Follow @npcommunicator on | NPCommunicator HOME | About

Can you reach millions with metro news?

With the rise of online news, traditional news has taken a huge hit in audience and circulation numbers in recent years, but in a major media market like Chicago, it is still the place where, yes, millions of people go for information. Just take a look at these numbers:

Chicago Tribune – 414,590 average daily circulation (includes print and digital)

Chicago Sun-Times – 269,489 average daily circulation (print and digital)

Daily Herald – 99,670 average daily circulation (print and digital)

WBEZ radio – and average of 118,000 listeners per day

There are nearly 3.5 million Chicago households watching television, according to nielsen. (If someone can find me breakdowns for local TV news audiences, please, send those numbers my way!)

And the Workshop’s NEW News 2010 report found that millions of people visit the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times websites each month.

These are still BIG numbers. These numbers are why so many organizations still desperately want that Tribune story or Channel 2 feature. The Workshop knows that while telling our own stories online is vital to the success of our organizations, continuing to mine opportunities to tell a newsworthy story to a larger audience via traditional media is also important. Make your journey through traditional media easier by meeting some of the reporters and producers who can help you place your stories. One of our most popular and well-attended panels each year at the nonprofit communications conference Making Media Connections is the Metro News panel. Join us this year to hear from Cate Cahan, WBEZ; Madeleine Doubek, Daily Herald; David Schalliol, Gapers Block; and Deidra White, CBS-2.

Hear from the reporters and editors themselves about the types of stories they’re looking for, when to pitch them, and how they prefer to be contacted. Chicago is a big media market, and pitching traditional media can be tricky. This panel will give you useful tips that might make the difference between a successful pitch and one that flops. We hope to see you at Making Media Connections 2012!

The devil is in the details

Workshop staff admires one of the displays at LISC's Smart Communities event in Humboldt Park. We had fun planning it AND attending it.

If there were ever an expression that aptly described planning the perfect event, it is that – the devil is in the details. Over the years, I have managed the planning of many events–from breakfast meetings for 50 people to a 1000-person community development conference. No matter the size or scale, knowing how to think through the details at the beginning of the event planning process will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

For example, do you want to spend money on those nifty banners that hang from the lamp posts on Clark St. sometimes? Guess what – that process takes forever! But it can be done.

Or, will your event incorporate bus tours to three of Chicago’s up-and-coming communities? It’s a fantastic idea, but you can’t organize that in a week.

The details will either make your event unforgettable or sink your metaphorical party ship. But before you dive in to the color of the linens, you must first engage in an event planning process with your team. What’s the goal of your event? Do expensive bus tours and banners help you achieve that goal? Who’s your audience? Will the bus tours help you increase registration by that core audience? And always think through how you’ll define success when it’s all over. If 50 people hate the chicken you served for lunch but loved all the workshops they attended, then you probably did alright. Sure, it’s a bummer the chicken was dry, but that’s not the reason you put all the time and resources into the event in the first place.

Whether you’re planning a conference or an intimate cocktail party, learning some tips and tricks of the event planning trade can greatly improve your chances for an unforgettable event. Register for “Igniting Successful Events for Glowing Audiences” at Making Media Connection 2012 with seasoned event planner and communications expert Jill Stewart to learn how to be strategic throughout the event planning process, how to market your event online and how to get those pesky tent permits without driving yourself mad.

And remember, if you’re in the middle of planning a huge event and you start dreaming about your colleague falling out of a window days before the big conference or the printer losing all 3000 of your invitations, it’s normal! It’s just part of the event planning process, and it means your brain is working overtime to ensure your event is practically perfect in every way.

We hope to see you at Making Media Connections 2012! (Register by Monday, April 30 to get the early bird rate. It’s a $60 discount!)

Be found on the web: Organic SEO

Be found on the web.

There are potentially hundreds, if not thousands or even millions of people in the world looking for you, your services and products. These people use Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Youtube, Duck Duck Go and many more. Good search engine optimization can combine paid search and organic search optimization. Paid search services like Google Ads or Facebook Ads position your brand, service or product on their sites to targeted demographics. It’s competitive, and can be expensive trying to outbid others for the best online display real-estate.

