Posted tagged ‘Southeast Michigan Media Lab’

Success of media lab found in community engagement

March 17, 2014

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A couple of my colleagues have questioned why we are using precious resources to run the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, my ideaLab project that morphed into a full-time job along with the addition of new responsibilities. But others, particularly those who understand the value of community engagement, totally get it.

I think the numbers from the last six months — keeping in mind the media lab doesn’t have a full-time staff and only has my attention part of the time — speak for themselves.

Media lab stats
I launched the Southeast Michigan Media Lab exactly two years ago under the name Community Media Lab after winning funding from the corporate offices of our parent company, at the time Journal Register Company, now Digital First Media. My proposal was the only one, out of about four in Michigan, to get the coveted funds. Last summer, I had the pleasure of helping Maryanne MacLeod at sister publication The Macomb Daily launch a second media lab, the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, adding to DFM media labs across the United States.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab, housed in Ypsilanti, strives to bring the audience inside the newsroom as content-sharing partners, as does the Macomb media lab. But there has been some discussion as of late about the words “inside the newsroom” since the media lab in Ypsilanti is housed at SPARK-East, a business incubator, not a newsroom.

I interpret “bringing the audience inside the newsroom” as having an editor or journalist working with individuals and establishing partnerships, and embracing their contributions just as they would from a member of the newsroom. For example, I work with individuals interested in writing news, sharing photographs or media galleries, producing video and audiocasts, and work with them to get that content ready for publication. All of our news sites link to our blogging partners, and I work with bloggers to improve their sites.

In addition, at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, we — in partnership with professors at Eastern Michigan University and professionals in the community — hold free workshops in digital media and social media for the public. Some of our outreach also includes working with journalism, marketing and public relations students, as well as members of the senior community interested in learning more about digital communication.

We chose Ypsilanti for the Southeast Michigan Media Lab for a number of reasons, which I outlined in my original proposal, and I still believe those reasons are valid. Beyond what was mentioned in my proposal, The Saline Reporter building, where our Washtenaw County newsroom is located, doesn’t have adequate space and it would have been too costly to remodel to include the media lab. Moreover, the lab, based on its central location, attracts people from as far away as Oakland and Macomb counties, as well as Wayne County’s Downriver community and western Washtenaw County.

But back to the numbers.

We’ve had a total of 527 visitors to the Southeast Michigan Media Lab and Macomb Regional Community Media Lab (at our brick-and-mortar locations) in the last six months, since we started tracking. I think it’s safe to assume one could double that to get a year’s picture.

We’ve hosted 35 workshops for the community in the last six months, which is an average of nearly six per month. In fact, on Meetup.com, where we draw some of our audience, we have a combined 155 “labbers” — 119 associated with the Southeast Michigan Media Lab — who have voluntarily asked to be notified via the service every time we schedule a workshop. That says something.

We’ve had 2,117 views of our two blogs (CommunityMediaLab and Macomb Regional Media Lab) that chronicle our media lab activities. Admittedly, both Maryanne and I could do a better job of producing more content for these blogs and keeping them fresher, which will attract more readers. If we did, we could easily triple that number.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab has had 25,864 views of its PowerPoint presentations uploaded and shared with the public, and our workshop attendees — virtual and those who come in person — on Scribd over the last two years.

On the Southeast Michigan Media Lab’s YouTube channel, where we house videos from our workshops and blogger events, we’ve had 1,053 views since its inception a year ago. In all, viewers have watched 3,671 minutes of our videos. I could do a better job with this, as well, promoting the channel and directing audience there.

Combined, we have 524 likes on Facebook and 1,683 followers on Twitter , which is more audience than six of our branded new sites’ Twitter accounts. We’ve also tweeted a combined 5,424 times — 4,818 of the tweets coming from the Southeast Michigan Media Lab Twitter account, which was established two years ago. In comparison, a reporter at one of our dailies, who admittedly doesn’t tweet much but is working on it, has 211 lifetime tweets.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab also has a Tout account and shares original video, as well as those from across Digital First Media. Since August, that account has shared 1,094 Touts and has 294 followers. The account also ranks 18 out of 30 at The Oakland Press for views, as the account is linked to the Oakland Press group on Tout. So, we capture more views — and share more content — than some of the reporters who are supposed to be incorporating Tout into their daily coverage.

