Follow @npcommunicator on | NPCommunicator HOME | About

Workshop helps employment center step up work with local media

A 2011 story by Barrington Patch about CareerPlace

At a time of record unemployment in Illinois and the country, organizations that can help people find employment and build their skills are more important then ever. Yet, CareerPlace, located in Barrington, found that more than 40% of people in their area didn’t know about their services and classes for unemployed individuals.

“We struggled with finding the time to reach out to the local media,” said Monica Keane, executive director of CareerPlace. “I thought Professional Media Relations would be a good way to learn how to get information to the public.”

After attending the Community Media Workshop’s Professional Media Relations course in early 2011, Keane said she realized that when working with the media, everything is about a story.

“I learned to stop telling the business of the agency and to tell the story of the people who are touched by what we do,” said Keane.

Since the Workshop course, CareerPlace has received more media coverage in community press (check out the Patch story here) and started developing relationships with local reporters. Keane says she can now pick up the phone and call certain reporters with possible story ideas. She’s also used the Workshop’s online press release generator and Chicago area media guide to aid in her media outreach work.

“I’m just really impressed with the Workshop,” said Keane. “The willingness of staff to roll up their sleeves and get involved with the nonprofits they serve is so important.”

Keane enjoyed her time at the Workshop so much that she decided to hire Workshop staff for a custom consulting project—development of a train-the-trainer curriculum “Using Social Media to Search, Network and Find Your Next Job” to give CareerPlace trainers tools to help job seekers use social media in their employment searches. The project was supported with a grant from the Barrington Area Community Foundation.

The Workshop team continues to work with CareerPlace to ensure successful social media trainings for its participants in the coming year.

The Workshop’s 2012 Professional Media Relations course starts Jan. 20. There are still spots available. Register today and start making your own local media connections!



Develop a media story for your organization and pitch reporters, face-to-face

RoiAnn Phillips of HealthConnect One

RoiAnn Phillips decided to attend Professional Media Relations because she wanted a better grasp of media strategy and outreach as she took on more communications work at HealthConnect One.

Her “ah-ha moment” came when instructors told the class how to tailor a pitch to pique reporters’ interest, but her big breakthrough came a couple of weeks later. During the five-part workshop, she was able to pitch her organization’s upcoming report analyzing breastfeeding rates in Illinois to WBEZ Reporter Chip Mitchell. That opportunity resulted in three stories (below) in the coming months about the report and HealthConnect One. One hospital even decided to step up its breastfeeding efforts after hearing one of Mitchell’s stories on WBEZ.

“The WBEZ stories wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken Professional Media Relations,” said Phillips. “Without the class, I wouldn’t have understood how to frame a pitch and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be in the room with reporters.”


Check out the WBEZ stories that resulted from RoiAnn’s time at Professional Media Relations and follow-up work with reporter Chip Mitchell.

Report: Breastfeeding in Illinois hinges partly on race, income – April 26, 2011

Hospital regulators let formula vie with breast milk – May 5, 2011

After WBEZ report, hospital steps up breastfeeding efforts – August 2, 2011

Professional Media Relations
$395 for the five-part media workshop
Starts Jan. 20, 2012
Includes numerous handouts, worksheets & a copy of the 2012 Getting On Air, Online & Into Print media guide ($125 annual subscription value).
Reserve your spot today.

Visit our website or call 312-369-6400.

Mashable shares “How Non-Profits Are Using Social Media”

The Mashable blog presents an interesting look at leading nonprofits engaging in social media. The infographic presents various metrics with a focus on Twitter, Facebook and others. The results show that 92% of nonprofits surveyed carry at least one social media engagement button–Facebook setting the mark with Twitter behind at 90%. Another interesting observation suggests that nonprofits with larger budgets that do invest in social engagement do not neccessarily succeed in achieving influence or success over smaller budget organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Nonprofits in the News: Grand Families

Workshop President Thom Clark and Grand Families leaders at the June 2010 Community Media Workshop communications training.

