Boston/New England Chapter

Organized in 2004, the PCN Boston / New England Chapter is a coalition of about 30 active participants representing diverse communities and issue areas. In the course of the last few years, organizations involved in the chapter activities include: United for a Fair Economy, smartMeme, Open Media Boston, ACE, Third Sector New England, Press Pass TV, and Community Change. The chapter carries out the PCN national mission on a regional level.

The regional plan for Boston is to increase the participation of organizers who are doing communications work, particular those representing people of color communities. PCN Boston / New England will also expand media training opportunities to these diverse activists and communicators who are often left with very little support or technical assistance for their work.

Oct 012013

PCN’s Boston chapter has set the date for their eighth annual Be the Media! — a one-day mini-conference for Boston nonprofit organizers and communicators who want to share skills and strategies on effective communications.

More details will appear on the Be the Media! website later this fall, but you can also check out presentations and highlights from past years’ events at

May 102013

PCN’s Boston/New England chapter hosted a webinar on rebranding presented by Charu Gupta of the Veng Group. It included the basics about the process of branding/rebranding, useful questions to ask within your organization, and two case studies of nonprofits that have redefined themselves.

Download (PPT, 726KB)

Thanks again to Charu Gupta for sharing her expertise with the PCN community!

To learn about future webinars and local get-togethers organized by the Boston Chapter or the NYC chapter, sign up for our email list using the box on the right.


Apr 122013

PCN’s Boston-New England chapter is hosting a webinar open to the whole PCN community. Boston communicator Charu Gupta will lead this one-hour webinar on rebranding on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 1 PM.

Non-profits often face the question of whether and how to rebrand their organization. They’ll explore questions of finding an effective branding or rebranding strategy, and also often need to decide whether what they need is a mere tweak or a total rebranding of the organization.

We’ll cover those topics as well as:

  • What are the important steps and factors in your decision making process?
  • What are some of the pitfalls of a rebranding strategy?
  • How can we develop a branding strategy that effectively communicate the organization’s mission, vision, and values, while clearly establishing your identity and unique position within the field?

This webinar will help participants understand the concepts and strategies of effective rebranding, including review of case studies and best practices.

Following the presentation, we’ll have ample time for discussion and Q&A among people on the call. This webinar is free, but you must register.

More about the presenter, Charu Gupta:

Charu Gupta is the managing partner of Veng Group’s Boston office. The Veng Group is a government relations, communications, public affairs and outreach firm with a client roster that includes national African American, Asian American, Latino and Native American organizations. Charu was most recently a director at The Raben Group, where she did messaging and branding and developed media and advocacy campaigns. She also served as the director of communications for Ohio’s largest foreclosure prevention and community organizing nonprofit, Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People.

Charu has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. You can read some of Charu’s award-winning writing at

Mar 282013

Press Pass TV Logo

Press Pass TV brings you a hands-on workshop to explore ways you can use video to promote your organization, spread your message, and build an audience. Learn about what tools are available, how you can use things you may already have to make and edit videos, and what low-cost options will get you high quality professional videos fast. We’ll also share some tactics and tools for making videos that matter and show you a few case studies of videos that have made real change in our communities. Leave with a customized plan to implement in your work right away!


We welcome participants from Be the Media 7 to this networking/training session.  We look forward to your input on ideas for future workshops/forums.


Presenter:   Cara Lisa Berg Powers,  Co-Director, Press Pass TV

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

   5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

at United for a Fair Economy

One Milk Street., Boston, 5th Floor

(Please note new location)

For more information or RSVP, email Tom at:

PCN Website:

Light refreshments will be served

Mar 112013

Jason Pramas of Open Media Boston presented a webinar on Social Media: Why, What and How? for the Boston/New England chapter of PCN on March 7, 2013. Here are a few highlights and useful links for PCNers who are exploring social media further.

Why social media?

Over the past two decades since the web began, virtually all non-profits have started websites. Unfortunately, many organizations stopped there and have thus far missed the opportunity to build communities using the social networks where people now hang out on the Internet. Without taking advantage of social networks and social media in general, organizational websites remain static and unseen by most.

