parents organizing

A summer semester exploring creative media strategies

Let Your Voice Be Heard. Photo and poem (c) S.Blood, 2015.

Let Your Voice Be Heard. Photo and poem (c) S.Blood, 2015.

Social and economic justice are critical elements in any healthy, functioning society.

Sadly, these elements are often not as present as they should be, to the detriment of a community. When people have less access to policy-and-decision-makers than others with more money and influence, the community is unbalanced.

As part of my summer semester class COMSTRAT 562 Creative Media Strategies & Techniques, I am exploring ways to bolster the messaging, impact and influence of POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights)  a local non-profit organization. POWER  supports low-income community members in speaking out about the importance of a strong social safety net, and in advocating for political, social and economic change.

Setting the stage to tell the story is a critical first step. 

Consistent, vivid storytelling and strong messaging about POWER’s work and impact should increase membership and participation. As a member-driven organization, participation is key to POWER’s success.

Using an inverted pyramid structure can help tell POWER’s story far more effectively, capturing the critical information and unique qualities, such as:

  • POWER is the only low-income member-led organization in Washington state fighting for economic justice.
  • POWER members are multi-racial and cut across social and economic classes.
  • POWER’s advocacy efforts are informed and developed by its low-income member’s experiences living in poverty.

Making sense of the details to develop the organization’s message profile is a very worthwhile exercise. I have particularly appreciated the templates provided which help organize the information. A clear understanding of POWER’s assets, products and the core audience who can help meet the goals and objectives determined by the membership will strengthen outreach, messaging and ultimately, POWER’s outcomes. The organization defines itself and its activities as “member-driven and member-led” with the majority of the members being low-income persons “struggling with an economic and social system that perpetuates poverty.” These are the people whose voices are so often not listened to by policy makers.

The main message of POWER revolves around the work they do to “support and strengthen the capacity of people to develop their own style of effective leadership, and to collaborate with other people and organizations to make effective social change.” The question is — how can the goals and work of POWER be effectively shared to increase membership, participation, and donations?

Online newsrooms are a key tool in outreach and messaging strategies. Using the instructor-provided template, I worked on developing an online newsroom specifically dedicated to POWER’s Annual MLK Day March. This annual event is POWER’s call to action. Members, allies and the wider community are invited to join POWER in the on-going struggle for economic and social justice by taking part in a community march and rally in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Supporting low-income citizen engagement and leadership, POWER and its membership organizes actions, projects and initiatives that strengthen the social safety net. POWER believes those most affected by an issue are the most qualified to lead the movement to change it. POWER members know their stories are a powerful tool for change and we help low-income community members develop the skills to use those stories effectively.

Lessons learned in COMSTRAT 562 Creative Media Strategies & Techniques can help tell these valuable stories that help low-income individuals and allies advocate for a world with a strong social safety net, where children and caregiving are valued, and the devastation of poverty is eradicated.

 

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