Citizen Journalism Workshop in EdmontonStrategic media communications is becoming increasingly essential for bloggers and other citizen journalists. There are too many media outlets and many more communication tools to choose from to make effective use of any of them without a strategic media communications plan. Last year, Sun Media launched their UR portal and invited readers to submit stories, photos and videos. At about the same time, CTV Edmonton launched their MyNews portal and iNews (CHQT Radio) their iReporter feature and weekly newspapers like the St. Albert Gazette soon followed suit. On September 29, 2011, the Edmonton Journal is launching their online community newsroom. They are designing the project to make it as easy as possible for readers to contribute newsworthy stories, photos and videos on the special area on the website. They are hoping that the initiative will be effective in artracting bloggers and citizen journalists to write, shoot and publish their own news and that this news will be of interest to their readers an, of course, to their advertisers. In other words, they hope to make money. This is as it should be. They are piloting the project and if successful they plan to roll it out to other Postmedia properties across Canada. Chalk another up first up for Edmonton.

In order for the project to be successful, the ideas, efforts and energies of the citizen journalists as well as the artists, authors and nonprofit organizations needs to be focused on what they want to accomplish with their time and efforts, not just on what the Edmonton Journal or any other media outlets want to accomplish.  Focused and effective media communications requires a strategic communication plan. A strategic media communications plan guides the efforts, identifies and musters the resources and refines the messages to broadcast to the media and through them to their audiences. The result is a much greater return on the investment of time, money and energy.

A strategic media communications plan uses SMART planning (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Based). When the strategic media communications plan supports the mission and drives the activities everyone benefits. Strategic media communications planning requires experience.  It requires a knowledgeable, trained and experienced facilitator to ask the right questions, guide the discussion, define communication goals, explore story ideas, muster resources, identify the challenges and opportunities, select the right tools and create the roadmap.

The Edmonton Journal and the other media outlets recognize the opportunity of engaging their readers with their website to drive revenue. This is at it should be. They are in business and have served the community well for many years. Citizen journalists and arts and community organizations — to which the Edmonton Journal and other media outlets are appealing to for free user generated content — need to create their own strategic media communications plan so they take full advantage of the extraordinary opportunity the Journal offers with their new online community newsroom. Taking the time for strategic media communications planning, identifying resources, setting timelines and establishing social media policies before everyone begins wildly broadcasting messages to the media is critically important to each participant and organization and to the success of the project and its hoped for roll out across Canada.

This workshop is designed for bloggers, wanna be bloggers, and citizen journalists who wish to create their own strategic media communications plan and thereby maximize their effectiveness in using online tools such as CTV Edmonton’s MyNews portal, Sun Media’s UR feature, iNews 880’s iReporter,  the St Albert Gazette or the Edmonton Journal’s online community newsroom. It is intended to inform, train and inspire citizen journalists to determine their strategic  objectives, messages and timing BEFORE they start broadcasting their messages which they can never retract.

Participants will learn how to plan, prepare and deliver messages to the best media at the best time in the best way using the best tools (all of which are free). What’s online, stays online so it helps to get it right the first time. They’ll save time and money, be more effective, make a better, faster and more lasting impression, and get a higher return on their investment of time and energy.

Here’s what a participant at my last workshop had to say about the importance of strategic media communications planning:

The workshop was helpful to learn about social media tools and technologies along with which ones to use and why. I liked how you emphasized that communication tools are best used strategically with planning, resources, messaging and objectives in mind. We have a small staff and a large community service to run for youth groups. We don’t have time for a steep learning curve only to find out it’s not the right communications tool or the right way to use the tool. I realize that I don’t need to know everything but I do need to know which communications tool and tactic to use for what I want to say and to whom. Your workshop helped me decide that LinkedIn is the strategic tool for me to use for what I need to do and that Facebook is the better strategic tool to connect with our members. I realize how important it is to have a cohesive social media strategy and set policies and practices in place before you dive in. I am working towards this objective. I’m happy you have decided to hold the Strategic Social Media Communications workshops in October at our Centre. I’ll not have far to go to attend. I look forward to learning more about creating the plan that will guide our social media activities for the Centre. Good presentation. Thank you.

Brenda O’Neill
Executive Director
St Albert Youth Centre
September 20, 2011


Strategic Media Communications Workshop for Artists & Arts Organizations, Wed, Oct 12, 2011

Strategic Media Communications Workshop for Community Organizations, Thurs, Oct 13, 2011

Strategic Media Communications Workshop for Citizen Journalists, Sat, Oct 15, 2011