Sunday, April 22, 2012

Michelle Millman on Journalism, Social Media and Being a Survivor

What makes a great journalist? Someone who works hard to uncover the truth, stays on top of trends and issues, frames the discussion, and turns their personal struggles into teachable moments for viewers and/or readers? Yes, all of that and more. In my youth, Linda Ellerbee, Max Robinson and Cecilia Alvear were three outstanding journalists who stood out. Not just for what they reported, but for what they gave to their profession.

When you observe the stellar career of Seattle's Michelle Millman, you come to the very same conclusion. She's a veteran journalist who thinks globally about topics, and can brilliantly conceptualize and present them for "local consumption." Her intellect and command of topics is as impressive as her ability to connect with an expansive and diverse region of viewers. But what has endeared Michelle to an international audience is how she looked adversity in the face, and beat breast cancer.

When one goes through something of this magnitude, they lean on their family and friends the most. But when you are a media personality known for your uncommon generosity, tens of thousands of viewers become supporters you can lean on, too. So the power is not just in how Michelle speaks to the news camera or a teleprompter. It is also in her inspiring story of courage and triumph. I was happy when she agreed to share her thoughts about the state of her profession, and how her life has been transformed.

Photo Courtesy of Michelle Millman


In recent years, we have seen reporting that integrates traditional media with social media. How effective do you believe this has been?

Michelle Millman: I think social media, together with traditional media gathering, can be effective. Through Twitter and/or Facebook I am able to reach people who have a story to tell or have some connection to a story I am covering. I have to admit, this is a little harder to accomplish the traditional way. Don't get me wrong, the "old school" way of making calls, finding addresses or knocking on doors still works, but it's amazing how fast you can reach people through social media. Also through Twitter and Facebook I can tell my followers what story I am working on or when I'm anchoring a newscast what compelling stories are coming up -- it is my hope that immediacy drives more viewers to our newscast.

Also, with the popularity of social media traditional journalists are now competing with bloggers who live right in the community they are blogging about -- who knows an issue better than someone who lives in that neighborhood or community? At times we work with these bloggers but they are still adding more competition to the mix. There's a plus side to this added competition: they make us all better, harder working journalists: they "up" our game.

 You've covered a lot of stories -- national security, domestic politics, foreign policy, and many others. What issues do you like to cover most, and what specific issues do believe the media should be covering more?

MM: I am passionate about a story when the people I am interviewing are passionate -- whether it's a story about a loss they've suffered or a journey they've been on -- if they are passionate, I love telling their story. This storytelling comes in many forms: From teachers' strikes to Boeing strikes or from dealing with an ice storm commute to 95 degree weather, nearly everyone has a story to tell.

If I had to pick one subject though it would have to be telling the story of troops returning home from war. These stories are both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I've watched as my photographer takes video of a father holding his baby for the very first time, kissing his wife for the first time in months and then as the family walks off together, holding it together for the cameras even though you can tell they're really not sure what's ahead of them. This leads right into what story I wish media covered more: the toll war takes on families. Local media does a great job covering those 'homecomings' but what about the transition for those troops and their spouses and children once they're home? Those are the stories we need to tell.

  Let's talk media accuracy. There is a lot of pressure to be the first to break a story. How do you ensure that you're "getting it right," so to speak, before you broadcast it?

MM: I've always been competitive and have worked very hard as a journalist to be the "first" with breaking news or developments on a story I am working on, but social media has taken that to a whole new level.  We need to be extremely careful as journalists with what we tweet or put on Facebook. The immediacy of  social media and the fact we have the potential to reach thousands of people in seconds is somewhat daunting. We need to respect that part of it by making sure we have the facts straight before worrying about being first with the tweet or posting.

My tweets or postings on my Facebook fan page are generally about a story I am covering at the time (a verdict in the courtroom or a news conference with the governor).  Where journalists, or news stations, can get into trouble is seeing a tweet from someone else and repeating it on air or retweeting before checking the facts. I'm glad I don't see a lot of this happening! I've also found because of my competitive nature if I'm the only reporter on a breaking news story I want to tweet it or post it to Facebook right away. I then realize I'd be alerting the competition to a story they are missing! It's definitely a balance I have to strike every day on the job.

 Where do you see media 10 years from now?

