Interview with Amber J. Lawson

Tech Cat

Interview with Amber J. Lawson

 

Lori: Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Tech Cat Show. It’s a chilly December as we all get prepared for the holidays, and I think it’s very fitting that we talk a little bit today about social good; that is, organizations that are helping charities get the word out and do things that better our society. And one of my dearest friends in the world is actually driving this social good world. I’m calling her The Do-gooder, and that is Ms. Amber J. Lawson, who is the founder and CEO of Good Amplified. Let’s have a hand for Amber J. Lawson! Woo! So, Amber

  1. is a very connected, well-known entertainment executive who’s, basically, taking her knowledge of the industry and content creators and really that whole YouTube world and social-media world and using it to help nonprofits drive awareness and build audiences and really expand their bases, using all of this great content and social media, because understanding how to play in this space is important for any business, whether you’re a not for profit or for profit, and so what you’re really doing with Good Amplified is helping to position these companies in this space. So, tell us a little bit about your background, because you come from a lot of different pieces of the puzzle.

 

Amber J.: Why, yes, I do, Lori H. Schwartz. Lori: You’re a piece of the puzzle.

Amber J.: Yeah, so, it’s interesting because I was talking with a reporter yesterday about this, and she was sourcing, like, where do- gooding came from, and I looked to my family. My mom has always been a do-gooder and helping others; engaging in charity, whether it’s a church or at my sorority in college. It’s always been kind of a through line in my life, so it’s interesting that it bubbled up into my, now my business and merging all my passions into one. So, I would say specifically when this kind of bubbled up was after I left AOL. So I’d been running a lot of different digital networks like ManiaTV and Babelgum and then I went and ran all the content for AOL. And when I left AOL, I was just searching for, kind of, purpose, and I think people hit this at different times in their lives, but it was, like, this making money is awesome, and I’m all about that, but there has to be a bigger end game than just making more money, right? So, how do you create—

 

Lori: Really?

 

 

Amber J.: I know. Well, how do you create a business that you can sustain your lifestyle or your way of living and it’s tapping your talents that has a bigger impact on the planet. And kind of our first iteration of that was Comedy Gives Back, which I did with two of my best friends, and we create comedy events around the planet, across platforms that raise money for different charities, and we’re still doing that and that’s amazing, and there’s big news coming out around that very soon, but it’s really not scalable, right? It takes a lot of people, a lot of hours, and a lot of focus to make that happen, and I was looking to do good at scale, and that’s how we created Good Amplified, which is the only MCN exclusively servicing nonprofits on YouTube.

 

Lori: And, Amber J., can you take a step back and just explain what an MCN is so everybody understands?

 

Amber J.: Yes. It is a new term and a term that is, frankly, evolving every day, but a multi-channel network, or MCN, is—so you have a YouTube channel, and I have a YouTube channel, and they have a YouTube channel, and we all join together as multi channels and form a network. And so there are different kinds of these multi-channel networks out in the world now. There are kind of the generalists, which are Maker Studios and Fullscreen, where they have a whole bunch of different kinds of creators. And then you have niche MCNs like Machinima, which is all gamers; or there’s mitú which is Latin; or there are fashion and health MCNs.

 

Lori: So all the traditional content verticals that publishers and creators are, basically, building for audience to gather around.

 

Amber J.: Right. So some are—the point is you bring all of these channels together in order to have more power or impact when it comes to advertising and leveraging the platform to create solutions for problems you may have. It drives potentially more audience, and then it ups your CPMs when you are working with advertisers.

 

Lori: And that’s, basically, the cost of a user and that means that eyeballs have watched your ad, basically. So, when you set out to create Good Amplified, did you sit down with folks at YouTube and say, you know, I want to do this, or is more like you do this as a business and then you’re obviously in partnership with YouTube because they’re a distribution portal, per se.

 

Amber J.: Well, it’s a little of both. So, when I first had this idea, I went to Alex Carloss, the head of YouTube originals, and shared my idea. We spitballed ideas back and forth, and then we went off and started to create it. We spent about a year in stealth mode, gathering information from the nonprofits, because the difference in kind of servicing a nonprofit versus a creator is creators are driven by the need to create or to share their story or to become famous or show their skill or to drive money, whereas nonprofits are driven by their mission. This is a tool in reaching that audience, but it’s a different driver for them, right? They’re not as twenty-four, seven—some are, but as maybe a content creator would be, and that’s where Good Amplified comes in, right? We kind of bridge that gap in creating that constant engagement, how to leverage the platform, learning all the tricks of the trade, and how to use the platform so a nonprofit can benefit and succeed from it.

