Posted tagged ‘community engagement’

Community engagement sometimes means getting out of the office

November 21, 2013
Macomb Intermediate School District students work on their Global Trade Mission proposals.

Macomb Intermediate School District students work on their Global Trade Mission proposals.

As part of my relatively new position as director of community engagement and editorial training for 21st Century Media’s Michigan Group, and in my role as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, I occasionally get the opportunity to leave our media labs and newsrooms, and immerse myself in the community. Yesterday was one of those days.

Karen Johnston, career education specialist at the Macomb Intermediate School District, called me last month about volunteering as a business coach at their annual Global Trade Mission. I had met Karen a few weeks earlier through the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, which I helped launch with media lab Director Maryanne MacLeod, who also serves as community engagement editor at The Macomb Daily. Karen was enthusiastic about furthering the MISD’s partnership with The Macomb Daily through the media lab, where we offer to train the public in new media and social media as we seek to develop more news-sharing partnerships.

The Global Trade Mission provides an opportunity for students to participate in a simulated trade mission. “GTM is an outstanding model of business, government, and education working together to address 21st century student skills,” according to the Macomb Intermediate School District website. “With collaboration from business, education and government, and working in cross-district teams of four, students are presented with a real-world case study on how to best market and sell a Macomb County company’s product, service, or technology overseas based on the opportunities, challenges and unique characteristics of doing business in a particular country. Student teams create a unique business export plan, and present their findings to a panel of business executives who will evaluate them on content, quality, originality and feasibility of their business proposals.”

Among the companies that industry and cultural experts represented were Ford, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, DTE Energy and U.S. Department of Commerce. I represented 21st Century Media, while Macomb Community College, Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals, Identity Graphic Design, Sensi Change and General Motors sent volunteers, as well.

I came in on the second day of the three-day project, and offered help to students in social media, public relations, marketing and PowerPoint. MISD-1 Students were working in small groups associated with a global region, such as Europe, Africa/the Middle East, Asia, North America and Latin America. Coaches were encouraged to approach each group, ask the students about their products and companies, and offer advice and assistance. For instance, I helped a group bringing purified water to the Middle East by brainstorming names for their company. They liked my suggestion of Puri-fection, a play on the words promoting their purified water as perfection.

I helped another group create its company logo. While I didn’t have experience with the graphics program they were using — and neither did they — we were able to use PowerPoint to create something that met their vision.

A third group asked for my suggestions in marketing their product. We chatted about the product, and I recommended a website, a drop-down menu featuring a blog or section for product news and updates, Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel to host their product demonstration videos. I also suggested becoming an expert on their subject and share their blog posts on LinkedIn with peer business groups and with their connections.

A highlight of the afternoon was a video presentation by Don Ritzenhein, professor of communication and vice president for academic personnel at Eastern Michigan University.

While he has attended in person in the past, his busy schedule prevented it this year, so he created a dynamic video presentation on using PowerPoint.

Donald Ritzenhein, assistant vice president of academic personnel and contract administration at Eastern Michigan University, taught students how to create a polished PowerPoint

Donald Ritzenhein, assistant vice president of academic personnel and contract administration at Eastern Michigan University, taught students how to create a polished PowerPoint

I found it particularly interesting because I create PowerPoints for teaching new digital storytelling tools and social media tools for staff and our media lab workshops, and I’ve never been formally trained on PowerPoint. I learned about a lot I was doing wrong, such as adding to much text to my slides. He also provided helpful tips on using infographics, choosing color schemes and presenting in front of an audience.

Today is the big day for the students. They will present at 6:45 p.m. at the MISD to various “investors.” Certificates will be awarded by teachers and coaches, and an awards presentation and closing remarks will take place 8 p.m. in Global Hall.

