused, don’t worry. It’ll all change. Bye.

Podcast credits:

Host: Rudy Fernandez

Producer and Cover Art: Susan Cooper

Earcon sound design: Gopal Swamy

Audio Consultant: Jason Shablik

Post production provided by: Music Radio Creative

Hosting provided by: Buzzsprout