MediaDesk blog

140 Characters is Just Too Short for A Good Message


Sharing clear and concise messages with your followers through microblogging platforms – like Twitter – can limit the depth and breadth of your message. Microblogging requires messaging that is a lot like a sales pitch; it is carefully crafted to reach a target audience, and it is designed to get them to take an action (like click a link or share the post). After all, you only get 140 characters. More than anything, microblogging brings attention to your brand, but it certainly comes with constraints.

The New Mexico Center for School Leadership uses their well-made, functional website‘s integrated Blog to circumnavigate microblogging restraints.  As they communicate on Twitter, they direct traffic to more meaningful messaging and fill in any details that might be missed in 140 characters by driving traffic from Twitter to a full-fledged blog on their website. (more…)

Siembra’s Website Lays a Strong Foundation for Their Brand

Siembra Leadership High School

Last week Siembra Leadership High School signed the lease on their new location in the heart of Downtown Albuquerque. The swell of media attention following the announcement directed new and unique visitors to Siembra’s website.

This moment demonstrated the value of a well-made, functional website, offering Siembra a priceless tool for its digital audience to interact with 24/7.  The traffic driven by traditional news media made the website the first place people interacted with the school. It allowed visitors to learn about its mission and goals, and provided Siembra with a digital platform on which to tell its story. (more…)

Was that a Mention or a Reply?

Constantly evolving jargon creates a barrier for even seasoned marketing or social media managers. As you track the effectiveness of your digital storytelling efforts, keep our roundup of the latest and most relevant social media reporting terms on hand.  

Facebook Analytics: (Source: Nate Smith, Simply Measured)

Total Reach: The number of users who were saw at least one impression of your content through their News Feed, Timeline or an ad.

Impressions: The number of times your content was shown on News Feed, Ticker, Timeline or an ad. One unique user can be shown multiple impressions.

Organic Reach: The number of unique users who were served at least one impression of your content via News Feed, Timeline without advertising.

Paid Reach: The number of unique users who were served at least one impression of your content via News Feed, Ticker or Timeline with an ad.

Total Impressions: The number of times your content was shown on News Feed, Ticker, Timeline or an ad. One unique user can be shown multiple impressions.

Organic Impressions: The number of times your content was shown on News Feed, Ticker or Timeline without advertising.

Paid Impressions: The number of times your content was shown on News Feed, Ticker or Timeline with an ad.

Engaged Users: The number of unique users who clicked anywhere on your content, whether it resulted in a story or not. (more…)

NEW RELEASE: MediaDesk’s First Animation

MediaDesk NM produced our first animated short video for the Office of Mayor Richard J. Berry and the City’s Efficiency, Stewardship & Accountability (ESA) Program. Our team interviewed City of Albuquerque employees who had received the prize in our audio studio, and paired their voices with narration by Albuquerque’s former Poet Laureate, Jessica Helen Lopez. There’s even an appearance from the Mayor himself. This has been an awesome opportunity to expand our storytelling craft to the fun world of animation.

Watch here:

Albuquerque Sign Language Academy Video on Upworthy

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.25.33 PM (2)A MediaDesk NM produced video about the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy was featured on Upworthy in February, 2016. The Albuquerque Sign Language Academy is a dual language school for deaf and hard of hearing kiddos that takes a 21st century approach to education.

The video was published three separate times by Upworthy, garnering upwards of 700,000 views. That is more than the daily circulation of the New York Times.

At MediaDesk we are proud of Albuquerque, and glad to be a part of this amazing community of heart-driven change makers.

Viral MediaDesk Video hits nine million views [Revised from 400,000]

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.22.36 PMThe There’s a Better Way Program is building a strong support network of city and nonprofit service providers and programs to keep people safe and to provide a helping hand in the city of Albuquerque.

MediaDesk New Mexico produced a video that was a humanizing and informative portrait of panhandling and how Albuquerque is taking strides to address it.

The video was picked up by Upworthy, and as of this morning, it has received over 390,000 views, 8,300 shares and 242 comments on social media. The response has been resounding.


