Connecting the media lab with nonprofits

Last week, Michelle Rogers, director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, presented "Digital Communication Tools" to the SouthEastern Michigan Computer Organization.

Last week, Michelle Rogers, director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, presented “Digital Communication Tools” to the SouthEastern Michigan Computer Organization.


Through my outreach as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, I’ve had the pleasure of presenting and working with numerous nonprofits. In the last week, I’ve traveled to Oakland and Macomb counties encouraging nonprofits to use digital communication tools.

The SouthEastern Michigan Computer Organization invited me to present on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Meetup and Eventful March 9 at the Mahany/Meininger Senior Community Center in Royal Oak. SEMCO talkIt was a little intimidating at first knowing I would be presenting to computer nerds, who are at a whole other level in their knowledge and understanding of technology. I feared they would look down on me and see my suggestions for social media tools to help take their nonprofit to the next level as elementary or pedestrian.

Boy, I was wrong.

For the most part, the group, ranging in age from about 55 to 75, was in awe of the knowledge I was imparting. They asked a lot of questions and really seemed quite fascinated with all the tools I presented on. They had so many questions that I ran over my two-hour time allowance, and had to push through Eventful pretty fast. In addition, I was running the PowerPoint from my GoogleDrive and livestreaming on UStream all off a personal hotspot that, as you can imagine, was running down my battery at breakneck speed.

As I wrapped up, many members asked if I’d be available to present to other nonprofits they are involved with, as well as return to SEMCO to drill down deeper on individual communication tools and teach a more hands-on workshop. I call that success.

Facebook Post

The following Friday, I paid a visit to the Macomb Literacy Partners at the invitation of Executive Director Ken Lampar. We had met a few weeks earlier at another presentation I had given to Macomb County nonprofits. Ken was looking for me to come in and meet with his assistant and himself so they could “pick my brain” about social media and digital media, and their current social media strategy.

It was a different experience than the earlier presentation to 40-plus people who had attended the SEMCO meeting. Working with them one-on-one in their office as an adviser felt rewarding. They looked to me as an expert and I enjoyed recommending tools and strategies after learning about their mission and main goals.

Among other things, we talked about adding a YouTube channel featuring the success stories of some of the people they are working with, the stories of volunteers and why they devote their spare time to Macomb Literacy Partners, as well as video updates from Ken and his staff, and tutorials. They also liked my suggestion of setting up Twitter lists to be better organized and facilitate more retweets and two-way conversations with their audience on the site. I also recommended the tool WeJoinIn for scheduling events and volunteers.

Their No. 1 priority, or task to accomplish, will be to launch a blog and write about their efforts at Macomb Literacy Partners, share success stories, recruit volunteers and announce special events. The blog will feature widgets or links to all of their other social media channels, and it will be linked to The Macomb Daily news site as part of a blogging partnership. In return, we will ask them to add our headline widget to their blog to help attract readers to our content, as well.

If you are involved with a nonprofit and you’re looking for a speaker to present on digital storytelling tools or social media, feel free to reach out to me via the comments section of this blog or tweet @CommunityMediaL.

We’re approaching the two-year anniversary of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. Helping the community — including nonprofits, businesses, government and individuals — embrace social sharing and use digital tools to communicate a more engaging message is what we set out to do, and I love every opportunity that comes my way to do that.

SEMCO post

Monica Drake is spending time in the Southeast Michigan Media Lab

Monica Drake, the community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, part of Journal Register Company’s Michigan Group, is now joining the Southeast Michigan Media Lab on Mondays. She is a great addition to the lab, and offers expert advice on search engine optimization to bloggers and business owners with websites, and can talk to bloggers about how they can monetize their blogs

Monica Drake

Monica Drake

using Google AdSense.  Make an appointment at the lab or come see Monica between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays.

Today at the lab, we worked on setting up a reader focus group for The Oakland Press and Monica began experimenting with the cloud-based presentation tool Prezi. If you haven’t seen this tool in action, you’re missing out. It’s truly awe-inspiring, and Monica plans to master it and teach it in the lab. In addition to the presentation, we will have a survey for readers to fill out in person and another version online compiled using the digital tool SurveyMonkey.

Also today, we reached out on Facebook to student newspapers and area colleges and universities, sharing information about the Southeast Michigan Media Lab via a PowerPoint link on Scribd and encouraging students to come in for free assistance. We also reached out to The Oakland Press and Macomb Daily/Royal Oak Tribune blogger groups on Facebook, and individual blogger prospects. We’ve added four new bloggers in the last two weeks and we’re working with eight others to get them linked to our news websites across Michigan. If you have a blog or are interested in starting one, please let us know. We would like to recruit 100 in the next year.

