This page is part of Benton Foundation's online archive. We've kept some old stuff around for historical purposes.

Think it Through: Media
Strategic Communications... the digital age  

Think it Through
Planning Audience
Message Shaping
Media Choices

Put it to Work

What to Watch

Peer2Peer Learning

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© Benton Foundation 2001

Media Choices
Choosing which platform(s) on which to convey your messages and reach your audience Tools & Resources | Profiles | What to Watch

Your choice of a dissemination vehicle will be impacted by decisions you make about who your audience is and what message you have for them. Similarly, which platform you select will also impact your message and limit your audience. For example, if your target population are likely listeners to radio, you'd want to develop messages appropriate for radio public service ads.

In addition, as media platforms increasingly go digital and start to converge, opportunities for using multiple platforms increase. Here you'll find discussions of different approaches for different media.

Tools & Resources

Now Hear This: Match Strategy and Tactics To Your Target Audience
This Fenton Communications guide to advocacy communications offers suggestions for picking the best ways to reach your audience through a variety of communications mechanisms.

KRON's Media Access Guide for Nonprofit Organizations
Many local news stations offer free air time to the nonprofit community. Check out this online guide to working with the news media, including how to organize a publicity campaigns and how to write and format a public service announcement (PSA) and press release.

Media: Using What's There and Creating Your Own
This section of Out Against the Right: An Organizing Handbook describes the differences between mainstream and alternative media. It also suggests different ways to work with the media, and profiles the use of radio, television and video by a civil rights advocacy group to further their mission.

Lights…Action…Camera! Creating a video message on the cheap
This article from the Nonprofit Times offers a step-by-step guide for using video to aid in the fundraising goals of your organization. The companion article, Fundraising Videos: Part II, outlines the various technical needs for producing such a video.

Nuestra Salud: A Healthy Choice for Latina Lesbians
The Latina/o lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Organization has launched a health promotion initiative around the video series Nuestra Salud, a 6-part videotape series that examines women's health, including domestic violence, breast exams and mental health. This article discusses how the video series was used to promote women's health.

Dishing Up The Public Interest Programming: Noncommercial Networks on DBS (8/29/00)
This article from Benton's Communications Policy Program looks at examples of noncommercial programming created for Direct Broadcast Satellite by nonprofit organizations.

Making Waves: Stories of Participatory Communications for Social Change
The Rockefeller Foundation's Making Waves: Stories of Participatory Communications for Social Change introduces the possibilities of using radio, video and the Internet. This introduction outlines the possible uses of each medium to reach out to a particular community. The focus of this report is on developing countries, but the lessons can be used by all.


Advocacy Video: Producing Change
This excellent report provides 15 examples illustrating the use of advocacy videos by broadcasters, individuals and nonprofits to win direct results in campaigns to further social causes. (Benton Foundation, 1997)

Do Environmental Films Help the Environment?
Because films are visually compelling, they can be excellent ways to garner support for your cause. This article from describes five different environmental activists using films to affect change in their community both locally and nationally.

The Mother Teresa Of All Web Sites
The Internet can be a powerful tool to help move your organization's mission forward. This AlterNet article profiles, a nonprofit organization that uses the Internet to connect organizations with potential volunteers. According to founder Jay Backstrand, despite the bust of the dot-com industry, this online organization has succeeded.

American Architectural Foundation (AAF)
The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) is one organization that believes individuals should be informed of and involved in the design of their communities. In order to foster public learning and participation, AAF produces television documentaries that tell the stories and share the strategies of citizens who have joined together to rebuild their communities.

Grantmakers on Funding Social Issue Media Projects
Staff from both the Ford and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations talk about the importance of funding communications efforts by highlighting initiatives their organizations funded, which incorporate multiple platforms in order to reach the widest audience possible.

Share your organization's story or lesson on using a variety of media platforms to reach your audience.

What to Watch

Good Works in the Palm of a Hand
The Chronicle of Philanthropy discusses the use of handheld devices by nonprofit organizations in social service and disaster relief.

Highlights of
This Benton written piece highlights the resources and tools that can be found on the MediaRights Web site. seeks to provide activists and social change makers with the tools and information they need to utilize documentary films to aid in their work.

con·ver·gence (kn-vûrjns)
The convergence of media has powerful implications for the nonprofit sector, allowing you to streamline your services and deliver information in a variety of ways. This article is the first in a series that will explore nonprofit communications in the increasingly converging media environment.

Noncommercial Networks on DBS
This piece from Benton's Communications Policy program looks at the potential of Direct Broadcasting Satellite (DBS) as a vehicle for conveying public interest messages and programming.

Connecting Communities: Public Media in the Digital Age
If new communications technologies are so powerful and so innovative, then how can they be harnessed to our local, community needs? This Benton Foundation report surveys some of the experiments being conducted around the country in an attempt to answer this and other questions.

Is Low Power FM Finally finding its Voice?
In the Mountain Empire communities of Potrero, Campo and Morena Village, California, local community news is distributed by word-of-mouth and through information placed on post office bulletin boards. There are no daily newspapers, local radio or TV stations in this rural mountainous part of southeast San Diego County, along the border of the United States and Mexico. But soon, residents of the Mountain Empire region -- and hundreds of communities like it -- will be able to exchange information and keep informed through their very own radio station.

Pew Center for Civic Journalism
Explores the cross-section between traditional news media and social change. Their newsletter, Civic Catalyst, tracks experiments between media outlets and community-based organizations.

Last updated: 30 October 2001 mff