MM: Traditional news viewing and news gathering is changing right before our eyes and 10 years from now it's hard to say exactly what it'll look like.  I do think "24 hour news" -- and now social media -- are working to build an informed society but at the same time a society with people who have a hunger for news right now and seem to want "new" stories all the time.  It's a little disheartening when a massive front page story or lead story in a newscast one day is so quickly relegated to "section B" the next.

Over the next decade I believe we will see even more bloggers, citizen journalists and contributors added to the mix (along with traditional journalists). That can only lead to even more news -- whether it's on YouTube, an iPad, or a blackberry --  breaking news stories will be everywhere. Even though viewers are already watching newscasts streamed "live" on computers and iPhones I still think turning on the television for the 11 p.m. news or in the morning before you head to work will be how most people get their news.  In my opinion this "habit" for millions of us will take years to break.

 I know you've covered breast cancer stories over the years. Many of them. As a breast cancer survivor, how has the experience shaped your perspective on life?

MM: I do see situations differently now because of my experience with breast cancer. After going through diagnosis, surgery and then months of treatment I've learned to not "stress out" over things. When I do get a little 'stressed' at life, whether it's meeting deadline or juggling two boys and a husband, I tell myself it's nothing compared to cancer. It keeps life and challenges that come with it in perspective. If I received any 'gift' from cancer it's knowing first hand life is too short to spend it worried about things you cannot change.

I will say going through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation helped me see the health care debate in a different light. I now know early detection is the key to survival. I hope whatever direction the debate goes it will be in the best interest of everyone. Access to great health care means the millions of people diagnosed with cancer every year will have a better chance of survival because they will have (hopefully) been diagnosed in the early stages.

 To read more about Michelle Millman, click here. You can also follow her on Twitter, and friend her on Facebook.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Top 10 Social Media Week Influencers (INFOGRAPHIC)

Social Media Week is one of the most highly anticipated events in the social space. Every February and September, authors, strategists, journalists and enthusiasts gather for five days of lectures, panel discussions, and huge networking events in six continents.

OmLondon and AdobeUK formed a partnership to closely examine the tweets and online chatter for the week. They sifted through the data of more than tens of millions of people using Social Media Week hashtags, and created an infographic (pictured below) of the top influencers during that period. I was both honored and humbled upon the news that I made the top ten along with some great tweeters, including Ann Tran, one of my Huffington Post writing partners.

Social Media is an ongoing global conversation, a universal language that knows no boundaries. The numbers from OmLondon and Adobe affirm the power of the medium, and its ability to connect people in extraordinary ways. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shaun Robinson's Passion for the Social Good

This post was co-written by bloggers Ann Tran and Glen Gilmore. It's cross-posted in the Huffington Post Celebrity Section.

The words, "believe in yourself", have always played a strong part in the character and essence of celebrity journalist Shaun Robinson. The phrase infuses her professional pursuits, which have taken her around the world, and anchors her charitable activities that help engender a greater sense of self among a new generation of girls and young women. Needless to say, we're awed and impressed by the way she uses her status as a journalist to the stars to help encourage women of all ages to love themselves just the way they are.

 Her best-selling book, Exactly As I Am, provides readers with empowering advice about developing a positive self-image. Robinson reinforces the concepts of personal empowerment and developing a strong feeling of self-worth through her multi-media messages and fundraisers for organizations, such as Girls, Inc. 

Robinson recently allowed us to ask her some questions about her wonderful charitable endeavors and commitment to helping girls and women accept themselves without compromise:

Picture Courtesy of Shaun Robinson
You launched your "One Girl, One Voice -- A Million Ways to Make a Difference" campaign earlier this year. Please tell us a little bit about what inspired your book and video, Exactly As I Am? 

I was inspired to write my book, Exactly As I Am, because I wanted girls to know that everything they need to believe in themselves and develop a strong self-esteem is right inside of them. It doesn't come from being popular, being skinny, being rich, or having a certain skin color. It comes from, as Oprah says in my book, "... knowing that you are valuable because you were born."

 Because I interview celebrities for a living, so many girls ask me about the stars they see on TV, in the movies, or on the covers of magazines. They want to know if "so and so" is as beautiful in person as she is on TV, or if their lives are as perfect as they seem. I wanted girls to know that nobody is perfect and that everyone -- no matter how rich or famous -- has feelings of self-doubt now and then, just like you and me. I wrote, produced and directed the video, Ten Rules for Girls with Strong Self-Esteem as a mini rulebook for girls to follow. All the "rules" came from the dozens and dozens of teen girls I interviewed for Exactly As I Am. I love it because it's girls giving girls advice like, "I will never stay in a relationship with a guy who disrespects me." That is so important!

