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How to Build Trust with Employees

September 19th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Information

 

Managers must reveal their professional motives and personal values to build trust with their employees, say two leadership experts.

Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback, coauthors of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, recently shared with the Harvard Business Review three ways for managers to show their sincerity to employees and build a stronger team:

  • Talk explicitly about what you want. ”Tell your team the values and motives that guide your decisions,” Hill and Lineback say. “Don’t assume people will see them. Say them outright and invite discussion.”
  • Walk the walk. ”Maintain integrity between what you say and what you do,” the authors say. “This will prove your authenticity.”
  • Be consistent. ”What you practice should be the same from day to date, from person to person, from situation to situation,” they say. “If it’s not, people will doubt you. When there are discrepancies, explain them.”

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4 QR Code Tools

September 19th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Information

1. Kaywa

Kawya allows you to create customized QR codes that can link to a URL, text, phone number, or SMS. Their paid service includes analytics.

To create a QR code with Kaywa, simply enter your URL, text, phone number, or SMS; click generate; and then copy the code or save the image (as shown below).

2. Bit.Ly

This website is the most popular URL shortener on the planet. But did you know you can also create QR codes with Bit.ly?

All you need to do is add “.qr” after a shortened link, paste that link into a new browser tab and save the QR code to your desktop (as shown below).

3. Microsoft Tag

This is another free option, but what makes it different is that you can create a color QR code. It’s free version also includes some analytics. The downside with Microsoft Tag is that you have to create a MSN account.

4. Scan

Once you create a QR code, you obviously want to test it to see how (and if) it works. Scan is one of the best smart phone apps that will read QR codes. There’s an iPhone version and an Android version.

 

John Haydon

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To Call or Not to Call? The Dos and Don’ts of Telemarketing Fundraising

September 18th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, How Not For Profits, Information

“I think many people think [telemarketing] is the ugly, redheaded stepchild of fundraising and acquisition,” said Karin Kirchoff, vice president of direct-marketing agency MINDset Direct, during the recent FundRaising Success webinar, “Come One, Come All! — Smart Strategies for Multichannel Donor Acquisition.

However, once upon time telemarketing was a popular channel, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Kirchoff said it fell out favor, particularly for acquisition, for a number of reasons:

  • There are very few lists available for telemarketing acquisition.
  • New telemarketing regulations over the past 15 years have limited the ability to contact people through the phone.
  • Things like caller ID have made it more difficult to contact prospects.

 

As a result, telemarketing has become a less effective channel in acquisition, at least cold-call acquisition.

“Warm prospects, however, tend to show a fair amount promise,” Kirchoff said.

“Warm prospects” include constituents such as online activists, petition signers, event attendees and volunteers. If you have the phone number for people already engaged with your organization but not necessarily as donors, they make great telemarketing acquisition prospects.

In addition, “smart marketers know that telemarketing is still an incredibly valuable channel for housefile strategies, including acquisition, reactivation, sustainer recruitment, renewals, special appeals, emergency appeals, etc.,” Kirchoff said. “The key to making it work is segmentation.”

Another key is integrating telemarketing into your multichannel donor communications approach.

“Telemarketing for a long time was considered a stand-alone channel, but it really doesn’t stand along anymore. Strategically integrated into a direct-response program, it will absolutely drive longer-term value, improve retention and, interestingly, give you that one-to-one feedback,” Kirchoff said. “That’s a lot harder to get with direct mail. Telemarketing is a great two-communication channel, which can often be overlooked.”

Telefundraising can still be a big boon for fundraisers. However, there are some do’s and don’ts Kirchoff shared during the webinar.

Telefundraising do’s

  • Use telemarketing strategically, integrating it into your overall multichannel donor-acquisition and communications channels.
  • Call warm prospects to potentially convert to donors, such as online activists, petition signers, volunteers, etc.
  • Use telemarketing to reinstated deeply lapsed donors and to recruit new monthly donors, putting a little spin on donor acquisition.
  • Make it part of your housefile efforts as well. “The more folks you have on this channel the more likely you’re going to have a feeder track for things like your monthly giving program,” Kirchoff said.

