Workshops on SEO, social media, writing with kids bring audience

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In the last three weeks at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, we have hosted three workshops with various levels of participation from the public. Last night’s workshop, titled “Writing with Your Child,” was a little out of the ordinary from our usual offerings, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it despite not having children.

Gina Luttrell, an assistant professor of social media and public relations at Eastern Michigan University, was the first of our presenters, visiting the media lab for the first time July 25 after hearing about it from a colleague. We are so appreciative of her enthusiasm and warm embrace of our project in Ypsilanti, which provides free workshops and individual training to the public in digital media and social media. Gina graciously volunteered her time to teach “Using Social Media to Promote Your Business.” And in the spirit of social media, we conducted a live chat and fed Tweets, Instagram pics and Touts into the chat while also livestreaming video of it.

Stephen Frye, online editor at The Oakland Press, talked about search engine optimization to a small group the afternoon of July 29. He presented a PowerPoint assembled by Oakland Press Community Engagement Editor Monica Drake. Even though it was the second round for that presentation, I still learned something, and I always appreciate an opportunity to use Tout, Twitter, Instagram, uStream and ScribbleLive to capture these presentations and share them with our audience, either live or via our archives.

Like Gina, it was the first time Stephen had been to the media lab and he even tweeted afterward that he thought it was a great space for our community outreach program.

While both Stephen and Gina’s topics aligned with what you can expect to find in terms of programming at the media lab, Brian Cox, editor of The Detroit Legal News, introduced something out of the box for me. I had never thought about offering a workshop on “Writing with Your Child,” but that’s precisely what he offered to present and I thought, “Why not?”

Brian’s workshop Aug. 8 attracted three parents and three youths. It was great to see the children at the lab interested in developing their writing skills. One 15-year-old girl had been writing fan fiction for years, and the other two, a brother and sister, were also passionate about writing. Brian gave parents some great tips

and then gave them a lesson to work on together. I shot several Touts, as well as a video that I plan to work on later this afternoon for our YouTube channel.

My takeaway from Brian’s workshop is that it’s best to go with the flow. If someone wants to do something outside of your regular routine or way of doing things, be open to it. I think everyone who attended his workshop was impressed and one of the children asked if he had any other learning opportunities scheduled — so he has developed a fan base. Now all I need to do is convince him to get on Twitter and WordPress, which, by the way, is in the works.

If you are looking for an opportunity to grow as a journalist or writer, or further develop your social media or digital media skills, the Southeast Michigan Media Lab is a great resource. And it’s free! Come take advantage of our free workshops. Upcoming workshops include “Using Tout to create short-form video” 6 p.m. Aug. 21, “Adoobe InDesign, PhotoShop, Bridge and Illustrator Basics” 6 p.m. Sept. 5, “Understanding the Freedom of Information Act” 6 p.m. Sept. 10 and “Covering Michigan Politics” 1 p.m. Sept. 18. Sign up at


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