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Twitter: The 3 Bucket Rule

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Deontae Moore 

If you’ve participated in any of our social media trainings, you’ve probably come across this idea of the 3 buckets. While we try to consider this module for all social media platforms, it’s best practice comes from Twitter.

What does the 3 bucket rule mean?

The “3 Bucket Rule will spur you to a better understanding of what you need to do on social media if your organization needs to develop content.

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The “Me” Bucket

You’ve probably already mastered this one. It’s the self-promotion bucket. You create content that talks about your organization (or brand) and pretty much nothing else. This is fine because you should use social media to tell people who you are and what you are doing. But you do not want everything to be centered around you. However, you still need to tell your story and make sure you’re bringing awareness to your organization – that’s understandable. Consider posting a few times for things you’re doing all while eliminating any signs of the “screaming me-mes.”

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The “Me + Community” Bucket

You want to promote organizations doing what you’re doing or highlight any partner organizations you work with. Doing this builds you as an asset and also gives you content. This bucket also suggest that you share news related to what you do. This is purposely done to make you appear credible and to position your organization as a reliable resource.

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The “Me + People” Bucket

Who are your people? People make up an organization. So, this bucket is essentially to give your organization a human face. You want the personalities of your people to shine through to your organization’s account. It makes your content relatable, authentic and offers a human element to your Twitter account. Retweet some of the things your president or marketing director is saying on their Twitter account – make your audience get a sense of who you are. Content that tends to do best on social media is behind the scenes material – so capitalize on this notion.

We credit the bucket rule to Ms. Amy Guth, a phenomenal communicator. Follow her on Twitter (@amyguth)

Deontae Moore is the Marketing & Digital Media Manager at Community Media Workshop. You can follow him on Twitter here

Evolution: 23 Years of ADA, Changing Attitudes about Disability

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Gary Arnold

This summer marks the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The anniversary reminds me of a story a colleague of mine told me years ago.  The story goes: he sat in a room with reporters, then bluntly said, “The best thing you could do for us would be to never write another word about disability.”

Though not helpful for my job as public relations coordinator, his story resonated.

At the time, story lines around disability included Jerry Lewis exclaiming that if he were a person with a disability he’d only be “half a person;” and raising “pity” money for kids with muscular dystrophy; Princeton ethicist Peter Singer advocating to kill disabled babies; and Clint Eastwood directing a movie about a boxer who ends her life after becoming disabled.

The dominant message emerging from these story lines was that disability is a tragedy best dealt with by finding a cure or ending life.

These story lines conflict with reality.  Research may have its place, but resources going toward a cure are better directed toward accessible transportation, accessible schools, accessible housing, and job placement.  Million Dollar Baby may have won some awards, but the inspiration for the movie comes from a boxer named Katie Dallum who, continues to live and be productive. A painting of hers hangs in the second floor hallway of Access Living.

In reality, people with disability are average.  They are not interested in cures.  They are not wallowing about and wondering how to overcome disability. They are ordinary people who try to do ordinary things like go to school and go to work.  Unfortunately, sometimes they are not able to because they are forced to engage in communities that are not physically accommodating and engage with attitudes that are still stunted by stigma associated with disability myths.

At Access Living, our goal is to give people with disabilities the tools they need to navigate stigma and inaccessibility in order to participate in general society.

To support that goal, as the public relations coordinator for Access Living, my job is to sell the ordinary.

The better I am at pitching stories that show people with disabilities are just like everybody else, the more the general public makes connections between people with disabilities and the regular fabric of society.

The job can be challenging. Ordinary doesn’t compete with cures, infanticide and assisted suicide when it comes to headlines.   But challenges are what define the job of a non-profit communicator.  I love the process of connecting with reporters, sharing information, then building professional relationships.  More times than not, those connections don’t lead to media hits, but every once in a while they do.  Even if the connections don’t lead to stories, when we build relationships, we position ourselves as sources.  As a source, media relay our messages, even if the stories are not directly related to our organizations.

Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, more work needs to be done in terms of equality for people with disabilities.  The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is higher than any other marginalized community.  Thousands of people with disabilities are still segregated in institutions when they could be living at home with the right community supports.  These issues lead to a disconnect between the disability community and the general population.

As a result of this disconnect, media sometimes continue to describe disability as if it is a curse or disease.  But the gap between disability and non-disability is slowly closing, and there are plenty of stories to be told that will help change attitudes about disability, and that will continue to close the gap.  As a non-profit communicator, I am proud to be part of the effort to help bridge the gap.