 

Lori: And when I was growing up, you know, when you thought about nonprofit, you thought about, like, sort of an older woman who looked like a librarian kind of hanging out in a corner at a desk piled with papers—

 

Amber J.: Yeah.

 

Lori: —and not making a lot of money but, like, giving her heart and soul to a cause. It’s not really that anymore, is it.

 

Amber J.: No. You know, I think there’s been a shift in the consciousness, especially in the millennial generation. They want to partner with brands that are doing good, and they want to support organizations that are having an impact on the planet and not really that old-school way of you would donate your five or ten dollars to whatever and not really know where it went. It is about transparency, and it’s about action and being in the middle of it and that you have a one-to-one kind of outcome. So my one dollar inoculates a child and basically saves a life in Africa from malaria, and that took one dollar, and I see where my one dollar went; and that is really powerful, and that’s the power of this kind of shared economy where you’re seeing the direct results of your action, whether that’s financially or through viewing.

 

Lori: When we come back after this break, I want to talk to you a little bit about, you know, so, we have this now new understanding of social good and people engaging in this new form of charity. What you’re really bringing to the table is teaching these organizations how

 

to leverage modern tools. So I’m wondering, what are the trends out there that you’re really capturing to activate all of these fabulous charities, and you’ve already done some great work with, can you name a few of the charities you’ve done some work with already?

 

Amber J.: Oh, yeah. So, a big one out of the gate, with huge success has been Make-A-Wish America as well as Teen Cancer America and the Rett Syndrome Research Trust. These are just a couple that are in our network who have had kind of breakout success out of the gate.

 

Lori: Oh, that’s so exciting. All right, so we’re going to hear more about what Good Amplified and the fabulous Amber J. Lawson have done with those fine organizations to make the world a better place when we come back on the Tech Cat Show.

 

Amber J.: Meow.

 

{Commercial Break}

 

Lori: Hello, and welcome back to the show. We are talking to the fabulous Amber J. Lawson, digging into social good and her new multi- channel network called Good Amplified. And right before the break, we were getting a little bit into the companies that she’s been helping, Make-A-Wish, Teen Cancer America, Rett Syndrome Research Trust.

So my question for you, Amber J., is, you know, a lot of charities I don’t think understand the social-media world and the YouTube world, so what trends are happening out there that you’re sort of helping to bring to them and why, why is this so important right now?

 

Amber J.: Well, a couple of things. One is the fundraising landscape is dramatically shifting. In fact, I was talking to this institutional nonprofit last week, and they have seen a drop of a hundred fifty million dollars—

 

Lori: Oh my gosh.

 

Amber J.: —in their annual budget because they are not tapping in to the next generation, and so, like, they have walks and the walks are fine, but they’re not generating, like, a mutter generates lots of money. And that’s the same with YouTube. So what people don’t realize is YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet, next to Google, who owns YouTube. So, if you want to show up—I mean, this is a baseline that I think people are completely missing is, say, I am searching for help with something. So an example of this is

 

my friend, his daughter was diagnosed with this rare disease, and he went and Googled it—because that’s what we do as human beings now, we Google things—and nothing credible came up in search, and it wasn’t that there weren’t organizations out there that could help him and be not only a community but give him resources, lead him down the right path. They just weren’t optimized for the platform. And the interesting thing is, you know, you can buy key words and you can buy search terms in Google, but the faster way—and I’m sure over time this will not be the case—but the faster way to do it right now is to have your videos from YouTube show up in Google search. And the interesting piece of this is, so, here’s kind of a flippant anecdote, one of the organizations, the Washington Ballet, their number-one watched video is how to make a ballet bun. So that’s what people search for, right? And that’s where people get their first touch point with the Washington Ballet, and that’s awesome because then, with us, we help program the channel so it leads them down, almost like programming a television network, this leads them into a deeper experience. So they’ll watch how to make ballet bun and maybe then they’ll watch The Nutcracker and then they’ll watch Baryshnikov and then they’ll watch a class and next thing they know how to do a pas de bourrée, tendulay or whatever, and they watch five videos and they’ve been on your channel; they haven’t gone off into other channels. It’s programmed for an experience that creates community, and we say that how millennials donate is through their eyeballs or through views. They watch a video; if you’re monetizing that, you’re making money.

