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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 »

Fanning the flames of your communications

The Workshop is excited to announce the lineup for Making Media Connections 2012, our nonprofit communications conference that brings journalists and nonprofit leaders together to talk about news that matters. This year’s conference “Fanning the Flames of Your Communications” will take place on June 14. LinkedIn’s Bryan Breckenridge will keynote the conference and share information about how nonprofits can use the powerful social media tool to tell their stories.

The morning session will consist of half-day workshops on topics ranging from how to fire up your communications plan to kindling the power of social media to blogging around the digital bonfire. The afternoon breakouts will cover topics including how to write sizzling headlines and subject lines, meeting around the metro news camp fire and fueling the flames of mobiles apps. Panelists include Cate Cahan, WBEZ; David Schalliol, Gapers Block; Michael Hoffman, See3; Deidra White, Channel 2; Valerie Denney, Valerie Denney Communications; and more.

To see a complete list of workshops and sessions, visit the Making Media Connections website.

Register for the conference before April 30 to get a reduced rate! We hope to see you there.

Be a nonprofit blogger!

A blog post on blogging by guest blogger Marissa Wasseluk

Creating a blog is a relatively easy way to help get your nonprofit’s message out to the world.  I feel like blogging is something all nonprofits should do – it’s one of the best ways to keep your supporters, volunteers, and potential donors aware of your organization’s issues and abreast of your latest work. Not to mention that search engines enjoy all that fresh content, and the more you create, the further forward you’re pushed in search results. That way, someone who doesn’t even know they’re looking for your organization can easily find it!

Seriously, why don’t you blog?
It may seem difficult to just start blogging (after all, to begin is the most difficult part of any task). But, once you’ve done it, you’ll be so glad you did, and you will wonder why you didn’t sooner.

Perhaps It’s your first time in this strange, new world also known as “the blogosphere”.
How do you start blogging? Well, first you figure out where you’re going to put your content. You can host your organization’s blog on your own site or link from your site to an external blog hosting site.

Some examples of free blog hosting sites:

WordPress

Tumblr

Posterous

Blogger

If you decide to use an external website to host your blog, I suggest that before creating an account, visit the “about” section of the  blogging sites and see what interface you think you will be most comfortable using.

Perhaps your organization has already started a blog, but you’re not sure what to do with it.
Well the short solution to this dilemma is: post content. I often get asked about how to adequately “tag” a blog post, what proper “re-blogging etiquette” is, or how to word your post so that it’s read easier by search engines. Unfortunately there is no ultimate answer to these questions. There are many different perspectives on what works best.  I suggest looking up the questions on search engines or take them to the experts, so you can choose what kind of method – or combination of methods – works best for you from the solutions presented to you.

Perhaps you feel you don’t have enough time to dedicate to blogging.
If this is what holds you back from blogging, I suggest exploring the many different ways to blog – including photoblogging (a picture is worth a thousand words, after all), vlogging, microblogging, and mobile blogging. One Thousand Kites, a nonprofit focusing on social justice campaigns, uses their blog platform to tell the stories of prisoners and their families by posting audio and video clips. You may also want to consider multi-user blogs (several staff members and/or volunteers regularly contribute to your blog, as seen on the Open Books blog), or enlisting the help of guest bloggers – just ask a volunteer or intern talk about their experience working with your organization (as seen on the Falling Whistles blog or the Peace Corps journals).

Want more examples of great nonprofit blogging?

Do you have a favorite nonprofit blog? Let us know in the comments below!

To learn more tips and tricks of successful nonprofit blogging, join us at the Making Media Connections Conference and check out the Starting Your Nonprofit Blog Panel!

Why community newspapers should blog (Guest post by Marcie Hill)

Guest post by Marcie Hill, Journalist/Professional Blogger for the community resource site Your Chicago South Side Resource & Founder/President of The Write Design Company

Many neighborhoods and communities have newspapers that provide information and resources that are relevant to them.  Because the journalists that write for these publications are from the community, residents tend to place a higher level of trust in these publications.  Unfortunately, many community newspapers have limited staffs and budgets and large amounts information to share.  To help remedy this situation, they should consider having a blog in addition to their print publication.  Following are seven reasons why.

  1. Create and control your own media. Most stories and events in individual communities are not covered by mainstream media. When they are covered, stories shown tend to be negative or missing great detail.  Blogging allows community papers to share positive information about the people, places and events in the community in any format they want.  Community members with writing skills may also contribute at some point. Ultimately, they control the media and the message.
  2. People who don’t live in those communities do not know what’s going on.  Reporting on blogs can dispel many untruths and exaggerations shared by mainstream media. This could also garner support from outsiders for issues relevant to the community.
  3. Blogs are another source of news distribution.  Many community newspapers that serve low-income residents tend to rely on print to get the message to this audience. They are missing out on a more tech savvy audience, which can ultimately expand the newspaper’s reach.
  4. Continue to build relationships with residents in the community. Blogs allow community newspaper to really listen to the issues and concerns of the people and have conversations with residents who stop by online. This will not only help build relationships, it will also give them more stories to report.
  5. Share information quickly.  Because many community newspapers tend to be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, a blog will allow them to share new developments and last minute information as soon as it is received.
  6. Become a news source for mainstream media. In addition to press releases, newspapers can send links to relevant stories to large media outlets on their sites.  Their online presence and the number of visitors to their sites will greatly increase.
  7. Generate another source of revenue through advertising.  Community newspapers can get advertisements from local businesses or large organizations that would like to reach members of the communities they serve, which will result in more revenue.

Blogs can be valuable assets to community newspapers.  In addition to reporting accurate and positive information about the neighborhood, they can expand their readership beyond their community.  Their online presence will ultimately result in increased credibility as a news source by local residents and worldwide audiences.

Whether you’re a community group or a community newspaper, blogs can be a great, informal way to tell your story. If you’re interested in learning more about blogging, check out our upcoming basic blogging workshop with former Tribune Reporter Teresa Puente.

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