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Media Power for Nonprofit Organizations:
Connecting to Supporters in a Very Influential, Impactful, and Inspirational Way
Scott Murray, the co-founder of Murray Media, has served as the Chairman/CEO since its inception. For three decades, he was the Sports Director/Anchor on the local NBC nightly news in both Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington, DC. In addition, he served as a television host of countless TV specials, radio host of several programs, master of ceremonies at thousands of live events and charity galas, as well as both keynote speaker and moderator at hundreds of corporate conferences and industrial conventions.
Scott remains a sought-after keynote speaker as well as a published author of two books, Whatever It Takes and Bring Out the BEST. Scott’s lifetime love and commitment to philanthropic endeavors resulted in the creation of The Scott Murray Foundation, “Lifting Spirits… Building Dreams” to benefit both sick children and those in need. He was also a founding partner of Edgington/ Murray Philanthropic Advisors, an innovative team of experienced fundraising and nonprofit consultants where the culture is one of “aspire philanthropy… inspire humanity.”
For decades, Scott has remained very active in the north Texas community while serving on the board/advisory boards of countless children’s, civic, charitable, nonprofit, and professional organizations, which he has assisted in raising both great awareness and millions of dollars in revenue in both Texas and across the nation. Scott’s commitment to community has resulted in his being honored with a number of prestigious awards as well.
More about Scott Murray and his work on the following links:
Leadership America – https://leadershipamerica.net
Murray Media – https://www.murraymedia.net
Read the Interview Transcript
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, everyone. This is Hugh Ballou. For seven and a half—actually, it’s almost eight years, we have been interviewing people with great messages on many topics. We’ve had people talk about media, marketing, publicity, and philanthropy. We have never had a guest quite like what we’re having today. Sit down, put on your seatbelt, get a notepad. This might change your life. Scott Murray from Dallas, Texas, would you tell people a little bit about who you are and why you do this thing called media?
Scott Murray: Well, Hugh, it’s something that I got involved with a long time ago. When I was in second grade, I lost my best friend to leukemia. It was a word I couldn’t even say at the time. But I vowed then that I was going to find a cure for childhood cancer or leukemia. I always wanted to be a pediatrician. I went to college years later to be a pediatrician.
I was almost seventeen years old as a freshman in college. I was driving down the road, and I heard this disc jockey say, “How would you like to meet millions of people, make millions of dollars, meet millions of girls, travel to millions of locations?” I thought, “Oh boy, what is this all about?” “You, too, can be a disc jockey.” I applied with 500+ other aspiring disc jockeys. As it turned out, I got the job.
I did that and called myself Doc Scott the Sound Surgeon. There were billboards around town, telling everybody who I was and what I was all about. Stay up at night, spend the night with Doc Scott. Then the general manager at the television station down the way asked me if I would like to do some commercials. I looked about 10 years old at the time. I did some television commercials and was given the opportunity to get involved with news.
I called out to the general manager’s office at the television station. He opened up his drawer and handed me this little black thing and said, “Scott, put this on.” I said, “Mike, what is that?” He said, “It’s a fake mustache. I need to give you a little bit of age so you don’t look like my baby-faced paper boy. You’ll be a great news anchor.” I said, “Oh, Mike, I’m flattered. Thank you very much. But to be honest with you, I really want to be a pediatrician. As a result of that, I’d like to just get involved with what medicine is all about. If I got a job in sports, I’d be most interested.” I played a lot of sports, memorized the back of every football and baseball card I ever had, and the rest is history.
I was a pretty good writer. My degree is in psychology, but I had minors in biology and English. I enjoyed writing. The rest is history. I got into television and never went to medical school.
Hugh: That is how history changes, isn’t it?
Scott: It sure is.
Hugh: You can find Scott at MurrayMedia.net. We are going to talk about Leadership America later. Scott, there is some myths that we tell ourselves in the nonprofit world. Our audience is nonprofit leaders and clergy. We’re all doing the same stuff; we’re purpose-driven leaders. We tell ourselves we can’t, we can’t, we can’t. Once we identify with that stupid word “nonprofit,” it’s the scarcity thinking.
