Connect with us


Dallas startup InspireMore wants a 'righteous disruption' of mainstream media that'll make you smile – The Dallas Morning News



Dallas startup InspireMore wants a 'righteous disruption' of mainstream media that'll make you smile – The Dallas Morning News

Earlier this year, the team at Dallas-based media startup InspireMore learned about a troubling case of elementary school bullying from nonprofit Behind Every Door.

McKenzie Steward, who was born with albinism, had been bullied by other students because of her skin condition. So the InspireMore team put out a request to readers to submit kind letters to the fifth-grader.

“It was truly one of the most cool moments because we got over 500 letters,” InspireMore co-founder and chief marketing officer Hunter Stensrud said.

Partnering with Behind Every Door, InspireMore ended up compiling the crowdsourced letters and artwork into a book and giving it to Steward and her mother. A video recording and article about this became content shared with the site’s followers, thanking them for their participation.

“Each person is made uniquely beautiful, which means there is no one else like you,” Behind Every Door operations director Darrion Lewis read aloud from the book of letters given to Steward earlier this year as she sat in a folding chair beside him, fidgeting with her hands and smiling coyly.

The update on Steward’s saga published to InspireMore’s website joined headlines like “Woman Flies Abused Dog 2,500 Miles To Shower Her With Love And Healing” and “Disney Princesses Help 6-Yr-Old With Autism Find His Confidence.”

[embedded content]

InspireMore, now in its fifth year, was launched out of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center in March 2014. It was driven by a singular mission: inspire overwhelmed media consumers to realize how much good there is in the world.

Some stories are aggregated by InspireMore’s staff from mainstream media outlets where they may be buried by news with greater public implications. Others are dug up by the site’s crew of half a dozen writers who scour social media for tales of heroism and empathy.

Stensrud and InspireMore founder Robert Neely didn’t study journalism and they’ve never worked in news. They don’t consider themselves or their team to be journalists.

“Our team really cares about others, really loves media and wants to find things that are interesting,” Neely said.

InspireMore founder and CEO Robert Neely Jr. (left) and chief marketing officer Hunter Stensrud pose for a portrait in their West End office space on Dec. 16, 2019. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News)(Juan Figueroa / Staff photographer)

Neely is a former strategy and operations consultant for Deloitte who went on to study the human condition at the faith-based Kanakuk Institute. Stensrud was a marketing strategist for Reap Marketing.

To them, InspireMore is a platform for connecting people as well as a supplement to readers’ existing media diets.

“We don’t want to replace the news,” Neely said.

He refers to it as “righteous disruption.”

“You know, a lot of things that are reported on can be depressing,” he said.

InspireMore’s early mission, which was based on bringing as much attention as possible to positive and inspiring stories, has evolved in the years since. It’s started to become more focused and purposeful, Neely said.

“When you have attention, and eyeballs, and you have people’s passion — how do you leverage that?” Stensrud noted.

Since launching, the company has reached up to 3 million readers monthly and donated $125,000 to charity. InspireMore even rose to become the 15th-most visited mobile website in the U.S. in June 2017, according to Quantcast data.

The startup moved into new offices in Dallas’ West End in 2018 and is in a fundraising round now to bring in more than $2.7 million. Neely said he hopes the company will see profitability by mid-2020.

The company makes money primarily by selling advertising on its site and with sponsored posts across its social media profiles and newsletters.

But it wasn’t always this way.

In its first year of operation, Neely said InspireMore barely made money and hardly anybody took home a salary as the company worked to find its footing in the media landscape.

InspireMore founder and CEO Robert Neely Jr. checked Instagram impressions with strategic partnership developer Lauren Poey on Dec. 16, 2019, at their West End office. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News)
InspireMore founder and CEO Robert Neely Jr. checked Instagram impressions with strategic partnership developer Lauren Poey on Dec. 16, 2019, at their West End office. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News)(Juan Figueroa / Staff photographer)

Social media algorithms have changed over the past several years, with Facebook’s deprioritization of publishers being among the most notable, forcing media outlets to find new avenues to reach audiences.

“We were getting a lot of social traffic,” Neely said. “But people weren’t as attached to the brand as we wanted and it’s because of how we were reaching them, how they were visiting our site, how we were engaging them.”

The company wants to build a “tribe” around the InspireMore brand, a group of people who are driven not just by a cynicism toward negative news media and social media platforms but by a desire to see more good in their lives.

In this vein, Neely and Stensrud hope to develop an app and build more strategic partnerships like they did recently with the Mister Rogers film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The partnership with film distributor Sony Pictures and Dallas-based Vomo encouraged people around the country to partake in community service in November, as well as promoted the film through email sponsorships, sponsored articles and social promotion.