Your job is so glamorous. How do you convey your message to these young girls? With so many negative media images of young women today, please tell our readers about how you're using your media influence to bring awareness to girls and their families? 

My mom has always told me to use my platform for good -- never make it about me -- but to make my mission about helping others. And that's what I've always tried to do. I am well aware that the media, in general, must take responsibility for the many images girls see that make them question their own self-worth. Being in the entertainment industry, it's a constant balancing act for me and I try never to compromise my integrity. Reporting on entertainment and your favorite stars is definitely fun, but it's when girls internalize those images and use them as a measuring stick for their own value and how they should act -- that's where the danger comes in.

As a celebrity, do you find it's easier, or more difficult, to effectively impact the lives of your target audience?

Certainly as a celebrity, I have a voice that is easier heard than if I wasn't in this position. I want to make sure I use that voice for positive change. That's why I started the One Girl, One Voice: A Million Ways to Make a Difference movement. In my book, we talk a lot about "giving back" and that one of the quickest ways to true self-esteem involves taking the attention away from yourself and putting it on someone less fortunate. We want to get one million girls to pledge that they'll use their voices to "change the world." I want to inspire girls to volunteer their time to various causes and pledge to make the lives of others better.

With the advent and popularity of social media versus traditional media, have you seen a tremendous, monumental change, regarding effecting positive change in the world?

Social media can be a wonderful thing and a not-so-wonderful thing. Cyber-bullying is on the rise and we must find a way to stop it and make people responsible for the things they put online that can hurt others. But, social media can be a powerfully positive force in helping others. When we all band together and promise to change the world, nothing can stop us.

Where do you see your campaign, say, five years from now? 

Five years from now, I see the One Girl, One Voice movement five million girls strong! We want to thank Shaun Robinson for her generosity and for taking the time to share a little about her world-changing pursuits with us and our readers. What an inspiration she is and what a magnificent gift her campaign is to the next generation of young women. Thank you Shaun, from the bottom of our hearts, for using your voice for change.

Writer's Note: This video, courtesy of Shaun Robinson, captures her passion for positive and empowering self-images. 

WATCH:

   

 A Story for Inspiration and Ann Tran's Final Thoughts 

Twitter represents a powerful medium that anyone can use to inspire, inform and educate. I shared Shaun Robinson's video, Exactly As I Am, on Twitter and one of my followers shared it. He sent me a direct message and thanked me for the link to the video; informing me that he intended to share it with his daughter. I suggested he share part of our conversation with Ms. Robinson as well, since she is very engaging. He did. And the next thing I knew, I saw a picture of a signed book held up proudly by his daughter from Ms. Robinson displayed on John Feskorn's page.

With social media becoming such a pervasive force in our culture, it presents an awe-inspiring, powerful way to change the world -- one tweet at a time. How are you using Twitter, or other social media platforms, to change the world? Share your stories below. For more information on Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

For more information in Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TweetMyJobs and Social Recruiting

This is my new post. I collaborated with writers Ann Tran and Glen Gilmore to profile the social recruiting phenomenon TweetMyJobs. It's cross-posted in the Huffington Post Business Section.

As America climbs out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, many platforms are being created that connect businesses with the prospective employees who can complement and enhance their workforce. One such platform is TweetMyJobs, a successful firm that has fundamentally changed the way jobs are searched online. Named by PC Magazine as one of the "10 Best Job Search Websites," they are what you would call a true pioneer in "social recruiting."

 "Social recruitment," the practice of using social networks as a platform for matching job openings to job seekers, is a phrase of relatively recent vintage, though it as a practice that many companies are working hard to tap into. Panero, Tiffany & Co., Radio Shack and Verizon, among others, are ahead of the curve, and use TweetMyJobs' services to recruit employees.