One of those areas is about marketing. We don’t want to toot our own horn. Wait a minute. Don’t people deserve to know about the good work you’re doing? What words of wisdom do you have for the people who don’t think you need to put effort into marketing?
Scott: Certainly for nonprofits and other people here today, you have to remember it’s all about raising money, raising revenue, and raising awareness. Unless you raise awareness about who you are and what you’re all about, to get the support that most people are looking for, whether it’s religion, a business, or something else, you have to let your message be known out there. You need to be creative, be clever, and have what I call the Wow factor. That is the hook that allows people to be infatuated with what you’re doing. It runs the gamut from one end to the other. The bottom line is you have to be, “Gee, I like what he said. Tell me more.” You have the hook, and you get that hook because you have nailed them with the Wow factor up front.
Hugh: Give us an example of a Wow factor in your life, would you?
Scott: Oh my gosh, I don’t know where to start. I do a lot of nonprofit things in the real world, or the world we were all a part of before the pandemic. Back in 2019, I did 702 events. I did two or three a day, emceeing mostly, keynote speaker at others. When I am emceeing, it’s usually at a corporate or convention or moderating or a nonprofit I am emceeing. When you talk about nonprofits, most of them want money and to raise awareness about who they are and what they’re all about. You have to be clever about how you’re doing that. You have the wow factor and the hook. What is going to pull them in? What’s going to hook them?
I have the perfect example. This was a couple of years ago. First of all, I didn’t mention the fact that when I went into television, I was a television sports anchor for 30+ years. I did the 4, 5, 6, and 10:00 news every night and enjoyed that in this town, Dallas, Texas. A lot of Dallas Cowboys fans all around the world. Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers. College sports, whatever it might be.
I got a call from the Kidney Texas Foundation who asked if I was going to be emceeing for them again. I said, “I’ll be there. What is it? Tell me what you got up your sleeve.” They said, “It’s going to be good. We have the fashion show again. We have 750 ladies there. Certainly most of them ladies. Some of them bring their husbands. We’ll have the runway all ready to go. This year, we’d like to see if you can reach out and get Everson Walls to be our keynote speaker.”
For those who don’t know who that is, back in 1981, 40 years ago, I had just started in television. There was a player by the name of Everson Walls who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. He was a defensive back. He was just a good guy. One of his teammates happened to be Tony Dorsett, the Hall of Famer, the Heisman Trophy winner back in 1976, going back a ways. One of the greatest running backs of all time. One of only 10 people I might add in the history of football that has won a Heisman trophy and gone on to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing in the National Football League. Select group of people.
Another fellow he was alongside was by the name of Ron Springs. When Everson Walls and Ron Springs both retired in the ‘90s, Ron for whatever reason came up with kidney disease and had to have a kidney transplant. He had no place to go. He had to find a mate. Turned out that Everson Walls, his good buddy, matched. Cubby, as Everson was known as, said, “I’ll give you one of my kidneys.” How many people donate a kidney to somebody else? Good stuff.
That’s who the Kidney Foundation wanted me to go get to be their keynote speaker because Ron Springs passed away around 2010/2011. A few years ago. Cubby was still in pretty good shape. He is about 60 years old now. He donated his kidney.
I said to the Kidney Foundation, “You’re not going to be able to get him without paying him.” They said, “Really? How much, Scott?” I said, “I don’t know how much, but I have a better idea. Why don’t I reach out to Everson and see if he would like to have an award named after him that you can give away every year? Call it the Everson Walls Legacy Award. You’re saluting him for what he has done as a human being, giving one of his kidneys to a former teammate.” They said, “That’s a great idea. Can you do that for us?” I reached out to Everson, and he said, “Scott, I’d be happy to. Anything in Ron’s memory.” I said, “That’s great. It’s for you, too.” He said, “Yes, that’s great. I’m honored.”