By utilizing existing popular social network and social media platforms, non-profits can build a robust online communities in place of a less active website. Connecting to social networks like Facebook, social media like Twitter, and other subsidiary networks and platforms, and devoting staff and/or volunteer time to interacting with people in those digital environments will result in the creation of a robust online community for your organization.

In addition, it’s also possible to allow people sign into your organizational websites via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other services. This has the advantage of getting more people closer in to your organization, and uses those vast fully staffed social networks and social media platforms to vet user accounts (make sure they’re not just spammers) and do the technical work of maintaining all these user accounts instead of trying to do it ourselves.

Best of all, those existing communities already have millions of participants that often include the people you are trying to reach. By making your site porous to social media, you allow people to reach you more easily, and become an active participant in the online networks where your audiences are.

What can you be doing?

Take an analytic approach to your website and to all your online interactions. Start with Google Analytics, which will tell you who is coming to your site and what content is attracting them, along with what sites are referring traffic to you. Use this information to decide which major social networks and social media platforms that you need to build a presence on.

Creating a Facebook Page for your organization is the best way to build a vibrant online community at speed. Just remember that it will have to be created via one of your staff’s or volunteer’s individual Facebook account, and that it will be necessary to to give your organization’s principals administrative access to your organization’s Facebook Page (in case the person that started the Page leaves your organization). Here are some tips:

  • Post fresh content that engages your growing Facebook community on a regular basis.
  • Build for your upcoming events by creating a Facebook Event, and invite your Facebook community to attend and also to invite all their friends.
  • Constantly encourage more people to join your community by “liking” your organization’s Facebook Page.

Facebook also has its own analytics. To see your analytics in the Facebook environment, use Facebook Insights to see who you are communicating with and how they are interacting with your content.

Consider an investment in promoting your Facebook posts to reach larger audiences for a few dollars at a time. In Jason’s example, his news publication Open Media Boston spent less than $2 to reach an 300 people with a particular story. Spending $10 or $15 can help you reach an extra 2,000-4,000 people, and get lots of new Likes on your Facebook Page – building your community very efficiently and inexpensively.

Use Twitter for short communications to your growing network of Twitter followers. Organize your Twitter presence with browser based services like TweetDeck. Hold conversations over time by creating a “hashtag” based on your organization’s name or a particular subject that your organization specializes in. Make sure your followers add you to the Twitter Lists of key Twitter Users that they read regularly.

Be sure to “livetweet” your events, and make sure your online communities know times and dates for those events in advance. To track your Twitter analytics, you can use Twitonomy or search for “twitter analytics” on your favorite web search engine and look at other popular services.

How can you post easily and monitor your social media progress?

One of the most important things to remember is that for this to work, you have to do it consistently. Assign someone  to “build a community” through regular interaction: responding to inquiries along with posting content. If you are not initiating interactions, people will forget about you. Assign someone who identifies as comfortable in this environment. Younger “digital natives” in your organization are generally idea for such tasks – just be sure that they are fully briefed on your organization’s history and mission.

There are also ways to automate your online presence. For example, there are a many tools that will allow you to easily promote your web content to Twitter:

  • Manage your websites RSS feed with FeedBurner, then use Twitterfeed to automatically promote your RSS feed contents to your Twitter account (and other services, too).
  • For people running WordPress sites, the JetPack plugin for WordPress has some good social media integrations and is well-maintained. Also consider the Social plugin.

Learn more

For those of you who are interested to learn more, you can take a look at these resources:

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Feb 212013

PCN’s Boston/New England chapter is hosting a webinar on Social Media Best Practices for Supporting Organizing on Thursday, March 7, 2013, 1 PM Eastern Time. The workshop will be led by Boston trainer/consultant Jason Pramas. Register by March 6th.

Social Media best practices: why, what and how?

Activist organizations around the world have successfully used social media to widely broadcast their cause, raise funds, and mobilize their constituency.  For small social change organizations, it’s a challenge to figure out the best ways of using these tools to highlight their cause or organization.