The company is also exploring hyperlocal email newsletters — including one specifically for Dallas residents.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link


Are You Missing Life’s Moments Because of Social Media?



Social media abuse drives girls off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: poll – CANOE

Recently my wife and I watched the movie Before Sunrise [1995], starring Ethan Hawke as Jesse and Julie Delpy as Celine. While travelling on a Eurail train from Budapest, Jesse, an American, sees Celine, who’s French. It’s Jesse’s last day in Europe before returning to the US. Jesse strikes up a conversation with Celine, and they disembark in Vienna to spend the night wandering Austria’s capital city.


Summary: Before Sunrise is a back-and-forth conversation between a romantic [Celine] and a cynic [Jesse].


During the closing credits, I turned to my wife and said, “That wouldn’t have happened today. Jessie and Celine would have been staring at their respective smartphone throughout the train ride, which in 2021 would have free Wi-Fi, not noticing the passing scenery, their fellow passengers or each other, let alone start a conservation.”


How much of real life are we trading to participate in the digital world?


I have this problem; actually, it’s more of an addiction I need to keep in check constantly. I suffer from FOMO [Fear of Missing Out].


You’ve probably heard of FOMO. Odds are you suffer from it to a degree. FOMO is that uneasy feeling you get when you feel other people might be having a good time without you, or worst, living a better life than you. FOMO is why social media participation is as high as it is. FOMO is why you perpetually refresh your social media feeds, so you don’t feel left out—so that you can compare your life. FOMO is what makes social media the dopamine machine it is.


FOMO has become an issue, especially for those under 40. More and more people choose to scroll mindlessly through their social media feeds regardless of whether they’re commuting on public transit, having dinner in a restaurant, or at a sports event. Saying “yes” to the digital world and “no” to real life is now common.


Your soulmate could be sitting a few seats over on the bus (or Eurail train), or at the diner counter, or in the doctor’s waiting room. However, you’re checking your social media to see if Bob’s vacationing in Aruba with Scarlett or if Farid got the new job and may now be making more money than you. Likely, your potential soulmate is probably doing the same.


Look around. Everyone is looking down at the screen in their hand, not up at each other.


We all know Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, et al. [even LinkedIn] doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. Most of what people post is cherry-picked to elicit self-affirming responses, such as likes, thumbs-up and hand-clapping emojis, retweets, shares, and those coveted comments of “Congratulations!”, “Way to go!”, “You’re awesome!”, “Looking good!”


The Internet, especially its social media aspect, equates to “Look at me!”


Sometimes I wonder, if bragging and showing off were banned on social media sites, how much would posts decrease?


“Stop paying so much attention to how others around you are doing” was easy advice to follow pre-Internet (the late 90s). Back in the day, it would be only through the grapevine you were a part of that you found out if Bob was in Aruba with Scarlett and that be without pictures. Evidence of how others are doing, strangers included, is pervasive because undeniably, most of us care about status. In 2021 how people are doing is in the palm of our hands, so we tend to give more time to the device we’re holding at the cost of neglecting the real-life happenings within our immediate surroundings.


Social media has made us a restless, anxious bunch underappreciating the present moment. With lockdown restrictions lifting and more social activities taking place, people will be hunkering down on their smartphones more than before to see what others are doing. They’ll see the BBQ they weren’t invited to or people they consider to be friends having a few laughs on the local pub’s patio or camping or at the beach without them. Loneliness, questioning self-worth, depression will be the result.


Trading engaging with those around you to feed your FOMO angst is what we’ve come down to. In my opinion, Guildwood is the GTA’s most walkable neighbourhood. You can choose to take walks around Guildwood, getting exercise, meeting people or stay addicted to the FOMO distress social media is causing you.


Instead of catching up with an old friend or colleague in person over lunch, coffee, or a walk in Guild Park & Gardens, people prefer to text or message each other on social media platforms eliminating face-to-face interactions. Instead of trying to reconnect with old friends verbally, people would rather sit at home with their technology devices and learn what their friends are up to through social media platforms, thus the start of a slippery slope towards anti-social behaviour.


Social media’s irony is it has made us much less social. How Jesse and Celine meet [you’ll have to see the movie] and the resulting in-depth conversation they have as they gradually open up to each other, thus beginning a postmodern romance wouldn’t have happened today. They’d be too preoccupied with their smartphones feeding their FOMO addiction to notice each other.


Social media will always nudge you to give it attention, but that doesn’t mean you have to oblige. Take it from me; there’s more to be had in enjoying life’s moments outside of social media.