Gary is the public relations coordinator for Access Living and a board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow him on Twitter @gary8970

People To Pitch: Lisa Bertagnoli, Freelance Writer

Guest post by Jennifer Wolan, Community Media Workshop New Media Intern

Lisa Bertagnoli is a Chicago-area freelancer and frequently contributes to Crain’s Chicago Business. Her stories include ‘Sometimes an organization needs a wakeup call’ and ‘Chicago’s nonprofit struggling.’

With the extensive nonprofit and organization reporting Lisa does, we asked her tips on how to pitch her. Lisa’s answers are below.

How do you usually receive a pitch from organizations?

Email. Social Media is not an effective way to get in touch with me.

Do you have any pet peeves about press releases?

I don’t really have any pet peeves about press releases but what I am looking for is personalization. I like to be personalized. I like for people to know my column and what I write about and pitch stories to me personally. Example would be, ‘You wrote a story a month ago about XYZ and this is why I think you’d be interested ABC.’ I know that sounds very selfish but I get so many press releases and so many pitches and if someone indicates that they know what I write about. I don’t think I’d write about someone who got a grant from an organization and was able to go on and do great things– those touchy-feely stories. I know it sounds very cold and impersonal but that’s not what I write about and it’s not my beat. I write about the financial and the nonprofits and what makes them tic. So if someone understands that and conveys that in a press release, I would be more likely to read it and respond to that person.

As a freelancer I have to be really invested and excited about a story I think to pitch it well (to her editor). I just can’t say it enough, please take a few days to read my stories, understand what I do and who I do it for. And that would help immensely. Just like I need to know the publications I pitch for. I need to know who they’re writing for and who their market is. It’s a big “pitch chain”, the way I put it.

Can you give an example of what is a good personal press release?

Just an understanding of what I do, that’s what I mean by personal. If someone has googled me, read my columns in Crain’s, they understand my approach to what I do. I write for a very sophisticated audience. A lot of times I get press releases, for example, “beer and shots night at Pat’s bar and grill.” And I don’t do that.

Have you ever been pitched in person through organizations?

Sure! We get talking and an idea come up. But I don’t get ideas from pitches per say, I get ideas from talking to the person. For example, someone came up to be last week and told me a fundraiser was coming up and that turned into a story. I get a lot of story ideas that turn into stories from talking to people at events. With that in mind, if someone comes up to me at an event and says, ‘Hey, I have a great story for you.’ 9 times out of 9 I will say, ‘it sounds good, write me an email.’ So I can see it in person, digest it and think of a way I might pitch it to my editors. It functions as a network and were talking to a lot of people and it’s really hard to stand still to a 5 minute pitch and digest it. I will always as for a follow up in an email.

Do you get story ideas through social media events or organizations?

I get story sources through Twitter and Facebook, if I have a story assigned that I’m working on I will look at Facebook and Twitter to find sources from the story. A couple of times I’ve gotten story ideas based on what was trending on twitter but mostly I look at Twitter for sources. That might change in the future. I’m trying to get more active on Twitter. I tweet from events and things like that and I’m trying to do more with Twitter but not really Facebook, that’s for my personal life.

If you would like to pitch to Lisa Bertagnoli, her e-mail is lbertagnoli@comcast.net

Twitter Tips for Non-Profits

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Teresa Puente

As Community Media Workshop welcomes a brand new class of social media bootcampers this week; Workshop board member Teresa Puente reminds us that using Twitter is a great way to share information about your nonprofit and expand your networking connections.

Here are 10 helpful tips:

1)   Make sure your Twitter profile is complete and includes a photo. If you have the generic Twitter icon people will know that you are not a serious Twitter user. Always include a link to your website and blog and even a telephone number.

Teresa Puente’s Twitter profile picture.

2)   Twitter is about sharing information. It’s a two-way street. You shouldn’t just tweet out information about your organization. Only one in three tweets should be about the work you do.

3)   You should also tweet about news that impacts people in your field as well as information about groups with similar goals. Tweet about your “frenemies” and this should also nudge them to share information about your work.

4)   Tweet often but not multiple tweets in a row. If you tweet too much at once, people will miss the bulk of your tweets.