For most, the best option (and an option you should be doing anyway) is organic search engine optimization. Organic search engine optimization is a more natural practice for web developers, marketeers and others to help people find you by maintaining and managing a healthy, content rich, relative and well-organized website.

Join us this year at our annual Making Media Connections Conference where we will have a panel of experts who will help guide you through understanding SEO for your nonprofit. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @npcommunicator and the #mmc2012 hashtag

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.

Seven reasons to attend Making Media Connections

Past Making Media Connections attendees.

Seven reasons you don’t want to miss Making Media Connections:

1. Dozens of reporters and producers to connect with about what your organization does.

2. As well as dozens of  PR experts and tech gurus to answer your communications questions.

3. The chance to build a targeted media list, using our premier online media guide, to take back to the office.

4. The chance to win a new video camera (thanks to our keynote speaker from Threadless!).

5. The latest on emerging trends like QR codes, mobile apps and community portals.

6. Did we mention the free food? Breakfast and lunch!

7. You’ll pick up a nifty yellow water bottle, and it’s pretty cool. Your friends will probably be jealous.

Only a few days left to register for Making Media Connections, the best, most affordable nonprofit communications conference around. You’ll meet great people and find new tools to communicate in this shifting media landscape. And it’s fun! Register today.

News opportunities A-Z

After doing public relations for nearly 10 years, I can tell you that I almost always advise clients to do media announcements on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Why? Because, many PR professionals will tell you, those are “good news days.” The news rooms are staffed up, the newspapers have strong readership in the middle of the week, and you avoid the dreaded Saturday edition (usually the smallest paper of the week). But, there are exceptions to any rule, and the more the media landscape has shifted and news has become 24/7, the more likely I am to say, “There are exceptions to all the rules!

For example, weekend news may be a great place for your story because of something that’s actually happening on a Friday or Saturday. Or, it could be that you’re worried about competing with all of the city news that happens on a Tuesday, which makes Friday a great day for an event. Sometimes weekend producers and editors are looking for issues to cover because they do receive fewer press releases and pitches than weekday reporters.

And don’t forget the editorial pages! The editorial page and the page opposite the editorials (hence the name “op-ed”) are historically some of the most read pages in the paper. As you think about what your angle might be to get into the metro pages, you should also consider whether you have a solid pitch to the editorial board or if you can comment on something that’s already happening in the news through a Letter to the Editor or an Op-Ed.

And what about the talk shows on news radio? Or the morning shows on local television news? These provide different opportunities to tell your story. Have a lighter story about dentists dressing up for Halloween to provide dental service to low-income kids – pitch it to the morning shows. Or, do you have three experts with different perspectives on the foreclosure crisis just as new housing numbers are coming out? Pitch it to a policy oriented show like Eight Forty Eight on Chicago Public Radio.

Despite shrinking news rooms, there are still so many places to think about pitching your story. Be strategic and thoughtful about who to pitch, and you might have more opportunities than you think.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these news outlets, sections or shows, join us at our annual Making Media Connections conference. We’ll be joined by reporters from Chicago’s weekend news, editorial boards, youth media, online media and more.

Facebook’s new marketing guide

Facebook released a “Best Practice Guide” earlier this week. If you’re managing an organization’s page on Facebook (or thinking about starting one), check it out. It offers step-by-step advice on issues including how to increase traffic, build loyalty and gain insights. Practically speaking, this guide book can help you, and me, gain more  ‘likes’ for our pages and engage in meaningful conversations with our fans.

The Facebook Best Practice Guide promotes five guiding principles for groups. I’ve added my two cents in parentheses.

1. Build a strategy that is social by design (Strategy? Some groups forget this key piece. So first, think about your strategy!)

2. Create an authentic brand voice (Talk amongst yourselves about this one before you start posting like a mad man.)

3. Make it interactive (If you’re like me, you’ll have to keep reminding yourself about this one. We get busy and sometimes we just want to post the link to our event! But, sometimes we need to ask people for feedback on the event.)

Additional note on this point: I was feeling guilty as I read Facebook’s guide and wrote this blog post because I know we can do more to interact with our awesome fans. We recently published a nifty vlog on why nonprofits need video. Instead of posting the video again, I went to our page and asked our fans to share THEIR nonprofit videos. Before I even finished this post, it worked! Two groups shared videos immediately.