We set it up. I called Tiffany & Co. as I had some relationships down there. Always take advantage of your relationships. Don’t abuse them, but take advantage of them in a positive, productive way. I called Tiffany & Co because I had done some things with them. They put together the Super Bowl trophy that we see each and every year. I said, “What do you think?” They said, “We’re ready to go.”
The night before the event, I called the Kidney Foundation and said, “I have an idea.” They said, “What?” I said, “Do you want some media coverage?” Everyone always does. “What I’m going to do is reach out and get eight or ten former Dallas Cowboys players of Everson, not telling Everson or anybody else. If I tell them I have eight or ten players coming that are former teammates of his—Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson, Too Tall Jones—names that football fans will know who they are—the place will be bonkers tomorrow if all of these people walk in. The media will be all over that. They will be there in a New York minute.”
Sure enough, I called the media the night before. I said, “Don’t tell Everson. Don’t tell anybody you’re coming.” All four members of the media—CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX—all showed up, got incredible coverage the next night on the news. The Kidney Foundation has never had that kind of coverage over an event ever. They were just blown away. All the players showed.
I turned to Everson when I introduced him and his wife and Ron Springs’ widow, who all came up on the stage with me. We presented the chalice that said Legacy Award with Everson’s name on it. A representative from Tiffany & Co. was there. Then I said, “Everson, who is the greatest running back you ever played alongside?” He said, “Oh, Tony Dorsett.” I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Tony Dorsett.” Out he comes. Every camera in the place is clicking.
It was unbelievable. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. That’s what we did. I’m sorry it took so long to tell that story, Hugh. But that’s what it’s all about. Being creative about how you can get the media involved. There’s the hook. That’s the wow factor that they were looking for.
Hugh: What you’re able to do is put together this collaborative thinking. It’s a win-win-win-win for everybody. I think we dwell on this scarcity thinking. I don’t want to bother them; they’re a celebrity. I bet you that celebrity was very pleased. I bet you Tiffany’s was very pleased. The Kidney Foundation was very pleased. I’ll bet you were pleased.
Scott: It was a win-win-win-win across the board. Every time I see Everson, I say, “How are you doing?” He always says, “Thanks again, Scott.” “Don’t thank me. You donated the kidney. Good for you.”
Hugh: We get trapped in “I’m stuck here” rather than thinking, “What can we do to create some energy around this? What can we do that other people are not doing?” You serve on nonprofit boards and have a nonprofit. What is a question that nonprofit leaders are asking about marketing? What is a question they ought to be asking about marketing?
Scott: I think it’s important that you always have to figure out a way when you reach out to someone, whomever it may be, whether it’s a corporation or a group, you want to think, “How can I benefit them as well?” In other words, you are the person looking for the money or support from whomever you’re reaching out to. I have always found that if it’s just “Gimme gimme,” and it’s usually money or something along those lines, there is no relationship that is built. There is no way to bring people together.
Another group I’m on is Texas Motor Speedway, the big Daytona thing here. I am on the board and have been since it came to town 25 years ago. A part of that is Speedway Children’s Charities. We have raised about $4.5 million. What we do by raising the revenue is allow people to come be in the shoes of some of these racecar drivers. They get a chance to drive little go-karts and things like that. They have a Tony Stewart or someone like that come for the whole day, and you ride around the track with a Tony Stewart. You get to be a part of their life and what it is you are trying to raise money for.
I’ll give you an example. Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, which does a lot for kids who are amputees and need prosthetics. We were trying to figure out how they could be involved. They were looking for money. We said, Wait, if you’re looking for money from us, we have an idea. What if we were to build a racecar, and the racecar is almost like a stretcher of sorts? It’s something a child is most intimidated by when they don’t have limbs, and they have to be laid down on this big stretcher, and they take measurements. It’s for a child that might be four, six, eight, ten years old, so they might be a bit scared. They climb into this racecar, but this racecar is over the top of this long bed of sorts.