Don’ts

  • Call the phone book. Cold calling rarely works in this day and age.
  • Assume all prospects are the same … or that telemarketing works the same for every organization. You have to segment and target donors based on testing.
  • Forget to analyze telemarketing results and look at both initial ROI and lifetime value.
  • Assume that all telemarketing partners have the same strengths. Some are great at renewals, others at sustainers, etc. “Talk to colleagues, and understand who is the right partner for you to work with,” Kirchoff said.

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U Texas Launches Performance-Pay system for Presidents

September 18th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

Improving four-year graduation rates is a major strategic goal for University of Texas at Austin President William Powers over the next few years, and he’s also likely to have money riding on it.

The finance committee of the University of Texas System’s Board of Trustees approved a proposal Wednesday to adopt an incentive-pay system for the heads of the system’s nine universities and six health centers, as well as 11 system administrators.

Under the plan, the system’s chancellor will meet with each individual administrator eligible for the incentive plan. With each he will develop three or four areas on which to evaluate that official’s performance, on either one-year and three-year time horizons, and specific outcomes for which to aim. The chancellor would then send those goals to the board for approval.

An example plan included in the proposal measured performance on four areas: cost savings from shared-services initiatives, growth in sponsored research programs from the prior year, philanthropic funding as a percentage of institutional expenditures, and four-year graduation rates (all issues that have generated headlines at the University of Texas at Austin in the past year).

Incentive pay, also called performance pay and variable pay, is nothing new, but it’s the exception rather than the rule at higher education institutions, particularly at public colleges and universities. The fact that the University of Texas System — one of the largest and most prominent public university systems in the country — is moving toward such a structure is notable and could potentially drive others to adopt similar approaches.

But in a state that has seen numerous complaints in recent years about governing boards — and the politicians who appoint them – micromanaging university policies, many see the incentive-pay plan as another step for boards to dictate university policy rather than working collaboratively with campus leaders, which could lead to further confrontations between campuses and the system.

Politics and Pay

The proposal for performance pay grows out of the system’s “Framework for Advancing Excellence,” a plan proposed by system Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and adopted unanimously by the board a year ago to improve accountability, outcomes and efficiency within the system.

Cigarroa, who dealt with performance pay for clinical faculty members as president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, said Wednesday that a performance pay component fits within the structure the system is moving toward. “We have a framework and a dashboard that can help us measure progress and audit that progress, then why not establish a lineup based on the framework and link it to compensation?” he told the board.

The UT system worked with Towers Watson, a human resources consulting firm that traditionally works with private-sector organizations, to develop the proposal. Compensation experts said the Texas proposal resembles the types of plans used in the corporate sector.

Compensation experts expressed concern that the system’s compensation plan is an opportunity for board members to get more involved in day-to-day policy making. “The role of the board ought to be to set the general direction of the university and leave it to the president to implement decisions on a day-to-day basis,” said Raymond D. Cotton, a Washington lawyer who specializes in presidential contracts.

Cotton said performance compensation plans that work are made in close consultation with campus leaders and tend to be general rather than prescriptive.

He and others say performance pay systems like the University of Texas plan are part of a national trend of governing boards getting more involved in policy making, often at the exclusion of or in opposition to campus leaders. That shift has led to numerous conflicts at public institutions, such as the headline-grabbing controversy at the University of Virginia in June.

While Cotton views any omission of campus leaders from decision-making to be a negative trend, others are much more upbeat. In an article in The Austin-American Statesman on Wednesday, Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group that promotes greater board involvement in areas such as academic policy, applauded the board’s move, though she questioned why administrators should get extra compensation for responsibilities already fall under their job descriptions.

Start of a Trend?

