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Using the rule of three

the Chinese vase balancing act of GuiMing Meng

the Chinese vase balancing act of GuiMing Meng (via Dance Project Sequence inc. online reviews)

Well, time to go back to work! Thank goodness. Didn’t think too much about the office or communications over the break (whoops, busy Monday ahead tomorrow!) but in between fending off requests for popcorn at the Big Apple Circus just before Christmas I was reminded of what CMW trainer and professional storyteller Susan O’Halloran taught me is the “rule of three.” As Wikipedia puts it most succinctly, the rule of three is

…a principle in English writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. From slogans (“Go, fight, win!”) to films, many things are structured in threes. There were three musketeers, three little pigs, three billy goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the three bears, and Three Stooges. (Link to full entry here)

Here’s what I saw and here’s how I think it applies to our work, especially in tough economic times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Video and hidden history, brought on-line

You should be pushing your content out to every available venue possible — syndicating everything you can, information, experiences, and stuff, so that people can find it.

p. 15, Media Rules by Brian Reich and Dan Solomon, (Hoboken: Wiley & Sons, 2008)

Video matters because it gets high response. But how well do oral history video databases work compared to more produced tight, short videos?

At Vertical Response, they blogged recently that their video tutorials are among their most popular website pages. I noticed a video posted on our blog got instant response, and Michael Hoffman of See3 Media notes this, too, along with a raft of other helpful materials on video at his agency’s blog, See What’s Out There.

My favorite on-line videos, like the ones by Free Range Studios, have high production values and a strong advocacy agenda. But what seems potentially more interesting–what prompted this post–are the oral history with a purpose video storytelling sites such as The Historymakers, the 1,000 Voices Archive, and a new one, Chicago Gay History. Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Name Six Seek Media Advice on Easter Action

When six anti Iraq war activists staged a “die-in” this past Easter Sunday during Francis Cardinal George’s sermon at Holy Name Cathedral, they got a lot of holiday weekend  attention from the media, but not quite with the message they’d hoped for. Facing felony charges for “criminal defacement in a house of worship” with potenially 3-5 years in prison, the Holy Name Six sought media advice fromt he Workshop for their upcoming court date.   The young activists knew broadcast and print media would be present for the cardinal’s Mass, but admitted they didn’t prepare ANY materials for the media to explain their action, which included spraying of a blood-like substance made up of sugar water and food coloring. Read the rest of this entry »

Awareness-raising games

Southwest michigan workshop

Patricia Jane Pennell and I looked over “Green Pursuits” game for Grand Rapids community planning at a Communicating Land-Use Better workshop April 21.

Monday with a group of land-use planners we talked about using stories and leading with our values to catch our audiences’ attention instead of putting them to sleep or sending them away puzzled about what we really were talking about, anyway. The training was a mix of Sue O’Halloran’s storytelling techniques and Action Media’s findings on how to communicate around issues.

From the evaluation by and large people loved it (definitely the first part, the second is still a little abstract). Read the rest of this entry »

Meet me at the mosque: ICIRR media relations lessons

Today I heard Ahmed Rehab of Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago presented to some 50 leaders and staff of immigration-related nonprofit agencies on media relations. It was awesome to be in the audience, what I wrote down highlights of course the most important issue: context. Read the rest of this entry »

A old alinskyist on code pink

X-politics: ESPN-speak for direct action organizing. Read this piece from The Nation, by Nick Von Hoffman, I think you’ll love it! Gotta love those Code Pink ladies.


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  • Telling people’s stories, an ethnic media success September 2, 2015
        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]