You move them down the funnel into sharing it with their social network; and then kind of the Holy Grail of it is converting them into a subscriber, because once they become a subscriber, it’s basically the new donation retention program—

 

Lori: Ah.

 

Amber J.: —the donor retention program. And that’s a big thing in the nonprofit space. They spend a lot of marketing dollars for donor acquisition.

 

Lori: So this sounds to me like a regular business. Like, I’m Macy’s and I want to get loyalists owning a Macy’s card, coming to Macy’s every day, engaging in the brand, so you’re kind of saying that the strategy around this is the same as if you were a profit company.

 

Amber J.: Well, I mean, a nonprofit needs to run like a for-profit company. They need to think that way. Just because they’re tax exempt doesn’t mean that they throw all business acumen out the

 

window, right? You’re building a business; it’s just a different classification, and the product is doing good, which is awesome, right?

 

Lori: Right, right, right. And when people talk to me about they have a 501(c) status, what does that mean, because that gets tossed around a lot when people are talking about social good and charity. Is that still, like, you have to get that accreditation to be a nonprofit?

 

Amber J.: Well, so, there’s social good and there’s nonprofits, right? So social good can be a for-profit company, like, we’re a for-profit company. We’re a social-good company, because (a) we’re supporting nonprofits and (b) we give some of that money back to the community and back to the organizations. But a nonprofit in the United States, a 501(c)(3), specifically, is a tax-exempt organization; and they are charitable, religious, educational, they follow certain qualifications; and they apply for this and they have certain ways that they report the income that comes in. And the distinction in our lens of this is, you know, with YouTube the only way to be part of the nonprofit program to take advantage of this suite of tools and the Good Amplified kind of expertise is to be a 501(c)(3). Now there are other organizations called 501(c)(4)’s that are, like, the super PACs in political organizations and they are tax exempt, but they do not qualify for the YouTube nonprofit program.

 

Lori: Okay, so there’s a lot of different sort of ways, sort of subtleties about this, but what you’re saying is, what Good Amplified—you really have to be a true nonprofit in order to engage with you guys.

 

Amber J.: Correct. That’s our expertise and that’s our niche in the market is 501(c)(3)’s.

 

Lori: Oh, that’s important. And when it comes to YouTube, we all hear so much about the creators, and these are the folks that are publishing this content all the time that now brands are starting to surround it; and, certainly, even if you’re not a millennial or gen X, you’ve probably heard about PewDiePie and just the millions of dollars he’s made. So is part of what you’re doing with Good Amplified leveraging these young millionaires who are throwing content up on YouTube every day?

 

Amber J.: Yeah, so, being part of the Good Amplified network, one of the value adds that we provide is the social-good solution for all the influencers. So we’re not competitive with any of the MCNs. We partner with them as the social-good solution for their influencers,

 

which means we will share with them when there are various campaigns running. Like, we just did Conservation International

#INeedNature for the Paris climate talks, and they were all part of a visual petition at the summit. And so it’s a way to kind of have these influencers as this industry matures. It’s kind of dipping their toe into doing good and how they can tap their audiences for causes that they care about and aligning their brand or their business mission with a mission or a do-gooding that aligns with who they are as a human being or a brand.

 

Lori: So if a brand comes to you who’s a profit brand but they want to have an association with social-good content because they know that that’s the way into the millennial audience, are you helping connect the dots to a true 501(c) and then helping to create some engagement on YouTube?

 

Amber J.: Yeah, so, we will partner—we have other strategic partners who actually can deliver a media campaign, so in a way that brands are used to having their campaigns delivered, and then we match them with a 501(c)(3), if they don’t already have one they’re aligned with, with influencers. So that kind of whole package, and then ultimately what we become once we have thousands of nonprofits in our network is a network that brands can buy into of self-selected do- gooders, which is a very sought-after group of people in the brand space.

 

Lori: Right, because then they get the social-good halo. Amber J.: Yeah.

