Three months ago I added a mentoring service to Media Helping Media. The idea was to offer media managers a point of contact so that they could discuss any problems they faced and I could help them either with some free advice in the first instance, or, if they needed more long-term support, introduce them to a consultant who could work with them.
The site was already getting a steady stream of enquiries from journalists on the ground. These were usually dealt with by pointing them to the 150+ free journalism and media strategy training resources on Media Helping Media.
However I wanted to try to formalise the system. It had become unmanageable. I wanted to be able to call on my network of colleagues who might be able to help, and to introduce new contacts to the most appropriate person. I also thought, probably mistakenly, that if I aimed the service at the bosses, they would contact on behalf of their staff and request advice on how to manage and train them.
So I created a new section on the site called Media Helping Media Mentoring. I built a simple WordPress site, using a free template, and set out what help was on offer. Once built, I realised I still needed a tool to manage any responses.
I then came across vCita, a free plug in that promised to manage any ‘leads’. It’s built for businesses that are looking for new work. That wasn’t really what I wanted. However, the more I got to know vCita, the more I realised that it could be adapted to meet my needs.
And it certainly did; the requests came flooding in. Requests for help doubled in the first week. Journalists in Africa, Asia and the Middle East who had nowhere to turn for support contacted the site. Their requests were simple. They wanted help, training and advice. The conversation below – taken as a screen grab from my vCita site – is a case in point.
vCita conversation on Media Helping Media Mentoring
Some come back for more. Others say thanks, and that’s it. Some have asked permission to use the training modules on Media Helping Media in their training programmes. And of course they can. All the modules on Media Helping Media are released under Creative Commons for non-commercial purposes.
Now I need to figure out how to channel these requests and feed them into larger, well-resourced organisations which can, perhaps, pick up on the needs and design programmes to meet them.
And that’s the point, really. Those of us who have the knowledge need to make it more accessible, for no cost, so that distance and location isn’t a barrier to learning.