A map for the media labryinth

I've just had my eyes opened wide. Recently, I got a new job as education and outreach director of the Klamath Bird Observatory. I have both a B.S. and M.S. and more than a dozen years of informal education in natural history, but in my new position I have found that there is a whole skill set for getting messages out in the public media that I am much less familiar with.

This is true of many in my position in the nonprofit and small business world. We know our businesses and our causes, but how to present them to the media too often eludes us. I wonder how many really important or interesting events go unreported because folks in my position didn't have the tools to get their messages out.

Like many of our peers, at the Klamath Bird Observatory we offer and participate in many events and activities from science to education throughout the year. We rely pretty heavily on preaching to the choir about our events, but reaching a broader audience is an area in which we would like to be more effective. Like most nonprofits and small businesses, we cannot afford a public relations professional to swiftly and reliably get the word out to the community at large.

So, we're in the same boat as many others in the Rogue Valley (including the newspapers!). We're all trying to figure out how to do more with less and serve our local community. We know our community wants information, and all of us want to share information with it. We have got to learn to speak the language that will be heard.

Klamath Bird Observatory is taking an unusual step of co-sponsoring a media workshop on Saturday, Aug. 29. We asked a couple of media professionals to co-facilitate. We're inviting everyone who wants to learn how to untie some of the knots of confusion and smooth out many wrinkles in the communication process between media and local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

We live in changing times and we need to adapt. Knowing how to work with local media during this time of difficulty for everyone can save us all time and money by doing what works, not what doesn't. It also helps our local media better serve us as well.

Information on the media workshop can be found at www.KlamathBird.org. We must choose: We can either complain about the problem or become part of the solution. Here's your opportunity.

Rachel Werling is the education and outreach director for the Klamath Bird Observatory. She has lived in Ashland for three years.

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