Lori: So when you’re out there navigating, are you getting a lot of questions from brands about what’s working? Are people starting to call you up and saying, how do I do this?

 

Amber J.: I would say—well, the kind of gap that’s happening is moving people from making content for content’s sake to making content that engages—

 

Lori: Ah, okay.

 

Amber J.: —and content that will get picked up in the algorithm and in search so that it is earned media and not necessarily you’re paying for everything. So it’s an evolution in the kind of content that actually causes people to take action.

 

 

Lori: And you happen to also be someone that you have other business interests and you also have a social-media business and you have a real true understanding of how to generate activations in that space. So it really takes that, right, understanding how all these platforms work and how your content will show up in them. It’s not just luck, right, there’s a strategy to this.

 

Amber J.: Yeah, so, we work with all of the nonprofits to help them create a content strategy, a content calendar, so they are mapped out for the year. It’s so basic but it’s so important because it gives you the path to follow, and then you can just continue to build on top of that, which allows, like, these nonprofits, that’s not what they’re thinking about. They’re thinking about doing good, awesome things in the world, and we want to enable that and make the content—and the stories, right? The most effective form of marketing is storytelling, and every nonprofit has a story to tell.

 

Lori: Well, that is a great note to end on for this next break. And when we come back with the fabulous Amber J. Lawson and Good Amplified, we’re going to talk a little bit about what’s going on with other tech trends, and I’d love to hear from you about what you play with in your home, because that’s always my favorite question to ask guests, you know, how is some of this technology impacting their life, and also what’s gen Z up to, because we talk a lot about millennials, but what’s coming up for the next generation? So we’ll be back in a moment with the fabulous Amber J. Lawson and the Tech Cat.

 

Amber J.: Meow.

 

{Commercial Break}

 

Lori: And we’re back with the fabulous Amber J. Lawson, who’s talking to us about Good Amplified, which is a multi-channel network that is all about doing good and helping not-for-profits understand how to play in the content space. So this is a loaded question to ask Amber J., if you know her, but I want to know what kind of tech toys you have in your house. What do you play with? Remember, this is a PG show. You know, everyone’s talking a lot about their smart phones and their different connected-to-the-Internet-of-Things devices, but if someone dancing in the Internet-connected content space, what are some of the things that you depend on or play with?

 

Amber J.: Well, I really am into my, like, Chromecast and throwing my Netflix or my Amazon onto my TV. I haven’t got into the new Apple TV as much, and I want a Nest like something crazy.

 

Lori: Now, interesting. Do you use the Chromecast in business meetings? Are you showing up at environments and just casting to various TVs there?

 

Amber J.: You know, I have to say it’s pretty old-school dongles, but it’s nice to see that they have them, because I think that was a step in the right direction.

 

Lori: Yeah.

 

Amber J.: It used to be—I mean, I always had my own, but, like, it used to be they would be like, what are you talking about with these Mac computers, and now I think it’s more adapted. But, no, are you showing up to meetings with your Chromecast?

 

Lori: No, you know, I find that most conference rooms these days have an Apple TV and then they’ll, up on the screen, will be the wi-fi network that you connect to and then it shares your screen because you use the Apple TV interface, you know, the air—sharing from the air.

 

Amber J.: Well, I’ll tell you where I spend most of my time is in Google Hangouts.

 

Lori: Okay, interesting. Okay.

 

Amber J.: Yeah, so, most of the nonprofits we talk to, we do a Google Hangout to walk them through how it works, and fifty percent of the time they’re just downloading it for the first time, so I’m injecting tech into their world, but the good news about this is I would say eighty- plus percent have a digital person internally now, which two years ago was certainly not the case, but now it’s part of their team, part of their budgets, and part of the DNA of the company.

 

Lori: Oh, it’s interesting because I just did a Google Hangout, and I didn’t do Hangout Air, which would have been smarter because it would have instantly saved to YouTube and so there are all the subtleties with these platforms that you need to understand, but I definitely have been finding myself using Skype and Hangout a lot

 

more in business situations. It seems to be something everybody understands now; it’s not this, like, foreign thing.

 

Amber J.: Yeah, and as a company, we’re all virtual, so Hangouts are really the best place where we can all, and now, obviously, Skype, that you can do that that we can have a group of people all looking at each other around the planet and having conference calls or synching on various projects.