5)   You should have a schedule for tweeting based on time constraints. Try using a program like HootSuite to schedule your tweets 15 to 30 minutes apart. You can schedule tweets in the morning and for the afternoon or evening.

6)   Look up who your favorite journalists, nonprofit or policy makers are following and follow some of their followers.

7)   You also can find new people to follow by searching for keywords in your field using the #.

8)   You also should use some of those keywords at the end of your own tweets.

9)   Always include a link in your tweets. You need a value added to the tweet and use links that provide your followers with additional information.

10) Engage journalists and influential people on Twitter by asking questions or even complimenting their work. It might lead to a new contact, story or more.

Teresa Puente, author of “Chicanísima” blog on the ChicagoNow network is founder of “Latina Voices.com.” A veteran journalist, she is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago and a long-standing board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow her tweets @tcpuente

 

Anatomy of a Tweet

Often we at the Workshop will hear a nonprofit communicator say that they don’t “get” Twitter, and aren’t sure why their organization should use the platform. We hope this slide from our “How to be Twitter Literate” training will help demystify the medium!

This Thursday starts Social Media Bootcamp, wherein we’ll take an in-depth look at social media platforms (including Twitter) and talk about how to fold them into your organization’s communications plan!

People to Pitch: La Risa Lynch, Freelance Writer

Guest post by Lucia Anaya, Community Media Workshop New Media Intern

La Risa Lynch has been a Chicago freelance writer for more than 15 years, having written for several community newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader and The Final Call. Her stories are often about criminal justice or social issues affecting the city of Chicago.

With Lynch’s extensive experience and skill, we asked for tips on the best way nonprofit organizations can maximize the value of their pitch to journalists and media outlets. Below is her advice.

What key advice would you give a non profit organization who is trying to attain media coverage of their issue or event?

The one thing I could advise anyone to do is to look at what the reporter is writing and tailor your pitch to that. If you send something to me about transportation, I probably won’t be interested. But if it’s something let’s say like, the CTA isn’t hiring any minority contractors, then that would be something I would be interested in. A lot of times the newspapers that I write for are issue oriented; they prefer some of those hard-hitting issues.

What should organizations not do when pitching you?

Don’t send an attachment with an email.  Sometimes the attachment won’t open or it might have a virus. Instead just embed whatever that is in the body of the email.

Another thing is to not be too aggressive when you’re trying to pitch. We have a lot on our plates and sometimes being a little bit more subtle would catch my attention instead of saying, “well you need to come out and cover this.” If instead you say, “this is what I have here and I think this is something you might be interested in, I would love for you to come by and cover it,” it would be easier.

How do you prefer to receive pitches?

Email. I’m so busy that sometimes I don’t have the time to call you back. If you send it to me by email it’s always there to remind me. If I save you in my voicemail box, I might forget about you, so email is best.

And what should the subject line read, what would grab your attention?

Words like “protest” or “meeting on housing” will let me know what the email is about. Don’t put the phrases “story assignment or “possible story.” When pitching a story say “we’re having a protest” or “we’re having a meeting on CHA.” That will work to grab my attention.

To what extent should an organization do research on the publication?

Definitely try and do some research on the paper itself. Pick up the paper and look through their website to see what kind of stories they are covering. That’s how you’ll know if the paper will fit in with what you are trying to do. It’s helpful especially because a lot of community newspapers are not like the Chicago Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune who have a lot of staff to go out and cover stuff. Community newspapers are always looking for content but it has to be the right kind of content with what matches up to what they’re writing about.

If you would like to pitch La Risa Lynch, e-mail her at larisalynch@yahoo.com

In Defense of the Spanish Language: How to Give Meaning to Your Translations

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Queta Rodríguez Bauer

Ever since I came to this country more than 30 years ago, one of my pet peeves has been the poor quality of Spanish translations.

When I see posters, ads, brochures or signs, I cringe.

I even wonder whether the quality has deteriorated in recent years, or whether it may have become an obsession of mine to avidly read all translated materials that fall into my hands with the futile hope that this time I will find no errors. Most likely there is some of both, since the former feeds the latter.

As a result of the increase in the Latino population, there are two consequences that affect language. One is that there are more first-generation Latinos who learned Spanish from their parents. The second is that governments and organizations who want to reach Spanish-speaking immigrants are developing more materials in Spanish. But the efforts are often wasted due to the poor quality of the translations.

 

So why the poor quality? I have a theory.