Compensation experts say more higher education institutions seem likely to adopt performance pay structures.

A survey earlier this year by Yaffe & Company, an executive compensation consulting firm, of presidents’ compensation at private nonprofit institutions, found that 39 percent of presidents had some component of their pay dependent on performance, which Rian Yaffe, founder and CEO of the company, said is an increase over a few years ago. The company does not do a similar survey of public institutions.

Several factors are driving the adoption of such systems. Board members, many of who come from the business world, have seen performance pay systems permeate that sector. The approach is also becoming more common in health care systems, and many board members draw parallels between that sector and higher education.

Budget constraints also make performance pay appealing. “In these times, especially when institutions are facing a lot of fiscal challenges, boards are saying that they would like some of your pay to depend upon accomplishing strategic goals,” Yaffe said.

They also don’t hurt with public relations. The current plan calls for no salary increases for the system’s presidents and administrators, which tend to draw negative headlines. Instead, the money for the raises would become the performance pay. The board discussed allocating less in salary increases and more toward performance-based compensation, potentially growing to 20 percent of the president’s base salary. “In the future you’re going to see salary increases moderate a little bit and more emphasis on these kinds of variable pay,” Yaffe said.

Performance is also easier to measure than in the past. Universities such as Texas system as setting up elaborate, publicly available dashboards that measure institutional performance on a variety of metrics.

What to Measure

Exactly what the metrics will be on which the system and board evaluate the president and administrators is yet to be determined, though board members said Wednesday they will try to keep the goals within the parameters of the Framework for Advancing Excellence. Scott C. Kelley, the system’s executive vice chancellor for business affairs, said at Wednesday’s meeting that each campus president and system administrator will probably have three or four metrics on which he or she is evaluated, and that one or two of those are likely to be qualitative, rather than specific measurable outcomes.

Determining outcomes for some positions might be harder than for others. Cotton raised questions about the types of metrics on which the board will evaluate the system’s general counsel or chief governmental relations officer, two positions eligible for the incentive pay.

There are also concerns about prescribing specific outcomes and goals for administrators and whether they might drive improper behavior. One area of concern is in fund-raising. The example plan included with the Texas proposal sets a target of fund-raising equaling 3.5 percent of the institution’s expenditures.

Fund-raising groups such as the Council for Advancement and Support of Education have consistently frowned on any form of bonus that looks like a commission, since such plans might drive fund-raisers to seek any gift, regardless of the cost, said Rae Goldsmith, the council’s vice president for advancement resources. If it looks like the fund-raiser receives a portion of the gift, it might also make potential donors reluctant to give, Goldsmith said.

The council does not say that monetary goals should be avoided, but that they should be realistic and set with the institution’s values and other goals in mind.

Measuring specific outcomes in other areas could raise concerns as well. Focusing on the number of students who pass classes or the number of students who graduate could lead to a watering-down of standards, critics say.

Similar concerns have been raised about state plans that allocate appropriations based on institutional performance.

Members of the board’s finance committee who approved the plan Wednesday said that there are likely to be some errors in establishing the correct metrics over the next few years, but they said they were confident the plan could be used to drive the system’s desired goals.

 

Kevin Kiley

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Tweeting By Faith

September 17th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media

College officials remain as faithful as ever that social media outlets are useful to achieving institutional goals, and that their own institutions’ efforts have been successful. But measuring usefulness remains a challenge, and the methods colleges are using to gauge success have not grown in sophistication in recent years.

These are the findings of the 2012 CASE Social Media Survey, an annual study by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the consulting firms mStoner and Slover Linett Strategies. The findings, released today, are based on responses from 1,187 CASE members — most of whom work at higher education institutions (a small percentage work at high schools).

This is the third year of the survey, and not much appears to have changed since 2010. Officials remains steadfast in their faith that social media is working for them. In this year’s survey, 96 percent agreed that “social media have great potential for achieving important goals in my unit.” Nearly 90 percent assessed their unit’s social media efforts as at least “somewhat successful.” Asked whether it is “too soon to say whether social media will be useful at all in our line of work,” 86 percent disagreed.

