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So, Your Boss Wants to Use Facebook…

Well, here’s a little Facebook 101 to get them started.

Long gone are the days when Facebook was solely for personal use to keep in touch with classmates, friends and family. Now, many nonprofits, brands, and small businesses are using Facebook’s platform to reach their audience. Here at the Workshop, Facebook is a tool we use constantly in our online communications plan to reach our audience, nonprofit communicators. Community Media Workshop has a Facebook fan page for the organization, which allows our co-founder and staff to keep their Facebook profiles separate and for private use. Many founders and executive directors at nonprofits may want to use their Facebook profile on behalf of the organization, however, this is not recommended. Instead, create a Facebook fan page for the organization.

Our resident social media experts are often asked, “what is the difference between a Facebook profile and a page?” Even though it can seem complicated, especially to someone who is new to Facebook, the answer can be put simply: a profile belongs to a person, and a page belongs to an organization or entity, like a nonprofit (and even a cause or a brand).

You can only have one Facebook profile – ’cause there’s only one you 😉

A Facebook profile is your personal “home” on the site where you connect with “friends” and post personal information about yourself including photos and status updates. “Friends” are the profiles of people you allow to view and interact with your profile, and in turn they allow you to view and interact with their profile. Friends will then see updates from your profile in their news feed and you will see their updates in your own news feed. On your profile you can only add 5000 friends. However, you can “follow” a person, which allows you to view any posts that they make public.

A Facebook page is essentially a fan page. You can make pages for your nonprofit, products and services, causes, your favorite band or TV show, and so on. When you create a fan page, fans must click “Like” in order to view updates and interact with the fan page. This is a great way for nonprofits to promote their cause, events, and connect with donors and volunteers.

Profiles and fan pages can tie into one another. At the Workshop, each staff member has a Facebook profile, which we use to log into Facebook and manage the organization’s page as an administrator. This means even though we are logging in with our personal profile information we are choosing to use Facebook as an administrator for Community Media Workshop’s fan page.  Did I confuse you? Sorry, there will be a part two, stay tuned.  In the meantime, sign up for our Social Media 101 training coming up on September 28th. And, enjoy this video that elaborates more on Facebook profiles vs. pages.


Post by DeAnndra Bunch

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.

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.

 – 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.)

 – 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.







Q&A with Workshop Trainer Marissa Wasseluk


Workshop trainer Marissa Wasseluk teaches a course on optimizing e-newsletters on April 25, 2013. We caught up with our busy new media associate for a little preview of this brand-new, much-needed training.


Q: Why should an organization consider using e-newsletters instead of paper?
A: Communications on the whole are becoming increasingly digital. Not only does this advancement save trees, but e-communications are faster and easier to use. You also save money on printing costs. In addition to this, you can measure your audience’s engagement given the actions they take as a result of your messaging. WHY E-NEWSLETTERS, you ask me? WHY NOT, I say!

Q: You talk about turning your e-newsletter “from awful to awesome”. What makes an e-newsletter awful? What makes it awesome?
A: My inbox is full of emails (as I’m sure is the case with many readers). I will admit that the first thing I do when I open my e-mail program at the beginning of a work day is weed out the messages that aren’t pertinent. Newsletters that are difficult to read are automatically deleted. There are a number of newsletters that fail to grab my attention because the layout is too busy or the information I care about is buried. Design and content are the keys to an awesome newsletter. An effective e-newsletter will grab my attention every time I see it in my inbox, and there are actually quite a few that I subscribe to that do that!  

Q: What will folks take away from your training?
A: They should have an understanding of “open rates” and “click-thru rates”, the elements of good design for an e-newsletter, how to grab their readers’ attentions, and a renewed excitement for e-communications!


In addition to being a member of the amazing staff at Community Media Workshop, Marissa Wasseluk is an active blogger, digital communicator, workshop presenter, food eater and music listener. You can hear her voice (figuratively) on the Workshop’s Facebook fanpage, Twitter profile, and e-newsletter. Connect with her online, at her e-newsletter training this spring, or at Making Media Connections this summer!

Q&A with Story Artist & Workshop Trainer Susan O’Halloran

Susan O’Halloran

Just three slots remain for this Thursday’s, Telling Your Organization’s Story To Move People To Action workshop.

We caught up with author, story artist and noted speaker Susan O’Halloran, as she preps for this week’s training.

Why is storytelling so important in nonprofit communications?

Simply put, our society wouldn’t function without nonprofits. From fulfilling basic needs of food, shelter and medical care to artistically expressing the triumph of the human spirit – and everything in between – the quality of our lives would be greatly diminished without the work of nonprofits.

And, yet, the public, the press, future leaders and even funders are just not hearing about all the lives nonprofits touch and all they accomplish.

