Holiday Festivities at Balestra Media 2017

 

Ahead of the holidays, the Balestra Media team got together in Washington, D.C. from Detroit, New Jersey, and New York City to finish projects, send holiday cards and celebrate the team’s 2017 victories in a fun-filled two-day long city-wide excursion.

We jumped off our year-end festivities with a Middle Eastern-inspired vegan dinner at Shouk eatery in downtown D.C. and ended our night with a visit to the Miracle on 7th Street Holiday pop up bar in Shaw, where we dived into the holiday spirit in matching Christmas sweaters.

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We launched our second day of festivities with a team-building tennis session followed by a Hawaiian-inspired lunch at Poke Papa in Chinatown. Back at the Balestra Media We Work office, we signed holiday cards, exchanged gifts and presented awards to all of our staff. The front was dedicated to some of our inspiring projects this year.

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We concluded our year-end multi-day celebration with a delicious Afghan dinner at Lapis restaurant in Adams Morgan followed by a visit to the Pathway of Peace walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree featuring the 56 state and territory trees all decorated with unique, handmade ornaments.

This year was full of incredible moments of resistance and we hope that everyone has a restful holiday enjoyed with family and friends. Thank you for an amazing 2017!

Courtney Holsworth
NHMC launches new podcast and website with creative designed by Balestra

Balestra Media collaborated with the National Hispanic Media Coalition to re-brand their visual identity as part of the launch of a new website. Balestra developed a logomark using the Harriet type family and bold color blocks to provide a subtle elegance and straight-forward legibility, whether on viewed on the smallest device, the largest billboard or a glass trophy!

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In honor of NHMC’s 30 years of tireless work underscoring the important role media plays in the inclusion of Latinos and other communities of color, Balestra Media looked to their past use of a signature pastel blue and built a color pallet around the color they most used.

In the new logomark large blocks of this blue colorway took the composition of volume levels also signaling NHMC’s decades of work to increase diversity on the airwaves and tenacious expansion into podcasting to deliver culturally relevant content to Pasadena-area residents.

NHMC’s KHBG-LP 101.5 FM brand identity is an extension of the NHMC logomark with minimal and elegant typographic features that allow ample room for photography to tell the story behind each of the podcasts in the 101.5 FM family of programs.

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Christina DiPasquale
Members of the Clergy Stand Up for Charlottesville

A week ahead of the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally, our team headed down to Charlottesville, VA to assist the clergy and local activists with messaging, media relations, crisis communications, and spokesperson training. Balestra worked with Solidarity C’Ville, a coalition whose membership included Clergy from Congregate, Charlottesville; activists from Black Lives Matter, Charlottesville; and allies from Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Charlottesville.  

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We produced over a dozen documents guiding reporters covering the weekend's events and staffed dozens of interviews with local activists and faith leaders. Hundreds of top-tier media outlets provided extensive coverage to the Charlottesville residents who were showing up to challenge the spectre of white supremacy that imposed itself on their small town. When tragedy struck, creative director Andy Stepanian stayed throughout the tumultuous time, late through the evening to facilitate rapid response message aggregation and reporting for the activists on the ground. Andy's constant support to the clergy and local residents was a guide for journalists who were able to tell the real stories of human impact while honoring and respecting those who were harmed.

 
 
Christina DiPasquale
April 28th Convening: A New Vision for Youth Justice

On April 28th, The Youth First Initiative convened in Washington, DC for A New Vision for Youth Justice, Imagining a World Without Youth Incarceration.  The event drew together over 75 leading voices in the fight to close youth prisons for three days of organizing and trainings.  

Andy Stepanian of Balestra Media produced a spread of online and printed promotional materials for the event as well as a multi-cam Facebook Live broadcast of the event generating over 8,000 unique impressions.  Balestra also partnered with Burning Hearts Media to provide Youth First with a pro-res video package after the event.

Andy worked closely with Youth First to not only develop and produce the promotional materials and event program but also to design and produce Breaking Down the Walls, a powerful 67-page blueprint of successful state campaigns to close America’s youth prisons. Activists in attendance were provided copies of the report back to organizers in their home states, you can download a .pdf of the report HERE.

Activists left the event inspired and eager to bring the shared lessons of successful campaigns back to their own states.  

Balestra Media is humbled to continue to support Youth First's important work. With 4 youth prison facilities being closed this year and one in early 2018, Youth First has created one of the most successful coalitions fighting for youth justice to date. 

Christina DiPasquale
George Washington University Hosts Balestra's Christina DiPasquale at their Women in Business Summit

On, April 1, GWU hosted a summit that included women at all levels of business to share their experiences and advice with students. Balestra's Christina DiPasquale was invited to talk about why she chose to focus her communications shop on human rights issues and what challenges she has overcome as CEO.

The event was moderated by Tori Hannah, director of sports marketing at Under Armour. Others panelists included: Madison Mcghee, founder of The Lemon Stand; Sara Fisher, Media Reporter at Axios; and Caryn Benisch, Communications Strategist with Rational 360.