These figures represent virtually no change from the first iteration of the CASE survey two years ago, when 93 percent vouched for the potential of social media to help achieve goals, 87 percent called their own efforts successful, and 80 percent had little doubt social media were useful.

But unpacking that usefulness eluded respondents then, and it still does. When evaluating the “outcomes” of social media campaigns, officials still primarily look to metrics such as “number of active ‘friends,’ ‘likes,’ ‘members,’ participants, people who post, or number of comments,” as well as “volume of participation,” according to the latest survey.

These are the most visible metrics when it comes to measuring social media impact, but they are also some of the crudest. Social media experts often point out that number of friends and followers — and even “likes” and “retweets” — are not as important as who your friends are, who their friends are, and the amount of influence wielded by those who are endorsing and discussing your posts.

The colleges do not appear to be as interested in deeper study of those with whom they are ostensibly “engaging” via social media. Asked for specific areas of success, most officials said “Increasing engagement with our target audience.” At the same time, only a slim minority said they used the two outcomes measures — “penetration measure of use among target audiences” and “surveys of target audiences” — that would shed significant light on the extent of that success.

“I do think it’s strange, but I’m not surprised,” said Michael Stoner, the president of mStoner.

“I don’t think that [higher education] is good at measuring or tracking, in the first place,” he wrote in an e-mail. “So it’s easy to count (hits on a website, number of fans/followers), but much more difficult to take the leap to measuring outcomes or engagement or figuring out how many addressable alumni are actually fans on Facebook and whether, and how, their behavior differs from that of those who aren’t.”

Andrew Gossen, executive director of social media strategy at Cornell University, said many institutions probably still use blunt instruments because “they’re easy to collect and report,” and “if you’re under pressure to quantify your success, this is better than nothing.”

But many officials may not be struggling with limited imaginations as much as limited resources, says Gossen. “Paying attention to data over time, analyzing it, and reporting it takes time and expertise that may simply not be available,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Indeed, the 2012 survey respondents cited a lack of staffing as the greatest barrier to social media success for the third year running.

Anyway, none of this has dampened enthusiasm in college marketing and communications offices. Only 38 percent of respondents said “uncertainty about usefulness of social media” was any kind of barrier to using the tools successfully, and very few said it was a serious hindrance.

Some other findings: Twitter continues to rise as an institutional tool, with 80 percent of respondents saying their department uses Twitter in an official capacity — up from 67 percent in 2010. Institutional YouTube channels and Flickr accounts, as well as blogs, have also grown more popular over that time. Certain social media goals have become more common, particularly increasing “awareness/advocacy/rankings,” which others, such as “engaging the local community,” have diminished.

Steve Kolowich

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March Madness Brings Students In September

September 17th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Information, News and Updates

Whether you call it the Flutie Effect or the Jimmer Bump, a banner year in NCAA men’s basketball or football is followed by a flood of prospective students.

Economists at Brigham Young University and the University of Chicago studied where students chose to send their SAT scores. Universities received approximately 10 percent more scores from prospective students following a championship season.

Initially, these surges are fueled by certain types of students: out-of-staters, males, black students and those who played sports in high school. But teams who advance to the title game bring enough exposure to their university to attract more applicants of all demographic backgrounds.

“Males seem to have the tournament on their radar early on, but if your team gets to the championship, males and females are influenced about equally,” said Jaren Pope, a BYU economist who authored the study with his brother Devin, an economist at the University of Chicago.

The findings appear online in an article forthcoming in the Journal of Sports Economics titled “Understanding College Applications: Why College Sports Success Matters.”