It was fantastic. We did that at Scottish Rite Hospital. They have a room that looks like the Speedway with pictures of cars. Here is this racecar. The kids ask if they can climb in. “Sure, you can. Hop in the seat. Pull the engine top off.” The doctors do their thing and measure them for their prosthetics. It’s incredible. That’s what I mean by being creative. How can what you bring to the table help them, so everyone benefits? That’s what you need to do instead of just “Gimme, gimme, gimme.”
Hugh: Yeah. Celebrities and the wealthy and corporations get tired of being treated like an ATM, don’t they?
Scott: Yes, they do. No question about it. They could give to any number of organizations. It’s countless how many organizations they could give to. Figure out the relationship as to how you could be partners. Sure, you’re going to help us, but how can we help you as a result of your generosity?
Hugh: When I go to Rotary, we talk about is it beneficial to all concerned?
Scott: That’s exactly right. I love that.
Hugh: I like that motto. You obviously know about this book Philanthropy Misunderstood.
Scott: I do. There is a couple of good-looking kids down in the front of that book on the bottom: my son and my daughter. Those two looking at each other.
Hugh: Bob Hopkins connected us. Bob has influenced generations of young leaders. We are doing a Youth in Philanthropy conference this month where we will inspire some new leaders. The leaders of the conference are the young people, and the old guy is doing the technology, so that’s a switch. Philanthropy. There is this misunderstanding about philanthropy that only wealthy people can be philanthropists. That’s not true, is it?
Scott: That’s not true at all. Time is money. Even if you don’t have a dime to your name, you can take the time to make a difference. One of my radio shows for years, I still use this as a keynote speaker. “Live your life as a go-getter, but share your life as a go-giver.” That’s key. We’re all told to be go-getters, whether you’re playing football or in school. Go, go, go. Mom and Dad have told us all that for years. Be a go-getter, but at the same time, share your life as a go-giver. All too often, we just don’t do that.
Making a difference in the life of a child is as good as it gets. For someone who was seven years old, as I shared at the top of the program here, I decided to be a pediatrician because my best friend died of leukemia. I was going to come up with a cure, or certainly something that would find a cure for childhood cancer. I really think it’s important that you realize that time is money, and time well invested is key.
Very quickly, I learned about that when I was seven years old. I went trick or treating; it’s that time of year now. Certainly here in America, October 31 is Halloween. I was seven years old, trick or treating, getting my candy. I got back home. My mother turned to my two little sisters and me with a metal Maxwell House coffee can. I asked her what that was for. She had put a little sticker on it that said, “UNICEF.” She said, “That stands for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. This is for the children around the world who don’t live in America like you do. You have so many opportunities, but they don’t know where to eat next, where to go to school, or just about anything else. We’re going to help them. We’re going to make sure they get a nice meal tonight. You’re going to go raise money for them.”
That’s when I was first introduced to philanthropy. Just taking the time. I didn’t have any money; I was seven years old. But I took the time to raise money through UNICEF on Halloween night. My own kids did that when I was a parent. Just taking the time is so important.
Hugh: One of your many gifts is inspiring leaders. In SynerVision Leadership Foundation, we hit it head on. As I shared with you earlier, I’m a conductor. People misperceive a conductor as a dictator. If I have union musicians like from the Dallas Symphony in front of me, I can’t make them do anything just because I have this little white stick in my hand. But you know what? I can influence them to perform at a higher level.
Leadership fundamentally is about influence, but we influence people by what you said earlier in relationship. It’s always about building and valuing relationships. Say something to people. There is a celebrity, but I don’t want to bother them. I shared with you that I had the best conductors in the world come and spend a week with me and work with a choir and orchestra and do a really highbrow concert. People asked me how I got them to come. I said, “I called them, and the first thing I said was, ‘Do you want to come to Florida in the winter?’ Then we talked about music.” What is the benefit of this? Any advice for people who don’t want to pick up the phone and call those important people, who could create a win-win situation?
Scott: Oh gosh. It’s being positive, it’s being productive. One of the nonprofits that I dealt with for years, I spoke there and created this Pyramid of Power. What do we strive for in life? Like a pyramid, it has three sides to it: peace, perfection, prosperity.
