About Marilyn Jones

Over the past 12 years, entrepreneur, Marilyn Jones has been carving her path to success by combining her interest in working with nonprofit community organizations with her practical set of epublishing skills and marketing savvy. Why the fascination with the nonprofit community?

Rather than focus my experience, education, experience and efforts on making or helping people make more money, I prefer to work with people who are on a mission to make the world a better place, if only in some small way,” says Marilyn. “The stories and the people working for nonprofit organizations are more interesting to me.

Helping nonprofits gain visibility, Marilyn’s niche is 35 – 55 year olds in middle to upper management positions who work for (or are responsible for) communications at these organizations. With a graphic design background, a Masters of Publishing degree, and many high-tech tools at her disposal, she helps nonprofits focus on their messaging and branding so they can convey a consistent message to the right people, at the right time, with the right tool.

Nonprofits have an opportunity to tell great stories in ways not possible for a business or corporation and success in expressed in dollars and cents. For nonprofit organizations it’s about making a difference in the community and in helping others less fortunate succeed. Now, with open source tools like WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and many others, nonprofits have the tools to tell great stories.

Consistent branding and messaging is ever a challenge for both businesses and nonprofit organizations. “I always ask my clients what they want their ideal audience to understand about them,” said Marilyn. “Once they work their way through the answer to this questions, the rest is easy.”

Drawing upon her resourcefulness and extensive marketing, communications and sales experience, she loves to draw upon the tried and true while expand on the possibilities made possible by new communication tools and techniques. But it wasn’t always this way. She had a thing or two to learn first which began with her first publishing position.

After Marilyn studied graphic design at MacEwan University (then at the old Jasper Place campus of Grant MacEwan Community College), she was offered two positions at Edmonton Magazine – Edmonton’s first city magazine. One position was in graphic design, the other in marketing and sales. A single mom at the time, she chose the marketing and sales position because it paid twice as much. That sales path led her to Interface Magazine, Edmonton’s first arts & entertainment magazine, then to the Edmonton Sun, and eventually to the Citadel Theatre. As the Marketing and Communications Manager for over 4 years, the small team of three which she led achieved the highest number of subscribers in the theatre’s history to this day.

Another accomplishment has Marilyn beaming with pride.

Back in 1987, I read about an outdoor New Year’s Eve celebration taking place in Vancouver called the First Night Festival. I attended the festival in Vancouver and enjoyed myself so much I decided to create a similar event in Edmonton.” She had to find the money and sponsors, recruit board members and volunteers, conduct the training, all the while promoting and producing event on a shoestring budget. Despite the -27 C weather, over 17,000 people showed up in Churchill Square. It was my first big success in working collaboratively on a large community event. What a First Night it was!

In 1997, as the electronic age was gaining a foothold, Marilyn realized she had old tools, so she took a sabbatical and went to university. When she graduated with a Master of Publishing degree, she knew the internet would change communications in a big way, but she had few computer skills and no online publishing experience (but for the publications she worked on for an English professor that helped put her through university).

Soon after graduation, Marilyn was ecstatic about the launch of her first magazine, Edmonton’s Media Magazine, which was scheduled to print in the fall of 2002. Her delight changed to dismay with the announcement of the reorganization of key media outlets – making her publication out of date before the first copy came off the press. She still has boxes of out of-date-magazines in her garage she doesn’t have the heart to throw away.

Frantic, but ever determined and resourceful, Marilyn quickly created an email update for the magazine’s subscribers. Not only did the email newsletter maintain the integrity of her publication, it seeded the idea for subsequent online publications. Drawing on her publishing experience, determination and marketing principles, she taught herself the electronic skills that now serve her own business which she shares with others, and enjoys.

Today, in addition to offering epublishing services to nonprofit organizations in Alberta (and the odd author, artist or community organizer or two), she has built four websites, two blogs, and two email newsletters and offers 18 different workshops on various aspects of media and communications for nonprofit organizations in Alberta. Of course, due to rapid technology growth, the learning, re-designing, and updating process continues.

Marilyn’s short term goals include creating a free nonprofit jobs posting section and nonprofit events calendar on her website at: www.nonprofitnewsalberta.ca website this summer. In September, she plans to recruit and pay journalism students to write articles for her blog at: www.mediamag.ca. Hers is a mission-driven enterprise.

I enjoy working with others who are keen to make a difference in the world, if only in some small way.