Coincidentally, the first-year students now arriving at BYU for orientation are perhaps representative of these findings. This class of students applied to colleges after Jimmermania and BYU’s 2011 run to the Sweet 16. According to the Pope brothers’ analysis, advancing that far in the tournament ordinarily translates to four percent more applicants. BYU’s admissions office actually saw more than that, but is cautious about crediting the increase entirely to Jimmermania.

“There is already a certain type of student that is likely to come here,” Pope said. “But there were probably some on the margin that were choosing between BYU and another school and decided ‘Oh, wow, it’s gonna be fun to be at BYU.’”

The Pope brothers examined eight years of data from the SAT to understand which schools prospective college students chose to send their SAT scores. While their own previous research has noted that sports success draws more student applications, this new study tells more about the kinds of students who are influenced by success in men’s basketball and football.

For example, one of the questions they asked was whether sports success tends to be more influential among high-achieving or low-achieving students. They found that about two-thirds of this pool of students score below the average SAT score, but even some of the top-performing students were attracted by winning teams.

“There are some really high-quality students that seem to be affected by the sports success,” Pope said.

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Why Email Marketing Is King

September 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Email

In a business world obsessed with gaining more customer intelligence, you would think that email marketing would get more respect. But just look at media spending. According to eMarketer, this year U.S. companies are spending about $64 billion per year on TV, $34 billion on print ads, and $39 billion on Internet advertising. And how much are they are spending on email? For that, we have Forrester data: only about $1.5 billion.

Of course, compared to other media, email messages are dirt cheap to send. With TV you are spending on ad agencies, creative studios, and cable channels. With print ads, you are helping to keep newspapers and magazines alive. Direct mail costs more than $600 per thousand pieces. With email, there are almost no costs at all. But its low cost only makes the argument stronger that email marketing is the most cost-effective advertising method available today.

Certainly email beats the competition from a measurability standpoint. With TV you do not know who is watching your ads. Ditto with print. Even with direct mail, you cannot be sure that your mail has been delivered, or that anyone reads it when it gets there. With email, you know within 24 hours exactly which messages have been opened, by whom, what links the openers clicked on, and what part of your message was working.

A properly structured email message provides this benefit to the marketer because it provides benefits to consumers. A TV, print, or direct mail ad is what it is. On email the ad is much more. Because of electronic links, those who open your emails can do their own research: they can explore and see any of the thousands of products that you sell. They can see the colors and sizes. They can, and they do, read ratings and reviews. They can put products in their shopping carts and buy them.

“Fine,” say the TV folks, “but shopping cart sales through emails are seldom more than 5% of total sales. Nothing to write home about.”

What these detractors seem to willfully ignore is that emails create impressions that lead to sales through other routes. Some of these routes can be tracked. The recipient can open it or delete it. If she opens it, she can click on it, perhaps buy something or print out a coupon and take it to a store. Finally, if she puts things in her cart but does not buy, you can send her an abandoned shopping cart email that usually yields 29% of lost sales.

But note that, in many cases, she also does things that are hard to track. She can get in her car and drive to a mall to buy the product. She can pick up her phone and order it. She may be prompted to do research on Google for better prices of similar products, or discuss the offer with her spouse or a friend, leading to a possible purchase later. These are all the behaviors that provide the rationale for TV or print advertising. My point is that emails prompt the same kinds of behaviors. Thus, there is an off-email multiplier. For every purchase in an email shopping cart, we can fairly assume that there are some number of other non-tracked profitable purchases that occur because of the arrival of the email — a number that quantifies all the non-tracked behaviors that email recipients engage in.