We also have plans to present on the Southeast Michigan Media Lab March 22 at Saline High School in hopes of recruiting students for blogging and news-sharing partnerships. The opportunity will be a great learning experience for them, as well as a way to build their portfolios before they head off to college. We’ve also reached out to officials at Belleville and Willow Run schools, and would like to make contact with students across Southeast Michigan.

Three upcoming workshops are planned at the media lab, so mark your calendars. Chris Wechner, director of The Ultimate Analyst, will present “Marketing blogs so people know and want to read your posts” from 1 to 3 p.m. March 28; Monica Drake will present “Understanding Search Engine Optimization to help drive more traffic to your blog or website” from 6 to 8 p.m. April 11; and Toni Jones, a professor at Eastern Michigan University, will present on Google Drive from 6 to 8 p.m. April 24 at the media lab, 215 W. Michigan Ave., in the SPARK-East building in Ypsilanti. Sign up on our Facebook events page.

Preparing a PowerPoint for a Community Media Lab workshop

As the founder of the Community Media Lab, it’s about time that I led a workshop and shared my excitement about the free technology tools I have learned as a member of the Journal Register Company’s ideaLab.

I have volunteered to teach “Contributing community content in different ways” from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at the lab, 215 W. MichigaPowerPointCovern Ave., in Ypsilanti. My focus will be on sharing free media technology tools that will enhance storytelling in visually interesting ways. I will  showcase Flickr for photo slideshows, ManyEyes for data visualization elements, Scribd to embed documents, ipadio and Google Voice for audio embeds, Animoto and YouTube for video sharing, Survey Monkey for crowdsourcing, uStream for livestreaming video, CoverItLive for live chats, and Capzles and Dipity for timelines, as well as other tools. I also plan to share tips on what editors are looking for, and how to package your submissions and promote your content on social media once it has been posted online.

On Friday, I spent some of my time with Community Media Lab supporter Chris Wechner, an Internet marketing specialist who has been using our free services and giving back by helping me brainstorm ways to promote and market the lab. I showed him my PowerPoint in its early stages and he gave me some tips on improving it. Since it’s my first PowerPoint, I appreciate all the help I can get. In addition to helping me utilize some of the PowerPoint tools to enhance my presentation, he offered me tips over the weekend on presenting next week. He has delivered many presentations and I value his advice.

Chris joins a small-but-very-dedicated posse of supporters that also includes community blogger Bob Cummings, EMU professors Michael McVey, Nancy Copeland, Toni Jones, Anne Bedar and Carol Schlagheck, Eastern Echo adviser Kevin Devine, freelance editor and journalist Sarah Rigg, and social media maven Leslie McGraw. All have volunteered their time to help make the Community Media Lab a success. I will be drawing on the goodwill of these individuals, as well as some other colleagues and local professionals, to teach workshops in January and February. Please look to our Facebook page for future workshops, and remember that the Community Media Lab is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. You are welcome to come in for one-on-one instruction on anything from setting up a social media account or blog to editing a video or photo slideshow, to tips on writing a news release.

As always, I appreciate your comments and ideas. Feel free to reach out to me, Michelle Rogers, at mrogers@heritage.com.

Mondays in the lab

Today is my first full day manning the new Heritage Community Media Lab in Downtown Ypsilanti. Since this is all brand new and we’re all learning the ropes as we go, I thought it’d be helpful to make my first post a little bit about me and how I can help you in the lab.

At Heritage I cover government as well as the general assignment beat. In addition to writing articles, I also dabble in photography, videography and using various digital tools to enhance the online product.

Most of my photography and videography skills are self-taught, and I am by no means an expert. But I can help you get started on using both tools for journalism (and for fun).

I use Nikon D300 and D5100 Digital SLR cameras personally and professionally, though I am not anti-Canon. I’m more familiar with Nikons, but if you have a Canon and need help I am willing to do what I can and we can learn a bit together.

I can help you learn how to frame, shoot and edit photos and video. I personally use iMovie, but I have experience using Final Cut Express as well. I have a little experience using Window Movie Maker as well, but not much.

As for digital tools, I can help you learn how to use Scribd to embed documents into your article or website, create a Storify of tweets, use Facebook and Twitter and embed audio using iPadio. I can also help you learn how to create a blog using WordPress or Blogger.

If you’re interested in basic news reporting or journalism ethics, I’m available to help you understand how we do our jobs as journalists. I also have a background in editing, so if you’d like your work edited or critiqued for AP Style, come see me.

So stop in to the Community Media Lab any time 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays for help on any of this, or for a nice philosophical chat on modern journalism.

Follow my work on Twitter @kgjestland or on Facebook.com/Krista.Gjestland.