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If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a 6-second video clip worth?


Guest post by DeAnndra B.



This is not an endorsement for Vine nor is it a step-by-step guide of how to use Vine. *cue dramatic instrumental movie music* This is about my journey three weeks using the Vine app with iPhone. Let’s begin.

 Twitter’s Vine is a mobile-only app that allows users to create 6-second looped videos that are posted within the app. This concept seemed so cool to me, but I was weary of how the app would be used for good, and the not-so good that often exists in the social media world. Vine was introduced to the Apple App Store for iOS devices in late January of this year. Sites like Mashable and TechCrunch had helped announce the app’s arrival and it seemed as if everyone was buzzing about Vine. To add to the online buzz, the app’s own Blog posted Vines created by the Brooklyn Nets, RedVines, Paul McCartney and other celebrities and brands.

As a communicator attempting to stay on top of the latest trends in social media, I downloaded Vine immediately. And for a few weeks that was all I did with the app even though it was clearly gaining popularity amongst my peers. We discussed Vine briefly at The Workshop, since we’re all iPhone users, and no one really had an opinion about it other than “it seems cool”. I decided I would try to learn more about Vine, find out how cool it really is, and maybe even become a successful regular user. I figured that I could work Vine into The Workshop’s social media plan, and potentially a mobile communications plan.

I will admit that I struggled with exactly what and how to vine and when was an appropriate to vine. Using Vine was a little more challenging than I had expected. This little six-second video was taking more time to plan and shoot than it would actually run in the app. For about two weeks I shot videos of trainings, videos featuring our media guide, and doodles scribbles notes from marketing meetings. Most of them were posted to my Vine and  Twitter accounts. Many did not make the cut for one reason or another, including my phone dying in the middle of posting. Really, I was challenged because I was over thinking the process and what the finished product should be. There is no editing with Vine; it’s simple and what you shoot, is what you get.

Once I stopped over thinking how to make the perfect Vine, it became more natural, fun, and I wanted to Vine everything. While I still consider myself a Vine amateur, I can say that The Workshop has incorporated Vine into our own social media plan. Here’s why: content is king and mobile is taking over. 

    • Vine allows non-profits and brands to connect with their audience on their iOS mobile device. There are not many social media apps that are mobile-based and/ or mobile-only apps. If you’re looking for a new way to connect with your audience and share content on-the-go quickly, consider Vine. Share quick content from a forum, a rally, or even something in your office like a cat at The Humane Society.  Use Vine to tell a story, share your organization’s messages, or create a call to action.
    • Non-profits and brands can create unique visual content with the app and easily share it with their Twitter and Facebook followers. Now you have instantly updated your Facebook at least once for the day and you have an automatic Tweet to share. In addition, you can create a short paragraph discussing your daily Vine, and now you have a blog post. Which brings me to my next point…
    • You can embed Vines for use on the web!  Add a Vine to your blog or e-newsletter by embedding it like I did below with one of The Workshop’s Vines. I’m sure this is an option for any webpage on your website as well.

[By the way, feel free to take our social media survey.]


Vine is also easy to use as far as design and functionality are concerned. In my opinion, Vine has some functional similarities to Instagram. You can create a profile, including an avatar, link to your Twitter account, follow other profiles, “like” Vines by tapping the smiley face underneath the post and comment. Additionally, you have the option to mute or un-mute the audio on any Vine.

Here’s a little more of what I learned while using the app:

  • A viral Vine post may take a little planning and a bit of a director’s eye, but no experience is necessary.
  • Vine automatically saves the video to the camera roll on the device. So, if your phone dies in the middle of a Vine, all is not lost.
  • I haven’t discovered a way to link to your profile other than users finding you through the app via name, Twitter account, or email.
  • Use the explore tab to search for people, trending hashtags, or popular Vines including Editor’s Picks, Popular Now, and Trending.
  • By nature of the app, creativity is gold. Be as creative with your 6-seconds as you want incorporating text and different sounds.

Lastly, have you seen this Vine resume by Dawn Siff?  And, she actually landed a job!

What do you think of the Vine app? Have you created any Vines already? If so, please share them with The Workshop and follow us on Vine (at) The Workshop.