Some of our favorite comments?

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.19.05 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.19.41 PM

Op-Eds and Public Opinion

photo credit: Street matt via photopin cc

photo credit: Street matt via photopin cc

Op-eds can be tricky; they’re difficult to write and even more difficult to publish. However, they are incredibly valuable to community organizations and leadership voices; op-eds provide an unfiltered public platform where community members and organizations can voice their concerns, perspectives and solutions.

We’re sure you’ve read an op-ed or two in your time, but we figured a mini-refresher can always do some good. In this blog edition we’ll go over how op-eds work and how they can help your organization propel messages into the public eye.

Op-ed is short for opinion editorial, and these public opinions are written by community members and experts and published most often in print media. Op-eds focus on current issues; they allow valuable new voices to enter ongoing debates in the media to offer up new perspectives and/or solutions.

If released in a timely manner—that ties into current news events or trends—an op-ed can bring all the right kinds of attention to the work or messages your organization cares about.

“So…how do you write one of these op-eds you speak of?” you ask.

In theory, writing an op-ed should be easy; you simply express your ideas and opinions, right? Unfortunately it isn’t quite so simple. A lot of strategy and thought is needed to win over the typical journal editor.

There is one golden thing to remember: op-eds are opinion pieces written to introduce new perspectives to an ongoing public dialogue. So, before you begin, take a moment to evaluate your perspective and identify the unique angle or contribution to the conversation you can bring. When you get to writing, your process will be much cleaner and your message will be that much stronger.

Now that you’re pumped up and ready to contribute your two cents to change public opinion, we bring you some MediaDesk NM Tips on crafting an irresistible op-ed:

  1. Get straight to the point: With 600 words or less there’s no time to waste. Make your op-ed lean. Stick to one clear message and be simple and succinct.
  2. Get them hooked: We said it once, but it is worth saying again: Get straight to the point! But don’t just get to the point, be creative about it. Draw readers in with something unexpected and thought provoking early on to capture their attention and get them to read through.
  3. Make it relevant: Op-eds are public conversations, so make sure you’re not talking to yourself. No one will print your op-ed if it covers an issue that isn’t currently in the public eye. Be strategic about releasing your message at a time when it will actually be heard and put to good use.
  4. Don’t put them to sleep: Leave your jargon at the door and write with a strong, decisive and accessible voice.
  5. Give them something to do: People don’t respond well to problems with no solutions. Give your audience reasonable steps to take to make headway on the issue at hand. Ultimately, the whole point of an op-ed is to inform and activate a broader audience.

Op-eds are a way to introduce critical perspectives into public discussion and propose solutions to relevant problems. Here at MediaDesk we’re always ready to help you craft a message, and not just any kind of message, but one that creates ripples that effect change as soon as it hits.

To learn more about getting your message out through op-eds contact us or check out some of the resources below:





The Best Mix: Politics + Social Media

Vote New MexicoWith Election Day fast approaching (vote!), we thought it timely to talk about politics, and, as communications nerds, we of course are talking about politics in relation to media – social media to be specific.

Now, a lot of you might be cringing at the combination of politics and social media. Social media is abuzz with political messages, and some opinions are shared a little less….delicately than others, one could say. According to a study, about 14 percent of people have unfriended someone on Facebook over “political comments.” But, as it turns out, mixing social media and politics can have some positive outcomes, too.

These days we are always connected; through platforms like Twitter and Facebook, our everyday connections have extended beyond family and close friends to coworkers, friends of friends, and then there are those far-reaching, random acquaintances (I met them in high school… No, wait, I met them on that trip to Florida?…no…). We’ve all been there.

This extended network of broad acquaintances has changed the game for political communications.

Some argue that social media use increases political polarization. The idea being that users seek out and align with other users who have similar worldviews and political opinions. Essentially, the theory is we network solely with people who share our political ideology. This has been supported by a number of studies, like this one from Pew Research, but there’s some new research out there that’s challenging conventional ideas about the impact of social media on political opinion.