Christina DiPasquale
Short Film from Youth First Revealing a New Vision for Youth Justice--a World Without Youth Prisons

Balestra Media is humbled to have been invited to work on this short film about the efforts of the Youth First Initiative and to again team up with video partner Burning Hearts Media. Balestra’s Andy Stepanian and Burning Hearts Media’s Jeffrey Wirth co-directed this piece, produced by Balestra’s Christina DiPasquale, to provide a voice to the 50,000 youth incarcerated in America’s juvenile justice system.

The b-roll and 12 interviewees were filmed at the Youth First State Strategy Roundtable 2016 in Richmond. The team scouted locations around the conference, set up a room where lawyers, organizers and youth would feel comfortable talking about their work, and captured their positive vision of youth justice that doesn't rely on incarceration.

This video needed to show the lasting, negative impact of youth prisons where young people are subjected to restraints, brutal violence, and solitary confinement. The Youth First Initiative is taking aim at these facilities with a simple demand, #NoKidsInPrison and inviting more to join them:

NowThis shared a short version of the video on social media and got more than 350,000 views in the first week it had posted.

This Friday, the Larned Juvenile Correctional Center in Kansas will close after 45 years of operation. The closure of this medium/high-security facility, designed to imprison 170 youth, marks a significant victory for Kansans United for Youth Justice, part of the Youth First Initiative.

The tireless work of Youth First, a growing national constellation of organizations from Kansas, Virginia, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and New Jersey that launched in 2015 with a goal of closing youth prisons, has already lead to commitments to close five facilities in four states. Many more youth prisons are under scrutiny from state and federal authorities.

Today’s political climate underscores the importance of Youth First’s work. While youth incarceration has been on the decline for over a decade, due in part to the efforts of Youth First and myriad other juvenile justice advocates, the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have signaled that the youth prison complex may see renewed vigor.

Please follow Youth First’s work on Twitter, Facebook, or their website.

Christina DiPasquale
NHMC’s 20th Latino Impact Awards with Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil and How to Get Away With Murder’s Karla Souza

We’re so proud to have joined the National Hispanic Media Coalition for their annual gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel honoring individuals who have furthered multi-dimensional portrayals of Latinos in film and television. Balestra Media's Christina DiPasquale and Courtney Holsworth worked with Variety and Bizbash to feature the gala in their Oscar week photo galleries, and with EFE on red carpet interviews. Balestra creative director Andy Stepanian designed the organization's new logo etched on the awards for the first time this year.

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Proud to stand beside members of NHMC’s talented staff after another successful Impact Awards Gala!

Christina DiPasquale
Balestra Media Founder Tapped to Develop Media Strategy and Skills Class at University of New Hampshire

This month, Christina DiPasquale, Balestra Media founder and CEO, will begin teaching a course that she has developed over the last several months for students at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

In the course, Christina will introduce contemporary media strategies and how they can be used to influence public policy. A three-part approach will focus on 1) recognizing the dynamics of a news cycle and how to identify opportunities in an oversaturated media landscape; 2) developing a context- and medium-sensitive communications strategy that meets established goals; 3) producing writing for a variety of mediums, and preparing for TV and radio interviews.

Christina DiPasquale
The NHMC Team Gathers in NYC to Celebrate Local Latinos for Significant Contributions to the Community

Last night, the National Hispanic Media Coalition honored local Latinos for their leadership and contributions to the community at its 2nd annual New York Impact Awards Reception at Google headquarters in New York City. Honorees included Fox News Latino; Fox 5 reporter Jessica Formoso; Telemundo 47 anchor Jorge Ramos; and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

NHMC staff from the Pasadena and DC offices joined together with board members, Balestra Media's Christina DiPasquale and our Google hosts for the evening.

Christina DiPasquale
Balestra Media Directs Crime Survivor Video, Designs Campaign Identity for the new Alliance For Safety and Justice Launched Today

Communities of color comprise the overwhelming majority of communities impacted by crime, and yet historically have remained underserved by systems designed to prevent crime.  Balestra Media partnered with the Alliance for Safety (ASJ) and Justice to develop a visual identity campaign that not only communicated the goals of the new organization, but also told the deeply personal stories of crime survivors who advocate for healing communities and rejecting overincarceration.

Campaign Identity

Given that ASJ grew, in part, from the the success of local groups like Californians for Safety & Justice (CSJ), our team gave thoughtful consideration to the typographic sensibilities of CSJ and previous color palettes. Balestra developed a brand identity and logo typeset in Proxima Nova, using a saturated carceral orange and tranquil blue to symbolize moving forward from mass incarceration to a future embracing restorative justice.

Cinematic & Digital Storytelling

Balestra worked closely with ASJ to tell the stories of those directly impacted by crime, and those who are advocate for shifting investments from mass incarceration to treatment and trauma recovery.  After interviewing key voices, we produced a 5 minute short film, and five 30-second clips for sharing on Instagram and Facebook.