 

Lori: Now are you finding yourself still travelling a lot, or is the Google Hangout and Skype and all that a good way, you know, is this the tech that is helping us be a global community, to your point, but not have to travel so much?

 

Amber J.: Well, I would say I don’t have to travel as much in that I don’t have to have these, kind of, kickoff meetings or start-the- relationship meetings. But I do think at some point face-to-face is key in moving the relationship forward. In fact, we had our holiday party last night for Good Amplified, and I hadn’t met three of the people face-to-face yet.

 

Lori: Oh my gosh, that’s so interesting.

 

Amber J.: Isn’t that just crazy? But, yeah, so, like, we’re running our company with people that haven’t met in person yet.

 

Lori: Now let me ask you, you had mentioned that you really want a Nest, and why is that? Is that something that you’ve just seen other people use? You understand that it will help you save money? Like, what’s your reasoning for—

 

Amber J.: Well, I think from an environmental perspective and an efficiency financially, but also in saving our environment, I think it’s key. Like, we’ve started to adopt keeping our water, like, over the summer and using our shower water to water our lawns, because we wanted to keep our lawn and we didn’t want it to turn hot out there, but we also didn’t—you know, wanted to recycle our water—and that might sound creepy, but we use a lot water, washing our bodies, people—and then the idea of moving away from using as much energy. I just think any way that we can do that—

 

Lori: So you have—so, sustainability has sort of crept into your life, and do you think it’s because culturally you’re now dealing with do- gooders and not-for-profits so some of that is infusing into you, or

 

were you always somebody that thought about sustainability, because, certainly, we have a Nest and we’re trying to get our lawn replaced with fake lawn and we’re trying to do all these different things, but I think, honestly, we think about it more from a we’re slightly

financially-driven by it and we want to do the right thing, but it’s not, like, natural to us.

 

Amber J.: Yeah.

 

Lori: And I’m gen X, so sustainability is very important to me, and I want there to be a future for my daughter, but it doesn’t permeate me; and it sounds to me like it’s permeating you, and is that part of this social-good world, it’s part of that culture, because usually they’re all bundled together.

 

Amber J.: Well, yeah, I have to say I am not an early adopter when it comes to climate—

 

Lori: Technology.

 

Amber J.: Yeah, but I feel it’s become easier, and it’s more in my world and to make this step to that has been made easier. So I’m an early adopter in that sense, but I’m not an early adopter, like, people who’ve been off the grid for ten years or in solar panels—we haven’t gone that far yet—but it’s interesting now because they’re making it easier. You know, when it becomes easier to adopt it—

 

Lori: People adopt. Amber J.: People adopt.

Lori: Now what about gen Z or some people are calling them the plurals because they’re the generation after millennials and it’s the first pluralistic generation in our country, where the majority is not white. Are you guys looking at gen Z now? Are a lot of the brands and the nonprofits talking about them, or is everyone still focused on millennials?

 

Amber J.: I think they’re still focused on millennials. Frankly, they’re just now adopting and understanding that they have to behave differently with the millennial generation. And if you’re thinking from an adoption and financial perspective, the millennials are just now coming into maturity and making enough money that could affect—in the donors’ kind of, like, or nonprofits’ funnel, right? The biggest

 

chunk of money comes from, currently, like, the gen X-ers and the generation before us. But as that transitions, now they’re moving into the millennials’ behavior, how they work, how they give, how they support, how to better partner with them, and, you know, when I was talking about this being a subscriber is a donor retention program, it is because it’s a behavior that millennials are used to, right? They get a YouTube digest every day or every week, depending on where they set their preferences, that is another touch point for a brand, in this case a nonprofit, to create brand awareness and convert them into a giver or donor or activist on their behalf. You know, they say in marketing it takes, what, six to eight touch points before someone converts.

Here’s a passive way, in a behavior that millennials already do, in order to—through storytelling—touch them and convert them over time.

 

Lori: But, again, it’s all such new language for so many people that it’s interesting that the reason they’re jumping on the bandwagon is that their numbers are going down; they’re being forced to, rather than just making smart business decisions, right? Or maybe the two things are connected. And for you, do you think this is going to be, if we look at the end of 2015, is this, like, one of the biggest sort of social-good years out there? Are people contributing again? Have we activated this generation to start writing checks?