TweetMyJobs' impressive online infrastructure has also caught the eye of the White House, local politicians and even tech enthusiasts. These contacts have helped enhance its ability to employ Americans workers using the ever-increasing power of social networking. Its groundbreaking agreement with the City of Atlanta further illustrates this point. Its Twitter profile proudly proclaims, "We're the leading social recruitment and job distribution network, working hard to match job seekers with employers." From its tweets and its activities, it seems that it just may be. TweetMyJobs' visionary CEO Robin D. Richards granted us an exclusive interview.
TweetMyJobs had more than 2 million interactions on Twitter with job seekers and businesses last year. That's a tremendous number, confirming just how popular social recruiting has become. Social recruiting is all about distribution in real time. Job seekers not only want highly relevant job matches, which we provide, but they want them wherever they are (on any device -- be it e-mail, text message or on social networks like Twitter) and whenever they please -- instantaneously, daily, weekly, etc. That's the power of social recruiting. Great job matches, where you want them, when you want them.  

Your firm was asked by the Obama Administration to help with its jobs initiative for military and young adults. How did that come about? We were very proud and honored to be selected as one of the partner technology companies for the Joining Forces Initiative. We were introduced to the CTO of the United States through our contacts at Twitter and made a commitment, along with a number of other technology companies including Simply Hired, LinkedIn and Google, to help the initiative. We contributed by making job listings easier for veterans of the armed forces to find through TweetMyJobs, as well as establishing veteran-specific job channels on Twitter for every state and major metropolitan area, a special landing page for veterans to find and follow these job channels, and custom notification alerts for veteran committed jobs.  

Explain how the TweetMyJobs ground-breaking agreement with the City of Atlanta came about, and what it entails. We have embarked on a public-private partnership with Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta, focused on connecting local businesses with city residents seeking employment. The initiative is ground-breaking, as Atlanta is showcasing its role as an early adopter and forward-thinking city by leveraging the power of social networks and mobile distribution to help combat unemployment -- as well as to help employers and job seekers use a new platform, at no cost to either the job seeker or the employer. In addition, the City of Atlanta Jobs Platform will deliver robust analytics to city officials. This data will provide government leaders with hyper-local insights that can help steer key strategic decisions to foster future job growth and enhance relations among the government, employers and citizens. It's a win-win for all involved.  

You've expressed a strong interest in taking the framework of the Atlanta partnership to a national level. Any recent developments that you can share that are moving this one step closer to reality? We'll be making another announcement very soon. Governments, on a local and national level, truly have enormous power to help bridge the gap between the jobs their residents are seeking and the positions available in their regions. We're proud to power these initiatives as the technology platform that puts these great policy ideas into action. Watch this space for more announcements soon.  

How can social media in general embrace this type of jobs-and-recruiting platform? The key to making any technology platform a success is continued engagement and awareness. Whether that's an influential politician like Kasim Reed tweeting to his constituents or spreading the word at his annual State of the City address to thousands of attendees, an e-mail campaign to job seekers, or posts on Facebook and Twitter, when there's such an important cause at stake -- jobs in this country -- then it's up to us as a social media community to spread the word and make sure that employers and job seekers don't miss out on these innovative, new social platforms in the career space.

This infographic video below, courtesy of TweetMyJobs, illustrates their commitment. WATCH:

 

For more information on TweetMyJobs, friend them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

9 People Who Have Influenced My Social Media Style

Image Courtesy of Buzzom
This is cross-posted on the Smedio blog.

When I joined Twitter and Facebook in January 2009, I had no idea what I was doing. Zero. Zelch. Nada. I didn’t know how to build a following, the importance of third-party apps, and the various ways to drive hits for my then new blog. It took months – six months to be exact – before “tweeting” became a language I fully understood.

Nobody achieves success in social media without some assistance. I’m no different. I have learned from social media veterans who have helped to established the foundation upon which we all stand, and from the newbies who have emerged on the scene and built impressive reputations in a relatively short period. It has been one exciting thrill ride.

It is a full time effort staying on top of the trends, forecasts, and shifts, as well as major changes to major sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, GooglePlus, and Chime.in. Without the retweets, likes, +1’s, blog comments, and recommendations, I would not be where I am today. So let me single out 9 people (among so many) who have given me great perspective in five crucial areas:

Digital Listening – This is truly an art. And Glen Gilmore and Sung Lee do it exceedingly well. Twitter is perhaps one of the best “listening post” ever created, and understanding the chatter about relationships and events behind the scene takes skill. Gilmore, the advisor to my Twitter Powerhouses Series, is keenly aware of literally every major development and online discussion about disaster preparedness. Lee, whose recent venture I profiled in Huffington Post last Summer, is one of the leading voices regarding the online, Asian-American presence. Both men monitor hashtags, and make extraordinary use of Twitter lists.

