From Getting Their Attention to Telling Our Stories -- First-Ever Gathering of National Nonprofit New-Media Experts in Chicago to Provide Nonprofit Communicators with Web 2.0 Tools

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Fewer journalists, more nonprofit Web 2.0 experts present at Making Media Connections June 11-12 in Chicago, marking a shift from getting reporters' attention to telling our own stories in the nonprofit community. Midwestern nonprofit communicators can learn new media and communications from national experts such as Beth Kanter, Britt Bravo of TechSoup, MySpace and Facebook expert Heather Mansfield, and Michael Hoffman of See3. It's organized by Community Media Workshop, the 19-year-old nonprofit whose mission is to help other nonprofits tell their stories.

Fewer journalists and more nonprofit new-media experts will present at the 17th annual Making Media Connections conference June 11-12, making the only communications conference of its kind in the country look very different than in years past.

"Consolidation has reduced the number of journalists able to take the time to work with smaller nonprofits, while more groups take advantage of the power to tell their own stories that Web 2.0 tools provide," says Thom Clark, president of Community Media Workshop, the Chicago-based nonprofit whose mission is to help other nonprofits tell their stories through the news media and other channels.

Since 1991 the Workshop has organized Making Media Connections, the only conference to gather journalists and communication experts for a nonprofit-only audience, annually. Sponsors of this year's conference include Chicago Tribune Foundation, Chicago Public Radio, Crossroads Fund, and Chi-Town Daily News

The Workshop is known for expertise in coaching nonprofits to master media relations to advance their communications goals. But in the past year nearly one in six of the nonprofit communicators, or volunteers and staff responsible for telling their organizations' stories, whom the Workshop served accessed coaching or training on new media and technology. However, media relations remains a core component of the group's work; nearly half of those who access the Workshop's services use its Getting On Air, On-line & Into Print media guide, a directory of Chicago-area journalists.

The conference will be the largest gathering of national nonprofit new-media experts in Chicago ever, bringing together Beth Kanter, from Boston, author of Beth's Blog and the winner of the Nonprofit Technology Network's first-ever "Fantasticness in the Nonprofit Technology Community" award as well as Britt Bravo from Bay Area-based TechSoup and Midwesterners Heather Mansfield, a MySpace and Facebook expert, and Michael Hoffman of See3 Video.

All will lead pre-conference workshops on Wednesday, June 11 covering state-of-the-art Web 2.0 tools. The pre-conference workshops also cover traditional communications work, with media relations training by the SPIN Project and newswriting by Jon Anderson, a former Chicago Tribune reporter and University of Iowa writing adjunct faculty member. Renee Ferguson of Chicago ABC-TV affiliate WMAQ and Kanter will keynote the conference on Thursday, June 12.

Details and registration information are at ; a range of free communication tips and tricks are also there and at the Workshop home page, .

Founded in 1989, from its base at Columbia College Chicago, the 501c3 is a citywide leader in bringing new-media tools to nonprofits; it reaches some 2,000 nonprofit communicators who tell their organizations' stories each year, serves as a channel of nonprofit news to journalists, and builds relationships between these two groups to diversify the voices in the news media. It recently was a finalist in Lumity's Chicago 2008 Technlogy Leadership Award competition.


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