While some of our interactions as community engagement editors involve reaching out to our audience on social media, using such tools as polls and surveys, and running contests and stimulating conversations behind a computer, the job also involves getting out of the office and interacting live and in person. The Macomb Intermediate School District afforded me that opportunity and in the coming weeks I have been invited by the new mayor of Milan, Michael Armitage, to train city officials and staff on social media, writing news releases and public relations. Both of these opportunities have inspired me to reach out even more to schools, chambers of commerce, business groups and nonprofits to lend my expertise through this position. After all, what’s more engaging than face-to-face interaction?

Steve Buttry visits for community engagement workshops

July 22, 2013

Engagement Workshops

Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, which manages parent company 21st Century Media, paid a visit July 9 to the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, where community engagement editors from across the company’s Michigan and Ohio properties met to deliver a series of workshops.

I had the pleasure of livestreaming the event using the Southeast Michigan Media Lab‘s uStream channel, and moderating a live chat on ScribbleLive, while also presenting three of the 14 workshops. I was a little nervous about whether everything would run smoothly as I was on vacation the week prior to the event and had short notice on what I would be presenting. But because I provided Steve with a list of what I felt comfortable talking about, and had some slides from old PowerPoints I had delivered on the subject, I didn’t spend too much time putting together the presentations and was able to still enjoy my vacation with not a lot of prep work for the event.

The lab was packed with presenters, as well as some handpicked staff and editorial staffers from The Macomb Daily and Advisor & Source who were curious about particular subjects and wanted to watch in person, rather than online. Everyone used the hashtag #DFMengage throughout the afternoon to Tweet highlights, share photos and video. Some of our followers on social media chimed in with their own comments using the same hashtag, with all the posts appearing in our live chat blog.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Steve kicked off the afternoon with introductions, and it was great to meet in person many people who I was familiar with only by name or social media handle.

I led the first workshop on ScribbleLive, followed by fellow media lab director Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor for The Macomb Daily, speaking on her successes with community engagement using Facebook and, in particular, archival photographs that go viral. Lisa Yanick Jonaitis, community engagement editor at The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, spoke next about engaging your audience through contests, followed by Cheryl Sadler, community engagement editor at The News-Herald in Ohio, who walked us through her successes with Pinterest.

Later in the afternoon, I spoke about a new short-form video tool we are using across DFM called Tout and Karen Workman, former community engagement editor at The Oakland Press who now works on breaking news at DFM’s Thunderdome, gave a presentation about using Google Voice for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Steve followed with a chat on using video to engage your audience.

Laura Tressler Kessel, managing editor of The News-Herald in Ohio, gave examples of engaging the community as contributors and using their content, as well as a community weight loss effort. Steve followed with a talk on the social conversation and how to engage your audience online through social media.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl returned later in the afternoon with a presentation on the photo engagement tool Olapic, which encourages reader-submitted content. Karen was up next with an overview on Thunderdome, soliciting ideas from the editors on how the national news-gathering group could better serve staff at the local level.

At 5 p.m. I threw a bunch of tools at the editors as I spoke about Google Forms, NewHive, RebelMouse, SurveyMonkey and Dipity for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Before Steve’s wrap-up was Jeff Kuehn, regional sports editor for the Michigan cluster, and Cheryl, who spoke on the sports department’s efforts to solicit user-generated content, use of social media and community engagement efforts. Steve concluded the program with an example of community engagement using GeoFeedia to capture what the crowd was saying about the anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg story.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

After the workshops, Steve asked everyone to think about a tool or idea they could apply to their job today. It will be interesting to see what everyone came up with as the weeks progress, and as we add a new tool to our tool belt over the course of several months based on what we learned from one another.

I decided to delve deeper into Pinterest, based on Cheryl’s presentation, and I’ve been working with the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor. I helped the group start a Pinterest page and one of their volunteers will be meeting with me regularly to post photos from their volunteer activities, follow other interests, repin items and start engaging individuals on the social media tool while building an audience, and, hopefully, attracting more people to the group. For example, they recently visited Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and I am sure their photos of the beautiful flowers will attract some followers, and repins.

If you attended our workshops, post here which tool you decided to embrace and how you are using it. I’d love to hear from you.