Nonprofit communicators can learn to tell compelling stories that:

• clear up misconceptions

• enroll even more volunteers and attracts the best people to hire

• generate partnerships with other agencies

• create buzz in the media

• and enlist champions in the legislature and with individual funders

Whether speaking with the press, fundraising, enlisting volunteers or even getting co-workers motivated and enthused – learning to tell your story and helping other people in your program to tell theirs will give you the ability to communicate clearly, to confirm your legitimacy, to move and persuade people and to let others know the goals and accomplishments of your organization.

What do you find most people have trouble with when crafting their stories?

As we move from childhood to adulthood gaining more knowledge, we talk more and more abstractly. We talk in the language of statistics, theories, explanations and opinions.
Nothing wrong with that, but story language is a kind of language that opens up other worlds through sensory images.

A good description will make your mind – and your body – think it’s there. Which means you can take your audience to work with you. You can put them in your rehearsal studio or homeless shelter and cause them to experience your good work for themselves. You can put your audience in time and space machines and transport them to your cause in action. They will experience your organization. It takes practice, but nonprofit communicators can re-learn this sensory, descriptive language.

The second hurdle is to get nonprofit communicators to talk about problems. But you actually gain more credibility if you tell a story about how your organization overcame a challenge than if you try to promote, “Everything is just fine here.” What gets a story started is that there’s a problem, a challenge, a mess or a situation. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, but there does have to be action. Something needs to be happening. As human beings we are endlessly interested in finding out how each of us solves our problems (and happy to find out others have challenges as well). A story is not a collection of ideas, themes or even images. It can take awhile for nonprofit communicators to unearth a situation that will show what they are trying to express. Helping people structure their stories to hold people’s interest is demanding but pure magic when it happens.

What do workshop participants talk about the most after your training?

Nonprofits must slice through the information clutter to be seen and heard. Their good works and good intentions are not enough to capture people’s attention and commitment. Participants leave the workshop understanding the power of story and excited to use this tool more effectively. They realize they have many stories to tell and, now, they know how to tell them.

Register today for Telling Your Organization’s Story To Move People To Action, as this workshop will sell out.

Communiqué from Morocco

For a long time I’ve believed that the Community Media Workshop is a unique institution–offering resources and sharing knowledge that strengthen civic institutions’ ability to transform communities in Chicago and beyond. Our unique mission has now been presented the opportunity to expand its reach–Morocco! Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle your social media power: Pinterest explained

I’m really excited about our upcoming Making Media Connections Conference. I’ll be leading a half-day workshop on Social Media planning… covering practical  and strategic approaches to social media for nonprofits. In this workshop we will be covering the core concepts and exercises from my semester long course on social media at Columbia College Chicago. We’ll go over preparing your social media policy, steps towards creating your plan and get the big picture to help you approach the tools the right way. If you haven’t registered already, do it now!

Pinterest has gained much popularity in the past few months and will be one platform we will be talking about in our workshop. Below is a primer on the new social platform (and an excerpt from her final course essay) written by one of my students in my Social Media & PR Strategies course this past Winter. 

Hope to see you at #mmc2012!

– Demetrio Maguigad


Pinterest Explained 

Guest post by Shelby Gardner, Columbia College Chicago, Intern at Student PIRGs



Pinterest… What is it?

Pinterest is as a virtual bulletin board to categorize and ‘pin’ things that interests an individual. The Next Web (TNW) describes it as “a way for people to ‘window shop’ for anything whether it’s a physical object or an intangible object like quotes.”

To grasp how Pinterest works, you need to know three terms. Pin, Repin, and Boards.

Pin: an image added to Pinterest either from a link, a site, or uploaded image that can include captions. Repin: once something is pinned, it can be repined by other Pinterest users, a big factor that leverages the site. Board: this is where your pins are. You can have separate boards for various subjects. Users set up boards of pins that fit together. When a board is created, the user must categorize it into one of the 13 default categories. The user is free to name the board what ever they desire.

The most popular pins category on Pinterest is Food & Drink, then DIY & Crafts, and third is Women’s Apparel. However, the statistics of most popular boards are very different, with the top ranked as Remaining Categories and Home and Décor second.

The main page is where you browse pins via thumbnails, which allows top users to grow even more popular. With 32 different topic areas, users can browse everything from fitness to art and science. Users can like or comment on other pins. The average activity of popular ‘Pinners’ consists of 2,600 pins, 33 boards, and following around 400 users. Pinners can use the site to purchase things.  About 20% of users have purchased items they found on someone’s Pinboard.

15 Tips and Tricks

Read the rest of this entry »

The general public is not your audience

More often than not, nonprofits tell me they want to use communications to  reach “the general public.” And, I’m quick to respond, “The general public is not an audience!” Since we are not Coca Cola or Nike or H & R Block, we will NEVER have enough resources to market to the general public. So, throw that audience right out the window. The key to our success lies in how targeted we can be.

Once you know what you want to accomplish (your goal), then you have to think about who you’re trying to reach. Who can make a difference on your issue? Who will donate money? Who can impact policy? Who will get involved? This “Who” is your audience.