 

Amber J.: If we make it easy, they will give, but you cannot miss that moment or call to action and make it easy because our attention is very limited. I mean, I’m the same way, right? If I go to give to something and the steps are too much or I get lost in the process, I will move on, right, and then forget to come back. And it’s not out of spite or intention, it’s just how we kind of think of things now and move through—

 

Lori: Yeah, it does have to be easier because you’re so overwhelmed all the time. Well, when we come back from our fabulous break and talk more to the fabulous Amber J. and Good Amplified, I want to get a little bit into some of the other places that you are playing around with, because you wear many hats outside of Good Amplified, and they all kind of circle back together, but I’d love to hear some of those things where you’re going to be speaking next, also what you’re reading at where you get your information from, because you are one of the most connected people I know, and you are everywhere all the time. I mean, I live vicariously through you as I’m passing out on my couch at nine o’clock at night, because I’m so exhausted from being the Tech Cat.

 

 

Amber J.: Meow!

 

Lori: But when we come back, more from Amber J. Lawson, Good Amplified, and let’s find out how she keeps up all her energy. You going to give us a meow?

 

Amber J.: Meow.

 

Lori: All right. We’ll be back soon.

 

{Commercial Break}

 

Lori: And we’re back. I’m sorry I was getting distracted by someone texting me who has been listening to our conversation.

 

Amber J.: Oh my god, what did they say, Lori?

 

Lori: Well, they said they actually do want to know what do you read at night? Like, what does Amber J. read? Does Amber J. ever read, because Amber J.’s never home.

 

Amber J.: I don’t read. No, I read tweets. I read emails. I start my day with my Twitter feed, my Facebook, Tubefilter, VideoInk, and Synopsys. And then when I read for pleasure I do books on tape, and I’ve been also listening to the Serial podcast, the new one that came out.

 

Lori: Oh, yep, yep.

 

Amber J.: And then the books on tape I’m reading right now is your buddy—I’m pulling it up right now—Peter Guber.

 

Lori: Ah! The storytelling one? Amber J.: Yeah, Tell to Win.

Lori: Tell to Win. Are you listening to the Tech Cat Show podcast, as well?

 

Amber J.: Obviously! Oh, yeah, yes!

 

Lori: Now you’re very involved in curating events for the folks over at BANFF. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

 

 

Amber J.: Yeah, so, we have the L.A. version of BANFF is February 17 here at The London in Los Angeles. We’re just announcing some of the awesome development executives that will be there—I think the email will hit your inboxes tomorrow morning—and a couple of the sessions that we have rolling out. We’re also stacking the deck. I mean, this year’s BANFF Company of Distinction is HBO, so we have Mr. Plepler going the keynote at BANFF.

 

Lori: And can you just explain to everybody what BANFF is, if they’ve never heard of it before, because it’s such a cool conference and experience.

 

Amber J.: Yeah, you know, it’s kind of the Davos of content, in that it is TV and digital decision makers coming together around the development and distribution of content. It’s not like a sales market, like, MIPTV, where you’re licensing out to international buyers, but it is an international marketplace for the creation of ideas and formats.

And so you get a lot of show runners, it’s kind of the kickoff to Emmy season and Emmy campaigns, and you get the big broadcasters there. So you have super, super experienced superstars. Like, last year Jill Soloway did a master class. UnREAL did—they were before that series had unleashed. So you get a little taste of things before they come out, and you hear from the experts, and then as kind of new creators in the market trying to figure out where they should tell their stories, they get to pitch to these buyers. So, like, eOne and Lionsgate and HBO and A&E and Shaw and Bell and ABC and Disney are all participants in the festivities, as well as all of the MCNs—Maker, Fullscreen, AwesomenessTV, Kin Community, and then all those digital storytellers as well. And then this year, we’re really building out this brand summit, so bringing in consumer brands as we shift into this content marketing, you know, our traditional storytellers or show runners are now embracing, because commercials are getting fastforwarded over, right? The pre-roll now has ad blocker on it, how to create brands as part of the DNA of content to fund it as these models are shifting like crazy.

 

Lori: Yeah, and it’s so interesting, too, because these days the curation of these events is so deeply reflective of what’s actually happening in the industry, because there’s not big lags between big announcements and big events, you know, it’s all sort of connected. You’re not, like, waiting later for an event based on something that happens.