  • Why is it important for an organization to have a social media presence?
  • What is/are the best social media platform(s) to use?
  • How do we know if your social media campaign is a success (how do you measure effectiveness)?

Jason Pramas, founder and editor/publisher of Open Media Boston and long-time progressive activist/organizer, will help guide us with his experience using various social media tools and help answer some these critical questions.

Although this is an event by and for the PCN Boston/New England chapter, all PCNers and allies are welcome, as long as you RSVP.

About the presenter

Jason Pramas is the founder and editor/publisher of Open Media Boston – an online progressive metropolitan news publication serving Boston and environs since March 2008. He is also a grassroots organizer with over a quarter century of experience in the labor, immigrant, anti-racist, anti-poverty, ecology, altermondialiste, higher education, housing, intergenerational, and alternative media movements. A photojournalist and artist by training, Jason is an MFA candidate in visual arts at the Art Institute of Boston and an adjunct professor of communications at Lesley University. He is 46 years old and a native of Boston and Peabody, MA.

Dec 132012

With over 60 people participating over the course of the day from greater Boston and across New England, we had folks from a range of organizations who shared skills, networked, and talked about communications till it was dark outside. Organizations represented included: Occupy Maine TV, Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, United for a Fair Economy, and Arise for Social Justice/Right to the City.

The day began with a lively interactive opening plenary on media tools supporting civic engagement on justice issues, facilitated by PCNers Kathleen Pequeño and Cara Lisa Berg Powers. Following the opening plenary, participants attended a series of morning workshops, then jumped into informal lunch-time discussion sessions (based on topics identified from the plenary), and a series of afternoon workshops. One afternoon highlight from the Creative Media Workshop was PCNer Celina Lee’s sharing of ACE’s amazing transportation justice campaign using the meme of super heroes.  You can visit our Be the Media! Blog to find out more about this year’s workshops.

Comments from the closing were very supportive of Be the Media! and show interest in future PCN-Boston/New England networking and training sessions. We look forward to continuing to build on another successful year of Be the Media!!

Here are some photos from the day:

Some participant comments:

“I thought the $40 fee was very reasonable…I expected getting info on tools and best practices for media and I received both!” 

— Kara Olberg, LivableStreets Alliance

“First time I’ve heard Kathleen Pequeño. What a dynamo and fun! Quite a unique selection of folks. ”   

— Martha Spiess, Indymedia/Occupy Maine TV

“Great Workshops! … I will share this info and we will turn it into action!” 

— Jasmine Laietmark, Boston Cyclists Union, formerly with ACE

See you at Be the Media! in Boston

 Posted by on November 18, 2012  Comments Off on See you at Be the Media! in Boston
Nov 182012
Be The Media 2012 Boston 720x400

If you or someone you know is in New England, it’s that time of year: time for the seventh annual Be the Media! Mini-Conference on December 6, 2012 in Boston, Mass.

Be the Media! helps participants understand the link between strategic communications and organizing strategies as well as learn essential communications tools and techniques.

This year’s theme is supporting civic engagement: effective communications tools and strategies to mobilize your constituency and stakeholders. Workshop topics will include: mobile phone blogging; an introduction to media basics, messaging through creative action, communicating across differences and conducting a website audit.

Date: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Time: 9am – 5:30pm (lunch provided)

Location: Third Sector New England’s NonProfit Center, 89 South Street in Boston (close to South Station)

Cost: $40, includes lunch; scholarships available; all are invited!

Details are on the website:

Aug 282012

Don’t miss PCN-Boston/New England’s seventh annual Be the Media! Mini-Conference! The conference helps participants understand the link between strategic communications and organizing strategies as well as learn essential communications tools and techniques. It’s also a great networking opportunity.

The conference is designed to serve change makers at all levels of experience including those who are doing communications work as part of their current positions, such as organizers, executive directors, or policy advocates. You can see the 2011 Be The Media program here.

Check back after October 15 for detailed theme and workshop information about Be The Media! 2012.