During my first week at Community Media Workshop, I sat in on a media training that Thom Clark, the Workshop’s president, led for a Chicago nonprofit called Grand Families. This is a group of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren because, for a variety of reasons, their children are unable to do it themselves. The stories I heard at this training were so inspiring. Many of these grandparents were moving into their “empty nester” years, possibly retirement, when they began caring for their grandchildren. One of the big issues many of these families face is space. The grandparents might be on a fixed income or living in a small apartment, making it difficult to find a home that’s affordable and big enough for the children and teenagers moving in.

Enter Grand Families. Started by Linette Kitchen, a woman who found herself suddenly raising her own grandchildren, Grand Families offers the grandparents a support system and advocates for affordable housing, healthcare and other basic necessities to assist the grandparents working hard to make ends meet for their families.

As I sat in on the Workshop’s media training with this group of grandparents, I knew they had a great news story. When WBEZ sought nominations for their “Dear Chicago” series, the Workshop nominated Grand Families. Read their story “Dear Chicago: We need a place to live” here.

From Workshop training to WBEZ’s “Worldview”

From left to right: WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell, freelance reporter Dawn Rice, and Sun-Times reporter Dave Hoekstra talk to attendees at a Workshop training.

From left to right: WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell, freelance reporter Dawn Reiss, and Sun-Times reporter Dave Hoekstra talk to attendees at a Workshop training.

Our day-long Media Boot Camp training is just around the corner, and we still have a few spots left. This one-day training will help you develop a communications strategy, think through how to pitch your story, and polish your message to reach the right audience. Not to mention you’ll get to meet a panel of Chicago reporters during the lunch hour who will have useful tips about getting your story placed in traditional and online news outlets.

If you don’t believe us, read LuAnn Wing’s story below about her media success after attending a Workshop training. Sometimes it’s just sharpening your news skills and meeting the right reporter!

Knowing the Right Reporter

If you’ve got a medical emergency on Kome Island, in Tanzania, you’d better hope you haven’t missed the boat. Literally. There is no medical care available on the island and just one ferry per day. But in September, volunteers from Aid Africa’s Children, a small Arlington Heights-based nonprofit, traveled to Tanzania to talk with the government about staffing and other support for a medical dispensary that the group hopes to build there.

One of the spark plugs behind the effort, a physician from AAC’s hometown of Arlington Heights, only became aware of the organization’s existence in July—when he heard volunteers Charles and Diane Malege interviewed on WBEZ’s show “Worldview,” talking about the school AAC helped them build on Kome.

Toward the end of the interview, Charles mentioned that his next dream was to get a medical dispensary going, and the role AAC had played. And as soon as the doctor heard the broadcast, he called AAC. “He said, ‘We’ve got to dream big, and we’ve got to go for it,’” says AAC Board Member LuAnn Wing, the vice president of marketing and communications for the all-volunteer organization.

The WBEZ interview was the result of a pitch Wing made at a Community Media Workshop training several months earlier. Participants got to talk directly to journalists like WBEZ’s Lynnette Kalsnes, who said that the story would be perfect for Worldview’s “Global Activism” series, which focuses on Chicago-area residents trying to make a difference around the world through grassroots work.

Wing was no newcomer to communications work—she has worked as a TV producer for years, and had already successfully pitched stories about AAC to other news outlets—but she found the Workshop training invaluable. “The WBEZ story wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t gone to the training,” she says.

Sign up for Media Boot Camp today – just click here.

Da Bulls, Da Bears, and Da Bard… Talk Like Shakespeare Day is April 23

This Friday is Chicagos Talk Like Shakespeare Day, created by Chicago Shakespeare Theater to raise awareness of da Bard

This Friday is Chicago's Talk Like Shakespeare Day, created by Chicago Shakespeare Theater to raise awareness of "da Bard"

“WHEREAS, in conjunction with Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s annual celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, Chicagoans young and old, at school, work, and home, will be encouraged to incorporate phrases like ‘prithee,’ ‘thou,’ ‘fie!’ and ‘knave!’ into their parlance as a way to celebrate the legacy of the language….NOW THEREFORE I, Mayor Richard M. Daley, do hereby… proclaim [Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, 2010 and] encourage citizens to let boldness be thy friend.”