 

Amber J.: And the other thing that’s happened, a kind of demand in the marketplace, we created this year the digital parliament, and so that is a hundred invited guests of digital decision makers in the room talking about three burning issues in the industry that they are then coming out with a solution for and they they’re going to adopt into their businesses for the four months leading up until BANFF; and then when we’re at BANFF together, saying, hey, that worked or that didn’t work. And this is also part of the Content Industry Connect, or the CICLA, that’s happening on February 17, and it’s a closed-door half day that happens before the Content Industry Connect.

 

Lori: And do you also have the Tech Cat at the BANFF? Amber J.: Yes! BANFF, in the mountains.

Lori: In the mountains we’ll be broadcasting. So, that’s very exciting stuff. And just as a last note on what you’re up to, Comedy Gives Back, I know you mentioned it earlier, but can you tell us a little bit about that?

 

Amber J.: Yeah, so, Comedy Gives Back, we started in 2011, beta testing it, if you will. But it was really a vision of, look, the technology had evolved and has evolved where we can live stream around the planet, and all we needed was an Internet connection, a camera pointed at a comic, and then plug into the sound system the microphone on the stage. We were broadcasting from comedy clubs in Australia, London, New York, and L.A., as well as hubbed out of the What’s Trending Studios in Hollywood, where we had, like, the likes of Zach Galifianakis and Comedy Bang! Bang! and Reggie Watts and all sorts of different traditional comics as well as, like, Shay Carl and Falula, and Shira Lazar, who are digital natives who all came together in 2013. We went twenty-fours hours around the globe for Malaria No More, and we were at South by Southwest and Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. And then in 2016 we’re taking it to television.

 

Lori: Ooh! And so the whole thing is going to go on a broadcast network?

 

Amber J.: Parts of it are going to be on a broadcast network, but, true to our digital roots, the majority of it will happen online.

 

Lori: Ooh! That’s exciting, too. Amber J.: Yes.

 

 

Lori: So you’re really playing around with that cross-platform experience that these millennials and gen Z-ers have come to expect and also true to people’s behavior; we eat a little bit at different places.

 

Amber J.: Yeah, and I think what it does is it exposes the digital natives to, there’s this thing called broadcast television, because a lot of them are cord-nevers and they’re watching all their content on YouTube. That’s (a) why it’s so important for nonprofits to be on YouTube, but (b) that exposing this generation to, oh, here is a network, which I can’t name yet because we haven’t announced it, but that maybe they didn’t even know, like, what the programming was and to be exposed to it and to be kind of in the DNA of the millennial generation, right? It’s entertainment, which we love, and it’s giving back and, hopefully, in an interesting, disruptive, and impactful way that causes people into action and laughter.

 

Lori: Laughter is always helpful when you’re enjoying something, right?

 

Amber J.: Well, we actually say that laughter arounds giving back is one of the most effective tools, because unless you are a hardcore supporter of a certain kind of cause, it’s a great gateway for people to engage and interact without kind of the heaviness that can come with what these nonprofits are doing.

 

Lori: Right, and also, yeah, helping people who are in need. So, Amber J. Lawson, I don’t know, do you ever actually sleep?

 

Amber J.: No. I am a vampire. That’s why I always have my sunglasses on is that I’m a vampire.

 

Lori: All right. Well, where can people find out more on, ultimately, about Good Amplified, because we have to jump off and wrap up the show, but at GoodAmplified.com or go to YouTube? Where can people find it?

 

Amber J.: Yeah, you can find us on all platforms. GoodAmplified.com is our site; you can sign up there if you’re a nonprofit. You can hit us up on Twitter @goodamplified and on Facebook as well, or you can follow me @amberjlawson; I’m amberj@goodamplified.com; and let’s do good at scale.

 

Lori: Ooh, I love it. Well, thank you so much, Amber J. Lawson, loving to hear about the do-gooder that you are and all that’s happening with Good Amplified and BANFF and Comedy Gives Back, and we’ve learned a lot today about the not-for-profit space. Join us again next week on the Tech Cat Show, more fabulous people, more tech trends impacting your business, and maybe we’ll implement the meow as an official Tech Cat guest call to action.

 

Amber J.: Meow.

 

Lori: Thanks, everybody. Happy holidays! Amber J.: Happy holidays!