I might have spoken my first opinions as a toddler and written my first press release as a 14-year old, but I didn’t become a communicator, with all of the skill and savvy that word represents, until I attended the SPIN Academy. In only three days, this workshop, retreat and networking extraordinaire transformed me from a passionate storyteller into a strategic messenger.

I came to the SPIN Academy with a problem: my organization’s educational materials were being banned because of their inclusion of gay families. We were spinning our wheels making statements, sending press releases and preparing spokespeople, but we weren’t shifting public opinion. (Sound familiar?)

Right before lunch on the 1st day of the SPIN Academy, I had an epiphany: we were losing because we had the wrong people telling the wrong stories. No matter how many gay parents spoke about diversity and respect, we would never move the majority of parents who felt threatened by the very diversity we were promoting. Instead, we had to reframe and highlight how having trusted adults explain the world in ways that were age-appropriate and factual would benefit their kids and their families. I used my one-on-one mentoring throughout the rest of the SPIN Academy to do just that and returned to my organization retooled and refocused. We never lost another curriculum fight.

Five years later, my SPIN Academy materials still sit on my desk, helping inspire and hone my work. If I’m stalled on talking points, I pull out Heath Wickline’s list of ‘American’ values. If I need a catchy visual for a press event, I refresh my ideas with Robert Bray’s SPIN Works! The SPIN Academy trains you to think like a communicator; their resources keep you moving down that path if you ever get stuck.

If you are ready to amplify your organization’s social-change work, don’t miss your chance to join this year’s SPIN Academy. Our team at LightBox Collaborative is delighted to be among the many talented trainers and coaches who come together for the SPIN Academy, helping participants learn the ins and outs of media outreach, storytelling, blogging and messaging.

The first ever SPIN Academy in New York City will take place this fall, and applications for the Northern California SPIN Academy are open until June 22nd. Learn more at spinacademy.org.

(Image courtesy SPIN Academy)

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ryan_schwartz Ryan Schwartz is a SPIN Academy alumni and transforms communications through sharp writing, strategic media relations, and strong messaging development at Hummingbird INK.