We would all like peace in our world, whether it’s in our family or our community. We all strive to be the very best and be perfect. It’s not going to happen, but we strive to get as close as we can to perfection. And then prosperity. Whether it’s in our wallets, our bank accounts, or just making a difference in the lives of those who need it most, we like to give something back to somebody. You do that in so many ways.
One thing I did was start with words that start with the letter P and fill in those little puzzle parts. It starts with your passion. That’s your vision, your goal, where you want to be, where you want to get to. Your passion, preparation, perseverance, staying positive, productive, professional, prompt, polite, and partnerships. You have to come together. They believe in you, and you believe in them. You have to have pride. Be yourself. Respect yourself. Believe in yourself. You’re a good man. Make it happen. Look in that mirror. That person looking back at you is the most incredible person on the face of this earth and makes every decision that you make. Make it positive and productive. That’s what you have to do. Then you have to do philanthropy. As I said before, live your life as a go-getter. Share your life as a go-giver.
You add to that principles: transparency, truthfulness, trustworthy. Those are three important words. They all start with the letter T. Remember them. Live your daily life like that. Then you get to the last one at the top of the pyramid: purpose. We all have a purpose. Every single day, we hop out of that bed and get up in the morning. What’s your purpose today? Where are you going? What are you going to do? What is the difference you’re going to make? That’s what it’s all about. It’s all up to the person looking back at you in the mirror every single day, to keep you positive and productive as you move in a passionate and purposeful way.
Hugh: I love it. Scott, talk about this Leadership America at LeadershipAmerica.net. What is this podcast about?
Scott: The whole idea of Leadership America, people say, “This is great what you’ve put together since the pandemic.” I said, “I did it about a year before that.” I was doing the Pyramid of Power and then went into Leadership America. The whole idea is creating champions of change through a culture of civility. Civility has disappeared from our world, from our communities, from our daily life. That’s why they thought I created this after the pandemic started. People are just not kind, courteous, or respectful to one another. I don’t know why. All you have to do is get behind the wheel and drive down the highway, people flip you off, or do this or that. Everybody is always mad. I don’t understand it. Peace, perfection, and prosperity, yes. But be positive. Be kind, courteous, and respectful to one another.
The whole idea of creating champions of change through a culture of civility, the Letter C, there are five words that all focus on becoming that champion. It starts with courage. Having the courage and the ability to know that you’re going to be the very best you can be. Don’t be denied by anything that gets in your way.
Commitment. You gotta stay committed. Don’t give up.
Character. We talked about that a minute ago. Remember trustworthy, transparency, truthful. Be strong, honest, respectful.
Then have some compassion. Be kind. Have a heart. Don’t be so mad at the world. Have some compassion. Be the kind of person who would like to surround people with like-minded people. People like to be welcomed. “Hi, how are you?” “Gee, I want to be a part of this guy’s world. He seems friendly. He is respectful.”
The last one is not confrontation, but conversation. All too often in this world today, it’s confrontation. If you don’t agree with me, I don’t want to talk to you. Get the devil out of here. Forget it. Hit the road. Conversation. You have an opinion, and I have an opinion. Let’s come together as one and make things better for us both. It’s that simple.
That’s what Leadership America is: courage, commitment, character, compassion, and conversation.
Hugh: We’re recording this interview on October 5, 2021. You might be listening to this later. You heard Scott Murray say he speaks every day somewhere. Today, he has four places. He just left the other one early to be on this session with us today. Scott, we’re so pleased. Let’s get that sound bite again.
Scott: Live your life as a go-getter, but share your life as a go-giver. If you go to Leadership America’s home page, scroll down to the Leadership America Creed that I created. I think it sums up life. “Living life is not about me. A purposeful life is all about we. Sharing together all that we see. Even though we might not always agree. / Respectful and kind is forever key. Truthful and transparent is what we should be. Eradicating the anger and the hateful debris. Live not in a world where we need referees. / Let us move forward in a place we foresee. Diverse and inclusive for both he and she. Matters not religion nor race, faith is for thee. We must live in a world that’s our home of the free.”