With numbers — which demonstrate the outreach — like that in just the last six months, during harsh winter conditions that sometimes lead people to hibernate, who could deny the value of our media labs? Not only is the work we are doing building stronger relationships between Digital First Media and the communities we cover, but it’s bringing more content to our sites and providing our audience a forum to share their voice and outlet to learn new skills.

Michelle Rogers, director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab (the writer of this blog), teaches a workshop on emerging social media tools.

Michelle Rogers, director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab (the writer of this blog), teaches a workshop on emerging social media tools.

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?

Promoting RebelMouse for curated news streams

November 10, 2013

RebelMouse is a content creation, aggregation and publishing platform.

RebelMouse is a content creation, aggregation and publishing platform.


Six months ago, I started a RebelMoue page for the Southeast Michigan Media Lab and wrote about the tool. The lab, as regular readers of this blog know, is my ideaLab project as a member of Digital First Media. While I had experience with the content creation, aggregation and publishing platform, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized its true potential for curating news and conversations unfolding on social media.

In May, I set up the media lab’s RebelMouse page as a way to curate, in real time, news stories from Heritage.com, its Pinterest boards and Flickr, as well as the media lab’s posts on social media, and embedded it in my blog so my blog would always be fresh. Months later, on a conference call with our Michigan editors I learned about a special section called Made in Michigan to be produced in October, and thought we could create a RebelMouse microsite and use it for community engagement. I thought we should start a hashtag campaign encouraging our audience to post #madeinmichigan or #michiganmade Tweets showing off or promoting their favorite Michiganmade products and feeding them into the microsite. To make the site more engaging, I decided to bring in Pure Michigan’s tweets and its videos from YouTube, as well as its Pinterest boards and Facebook RSS feed.

As I reflected later, I thought while I used the RebelMouse microsite as a community engagement tool, which was cool and fun, it wasn’t helping to drive page views to our websites. Lesson learned.

When Demarius Reed, a football player at Eastern Michigan University, was shot and killed Oct. 18, Rick Kessler, managing editor of Heritage Media, asked if I would monitor Twitter and look for story leads. It was at that time that I thought about using RebelMouse again, but this time as a hub for all news about Reed’s death and the community’s reaction. Between Oct. 18 and Nov. 10, that page has had 43,400 impressions, an impressive number, as it has featured news stories, Tout videos and tweets about the police investigation, memorial service, campus safety meetings, and voices of those mourning Reed’s loss.

I set up the site to collect all tweets with the trending hashtags #DemariusReed, #DR2, #RIPDReed, and Reed’s Twitter handle @D_Reed2. This brought in news stories and video from news organizations and reporters using the hashtag, as well as tweets, Instagram pics and YouTube videos from his family, friends and fans. In fact, one fan created an original song and posted it on SoundCloud, tweeting it with the hashtag. So that, too, was featured on the RebelMouse page. Occasionally, I would check the “drafts” folder, where tweets without photos would land, and approved some to appear on the page. I also searched out news, such as a letter from EMU President Susan Martin to alumni, and I took a screenshot of Reed’s last tweets, and manually added them on the page using the blogging function.

At Digital First Media, we are encouraged to use one-third professionally produced content from our staff, one-third user-generated content and one-third aggregated content from other media, and RebelMouse is the perfect tool to achieve this formula.

Unfortunately, when I shared the embed code for the page, the local editor did not use it. So, all the page views went directly to RebelMouse, a missed opportunity for us that greatly disappointed me. But it was another lesson, just as the Michiganmade RebelMouse page was a month earlier, and a challenge to overcome.