If you are going to make a case for investing more heavily in email marketing, you have to determine this off-email multiplier to account for all the sales your emails can be expected to generate. How can that be done? A retailer I’ve worked with which has 900 stores and is very active with email campaigns recently did a great study. It took a group of 105,000 customers in its loyalty club database, divided them into three groups of 35,000, and marketed to the three groups differently, as shown in the chart below (click to see a larger version). Thanks to the loyalty program, it was able to see all subsequent purchases by these customers.

hugheschart2.jpg.jpeg

Direct mail has a higher response rate than email. But note that direct mail costs about 100 times as much. Meanwhile, the data collected by the retailer allowed it to calculate its off-email multiplier (a simple matter of dividing the percentage of online sales by the percentage of in-store sales generated by email-only marketing). It is 3.76. In other words, for every email shopping cart sale, this retailer gets 3.76 other, typically non-tracked sales due to the email.

What might your off-email multiplier be? Zero is of course possible, but studies to date suggest that a number between two and three is typical.

Once you factor in your off-email multiplier, it’s a very safe bet that email will beat all your other marketing methods in terms of return on investment. As email marketing gains more respect, marketing intelligence will meet customer intelligence.

Arthur Middleton Hughes 

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Quickly Build Rapport with Anyone

September 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Information

Managers can learn how to build rapport with colleagues—a valuable leadership skill—by following the field-tested techniques of a former agent with the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Robin Dreeke, former FBI agent and author ofIt’s Not All About Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone, recently shared several tips on building rapport with USA Today. Some include:

  • Establish artificial time constraints. Let the person you’re speaking with know either by your actions—such as packing your briefcase—or by your words—saying “I’ve got a train to catch”—that you’re not going to take up much of his or her time. Dreeke says this makes people “feel less threatened.”
  • Slow down. ”You don’t want the person to feel you’re trying to convince him or her of something,” says Dreeke, who notes that speaking quickly can often imply this. “When you do that, you make it seem all about you.”
  • Spend more time listening and asking questions. ”People are happiest when they talk about themselves,” says Dreeke, who suggests turning the conversation around to other person.

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Romney Fundraising Success Due in Part to Data Mining

September 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

Mitt Romney’s success in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the costliest presidential race ever can be traced in part to a secretive data-mining project that sifts through Americans’ personal information — including their purchasing history and church attendance — to identify new and likely, wealthy donors, The Associated Press has learned.

For the data-mining project, the Republican candidate has quietly employed since at least June a little-known but successful analytics firm that previously performed marketing work for a colleague tied to Bain & Co., the management-consulting firm that Romney once led.

The head of Buxton Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, chief executive Tom Buxton, confirmed to the AP his company’s efforts to help Romney identify rich and previously untapped Republican donors across the country.

The Romney campaign declined to discuss on the record its work with Buxton or the project’s overall success.

There are no records of payments to Buxton from Romney’s campaign, the Republican National Committee or a joint fundraising committee. Under federal law, companies cannot use corporate money or resources, such as proprietary data analysis, for in-kind contributions to campaigns.

Buxton said he’s working for the Romney campaign because he wants “to be on the winning team.”

He once worked with a former Romney business partner to provide insights, for example, about where Petco should open a new pet-supply store to maximize profits. In addition to Buxton, the data-mining project was described to the AP by a Romney fundraiser who spoke on condition of anonymity because the fundraiser did not want to face repercussions for describing internal campaign processes.

Businesses use those kinds of analytics firms to answer key questions for clients, such as where to build a retail store or where to mail pamphlets touting a new product. The analysis doesn’t directly bring in campaign contributions, but it generates the equivalent of sales leads for Romney’s campaign.

The project relies upon a sophisticated analysis by powerful computers of thousands of commercially available, expensive databases that are lawfully bought and sold behind the scenes by corporations, including details about credit accounts, families and children, voter registrations, charitable contributions, property tax records and survey responses. It combines marketing data with what is known in this specialized industry as psychographic information about Americans.

The effort by Romney appears to be the first example of a political campaign using such extensive data analysis.

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has long been known as data-savvy, but Romney’s project appears to take a page from the Fortune 500 business world and dig deeper into available consumer data.

An early test analyzed details of more than 2 million households near San Francisco and elsewhere on the West Coast and identified thousands of people who would be comfortably able and inclined to give Romney at least $2,500 or more.