Exactly what I was talking about a minute ago. End of conversation. That’s what it’s all about. How much more enjoyable would our daily lives be if we could all get along, respect your point of view and my point of view, and bring us together as one?
Hugh: Father Richard Rohr, author and Franciscan speaker, says, “Transformed people transform people.” I would say Scott Murray is in the transformation business of helping people transform their mindset. Before we leave, I want to highlight MurrayMedia.net. There are a bunch of handsome people on there.
Scott: Those are all former Dallas Cowboys.
Hugh: Oh my. They can find out about you on MurrayMedia.net. Scott, there is so much in your podcast. You interview top leaders and industry. Why should people visit your podcast?
Scott: I’ll tell you what. This was part of a program. Before I created this new keynote that you’re looking at here, we were doing a thing with another woman, a friend of mine that I had worked on a couple of radio shows with. I brought her on board, and we did a talk called “Leading the Way Today.” Those people who are leading the way for us all. It’s predominantly CEOs of major companies: American Airlines, Toyota, 7-11, the list goes on. I’ve spoken to some of those people, who I know very well. Others I did not know, but they knew what I had been doing and what we were hoping to do, and they were great. Some were nonprofits, and some were for-profits.
Anthony Shriver, whose mother was Eunice Shriver, President Kennedy’s sister, she created Special Olympics back in 1968/1969. 20 years later, when he is at Georgetown, he creates Best Buddies. This is for those with Down Syndrome who are now adults who have come together. What do they do? How do they get a job? How can they move forward as adults? They created Best Buddies. We had Anthony Shriver on talking about that.
Different leaders from different walks of life. They are all focused on making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. It’s very interesting to listen to them all.
Hugh: Anything that we didn’t talk about in the realm of leadership? You talked about the operations of a nonprofit. Really, we’re operating a tax-exempt business. It has a lot more rules, but we have to put on our thinking cap and business hat because it’s about the flow of money. It’s the proceeds to create the impact that we have in our brain that we want to do. Anything around that that you’d like to share with people before we end today?
Scott: It all goes back to what we have shared with the viewers and listeners here throughout the program. It’s really up to every individual. I told my kids for years, “Get up, go look in the mirror. That person looking back at you is the one who controls you and is going to help make those good decisions during the day. It’s all up to you.” It’s up to you as an individual. You are going to get some things along the way that are going to be things that you don’t control. COVID-19, none of us knew this was going to be a part of our lives for the past couple of years, but we have learned as best we can to deal with it and cope with it. Even though we have politics involved here, we say, “Okay, I don’t have control over those things, but I do have control over me. I have to figure out how to move forward in a positive, productive way and make it as worthwhile and easygoing as I can.”
I do another podcast that’s called Champions of Change: Conversations of Connection. It’s for mental wellness in sports and life. The suicide rate right now is the highest it’s ever been for teenagers, ages 14-26. That’s the #1 cause of death in America. That’s so sad. It’s all because of what we’re enduring right now. It’s not automobile accidents like it used to be. It’s suicide. That’s just so sad. We need to realize it’s all right not to be as mentally sound as we’d all like to be. There are ways that we can go out there and get assistance. It’s okay. There are people out there who would like to put their arm around you and tell you it’s going to be okay. It’s a crazy world we live in right now, but civility is key. Whether you agree with them or don’t, let’s do it in a positive, productive way.
Hugh: That’s a great place to stop. You have such a wealth of things to say. People can do exactly what you said. They can wake up and do exactly what you said; it’s a challenge for them. They can have their own inspirational talk. Our work is transforming leaders, transforming organizations, transforming lives. Thank you for sharing in that vision with us today.
Scott: I hope we transformed a couple of lives in a positive way. If nothing else, even if it was just one person, it was worth the effort. Hugh, thanks for all that you continue to do as well. I have been most honored to be a part of your program.