If we are trying to organize a neighborhood watch group in the Edgewater neighborhood, our target audience is likely adults (maybe parents and homeowners) in the Edgewater community. Secondary audiences might include the alderman, community group leaders and others in that community who are influential and can help organize a watch group.

Once we’ve decided to reach parents in Edgewater, we can think of all sorts of messages and tactics to reach those parents. For example, parents are at schools. What can we distribute at the schools to get in touch with parents? What should those fliers say to pique their interest?

Are their neighborhood school events we can attend to meet parents in person? Do those parents read the local Edgewater blog, the “Edgeville Buzz,” and if so, can we try to place a story in the blog about the need for a neighborhood watch group and how to get involved?

Knowing your audience is important in the social media world, too. If you’re trying to reach parents in Edgewater, maybe you start using hashtags in your tweets such as #edgewater #schools and #parents. Maybe you search on Facebook to find out if any of the local schools or community groups in Edgewater already have Facebook pages where you can share information about your campaign.

What you probably don’t need to do is contact Channel 7 or the Chicago Tribune. Although those outlets do reach millions of people in the Chicago area, the threshold for news is higher and it can be extremely time-consuming to place a story there. If you know your target audience and you know specific places to reach them in Edgewater, you’ll probably have better luck focusing on community-based gatherings, papers and online outlets to get your story out and reach your target audience where they’re already at.

So, the next time you plan to embark on a communications strategy, remember, the more targeted you can be when thinking about your audience, the more success you’re likely to have making sure the right people, rather than a whole bunch of people, hear what you have to say and take action.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to develop your organization’s communications plan, contact me ( to find out if a custom training is a good fit for you. Or call our main number 312-369-6400 to learn more about upcoming trainings.

Who likes my Facebook page?


I recently held a seminar on Social Media Strategies and Planning for grantees of the Chicago Community Trust at the Garfield Park Conservatory. We covered everything from social culture on the web, to understanding social technographics (how users are categorized based on the their use of social media tools and how they relate to one another), to understanding the importance of developing a social media policy and plan.

We stressed that your strategy should be social in nature–it’s all about developing meaningful relationships with people by engaging directly through conversations.

After every workshop and seminar, we often get a lot of our participants asking us questions related to what they learned in our sessions. I just got a pretty good question from Marjorie Goran, the Development Manager at Onward Neighborhood House.

She asked,“Can you tell me how to access the names of people who “Like” our Facebook Page? My coworkers and I want to find out who these people are so we can start to engage them in conversations.” Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons learned from Social Media Bootcamp

Guest post by Marissa Wasseluk, New Media Associate

I’ve found that most organizations know they need to have a social media presence, but are unsure how to utilize social media tools to get their message across. What most don’t understand is that there is a philosophy behind social media communications and strategy behind its utilization.

The Workshop heard the outcry for a comprehensive look at this emerging, ever-changing communications platform (it sounded kind of like a kitten stuck up in a distant tree). We responded by creating a three-part course that delves into the world of social media to help break down and understand the medium and how to use it effectively.

hang in der, kitteh.

Thus, Social Media Bootcamp was born.  Adapted from social media trainings the Workshop has done in the past, we covered the following:

Day 1 – Introduction to Social Media Policy & Plan
Participants were asked to put into question their communications goals, and why social media will help them acheive those goals. Ask yourself, “Who am I talking to? How will I address this audience?” Explore, “What is a social media policy? How is it different from a plan and why do I need both?”

This was the week we played the social media game. I love the social media game because everyone wins.

Day 2 – Utilizing Tools & Tactics
This week we made the link between legend media and new media. You may not see it at first, but there is one. Best practices for the social engagement on Twitter, Facebook, & blogs were covered.

Tip of the week: keywords are just that – WORDS THAT ARE KEY TO YOUR MESSAGES. Analyze your goals and listen to your audience to find your keywords and draw upon them to start and join conversations on social media platforms!

Day 3 – Measuring Impact
Participants were introduced to tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social and how to use them to understand their audience. Finding influencers and engaging them, as well as workflow were covered.

We also learned a little bit about SEO using the power of music.

I find that because the nature of social media is that it is ever-changing, the more I explore on the topic, the more I want to know.

Find out what can you learn from Social Media Bootcamp by listening in on and/or join the conversation on Twitter and following the hashtag #smb2012 . For more communications tips and tricks, you can also “like” the Workshop on Facebook or sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter!

If you just asked yourself what a hashtag is or how one uses it, I highly encourage you to join us for the Making Media Connections conference or contact us about a custom training!

Happy communicating!

Communicating, advocating and social media marketing for the public health sector

Public health communicators are understanding more and more that their social media marketing and advocacy work starts with developing a clear analysis of the people they hope to engage and develop relationships with, creating an effective social media policy to guide their work and a plan to reach success. Their job is unique as they need to consider their communications approach as an advocate for health issues and position their brand, products and services in a social market. When do you play the role of a health advocate and a social marketeer? Where do they overlap? Is there a difference?

These were some of the questions that framed our training session at the UIC School of Public Health. In this training Read the rest of this entry »


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