My sense is that more often than not, translations of items like brochures, labels, taglines and signs are made by first-generation Latinos, employed by the organizations that need the translations. These employees are acculturated Americans, having grown up and gone to school here, and speak Spanish because their parents spoke Spanish to them when they were growing up. They are well-intentioned when they offer their services; they will save their organization some money and show their willingness to help; and the organization may also view this as a money-saving practice. And how hard can it be to make a short translation? (For long translations organizations usually use professional services.)

The problem is that often the people making the translations have grown up hearing or speaking the wrong vocabulary or the incorrect syntax without realizing it. Moreover, people may repeat the incorrect words so many times that after a while they stop sounding weird.

In some cases, first-generation Latinos come from immigrant homes where the parents had little formal education because they had to work as children. These parents spoke to their own children using a type of Spanish that reflected their lack of education. As a result the children picked up their parents’ Spanish, and their written Spanish lacks the correct grammar and syntax. Furthermore, because their vocabulary is limited, their translations tend to be too literal.

Many first-generation Latinos speak Spanish very well, and even write it well (including my daughters and my Latino employees). But even they make mistakes sometimes because they did not learn the language as they would have, had they gone to school and grown up in a Spanish-speaking country.

In order to have the best possible translations into Spanish, I recommend considering the following guidelines:

• To begin, if your English copy is confusing, unclear, or poorly written, you will have a poor, unclear translation in Spanish. (“Garbage in, garbage out.”) Make sure your English copy is clear and understandable.

• Always have a professional, or somebody who was educated in a Spanish speaking country, translate your materials, or at least review the translations your first generation Spanish speakers did for you.

• When you know you are going to need materials in both languages, develop the materials in English and Spanish at the same time, with the help of a bilingual person. Sometimes people think of taglines or descriptions that sound very well in English, but once translated don’t make very much sense. They then have to be explained in Spanish, taking much more space than normal, which is important for graphic designers.

• Keep in mind translations into Spanish normally expand about 30%. Your graphic designer will have to take that into account.

• Do not confuse correct grammar and syntax with style. As with English, things can be correctly described but awkwardly phrased.

• Do not use metaphors or sports terminology in English or be prepared to use a different metaphor in Spanish.

• If possible, run your translations by native Spanish speakers from several countries to make sure you are not using words that may be offensive, or at least strange, for other nationalities. For instance: “guaguá” in Mexico means doggy, and “guagua” (no accent) means “bus” in Caribbean countries and “baby” in Andean countries.

• It seems obvious, but many people, whether they are native speakers or not, forget that when in doubt they can use a dictionary. I also recommend WordReference.com to verify the meaning of words; the website even has very useful discussion forums and links to authoritative sources. But avoid overly literal translations!

While trying to reach Latinos in the U.S., one of the first rules is to show respect for your audience by showing respect for the language.

It can seem rather condescending to provide materials in Spanish that are plagued with mistakes. Good communication, whether in English or in another language, is all about meaning; and meaning has to be conveyed with clarity. If your English copy is clear, and your Spanish translation has the correct syntax and vocabulary, it doesn’t matter if the translation is not literal. You will be saying what you mean.

 

Queta Rodríguez Bauer, MSC, ABC, is Principal of Cultural Communications, LLC., a strategic communications firm in Chicago. She may be reached at 773-285-1055 or qbauer@culturalcommunications.com.

Q & A with Communications Expert Thom Clark

Guest post by DeAnndra B.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Community Media Workshop President, co-founder, and resident communications expert Thom Clark, to pick his brain about the upcoming Developing A Communications Plan training.

It’s currently one of the most requested trainings and is offered by The Workshop multiple times each year. Led by Clark, it has been a core training at The Workshop for more than twenty years. There is clearly a demand, and need, for this type of communications training; marrying traditional media relations strategies with new media strategies.

Thom Clark

Q1 – How did the Developing A Communications Plan training come to be one of the most popular trainings at The Workshop?

It’s a basic strategy workshop we’ve done from day one. Born of the first week of the core training, Professional Media Relations, there was a need to provide a shorter training for a conference in Denver as an early effort to help children advocacy groups improve their access to the media and their storytelling. Collaborating with Workshop co-founder Hank DeZutter, we built a syllabus and curriculum as an effort to get down on paper what this training was really about.