So, what I decided to do was offer to teach editors and reporters the value of RebelMouse and explain that embedding the page in an article page on our sites, and then promoting it on our social media channels, will bring traffic to our news sites. On our next editors call, I talked about the success of the Demarius Reed RebelMouse page, the magical mix of our content, aggregated content and UGC, and offered to teach editors and reporters how to set up microsites on RebelMouse and embed them on article pages to capture page views.

So far, The Oakland Press has taken me up on the training. On Thursday, I traveled to Pontiac and shared a PowerPoint I created about the power of RebelMouse as a curation site that can aggregate news and serve as a hub of information for breaking news, celebrity news, trending topics, topic-specific content, such as the Detroit Tigers or Lions, or even serve as a stand-alone news curation site for communities we don’t cover with our resources, such as Monroe, Mich., but are covered by other news organizations, and have an active community of bloggers and people using social media.

As part of the workshop, I created an Obamacare RebelMouse mircosite, curating news, video, Pinterest boards and tweets on the subject. The demonstration showed how easy it is to set up a microsite and how fast it can be to add the feeds. I suggested each reporter do the same and shared possible topics, such as Twitter being sold on the New York Stock Exchange that day for the first time and the Olympics. For kicks, and as part of a workshop on RebelMouse for the community, I created a RebelMouse microsite curating news, information, blog posts and social media posts about the reality TV franchise “The Real Housewives.”

Since creating the Obamacare site three days ago, there have been 8,351 impressions. And this time, learning a lesson from missed opportunities, the embed was used on three of our Michigan news sites, our group editor’s blog, and Oakland Press political reporter Charlie Crumm linked to the site, adding a tab to his RebelMouse page using RebelNav.

What’s great about RebelMouse is that once you enter the hashtags, and Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, and RSS feeds, it’s all automated. You don’t have to do anything, unless you want to take the initiative. And I have on the Obamacare microsite, adding articles posted by our sister publications that haven’t been tweeted out using the hashtags (#AffordableHealthCareAct, #Obamacare and #AHCA) we have told RebelMouse to aggregate. It’s so easy to add news articles, videos and other content, even your own, by using the blogging function on RebelMouse. You can paste the URL of a news story or YouTube video directly in a box on the page and it will post after clicking on a button. You can add photos and other elements, too, if you wish to provide richer content.

Check out my PowerPoint and create your own news curation site or social front page using RebelMouse. On a professional level, it’s fun for me to master another digital tool that adds value to our news sites and provides a hub for information on specific news topics, making it easier for readers to find and read a variety of sources. I love it!

Creating reader engagement contests on MichiganRewards.com

October 8, 2013
Graphic artist Kevin Martin created this.

Graphic artist Kevin Martin created this graphic.

One area of my job that I need to work on more is community engagement, specifically creating contests that excite people, engage them with our news sites and social media channels, and inspire them to invite their friends to join in the fun.

And through a new reader rewards platform called Michigan Rewards that we recently launched, I have an opportunity to create contests that engage, and drive audience to print and online. I posted our first two contests Friday.

My selfie with Michiganmade Jiffy Mix.

My selfie with Michiganmade Jiffy Mix.

One is our #Michiganmade Selfie Photo Contest. It’s designed to encourage audience participation in our Made in Michigan coverage, a special section highlighting products made in Michigan. I’ve also created a RebelMouse page to complement the section, bringing in all #Michiganmade and #MadeInMichigan hashtags on Twitter, @PureMichigan tweets and Pure Michigan YouTube videos.

I’ve had fun promoting the photo contest, creating my own selfie with a box of Jiffy Mix, Pinterest board, and promoting it on all of our Twitter and Facebook channels with a beautiful graphic created by The Macomb Daily’s Kevin Martin.

This graphic was created in PicMonkey and shared on our social media channels.

This graphic was created in PicMonkey and shared on our social media channels.

The other contest is just in time for Halloween. We’re encouraging you to dress up your pets in Halloween costumes and shoot a video, upload it to MichiganRewards.com, and ask family and friends to vote. I’ve promoted it with a meme, a collage that I created in PicMonkey and a gif, my second ever.

My bunny Ari stars in the meme I created to promote the video contest.