Website & Data Visualization

Balestra collaborated with ASJ, The Raben Group and Talbot Digital to create an online platform for ASJ to launch to include the crime survivors video, new photos from the recent Survivors Speak conference and information about state campaigns and resources.  Complete with parallax elements, an interactive Crime Survivors Report, and a dynamic data visualization map that highlights rates of incarceration in states across the country, the new website provides an information clearinghouse for anyone interested in criminal justice reform, and the important and often under-told stories of crime survivors.

Audience Building

 Balestra developed a series of digital audience products to tell ASJ’s story on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, accompanied by sample language to share the new collateral across all platforms and increase engagement focused on partner states.

Christina DiPasquale
Mohamedou Slahi is Free

Every once in awhile our work humbles us to the core.

After 14 years of detention without charge, Mohamedou Ould Slahi was released from the military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Leading up to this moment Balestra Media worked closely with the ACLU to create an escalating multi-medium campaign advocating for the release of Slahi. The campaign braided traditional earned media relations with digital petition engagement and creative strategies to elevate Mohamedou’s voice and build his supporter base while the GITMO periodic review board considered Mohamedou for release.

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Balestra Media worked with Mohamedou’s brother, Yahdih Slahi to develop a petition asking then Defense Secretary Ashe Carter to consider freedom for Mohamedou and combined in-person petition events with an escalating digital publishing calendar that posted daily graphics inspired by the journal entries of Mohamedou Slahi.

Mohamedou was released this morning by way of an early morning flight from Guantanamo Bay to Mauritania where his family resides.  

Before even arriving home Mohamedou told his lawyer Nancy Hollander he hoped to one day tour Europe promoting his New York Times best-selling memoir, Guantanamo Diary. It’s humbling to know that could soon be a reality.

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Christina DiPasquale
In Sunday Print, the Los Angeles Times Profiles Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition

Balestra Media worked with the Los Angeles Times on including influential Latinos, including Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, in their online feature profiling 100 diverse influencers who have made a significant impact on Hollywood. Together, they represent the outlet’s top candidates for nomination to various branches of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The piece ran in print on Sunday, June 5.

NHMC’s Alex Nogales was one of 20 influencers increasing diversity in the industry with a breakout Q&A here: http://lat.ms/1t3JKBa.

After publication, the Los Angeles Times acknowledged NHMC in a follow-up piece for their recommendations of dozens of NHMC’s allies for inclusion. Of that list, we celebrate the newspaper’s selection of these amazing Latinos:

Gina Rodriguez (nominated for Actors branch)
Oscar Issac (nominated for Actors branch)
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (nominated for Directors branch)
Aurora Guerrero (nominated for Directors branch)
Jorge Gutierrez with a Q&A here
http://lat.ms/25CBSYq (nominated for Short Films and Animation)
Axel Caballero (nominated for Associates branch)
Ivette Rodriguez (nominated for Public Relations branch)
Eric Rovner (nominated for Associates branch)
Paul Presburger (nominated for Executives branch)

UPDATE: Of NHMC’s recommendations chosen by the Los Angeles Times, the Academy invited three to join.

Congratulations to:

Jorge Gutierrez, animator/director, “The Book of Life,” and NHMC Impact Award recipient
Patricia Riggen, director, “The 33”
Oscar Isaac, actor, “Star Wars The Force Awakens” and “Ex Machina”

Christina DiPasquale
Robin Wright and #StandWithCongo Media Day

We had the incredible pleasure of working with the whole #StandWithCongo team - JD Stier, campaign director; Mike Ramsdell, film director; activist and artist Omekongo Dibinga and the amazing activist and actress Robin Wright.

This was also a very special project to me because I had the opportunity to work alongside my former colleague JD Stier, after our time together at Center for American Progress, and collaborate closely with my former FitzGibbon Media colleague Andy Stepanian on the media relations. So proud to see a Stier Forward campaign in action, with support by The Rockefeller Foundation, and drawing attention to the need for transparency in mining contracts in Congo with the new documentary.

Christina DiPasquale
More, Better Media for Digital Rights Campaigns

Balestra Media' s RightsCon Silicon Valley panel went one hour over time in a livelydiscussion of engaging media around digital rights. Brian Knappenberger, director of THE INTERNET'S OWN BOY: THE STORY OF AARON SWARTZ, shared his insights on storytelling from years of visualizing tech issues--most recently through his direction of the Maggie Gyllenhaal-narrated docu-series Truth and Power. Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron contributed his perspective on years of campaigning and advocacy work. The audience shared their successes and lessons learned, analyzed recent news coverage and workshopped their future ideas with all the panelists.

National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Impact Awards Gala

Very excited to be a part of the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Impact Awards this year to honor outstanding contributions to the positive portrayals of Latinos in media and NHMC’s 30th anniversary. At this year’s gala in Beverly Hills, we proudly wore our #HollywoodBrownout ribbons!

Christina DiPasquale