An AP analysis this week determined that Romney’s campaign has made impressive inroads into even traditionally Democratic neighborhoods, collecting more than $350,000 this summer around San Francisco in contributions that averaged $400 each. High-dollar donors have been essential to Romney’s election effort, unlike Obama, who relies on more contributors giving smaller amounts.

Romney and the GOP have out-fundraised Obama’s re-election effort for the past three months.

The fate of the presidency may depend on who raises more money in the campaign, whose cost for the first time is approaching $2 billion. That figure includes hundreds of millions of dollars spent by “super” political committees that accept unlimited and in some cases effectively anonymous contributions from millionaires, companies, labor groups and others to pay for television campaign advertisements across the nation.

Buxton confirmed that the data-mining project began with the help of Dick Boyce, Romney’s former Bain & Co. colleague, after Romney joined fundraising forces with the Republican National Committee. Buxton expressed such confidence in his business and analysis methods that, in nearly two decades of running his firm, he told AP he has always been able to answer essential questions for customers.

“I can look at data of any kind and say, ‘I want to know who that $100 donor could be,’” Buxton said. “We look at data of any kind.”

Obama’s campaign employs its own form of data analysis to lure potential supporters, via Facebook and Twitter, to fine-tune messages for supporters and potential donors. The Obama campaign declined to comment on its internal fundraising practices, although Buxton said it doesn’t work with Obama’s campaign.

Romney’s campaign has also been secretive about how it raises its money, and most fundraising events have been closed to the press. Unlike Obama, Romney’s campaign has declined to publicly identify the names of major fundraisers, known as bundlers, who have helped amass much of its money. Details of this project have not been made public until now, as payments to Buxton aren’t reflected in federal campaign expense reports.

Buxton is not listed as a vendor in any of the campaign’s reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission, although some campaigns do not report expenses until the vendor sends them a bill.

When AP initially asked Buxton about its work for Romney, it declined to acknowledge that it helped raise money for the RNC, even as its own website displayed a prominent log-in page for “2012 presidential donor prospecting.” That web address contained the letters “RNC” — a common abbreviation for the Republican National Committee. After the AP’s continued questioning, the company replaced the “RNC” letters in the web address with a generic “campaign” the next day.

This is not Buxton’s first foray into politics: In 2006, the company produced 1,000 names for a Connecticut campaign to meet a write-in ballot requirement, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram then reported, and 900 of them signed up.

Few in Washington campaign circles recognized the work of Buxton, although it lists thousands of other clients in the public and private sector, including hospitals and local governments.

Jack Gillum, Associated Press

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2 Kentucky Universities Censor Athletes’ Twitter

September 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

Student-athletes at the University of Kentucky and most at the University of Louisville surrender their online privacy to their coaches under a social media monitoring system used by both schools and others across the country.

As a condition of participating in sports, the schools require athletes to agree to monitoring software being placed on their social-media accounts. The software emails alerts to coaches whenever athletes use a word that could embarrass the student, the university or tarnish their images on services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.

U of L flags 406 words or slang expressions that have to do with drugs, sex or alcohol. The University of Kentucky flags a similar number, of which 370 are sports agents’ names.

The words range from the seemingly innocuous “pony” — a euphemism for crack cocaine — and “panties,” to all manner of alcoholic drinks and sexual expressions.

UK also has flagged “Muslim” and “Arab” — though after being questioned about it by The Courier-Journal, the school said it will no longer do so.

DeWayne Peevy, executive associate athletics director at UK, said the university wasn’t aware those terms were being flagged and said the school was taking steps to remove them. He said that they had been included by Centrix Social, the company that sold its monitoring software to the university.

Sports at U of L that use the service are golf, softball, baseball, soccer, swimming and diving, rowing, women’s tennis, track, and women’s basketball, said Kenny Klein, senior associate athletic director. Men’s basketball and football do not use the service, he said. The decision is left up to each sport’s head coach, and efforts to reach Rick Pitino and Charlie Strong were not successful.

