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Autism Talk TV and Autism Speaks

August 13, 2010 6 comments

This is a guest post by Marc Sirkin, Autism Speaks Chief Community Officer. Marc manages Autism Speaks social media, marketing, websites and online fundraising.

Since joining Autism Speaks it’s been one of my missions to start to bring the community together through the use of social media. We’ve invested in our Facebook and Twitter presence, our Ning community, our e-mail newsletters and two rapidly expanding and successful blogs – one for Autism Speaks and one for Walk Now for Autism Speaks. I am seeing some terrific conversations developing and platforms that enable the community to come together in a global conversation about autism.

At Autism Speaks, a big piece of our mission is to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. Through social media, I am hoping to help move this along. You can read our entire mission here: http://www.autismspeaks.org/mission.php

A few months ago, John Robison and I started talking about how we can continue to drive a dialogue and to bring the different and disparate pieces of the autism community together. Right before the IMFAR conference, John called me to tell me about a young man named Alex Plank, who is the founder of Wrongplanet.net. John had spent some time with him and thought that Alex, despite his public criticisms of Autism Speaks, would be a terrific person to involve in this ever expanding conversation. After attending the GRASP benefit event and meeting Alex, I invited him and John to a meeting to discuss some ideas on how we might work together. I eventually spent an entire day with Alex, hashing through a bunch of very cool, social media ideas, including one terrific nugget that has now become “Autism Talk TV.”

The idea is simple really, Alex was already producing a show that would feature a variety of perspectives from the autism community and we wanted to help. Not only did we want to give Alex a chance at creating a successful web show, we thought he was terrific on camera and with a promotional boost, more people might enjoy tuning into his show. Alex’s lively and engaging style as a host felt right to us and we committed to doing some test shows and to act as a show sponsor to help promote the show.  As a sponsor, we have no creative or content control; we do not drive Alex’s content agenda, but will provide assistance where we can for access to guests and additional information as well as show promotion where we can.

Our expectations are simple: we hope Alex will produce great content in an enjoyable, web-based format and that he will build “Autism Talk TV” into a widely viewed, successful venture. At Autism Speaks, we continue to invest in the entire community and to continue to “listen” and engage the community from all corners. It is my hope that this show will drive forward the conversation and help the entire autism community come just a little closer to each other.

I think it’s already working… on our blog, Jessica wrote “Although it may be surprising to see WP partnering with Autism Speaks, if it’s for a project that’s creating greater understanding about ASD, it’s a good thing,” and Dadvocate wrote “I’m honestly delighted that Alex Plank’s WP is partnering with AS.” I know some may find this partnership confusing or concerning and I’d ask you to allow us to explore this new partnership and see how far we can take it together. Stay tuned for more Autism Talk TV!

Check out Alex’s work on Wrongplanet here.

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