Linkedin for nonprofits

Guest post by Marissa Wasseluk

Having worked with nonprofit communicators to create social media policies and plans, it has come to my attention Linkedin oftentimes gets overlooked. Many nonprofit communicators know that it’s an important part of a social media plan, but they’re not sure exactly how or why to use it (sound like a familiar conundrum?).

I talked with Bryan Breckenridge, the Account Executive for LinkedIn Nonprofit Solutions about this trend, and expressed the importance of networking both in person and online. Take a look at our conversation!


I like to say Linkedin is the “diamond in the social media rough”.

Some advantages to adding Linkedin to your nonprofit’s social media plan:

  • A presence on Linkedin puts your nonprofit in front of new donors
  • It connects corporate donors to your cause
  • It can help you find new possible board members!
  • It’s a new and different social channel that provides new opportunities of exposure!

If you’d like to pick Bryan’s brain about how to add Linkedin to your social media communications and best practices for its use, come say hello to him at Making Media Connections this June 14, 2012, where he’ll be the keynote speaker!

Join us this year at our annual Making Media Connections Conference! You can also join the conversation on Twitter by following @npcommunicator and the #mmc2012 hashtag. Click here to register for the conference!

Video: Why is the media guide priced like it is?

As we work to complete the 2012 media guide Getting On Air, Online & Into Print, we decided to take some time to answer your FAQs about the popular tool. In this short video, Workshop Vice President Nora Ferrell explains why the print media guide and the online media guide are priced the way they are and what you get for that value. Visit our website to subscribe to Chicago’s most comprehensive media guide today.

Media Guide FAQ #1 – Why is the price the way that it is? from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

Why nonprofits need video

Guest post by Marissa Wasseluk

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – if that’s the case, imagine the worth of a video (which has about 30 pictures per second)!

Statistics show that less than 10% of visitors to your website read everything you have to say. However, 65% of website visitors will watch a video to completion. That being said I’m going to shut up now and let you press play on the video below for further information:

Maybe I’m a little biased because I’ve been producing videos for over a decade now, but I feel like video is one of the best mediums for advocacy. In my experience, visually telling a story – showing your audience your mission, rather than just telling them  – helps create a connection that could be easily lost with a long, strongly worded paragraph.

Also, general audiences these days have short attention spans (kudos to you if you read this far, btw). The average time spent on a site with text is 60 seconds. A visitor to a site with a video will spend an average of six minutes on that site.

You may think creating a video is costly and time-consuming. I’m not going to lie to you – sometimes it is. As with most well-constructed, creative work, good videos take time – and time is money. But, there are simple and quick ways to use video effectively. If you have the right tools and the right strategy in place, you can create videos to let general audiences know who you are, show supporters how you’re doing and how their donations are used, and remain on the minds of audiences everywhere – for little money and time.

FYI – The video above took me about three hours to make, and that was because I didn’t write down what I wanted to say and kept messing up.

Video creation and video strategy are two topics covered at the Making Media Connections conference. Here you can discuss your options for successful, simple, inexpensive video creation!

Remembering Studs Terkel

The Community Media Workshop held the 22nd annual Studs Terkel Community Media Awards last night at the Chicago Cultural Center. Catalyst Chicago’s Founder Linda Lenz, Freelance Reporter Kari Lydersen, and the Chicago Tribune’s Antonio Olivo received awards for outstanding reporting on Chicago’s diverse communities and the people who live here.

Studs, long considered the Workshop’s patron saint, is missed. The 2007 event was the last time he was able to attend, and he passed away in 2008. The Workshop continues to host the Awards to remember the great work of Studs Terkel and to honor those journalists who follow in his footsteps. Last night, we honored Studs with a moving video about one of his most famous books “Working.” As Studs said, “I think everybody would like to be remembered.” Take a look.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored the event, purchased tickets and attended. We are grateful for your support.

People to Pitch: CAN TV

Watch our latest video, and learn how CAN TV can help nonprofits tell their stories and raise awareness about their issues.

People To Pitch: Tiffany Bosely, CAN TV from Community Media Workshop.

Nonprofit staff freak out over awesome holiday gift

In the spirit of the holiday season, here’s a short video about giving. This nonprofit staff person couldn’t contain her excitement when she received her awesome holiday gift.

Just think how excited your colleagues would be if you gave them a gift that made their days brighter and their jobs easier.