All of UK’s student-athletes, who number more than 500, are required to use the Centrix Social service, Peevy said.

In nearly 1,500 pages of posts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from UK, unidentified student-athletes were flagged for a wide range of posts.

Both UK and U of L refused to give any information on instances where students were disciplined for flagged posts, saying that would violate student privacy.

One student posted on March 26: “I have some OxyContin. It will make you feel good. #drugs,” records show. Another posted: “I thought I found the girl of my dreams at the strip club.” Another recalled a night of drinking: “I don’t remember last night, but my credit card statement says I had a kick-ass time.”

One student was flagged for writing, “God is the only one who can heal me, help me & fight for me” — because the word “fight” was used in the post.

Students who talked about the practice said they weren’t bothered by it.

“I feel like it’s OK for (the coach) to monitor (student-athletes) to make sure they’re not representing the university in a bad way,” said Muhammed Saisullah, a UK junior walk-on who played on the football team in 2011. “Monitoring, I think it’s pretty smart.”

Similarly, Emily Juhl, a junior volleyball player at U of L, said she thought it helped make her more cautious in her communication. She said she hasn’t heard any other athlete complain.

But Bradley Shear, a Washington, D.C., attorney and digital media expert who has advised state legislatures across the country on social media policy, calls the practice “unbelievably outrageous” and “clearly unconstitutional.”

He likens the practice to placing a listening device in a student’s car or residence.

“This is just an online bug, there’s no difference,” Shear said. “It’s so troubling beyond words.”

Aside from Shear’s argument that monitoring what students say online violates their First Amendment rights, he says that the practice opens the door to serious legal liability for the schools. Sooner or later, there will be a breach in security and student athletes’ personal information will be made public, he said.

The ACLU of Kentucky also calls the use of monitoring software an abridgment of free speech.

“When students are forced, as a condition of receiving a scholarship, to grant government officials access to all of their social networking accounts and then are subject to punishment for engaging in lawful speech that the university simply doesn’t like, we believe public universities cross the line,” staff attorney William Sharp said.

Monitoring of students’ social media accounts has become an issue on the national level, with some states taking steps to prohibit the practice. The California legislature is considering Senate Bill 1349, which would make it illegal for a public or private college or university to require access to private social media information from any student.

But U of L’s Klein said the school’s use of UDiligence is not unfair to student-athletes.

“It’s not what you could say is an invasion of privacy or anything, because you’re not looking for things in a private setting, only things in a public setting,” he said.

Karen Ferguson-Dayes, head women’s soccer coach at U of L, said she has never had to punish a student because of a UDiligence email alert. She did suspend a student-athlete because of a post she made on Twitter, but it was her teammates, not UDiligence, who brought it to Ferguson-Dayes’ attention.

“They were as upset about it as I was,” she said.

The service is supposed to be an “educational tool” for players, because some don’t realize that when they put something out there on the Internet, “sometimes you can’t necessarily get it back,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “The way we utilize it is meant to help them, not hurt them.”

UDiligence collects $6,450 a year for its monitoring services, according to its contract with U of L. UK, which has used has used the Centrix Social service since September 2011, paid $7,500 the first year. That has dropped to $6,000 a year since, according to the agreement.

Other universities that use UDiligence, according to company information online, include LSU, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Utah State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, University of Florida, New Mexico and Missouri.

Centrix Social said clients include Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

Both firms’ software works in similar ways. It’s installed on the student-athletes’ social media accounts, allowing the schools to keep track of posts, tweets, comments and any other information submitted online. If a student uses any of the flagged words, an email is sent to the coach.

In addition to the email alerts that UDiligence sends, U of L coaches have access to all of a student-athlete’s photos or videos, UDilgence CEO Kevin Long said in an email to the school.

Mark Boxley

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