Thursday, October 18, 2012

Media kit review: The Nonprofit Association of Oregon

I became slightly obsessed with Portland, Ore., last winter. I stayed up all night watching the entire first season of a sketch comedy about the city. One of my closest friends and I decided we wanted to go to Portland for spring break our senior year. I found a graduate school in the area that had the program I wanted. I was given a book that happened to take place in Portland. The city just kept showing up.
I typed “nonprofit press kits” into the Google search bar on my computer this week. As I scrolled through the results, I noticed one from The Nonprofit Association of Oregon. I became more excited than a reasonable person should ever be about a media kit. I could not contain my excitement. The kit was about Oregon and nonprofits.

As excited as I was to find the media kit, I was disappointed by its contents. The news release and other components did not follow AP style rules. The different components also continually used acronyms for at least three different organizations involved. I understand not wanting to write out long organization names more than once, but as a reader I found myself unable to remember what the acronyms stood for.

The only quote I found in the entire media kit was buried in a paragraph of the news release. Because the quote did not stand alone in a paragraph, I almost forgot the news release contained one. There were also inconsistencies in the style of writing that were distracting for me as the reader.

My six-week journey of reviewing ends with this post. These six weeks of using my blog to review writing styles has shown me the value in critically looking at the work of others. The Lord has used what I looked at as just an assignment to grow me in more areas than writing.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Advertisement review: charity: water

I have been wanting to blog about charity: water for quite some time. The nonprofit started back in 2006 and raises money to build wells in countries lacking clean water. It’s not an organization I know a lot about, but I enjoy following the communications and campaigns it does.

The first print advertisement for charity: water was seen in i-D magazine in 2007. The magazine advertisement is simple yet effective. The ad does an excellent job connecting visuals and text to create a unified message. The left side uses a picture with multiple people to illustrate that more than a billion people do not have clean water. The right side uses a close-up picture of one person to bring the message to a more person level.

The advertisement has a clear call to action. The audience is told to start making a difference by helping one person get clean drinking water. The organization's website and logo is placed near the call to action. The advertisement grabs and keeps attention because the message is easy to read and moving. In two sentences, the audience knows the problem and what the advertisement wants them to do.

Sometimes we just stumble upon things in life. I honestly can’t remember when or how I learned about charity: water, but as a communications major, I love that the work is clean, concise and creative. I am inspired by ads such as the one done by charity: water.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Feature story review: Vision statements

I first read Oklahoma Gazette for an assignment in my persuasive writing class. I had never read the publication before, and what I read in class made me want to read more. One article I read recently was about Oklahomans Without Limits summer camp held during the summer. The camp pairs blind or visually impaired youth with someone who has sight. Those with sight help campers experience museums, art and other activities.

"Vision statements" by Moose Tyler is a great example of a feature story that keeps readers interested by dropping interesting quotes throughout the story. The article leads with questions prompting the reader to think about how they would explain everyday things to someone who could not see. A nut graph explaining the camp follows.

Readers are encouraged to continue reading to get to more quotes from campers and helpers. The writer does a good job incorporating descriptive information that helps the reader understand the personalities of those interviewed. I loved when the writer says that a camper wasn't as enthusiastic about being interviewed after learning the interview wasn’t for TV.

Reading feature stories about nonprofits makes me excited about the possibility of doing communications for a nonprofit. I know the Lord will lead me where he wants me to serve him in my future, but I’m still enjoying exploring the possibilities my future holds.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

News release review: International Justice Mission

God has been teaching me about joy this semester. Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Last night at my Bible study, we read about the early followers of Christ in Acts 4. They counted nothing as their own and viewed all that they had as things to be used for the Lord’s glory. A friend in the group talked about how she feels happy when she is able to meet the needs of others. Although our motivation to give and serve shouldn’t be driven by how it makes us feel, there is an undeniable feeling of peaceful joy that results when we do.

I wrote about International Justice Mission in my last post. Those involved in the organization find joy in their work to help end modern-day slavery because they feel this work is what God has called them to do. On Tuesday, the organization put out a news release about President Obama’s announcement of an executive order regarding labor trafficking in U.S. Government overseas contracts.

The release does a good job explaining how the organization is connected to a newsworthy, national event without being promotional. The release is timely. Journalists could easily construct an article from the information and interesting quotes from national and organizational leaders. It would have been good to put the job title of the person listed as the contact with the contact information. Just a name tells the reporter nothing about whom they would be contacting about the release.

International Justice Mission’s use of traditional and evolving forms of communication continually inspires me. I like to think the organization does so well communicating messages because those creating the messages find joy in doing the work God has given them.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Website review: International Justice Mission

I met Jill my freshman year through the sorority I was involved with. She was finishing her undergraduate degree after having spent more than a year doing mission work in Africa. She seemed so sophisticated, full of life and “on fire” for sharing Christ with others. Jill was several years older than I was, and I wanted to be just like her.

On a snowy, January morning during my freshman year, Jill told me about International Justice Mission as we drank coffee at a local Starbucks. Hearing Jill speak passionately about the organization made me want to know more. The Lord used Jill to direct my interest toward nonprofit communications.

The organization’s website is one of the best I’ve seen for a nonprofit. Its website does more than promote its goals through information about the organization and how people can connect. The website is also a source for timely information about modern-day slavery.

Feature style articles are regularly posted on the news section of the website. Each news story will have a dateline followed by a lead that draws the reader in. Articles are easy to read, being written without excessive adjectives and “fluffy” phrases. Sometimes headlines tend to be too long, but well-written articles offer information and stories that interest the website's audience.

International Justice Mission maintains a website that expresses its mission and values through a balance of information about the organization and relevant news stories. I would have never visited the website had Jill not told me about the organization that January morning and encouraged me to follow Micah 6:8: to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.