My bunny Ari stars in the meme I created to promote the video contest.

I’ve also created Touts promoting both contests. In the Tout below that I embedded from Twitter, I humiliated my cat, Samson, by dressing him up as a sports reporter with a baseball cap, notebook and pencil. As you can imagine, he wasn’t too excited about it.

We’re awarding $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. So far, we have four entries in the #Michiganmade Selfie Photo Contest and none yet in the Best Costume-Clad Pet Video Contest.

I am excited to dip my toe in the engagement waters, so to speak, with these two contests and look forward to offering more. I’ve also set up a Word of the Day, featuring the name of a Michigan landmark in print and encouraging readers to enter the word(s) online at MichiganRewards to earn points toward prizes.

Look for more to come as I get to know the true potential of this new platform. And please share your ideas with me.

Check out my #Michiganmade board on Pinterest

Check out my #Michiganmade board on Pinterest

Community Media Lab role leads to talk in Milan

September 23, 2013

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my job as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab is that I get to travel to communities across Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to present information about the media lab and the resources we offer. I call it a media lab roadshow, and I have visited Saline, Chelsea and Dexter in the last few months presenting to chamber of commerce members and at senior centers.

On Sept. 13, I had the honor of returning to Milan, where I had served as editor of The Milan News-Leader from July 2006 to February 2013, while also serving as the managing editor of Heritage Media’s western Washtenaw County publications — seven in all, plus The View in Wayne County — and the website Heritage.com. I had to book it about five months out, but it was worth the wait. More than 30 people attended, and they seemed genuinely interested in the free services the lab has to offer through 21st Century Media, managed by Digital First Media, and partnering with The Milan News-Leader to contribute local news.

Since my intern returned to school last month, it was a little bit more of a challenge to shoot video of my presentation while presenting. I set up a Flip video camera at a table behind me and tried to judge from afar whether I was in the frame, and I was a little off. Still, I created a video of the talk and shared it on the media lab’s YouTube channel.

I also shot a Tout before the presentation started so I could use it as an example during my presentation of social media and new media tools that are available to report in real time.

I fed the Tout into my RebelMouse page, which I incorporated in my presentation and told business owners it was something they should all have, if they are active on social media.

In addition, I took a photo of the members getting their breakfast before my talk and included it in a Tweet before my presentation started, as another way of showcasing the greatness of social media.

There were three or four reporters in the audience, and Joyce Ervin, who is a freelance writer, shared with me this morning the article she wrote for Heritage.com and The Milan News-Leader. It’s only fitting that she shared with me the link to the piece online by posting it on my Facbook page, as part of my talk was about reaching your audience on the platform they feel comfortable with and are using. Joyce knows I am active on Facebook and would see her post there before picking up a print copy.

JoyceFBPost

I received some really nice feedback after the presentation and the real test of my success came just a few hours later after I shared the link to my PowerPoint with those who asked for it. Susan Sheeley, a former elementary school counselor who just started her own counseling practice, Connections Counseling and Consulting, booked an appointment to learn more about using social media to promote her business. She had started a Facebook page, and we added her professional photo and cover photo, as well as a description. I helped her start a Twitter account and linked her Facebook and Twitter. And I also showed her how to create a meme, so she could share inspirational sayings or give advice using a new media tool.

SusanFB

It was fun working with Susan, and getting her started with her first Tweet,

meme and Facebook post promoting her website. I also encouraged her to check out Tout and possibly set up a YouTube channel to dispense some advice, while getting people comfortable with her style and approach as a counselor.

I look forward to helping more people from Milan and beyond who are struggling with social media or new media, and just need a little boost or help to get them going. It’s a bonus when they are as appreciative as Susan in her tweet.

Teaching Blogging 101 at Chelsea Senior Center

June 24, 2013

I took the Southeast Michigan Media Lab on the road today, visiting the Chelsea Senior Center to teach Blogging 101. Susan Barb, program manager at the center, helped organize my visit and my colleagues at The Chelsea Standard helped by promoting it, along with Susan, who used the Chelsea Senior Center’s newsletter to spread the word. Susan also said former Heritage Media reporter Lisa Allmendinger’s Chelsea Update had a mention about it.