Nick Kossovan is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Director of Social Media (Executive Board Member). You can reach Nick at and him on Instagram and Twitter @NKossovan.

Continue Reading


Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck pictured kissing as ‘Bennifer’ returns



Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck pictured kissing as ‘Bennifer’ returns

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have been pictured exchanging passionate kisses, apparently confirming weeks of fevered rumors that they have rekindled a romance that dominated celebrity media almost 20 years ago.

Paparazzi photos printed in the New York Post on Monday showed the two actors kissing while enjoying a meal with members of Lopez’s family at Malibu’s posh Nobu sushi restaurant west of Los Angeles on Sunday.

Representatives for Lopez, 51, declined to comment on Monday, while Affleck’s publicists did not return a request for comment.

Lopez and “Argo” director Affleck, dubbed “Bennifer,” became the most talked about couple in the celebrity world in the early 2000s in a romance marked by his-and-her luxury cars and a large 6.1-carat pink diamond engagement ring. They abruptly called off their wedding in 2003 and split up a few months later.

The pair have been pictured together several times in Los Angels and Miami in recent weeks, after Lopez and her former baseball player fiance Alex Rodriguez called off their engagement in mid-April after four years together. Monday’s photos were the first in which Lopez and Affleck were seen kissing this time around.

Celebrity outlet E! News quoted an unidentified source last week as saying Lopez was planning to move from Miami to Los Angeles to spend more time with Affleck, 48, and was looking for schools for her 13-year-old twins Max and Emme.

Max and Emme, along with the singer’s sister Lydia, were also photographed walking into the restaurant in Malibu on Sunday.

Lopez married Latin singer Marc Anthony, her third husband, just five months after her 2004 split with Affleck. Affleck went on to marry, and later was divorced from, actress Jennifer Garner.


(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Continue Reading


TikTok debuts new voice after Canadian actor sues




After noticing a new female voice narrating the videos on the popular video-sharing social networking service, users of TikTok were baffled as to why. It actually turns out that the Canadian actress behind the old voice filed a lawsuit against the platform for copyright violation as her voice was apparently being used without her permission.

Bev Standing, a voice actor based in Ontario, is taking China-based ByteDance to court. TikTok’s parent company has since replaced her voice with a new one, with Standing reportedly finding out over email after a tip-off from a journalist. On the matter, Standing said: “They replaced me with another voice. I am so overwhelmed by this whole thing. I’m stumbling for words because I just don’t know what to say.”

TikTok is said to be considering a settlement for Standing outside of the courts, but nobody knows whether or not this is true. According to legal experts, the fact TikTok now has a new voice on the popular social media app suggests they acknowledge Standing’s case and potentially understand that she may have suffered as a result of the company’s actions.

Thanks to the emergence of the powerful smartphone devices of today, alongside taking high-quality images for Instagram, getting lost down YouTube wormholes, and accessing popular slots like Purple Hot, people are turning to relatively new platforms like TikTok. The service has 689 million monthly active users worldwide and is one of the most downloaded apps in Apple’s iOS App Store. This latest news could harm the platforms future, although many of its younger users potentially aren’t aware that this type of scenario is unfolding.

For Bev Standing, the ordeal is a testing one. She wasn’t informed of the voice change, there is no mention of it in TikTok’s newsroom online, and the development is news to her lawyer also.


This all comes after her case was filed in a New York State court in early May after the voice actor noticed a computer-generated version of her voice had been seen and listened to around the world since 2020. Speculation is rife as to how TikTok managed to obtain the recordings but Standing believes the company acquired them from a project she took part in for the Chinese government in 2018.

TikTok debuts new voice after Canadian actor sues

(Image via

The Institute of Acoustics in China reportedly promised her that all of the material she would be recording would be used solely for translation, but they eventually fell into the hands of TikTok and have since been altered and then exposed to a global audience.

According to Pina D’Agostino, an associate professor with Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and an expert in copyright law, the fact that the hugely popular social media platform has now changed Standing’s voice could result in a positive outcome for the distraught voice actor. She said: “It’s a positive step in the way that they are mitigating their damages. And when you’re mitigating, you’re acknowledging that we did something wrong, and you’re trying to make things better.”

When assessing social media etiquette and how both companies and users should act, this type of news can only do more harm than good. Not only does it make the company look bad, but it could have an effect on revenues and, ultimately, TikTok’s reputation.

With a clear desire to move on and put this whole process behind her, Bev Standing is eager for the case to be resolved and get back to the daily work she loves and has been doing for a large part of her life. TikTok has until July 7 to respond to her claim.


Continue Reading