Sharing Other Bloggers’ Content – One of the things I always advocate is sharing the content of other bloggers. No, not simply your friends, but, others outside of your immediate circle. Ann Tran and Amy Neumann are pros at it. To them, millions of bloggers around the world simply provide “millions of opportunities for fresh’ content”. Those who understand this, and do this, often thrive in the social space. Besides, it’s fantastic networking.

Connect and Engage – People always ask me why I recommend the names of people in a particular field or city to someone noticeably new to social media. Well, in late 2009, my first year on Twitter, director and artist Kim Sherrell included my name in a tweet, recommending me to some of her friends. It was the first time someone had done that for me outside of a Follow Friday context. It showed me just how creative I could be in bringing people together. Indeed, tweets are most effective when used to inspire, inform, empower...and connect great people.

Make Your Enthusiasm Consistent – I am continually inspired by bloggers Kelly Clay and Christel Quek, two geekettes who live and breathe all facets of social media. Their success is powered not just by the substance of their posts, but also by the boundless, infectious they express about their work. There isn't one conversation I've had with them (not one) where they weren't very excited about their next projects. Indeed, enthusiasm is great fuel for confidence.

Have a Sense of Humor – No matter how nice and non-controversial I have tried to be, there are people who challenge my ideas, and my reasons for profiling certain people. Always! So it pays to laugh at it sometimes. And who has a better sense of humor about being challenged in social media than Brett Petersel and Khayyam Wakil? They are so funny, so hilarious that they deserve a show in prime time TV. So when someone is questioning your retweet mojo (LOL!), call these guys up, and just laugh at it.

To be clear, these are not the only tips, just the ones that have worked for me. Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not only support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How To: Benefit From Social TV

There are a number of things in the social space I'm looking forward to in 2012. One of them is the further integration of old and new media, particularly in the burgeoning field of Social TV. I remember when it was applauded by MIT as one of the top emerging technologies. Two years later, we've seen it move rapidly to the front of industry conversation.

Last year, Gavin Purcell from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, explained on a SXSW panel how Social TV can work, and work well. The online world is incredibly diverse in terms of its users, and the range of platform choices we increasingly have. Oprah Winfrey, Ricki Lake and other tech-savvy stars have used as many tools as possible to identify their target audience, which helps tremendously with content. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a part of the new media team of bloggers for Ricki Lake, who is launching her show this fall on a Social TV platform).

Image Courtesy of the Lorange Institute
Make no mistake: Social TV is here to stay, and will continue to evolve as companies figure out how to measure activity, and appeal to a wide variety of demographics. The launch of apple's much buzzed about television, or iTV, will only increase the chatter, and accelerate innovation. As Alicia Elder wrote eloquently wrote last December, when it comes to Social TV, it's about sharing and discovery. Here are a few things people should remember, and practice, to make sure their approach fits in with this "sharing and discovery" model:

(1)   Connect Shows With All Aspects of Social Media – This is crucial. Twitter is great not only for feedback, but to find groups that may identify with your message. The best way to do this is through the use of hashtags. And don't be afraid to think bigger...imagine using Foursquare for a road trip you send two fans on to promote your show; GooglePlus for a live, on-air opening of a business on the block; or Pinterest as you chat with fashion designers about their new collections, and so on. Facebook, Chime.in. Use all of it. Whatever platform is hot, you need to have a presence on it. Leave no stone unturned.

(2)   Communicate with Online Fans and Supporters – Why set up a social entity if you are not going to talk with the people who support your operation and identify with your values? This is about finding ways to reach the true advocates, the people who believe in your brand. When they see that there is a concerted effort to listen to them, they become your staunch defenders. “Digital listening” is essential.

(3)   Bring Your Audience into the Decision-Making Process – If there is a pilot show in the works, or topic you want addressed, it is smart to ask for advice. You're essentially giving your audience “part ownership” of the content. When someone sees a person they respect asking for help in social media, there is almost an immediate response. When filmmaker Kim Sherell and journalist Betty Nguyen engage their audience this way, I see nothing but positive results.

