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Reframing stories of the Great Recession

Photo by Carrie Sloan on Flickr.com

It’s not news that the Great Recession has taken its toll on nonprofits and those they serve. The mom on food stamps for the first time, the widow who lost her home to foreclosure, the shuttered community counseling center–these are all important stories that put a face on the economic downturn. But how do nonprofits move beyond these personal stories to spur systemic change?

Our free Brown Bag forum happening next week on Tuesday, Reframing Stories of the Great Recession, looks at how agencies can reshape their communications strategies to move to a narrative that engages policy makers in the midst of city and state budget crunches and ongoing belt tightening in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

“Demand outweighs the supply because budgets are being slashed across the board. I think this narrative is tired” says Thom Clark, president, Community Media Workshop. “Nonprofits need a media strategy that goes beyond recounting the human impact of an agency’s financial dilemma. The media is hungry for new angles to tell the ongoing recession story. Nonprofits should be at the center of this news frame.”

The panel discussion with some of Chicago’s top journalists and policy makers includes Laura Washington, Woods Fund; Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times; Chip Mitchell, WBEZ; Sarah Karp, Catalyst Chicago; Ralph Martire, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Amisha Patel, Grassroots Collaborative; Amy Rynell, Heartland Alliance; and the Workshop’s Thom Clark.

When/where: Tuesday, August 24, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Columbia College Chicago, 33 East Congress, Room 219

Visit the Workshop’s website or call us at 312-369-6400 to sign up today.

Brown Bag is Back: Less Money Means More from the Workshop For Free

We still want you at our workshops (Learn more about upcoming PMR and other sessions below)! But we know money troubles have made it a less than happy new year for many of us.

At CMW we feel planning the most useful and timely professional development sessions is the best way we can help you be effective. But we recognize that it has not gotten easier to go to your boss or board to ask for an investment in strengthening your communications and marketing.

One way we’ve decided to respond to the economic crisis at the Workshop is to bring back the Brown Bags: free opportunities to learn to tell stories that advance your mission and strengthen your organization.

We’re starting with a bang Thursday, holding a conversation featuring theater reviewers and local leaders Sylvia Ewing, Catey Sullivan, Scarlett Swerdlow, and Kris Vire on how to handle traditional news media’s shrinking coverage of the arts. Here are the details:

6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, January 15 at Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor

Are you noticing the more press releases you send out the less arts coverage you see in the news? As media shrinks and newsrooms become understaffed the arts become more underrepresented in traditional media

Learn more about the event at the blog, or the ning, and/or RSVP to Diana@newstips.org.

If you can’t be there Thursday, you’ll still be able to listen in. Chicago Public Radio’s Chicago Amplified will record the conversation for podcast via their Web site.

Also on tap, with dates TBA, will be a session on 12 Reasons to Make a Video in 2009 with producer Frey Hoffman and two recent clients, as well as a session on how to integrate public relations and marketing outreach at your nonprofit, led by Ethan Spotts and Margo O’Hara of the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation).

Have suggestions for brown bag events you’d like to see, or would you like to present at one? Contact Senior Trainer Diana Pando atDiana@newstips.org or 312-369-7783. Read on to the bottom of this email for two more free opportunities from the Workshop.

More Free Stuff!

Don’t forget: you can ALWAYS call the Workshop with communications questions… from who to pitch a great story idea to how to get started blogging.. at 312-369-6400. And thanks to our partnership with Chicago Amplified from Chicago Public Radio, we can help get your event recorded for re-broadcast! If your organization is planning a public event that you think would be of general interest, let us know and we will be happy to submit it for consideration to our partners there. Join the Goodman Theater, Hyde Park Art Center, UniVerse of Poetry and others who use the service to expand their audiences. Contact us at cmw@newstips.org, or 312-369-6400, with questions or suggestions.

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