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Why You Can’t Google or Bing Your Media List

Guest post by DeAnndra R. Bunch.

I know that many of us take to Google, Bing, and YouTube to gather information or to find out how to do something whether it is for personal or professional necessity. These online search platforms are great tools for learning something new quickly, easily, and, dare I say it, for free.

I cannot tell you how many times a day I search Google for news, research, how to do something tech-related (Excel still puzzles me sometimes), and general information (read: how many stars does this restaurant have on Yelp).

I agree that you can probably “bing” or “google” almost anything these days and receive accurate related search results. Of course there are exceptions, one of which is media listings.

Last week a colleague at The Workshop posed a question to me via Twitter:

My responding tweets:




Believe it or not, we get this question all the time. So much so that about 2 years ago we made a video to answer this FAQ, which I posted for you below.

Media Guide FAQ #2 – Why do I need the media guide? from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

Our media guide Getting On Air, Online & Into Print is a comprehensive guide to Chicagoland media. With the exception of the Chicago Tribune (and only within the last year) the majority of media listed in our media guide do not update their staff contact information thoroughly and regularly on their website. So, even relying on an outlet’s website can be ineffective. Our research process is extensive. It takes us an entire summer every year to produce a new media guide, which still requires continual updating all year long. We have already done the research for you to save you time, trust us.

And, being a media guide subscriber automatically increases your professional network. You can call me or any one of our talented staff  members for media relations, social media, and communications advice anytime. That alone is worth a subscription to the guide.

Develop a media story for your organization and pitch reporters, face-to-face

RoiAnn Phillips of HealthConnect One

RoiAnn Phillips decided to attend Professional Media Relations because she wanted a better grasp of media strategy and outreach as she took on more communications work at HealthConnect One.

Her “ah-ha moment” came when instructors told the class how to tailor a pitch to pique reporters’ interest, but her big breakthrough came a couple of weeks later. During the five-part workshop, she was able to pitch her organization’s upcoming report analyzing breastfeeding rates in Illinois to WBEZ Reporter Chip Mitchell. That opportunity resulted in three stories (below) in the coming months about the report and HealthConnect One. One hospital even decided to step up its breastfeeding efforts after hearing one of Mitchell’s stories on WBEZ.

“The WBEZ stories wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken Professional Media Relations,” said Phillips. “Without the class, I wouldn’t have understood how to frame a pitch and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be in the room with reporters.”


Check out the WBEZ stories that resulted from RoiAnn’s time at Professional Media Relations and follow-up work with reporter Chip Mitchell.

Report: Breastfeeding in Illinois hinges partly on race, income – April 26, 2011

Hospital regulators let formula vie with breast milk – May 5, 2011

After WBEZ report, hospital steps up breastfeeding efforts – August 2, 2011

Professional Media Relations
$395 for the five-part media workshop
Starts Jan. 20, 2012
Includes numerous handouts, worksheets & a copy of the 2012 Getting On Air, Online & Into Print media guide ($125 annual subscription value).
Reserve your spot today.

Visit our website or call 312-369-6400.

Video: Why Google can’t give you the same data as our media guide

Workshop Media Guide Researcher Deanndra Bunch talks about her process to ensure the media guide data is up-to-date and accurate. Visit our website to subscribe to Chicago’s most comprehensive media guide today.

Media Guide FAQ #2 – Why do I need the media guide? from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

From Workshop training to WBEZ’s “Worldview”

From left to right: WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell, freelance reporter Dawn Rice, and Sun-Times reporter Dave Hoekstra talk to attendees at a Workshop training.

From left to right: WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell, freelance reporter Dawn Reiss, and Sun-Times reporter Dave Hoekstra talk to attendees at a Workshop training.

Our day-long Media Boot Camp training is just around the corner, and we still have a few spots left. This one-day training will help you develop a communications strategy, think through how to pitch your story, and polish your message to reach the right audience. Not to mention you’ll get to meet a panel of Chicago reporters during the lunch hour who will have useful tips about getting your story placed in traditional and online news outlets.

If you don’t believe us, read LuAnn Wing’s story below about her media success after attending a Workshop training. Sometimes it’s just sharpening your news skills and meeting the right reporter!

Knowing the Right Reporter

If you’ve got a medical emergency on Kome Island, in Tanzania, you’d better hope you haven’t missed the boat. Literally. There is no medical care available on the island and just one ferry per day. But in September, volunteers from Aid Africa’s Children, a small Arlington Heights-based nonprofit, traveled to Tanzania to talk with the government about staffing and other support for a medical dispensary that the group hopes to build there.

One of the spark plugs behind the effort, a physician from AAC’s hometown of Arlington Heights, only became aware of the organization’s existence in July—when he heard volunteers Charles and Diane Malege interviewed on WBEZ’s show “Worldview,” talking about the school AAC helped them build on Kome.

Toward the end of the interview, Charles mentioned that his next dream was to get a medical dispensary going, and the role AAC had played. And as soon as the doctor heard the broadcast, he called AAC. “He said, ‘We’ve got to dream big, and we’ve got to go for it,’” says AAC Board Member LuAnn Wing, the vice president of marketing and communications for the all-volunteer organization.

The WBEZ interview was the result of a pitch Wing made at a Community Media Workshop training several months earlier. Participants got to talk directly to journalists like WBEZ’s Lynnette Kalsnes, who said that the story would be perfect for Worldview’s “Global Activism” series, which focuses on Chicago-area residents trying to make a difference around the world through grassroots work.

Wing was no newcomer to communications work—she has worked as a TV producer for years, and had already successfully pitched stories about AAC to other news outlets—but she found the Workshop training invaluable. “The WBEZ story wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t gone to the training,” she says.

Sign up for Media Boot Camp today – just click here.

Press Release Resource at Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation has produced a new site for grantees that it’s sharing with other nonprofits on how to produce a better press release (credit to Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Give and Take blog for reporting it). Should you check it out? Here’s the path they lay out to news media success:

  • Tip #1: Pinpoint your story.
  • Tip #2: Find the right news outlets.
  •  Tip #3: Spread your news clearly, accurately.
  • Tip #4: Stay in touch with the funder. 


Seems like pretty much the classic path. We like the thought that you might want to consider your funders as news outlets/audiences for your organization (depends on the foundation and its capacity, of course).
It’s good to see more attention to how nonprofits communicate… we’re looking into the trend among philanthropies and nonprofits toward investing more in effective communications for an article in the Foundation Center’s Philanthropy Annual publication, so stay tuned for more thoughts on this topic!   


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  • 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. […]