4. Nurture your relationships (It’s not a one-way street. Just like talking to your mom shouldn’t be a one-way conversation.)

5. Keep learning (By reading their tool guide! And attending a Facebook training!)

Facebook is smart. They know more and more businesses and nonprofits are using Facebook to reach customers, build loyalty and generate awareness. This simple Best Practice Guide shares some tools with the world that will help organizations get the most out of Facebook.

At the Workshop, we just hit 600 fans. I’d love to see that number go a lot higher. The Guide gives me some things to think about, and I hope you will too. What are you doing to build fans on Facebook? Tell us what’s worked for you (or what hasn’t).

If you’d like in-person coaching to grow your organization’s Facebook page, sign up for our June pre-conference training “Essential Skills for Nonprofits on Facebook” with Emily Culbertson. She’s a social media whiz, and she’ll be sharing tips and tricks to build your Facebook presence.

We hope to see you at the annual Making Media Connections conference!

Angry Bird or Early Bird?

If you’re like me, you might spend countless of minutes (maybe hours?) waiting in line at the post office, riding the train, slouching on the couch playing Angry Birds on your phone… I know, it’s a habit I need to break. You tend to feel a bit guilty about all the other productive things you could probably be doing–investing your time on learning or refining a skill, meeting new people or perhaps share some of your knowledge with others rather then trying to make your “bomber” bird hit the right spot on that difficult level of the game play…

Well, one of those things I think you can invest your time in (which I believe will reward itself ten-fold) is registering for our upcoming Making Media Connections Conference. Instead of focusing on playing Angry Birds, why not check out all the great workshops and panels taking place… But act quick too, Early Bird Registration ends tomorrow, April 30th! Register here

I’ll be leading a workshop on how to build your custom WordPress site as well as a training session on Online Communications Strategy.  Oh, and if you see me at the conference and you play Angry Birds, make sure you tell me how you’ve passed level 10-4… What’s up with those Hard Hats???

Demetrio Maguigad is the New Media Manager at Community Media Workshop and an Angry Bird addict

Register for Making Media Connections, win an online media guide

Here’s your chance to win a free subscription to our new online media guide! Anyone who registers for the 2011 Making Media Connections conference by noon on Friday, April 22, will be entered in a raffle for a one-year online media guide subscription.

This is a win-win. You’ll receive the early bird discount AND a chance to win an online media guide, regularly $495 for an annual subscription.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? Just register for the 2011 Making Media Connections Conference this week
BY WHEN? Noon, Friday, April 22 (One week from today!)
AND I COULD WIN WHAT? A one-year subscription to our new online media guide
QUESTIONS? Call 312-369-6400 or email
Did we mention who will be at the conference? Deidra White, CBS 2; Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune; Charles Festa, Threadless; Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times; Bruce Dold, Chicago Tribune; Lynette Kalsnes, WBEZ; Martha Carlos, Red Cross Chicago; Robyn Ziegler, Illinois Attorney General’s office; Charlie Meyerson, WGN; and many many more journalists, nonprofit leaders and communications experts.

Read more at the conference website!

And did we mention why is a must-have tool? Updated weekly, this is the best and most comprehensive media database of Chicagoland reporters. The online guide allows you to search for reporters and outlets, save and export custom media lists, and target your communications strategy.

Did you miss our annual conference? Get the highlights from your couch.


If you couldn’t attend our annual Making Media Connections 2010 conference in June, you missed some fantastic workshops and speakers covering everything from social media policy to fundraising to getting your story on TV. But don’t worry–you can still see the conference highlights on CAN TV.

Here are just a few of the dates, times and channels Making Media Connections will air.

Making Media Connections Conference: Deanna Zandt, MMC2010 Keynote, Author and Social Media Technologist
Friday, July 23rd, 8:00 AM, Channel 19
Wednesday, July 28th, 12:00 PM, Channel 21

Making Media Connections Conference: Tony Martinez, MMC2010 Keynote, Former News Director, Telemundo
Friday, July 23rd, 9:00 AM, Channel 19
Wednesday, July 28th, 1:00 PM, Channel 21

You can also check the CAN TV website for future air dates and times. So get cozy, flip on the TV, and learn from the experts about how to tell your story in the digital age.


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. […]