Over the years it has evolved as I collaborated with former vice-presidents of The Workshop, including some spokesperson and messaging training elements, similar to week two of Professional Media Relations. In addition to some elements from Sue O’Halloran’s Storytelling training, in particular the elevator speech technique. The current version of the training is a basic strategy workshop with a sharper focus and far better materials, establishing the basic plan as something we ought to put front and center. It worked well and I am doing this training all the time now.


Q2 
Can you speak to the need for a non-profit to have a communications plan?

Most nonprofits have identified a problem that they’re trying to solve. There are customers and clients they want to attract to programs, there are board members, funders, donors, and volunteers they need to tell their story to, which includes successes or challenges in addressing that problem. Often, there are policy makers, government officials, and regulators who also need to hear how an organization discovered a problem and have come up with, or attempted, a solution to it.

If a nonprofit operates in a vacuum, they wont be as successful in changing public policy or moving clients along to be more successful in their lives (after the program), much less raise money, and attract the right staff and board members if they’re not telling their story. Organizations can tell their story through their own media (websites, e-newsletters, etc.), and/or traditional media (print and broadcast). Media coverage doesn’t just happen, it takes strategy and some persistence to gain media attention to help amplify your work which will hopefully help raise more money and attract better staff and volunteers to the organization.


Q3
 – Here at Community Media Workshop we produce a media guide. How do you plan on incorporating how to use the media guide* into this training?

I could do a better job than the seven minutes I cover it, usually. “The book alone can be a training in terms of what’s in the front part as well as what’s in the back.” We do try to cover the media guide in trainings especially if participants have this tool in front of them.

In a recent training, I talked about how to use it as a browsing tool. I usually talk about finding reporters who you may not know are covering your issue, and get to know one a month, every other month. At the end of the year you will have 6 new reporters who are paying attention to your issue. I discussed how to attract the attention of a reporter, who doesn’t know you, by phone or email and it is largely by paying attention to their last piece, or last several articles and commenting on them, usually with a glass half –full approach.

*(Note: the media guide contains an editorial section with tips on pitching, worksheets for creating a communications plan, building a media list, an online communications plan, a social media policy and more.)


Q4
 – Can you tell me your top three objectives or goals that you would like attendees to get out of this training? If they leave with nothing else what are 3 things you would like them to walk away with?

First, we often use an elevator speech exercise that leaves most participants with a far keener sense about the importance of being concise. They have to decide what one program or offer you want to tell this new audience about. You have to get them to the point where they’re asking for more information instead of overwhelming them with too much in the first few minutes of talking with them.

Secondly, a better sense of strategically discovering which 6 or 12 reporters they need to build a relationship with and not worrying about a several hundred-name press list. They should pay attention to the media and figure out whom they need to learn and get to know.

Lastly, I expect people to have a keen sense of the 3–legged stool model of goals, audience, and message working together leading to better storytelling. That’s really at the core of what we do. That basic approach to strategy has not changed much over the last 20 years even with all the new technology available and changes in the media landscape. This model is a really good way to break down to the non-media relations professional how to get a handle on building an effective communications plan.

 

Q5 – You often mention that, in developing a communications plan, working with the media, and doing media relations is not about getting publicity for the boss, what do you mean by that and why is that important?

It comes out of my sense that for many years we had trouble getting foundations to support our work because they say it as so much PR for the boss and didn’t feel the need to fund that type of communications. It was perceived that, “if a group is making news the media will find them”. Not only is that a naïve understanding about how the media works, but also more than likely if a group is making news and the media finds them, it is because of a crisis. So, it is not the type of coverage they want to have.

In addition, the perception that most nonprofit organizations are run by self-described visionaries who had a great idea, was able to get some funding and went on with the work, but are primarily ego-driven ‘cause why would anyone want to do this work for next to no pay. And, in some times that stereotype is true, but more often than not it undermines the real motivations of people who are in this field.

The nonprofit sector represents over 7% of the employment base in Chicago. So there is something we’re trying to do to help the world. We see gaps in what people need to have fulfilling lives and we try to help them with those gaps. So the story, to me, is not about who is running the organization, but what the organization is doing. My interest in helping organizations tell their story more effectively is to get other people to join the journey. To understand what problems they are trying to tackle, why they’re effective, and to come help us. Whether it is volunteers, donors writing larger checks or bringing in clients. That is far more effective than having the ego of a founder or executive director soothed with a profile in Crain’s Chicago Business or the Chicago Tribune.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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