A recent study published by New York University researcher Pablo Barberá claims just the opposite; that our increasingly complex (and sometimes random) social media networks reduce political polarization by exposing users to a wider variety of voices and ideologies. Barberá found that our broad collection of acquaintances and friends of friends (the randos) invites more diverse voices into our newsfeed and consciousness, encouraging less polarized political views.

It’s easy to make party lines feel like battlefields, and combat (or dismiss) those with differing viewpoints or political leanings. However, Barberá argues that on social media, we make contact with other ideas in conversation. And interestingly enough, some human element plays in and we are more willing to listen.

Advocates for intercultural communication have long said that interacting with differing worldviews creates stronger and more meaningful dialogue;. Jessica Carter argues in a blog posting that Twitter is the perfect venue for that interaction because it creates a space for people to come in contact with the unlikely – new cultures and ideas.

The moral of the story: creating real dialogue will eventually bring us to the real solutions. So share away, talk politics, post a photo that says “GO VOTE” (and then go vote) because the ripple effect is real.

Why We’re Wired For Stories

Why We’re Wired for Stories


photo credit: UNE Photos via photopin cc

photo credit: UNE Photos via photopin cc

A recent study done by psychologists at Harvard University found that we spend, on average, half of our waking time daydreaming. Our minds wander 47 percent of the time we’re awake, which doesn’t leave us much time to focus.

So, as organizations, how do we capture the ever-wandering attention of our audiences? Well, stories are one of the most effective ways to do it; an engaging story will keep the daydreams at bay. Stories have been around for eons, and while we always need hard facts as back-ups, we often fail to realize that the battle for attention starts with hearts.

Stories activate the emotional centers of our brains. Multiple studies have observed brain activity as it consumes a story, and all have found that the brain responds as if it is living the story. If the protagonist is scared, brain activity mimics real-life fear; if the protagonist is angry, our brain responds as if we are angry, too. Our brains behave as if all stories are real (well, the good stories at least).

This emotional aspect of storytelling allows us to retain information at a much higher rate than simple facts or numbers. A study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University found that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than just statistics. Storytelling is a mnemonic device; it helps information stick in our brains.

In fact, the emotional appeal of storytelling can even change our brain chemistry and, consequently, our behavior. A study done by neuroeconomist Paul Zak showed that participants who were exposed to a sad story experienced a spike in oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a chemical related to empathy. Zak found that this spike in oxytocin was directly related to an increased willingness to help or get involved. The moral here is the right story can have material effects.

How to Tell Stories

The best way to impact – and activate – your audience is to tell a good story; the human brain is wired to better retain information when it is activated emotionally.

Fortunately, everyone has a story, and the most successful organizations tell theirs often and well. To help you get started, here are some tips to remember as you craft a narrative:

  • Focus on one protagonist. It’s easiest for us to relate to one single character, and if the audience can identify with a character they are more likely to connect emotionally. Whether it’s someone who has been helped by your organization, someone involved in your organization, or maybe your leadership, it’s best to tell your story using just one strong voice.
  • Speak of the struggle. What good is a story with no conflict? By giving your protagonist plenty of obstacles to overcome, you create a character your audience can relate to and root for.
  • Give details. Any good storyteller will tell you, “show don’t tell,” meaning you should use imagery and description to tell your story. Show the audience what happened and how your protagonist overcame problems by describing situations rather than simply telling them that your character overcame obstacles.
  • Keep it simple. While details are important, make sure your story is clear and straightforward. Your audience doesn’t want to be confused or distracted by unnecessary or unimportant information.
  • Have a moral to the story. What is it you are trying to convey? Why does this story matter? Make sure that you are sending your organization’s message loud and clear. Storytelling is simply a medium used to express what it is your organization needs to say, so make sure the message is the main focus.

Storytelling is an art form that will become easier and easier with more practice, so get started! Spread your work in a way that draws in your audience and encourages them to really listen.