Last year we wrote (Microsites? Yea Verily) about how Michael Wood, director of planning and program development for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and his colleagues cooked up the bardic birthday bash Talk Like Shakespeare Day to raise awareness about Shakespeare’s heritage (did you know Shakespeare contributed more than 1,700 words to the English language?) among new audiences. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to School Marketing

In honor of the first day of school, a post on school recruitment and what other nonprofit communicators can learn about outreach from an advertising and promotions ace.

Pamela Jefferson-Waits, advertising and marketing expert, used the red carpet treatment to bring students and their families to St. Ethelreda Catholic School this fall.

Pamela Jefferson-Waits, advertising and marketing expert, used the red carpet treatment to bring students and their families to St. Ethelreda Catholic School this fall.

What’s the secret to successful nonprofit marketing? What if it was as simple as making time to do it, planning a series of straightforward tactics, executing with some flair, and sticking to the plan? Simple, no?

You decide, after hearing this story from Pamela Jefferson-Waits. Pamela has years of experience in advertising and promotions, including at agencies that served corporations such as McDonald’s and Kellogg. She left the advertising world in September 2008 to care for her ailing father. Then, one morning last January at church, she casually mentioned to the principal at St. Ethelreda Catholic School—an old family friend—that she was looking for a new position. The principal signed her up to help with enrollment for the school, in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood and she started in February.

Her first move: jazz up the spring enrollment activities. Typically the school has had an open house, but this year, taking a cue from something the principal has done to welcome students every September in recent years, Pam planned a “Red Carpet” evening. Read the rest of this entry »

TAMMS Year 10, a year later-excellence in advocacy

Tamms petitions

Tamms petitions (from flickr)

Tells you something about advocacy that it’s been 10 months since last I blogged about Tamms Year 10, the organization that started as a bunch of poets and morphed into an all-volunteer advocacy group working to close the state’s Supermax prison (post last June 26 here). Victories take a while.

They’re headed back to Springfield March 25 to add to 24 sponsors already on state Rep. Julie Hamos’ HB 2633.

UPDATE: as 1 of the group pointed out to me, the bill is a far cry from closure, merely requiring some adherence to minimal standards. …

(Progress Illinois has more here). If you’re of a mind to support the legislation, which strikes me as so enlightened even our former governor Rod Blagojevich would have supported it, you can visit Hamos’ web site to learn more and sign her petition supporting the new bill. But also worth checking out their web site, a nice basic way to keep folks in touch — including a great list of news coverage down the right side, btw (disclosure, the Workshop has done a few workshops and some pro bono coaching with the coordinators over the past 10 months),

Music to my ears

Quick conversation this afternoon with Tom Feltner of Woodstock Institute this afternoon… at the end he said, “I’m just looking in our database… what’s your right title again?” and checked to make sure he had me accurately in his org’s list. Yes! It took 30 seconds for him to update his record for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Cedric Lee’s tight messaging

Last fall, you may have gotten our brochure, Get Serious… About Storytelling featuring Cedric Lee of Lake County PADS, a homeless intervention and prevention agency in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Last night, Darlene Hill, Fox Chicago reporter, profiled Felicia Coleman, who’s stayed at the shelter three times in recent years with her family, as part of a story on “Homeless Shelters Taking In Former Middle Class Families.”

Cedric Lee delivered his message about homelessness on Fox local TV last night.

The video is here (or click the image above)–quality online was a little spotty for me, but it was worth it to here a great example of a nonprofit communicator, in this case Cedric (who actually is not even identified in the piece, I believe–but Lake County PADS’ does get it’s name into the story), on message. Just like he said during our PMR workshop almost a year ago:

Today the picture of homelessness the average homeless person today is a 9 year old female.

Is this short line in a short segment a major victory? Well, maybe not, but I think it’s a huge deal when we nail the details like this because I find again and again with communications, it’s getting the small stuff right that helps to build, over the longer term, to bigger victories. One small quote for Cedric, one giant leap for nonprofit communications-kind!


Add to Technorati Favorites

Alltop, all the top stories

RSS Chicago is the World

  • 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. […]