Simply put, there will be an explosion of excitement and anticipation as Social TV evolves. Success in the arena will depend heavily on creative content, and (direct) creative engagement with your audience.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Love, Charity, and Basketball

This is my new interview with businesswoman and philanthropist Heather Robinson. I co-wrote it with bloggers Amy Neumann and Mandy Hale. It is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

While many celebrities lend their support to worthy charities, some go above and beyond by lending their time, energy, funding, and even blood, sweat, and tears to the causes they hold dear. Oprah founded and funded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007 to provide educational and leadership opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds. And two years ago, Bill Gates made the world’s largest ever single charitable donation when he pledged $10 billion to develop and distribute vaccines to children.

In this circle of charitable celebrities, you’ll find noted businesswoman and public relations pro Heather Robinson, the wife of former NBA star Cliff Robinson. One of the sports world’s most active and involved philanthropists, she supports charities with an emphasis on education, scholarships, and poverty. This assistance also extends to natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. All of this has been a catalyst for the Robinson Network, her family’s new philanthropic endeavor.

In fact, she used her most recent birthday party to collect more than 1000 gifts for kids through Toys for Tots. But giving up one of her special days is not a tall order or a rare event for Heather. Charity is both her work, and her signature. Why? A strong compassion for others, and a belief that using one’s influence to make a lasting, positive impact is crucial.

The old saying “Come from a point of service to everyone you meet” could have been written by Heather Robinson. To her and her husband, just like in basketball, winning is a team effort, and people around the world who need a hand are part of everyone’s team.


You've done lots of charity work for the NBA and NFL, and participated in a lengthy and impressive list of celebrity fundraisers. What is the most rewarding aspect of giving back?


The compassion I feel for others is a strong trait of mine, therefore having the ability and desire to "give back" in some way large or small benefits my soul. I love to see people smile.

Tell us a little bit about some of the charities you've supported over the years.

First of all I praise everyone out there that has a charity, and is working to help mankind. It takes a special person to devote themselves to philanthropy. My husband and I have donated our time and money to several charities over the years. Educational programs and Scholarships for low income families are very important to us, along with helping impoverished communities in the United States and abroad. After the devastating earthquake hit Haiti two years ago my husband accompanied Haitian friend Jimmy Jean Louis of Hollywood Unites for Haiti to access the condition of the country while I stayed back making phone calls after phone calls soliciting supplies and donations. I visited the country last year and met with several organizations we support in Haiti. They are doing a great job and it has inspired me to continue on my path of philanthropy.

How helpful do you find platforms like Twitter to some of your social good initiatives?

I like using Twitter. It has been extremely helpful to my business. It's given me the ability to voice my initiatives quick and easily. Aside from the business networking, I have made "twitter friends". I love the positive tweeters. They brighten my day and make social media more enjoyable for me.

With respect to philanthropy, name some of the things you believe we should be paying attention to moving forward: trends, interesting people, and fundraising ideas.

I don't believe you have to be wealthy to give. It's not always about the money. People should pay attention to their surroundings. What you see in front of you. You can become a mentor to a child or volunteer at charity events and soup kitchens. A few years ago I signed up to be a bone marrow donor. There are many ways to help someone in need. Blood drives and organ donations are great ways to "give", and you could save a life! A very simple way to fundraise with little effort is to start a Food or Clothes drive. Poverty right here in America is extremely high and the numbers keep growing. If everyone would spend ten percent of their time "Giving Back" to society the world would be a much better place.

Heather Robinson and Cliff Robinson  

Speaking of social media…a lot of celebrities use it because it puts them in direct contact with their fans, the causes they support, and helps them control their image. What's your take?

The Cons of using social media are crazy fans and pushy people who can bombard you with requests or try and belittle your efforts or work. But, the pros definitely out weigh the cons. Celebrities are able to link with other professionals and can interact with fans on more personal basis. Another advantage for celebrities using social media is that it measures their popularity in numbers, via follower. In return it can secure them a high-profile endorsement deal. Social Media has become one of the most important deal points for brands, talent agents and even PR agencies to consider when negotiating contracts. The best thing of all is: no misquotes (laughs). Just make sure your posts don't come back to haunt you.

Philanthropy is a serious commitment. How are you involving your family?

I am currently working on The Robinson Network, a public charity that will support other non-profits, and promote professional athletes in their philanthropy. Giving back is something that my family has always been passionate about. So it makes sense for us to create a huge platform to positively impact the causes we endorse. We're excited.

To find out more about Heather Robinson and her charitable efforts through her family's Robinson Network, follow her on her Twitter feed.