Happy holidays everyone!

DIY Video for Nonprofits (Guest post by Marissa Wasseluk)

These days, professional-quality video equipment is readily available to the average consumer. Theoretically, anyone can create a video. The challenge lies in creating a good video that tells your story well, without too many headaches in the process.

Successful video producers have methods and strategies to create their high-quality videos; each is different, due to personal preferences, but the core techniques remain the same. In order to help nonprofit communicators develop their own video production methods, Community Media Workshop recently hosted a workshop to cover these techniques.

In the workshop – taught by Stacy Laiderman, producer at See3 Communications – attendees were given an overview of proper video techniques, split into groups and given Flip Cams, and then challenged to put what they just learned to use. The resulting three hours of footage were used to produce this video:

DIY Video Workshop Video from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

As you can see (or perhaps, as you’ve already experienced), producing a quality video is not as easy as it seems, but it is not impossible.

Before you dive head-first into the sea of video production, take a few things into consideration:

1) Good videos take time and people power. I saved some time creating the video above by not having to shoot the footage myself, but there was much work to be done when the cameras were off. I fished through the footage for good takes, uploaded those takes into my post-production program (which, by the way, is Final Cut Pro), made a quick storyboard to follow as I edit, hunted for music, edited and exported the final sequence. The process from start to finish took nearly a week.

Here's a peek into the method of my madness for this video - my notes and makeshift storyboard

Here's a peek into the method of my madness for this video - my notes and makeshift storyboard

2) Before you even pick up a camera, think about your story and your audience. When you think about your organization, what images come to mind? Can you capture those images for your audience?

3) Think about your time and resources. Can you spare the time and people power to create this video? Would it be cheaper in the long run to hire someone else to make it?

4) Think about your equipment. Do you know what equipment you need to create an effective message? Do you know how to use the equipment you do have? A lot of people actually do not consider how to use their video cameras before they decide to make a video, and it creates a lot of frustration during and after production, as you can see from the video below.

Flip Cam Do’s & Don’ts from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

Take these things into consideration, and you, too, can reach your audience with beautiful, effective videos.


If you’re still unsure about your video production prowess, there are still a few open seats left in our encore workshop of Do-It-Yourself Video for Nonprofits, for a further in-depth look at video techniques and hands-on training from an industry professional.

Making Connections and Getting the Results

Participants from last year’s making Media Connections Conference share their experiences making connections, meeting experts, finding the right consultants and pitching the right journalists to get their story out. Check out more videos here

There’s a saying around here at Community Media Workshop, “When YOU succeed, WE succeed” and it can’t make us any more happier when we see participants of our training and annual conference shine.

Sounding a bit idealistic? Well… maybe, but for many of our participants, getting results is a very real thing – especially if you attend our annual conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Candy might help you pitch this citizen journalist

Just picking up on the theme of new news, in the “truth is stranger than fiction” category:

Dan Pacheco is no slouch in the world of citizen journalism: his site promises to help you “start your own local magazine in minutes” (intrigued? I am) and has grant support from the Knight Foundation. But as he posted June 15, “Citizen Media Goes Fisher Price” (also at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab, where I first read it) his daughter scooped him and the rest of the news media with a tornado picture she snapped with a Fisher-Price camera in the suburbs of Denver earlier this week.

In a nutshell, there’d been some freaky weather in the Denver area for several days, so Dan was on the lookout already for tornados; his daughter walked into the home office to tell him she’d spotted a weird cloud, he went to grab his camera, tweeted it , and started taking pictures. The 6-year-old naturally grabbed her camera as well (who knew fisher price made a $64 digital camera?) And they all ended up on the local TV news. Anyway, read it there, at his blog, as Dan tells the story great, with video and pictures.

His takeaway is that “a confluence of inexpensive, accessible consumer technology, and microblogging sites like Twitter and Facebook, has lowered the barriers of entry so far to make me think we’re witnessing the birth of a completely new — and arguably better — breaking news system that involves everyone.”

Yes! but also, that new system is still going to incorporate some kind of Big Media that reaches out to wider audiences.(Like, in this story CBS 4, the local TV news guys). That role is still key to a better news ecosystem. Anyway, I get a kick out of imagining a 6-year-old on the weather–or any other–beat.


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