The event attracted two seniors, which isn’t many, but I am hoping word will spread and I can return soon to a full house with the intention of expanding our blogging partnership base. We currently have 112 blogging partners who we link to at Heritage.com. On Friday, I helped a soon-to-be fourth-grader in Chelsea schools launch his blog on Tumblr. It’s called the Lava Man Series. You should check it out! We will be adding it soon to our blog roll and he will be our youngest partner.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken the media lab on the road. I’ve also presented at the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce Speak & Eat and Saline Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, and I am scheduled at the Milan Chamber breakfast meeting later this summer. In addition, I’ve met one-on-one with students in Saline interested in blogging to talk about the steps involved in becoming partners with Heritage Media.

This is the second time I’ve led a workshop on blogging specifically for senior citizens. Before the media lab launched in April 2012, David Veselenak, the former online coordinator for Heritage Media-West, and I, while I was managing editor of the group, presented a similar workshop at the Saline Senior Center. This was different, though, because I was on my own and did all of the presenting. Also, as part of the media lab, we hosted a Blogger Fair May 9 and I taught a workshop on adding bells and whistles to your blog to make it more visually appealing.

Michelle Rogers taught Blogging 101 at the Chelsea Senior Center June 24.

Michelle Rogers taught Blogging 101 at the Chelsea Senior Center June 24.

My hope is blogging will appeal to some of today’s workshop attendees and they embrace it as a vehicle to express themselves, whether sharing their hobbies and interests, political or spiritual views, or to share life experiences, moments they lived through in history or their travel adventures.

If you want help with your blog, need helping refining your writing or setting up social media channels, come visit the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. Our help is free as part of public outreach by our parent company, 21st Century Media, which is managed by Digital First Media.

Southeast Michigan Media Lab humming along

June 21, 2013

PureMich

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab, part of my ideaLab project, has been keeping me busy as I have my first intern, and we continue to look for opportunities to enhance her portfolio and promote the media lab and what it has to offer.

On Wednesday, we traveled to Dexter for the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce’s Speak & Eat featuring George Zimmermann of Pure Michigan. It was great returning to Dexter again, and I was impressed with the turnout of about 40 local business owners.

Elise Waller, my intern at the media lab, shot video of Zimmermann’s presentation.

And I contributed several Touts.

http://www.tout.com/m/90xnq1

http://www.tout.com/m/jrocia

http://www.tout.com/m/8qhsnj

Elise also wrote a blog post.

Also this past week, I attended internal training on Tout, a real-time video platform that has incredible audience engagement possibilities. I livestreamed the event and held a chat on ScribbleLive for those who couldn’t attend in person.

I couldn’t resist Touting about it, too, and the presenter reTouted one of them, which was pretty cool.

http://www.tout.com/m/bbthku

I also taught the use of Tout to Douglas Gill, a movie blogger, at the media lab. I am excited to see what he comes up with moving forward, and I encouraged him to embed his Touts or Tout stream on his blog.

Of course, practice makes perfect.

http://www.tout.com/m/11wlx4

We squeezed in a workshop called “Blogging for Nonprofits and Community Organizations” on Thursday. Bloggers Leslie McGraw and Bob Cummings volunteered their time to lead the two-hour workshop, which attracted a half-dozen people in person and more than 100 online. They did a great job and, of course, I livestreamed it on our uStream channel and held a live chat for our online audience.

I also Touted it (loving this new real-time storytelling tool).

http://www.tout.com/m/13klcf

http://www.tout.com/m/gvobrv

To cap off the week, I had a delightful Friday afternoon when Nolan, a soon-to-be fourth-grader in Chelsea schools, stopped by with his mother and sister to set up a blog on Tumblr to share his Lava Man comic series. He will be the youngest blogging partner we have yet at the 21st Century Media Michigan Group.

Check out Nolan's comic series on Tumblr.

Check out Nolan’s comic series on Tumblr.