Special thank you to Jan Wick for ordering our lunch and making sure we had everything we needed, Steve Buttry for flying in and sharing his expertise, and everyone who attended and participated in this great learning experience. I look forward to another series next year. So, that means continue exploring new tools, experimenting with new ideas and engaging your communities in conversations as we work toward elevating our journalism.

Blazing a new trail in community engagement, social media and editorial training

March 18, 2013

As I prepare to mark my one-month anniversary as director of community engagement and editorial training for Journal Register Company’s Michigan Group, I find myself questioning if I am doing enough. I’ve always been a workhorse and I’ve worked on deadline for 21 years as a former reporter, assistant editor, editor and managing editor. So, it has taken some mental adjustment to acclimate myself to a role that is more akin to a entrepreneur as I blaze a new trail in a newly created position that includes serving as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. The lab, which was launched last year as part of my ideaLab project, is a training center for blogging partners, community contributors, freelance writers, student journalists and members of the community interested in learning digital media skills.

I’ve spent the last month building relationships and making headway on every responsibility cited in my job description. This includes recruiting 100 blogging partners for all of our websites. Luckily, this isn’t entirely my responsibility, as the community engagement editors across our Michigan group will be recruiting from their coverage areas, as well. So far, I’ve had some success with this task, bringing on board six and I have nine others nearly ready for a total of 15. I’ve also joined the Oakland Press Bloggers and Macomb Daily/Daily Tribune Bloggers Collaborative on Facebook, and I’ve been sharing with them links to free digital tools, webinars and workshops at the media lab to help them be more successful. I also have scheduled appointments to meet with two blogging partners and the group Communities That Care to provide individual instruction at the lab.

I am also charged with setting up live chats across our footprint. The first chat I have in the works is on cancer awareness, prevention and treatment, and it will be held noon March 21. I’ve lined up a doctor, cancer resource nurse, representative from the American Cancer Society and cancer survivor. Also in the works is a chat with editors representing all of our publications and websites. The chats will run on our websites across Michigan, and will allow for a text conversation between experts and our readers. These chats are in additions to the live chats I hold in conjunction with the workshops at the media lab.

Also as part of the community engagement component of my position, I held a reader focus group for Heritage Media in Washtenaw County and I am working with Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, to organize a reader focus group in Oakland County. This involves an online survey, PowerPoint presentation, and conversation with key communicators and stakeholders in our coverage area. At the Heritage focus group last month, I connected with school leaders in Saline and now plan to meet Friday with a group of handpicked students to gauge their interest in news-sharing and blogging partnerships, as well as their involvement in the media lab. I’ve also reached out to Chelsea schools and hope to meet soon with students there.

At the media lab, I’ve been busy lining up workshops and recruiting presenters. I have four events planned in March and April on marketing blogs, search engine optimization, Google Drive and video production. Presenters include local staff, an Eastern Michigan University professor and an Internet marketing expert. Events pages have been set up on the media lab’s Facebook page.

In addition, I’ve organized newsroom training on “Excel for Journalists” for all of our Michigan properties. Mark Ranzenberger, who works at The Morning Sun and teaches journalism at Central Michigan University, will provide the training, with three on-site options combined with livestreaming video and a live chat for those who can’t make it in person. I’ve also been in contact with Robin Luce-Hermann, counsel for the Michigan Press Association, to present on “New Rules for the Digital Media Age,” a workshop she delivered in 2012 at the MPA convention on legal issues relating to the Internet and journalists. Plans are also in the works to have chats at each of our newsrooms on journalists’ and editors’ use of social media to engage and communicate with our audience.

I’ve also been busy seeking training for myself, logging onto the webinars “Pinterest and Instagram for Journalists,” “Overview” and “Branding for Journalists” by the Reynolds Center and Poynter, and attending training at The Oakland Press on Omniture. And for good measure and to stay active in the field, I shot and produced video of the “We Love Dexter” video launch party and interviewed Capt. Keith Colburn of “Deadliest Catch” for a podcast, both of which were posted on Heritage.com.