The Importance of the Blogosphere
At a recent Internet Advocacy Roundtable held by the Internet Advocacy Center, the subject was "engaging the blogosphere." The internet, of course, is an important and useful vehicle for getting your issues and news heard by millions of people as quickly as possible. And blogs are emerging as useful sources of news, especially news that isn't or won't be covered by the mainstream media.
That's why it can be important to not only have a blog, but get your news covered by blogs. Even if you don't have the time or the effort to create a blog for your own organization, you should find blogs covering your issues. Matthew Stoller, co-founder of Blogging of the President (BOPnews.com), explained that there are different communities of bloggers on the internet; find the blogosphere your organization can relate to. One great site for searching blogs is Technorati.com. You can search for blogs covering certain issues, talking about the latest news stories or maybe even featuring your own organization. You can even send your press releases to certain blogs to get your stories covered by them.
Henry Copeland, the founder of Blogads.com, talked about how bloggers work together on the internet. Because of this, advertising on blogs can be beneficial for your organization, due to blogs linking to other similar blogs and the amount of people reading blogs increasing. If you do plan to advertise, Blogads.com is the place to get your ads posted on the most influential blogs. Think of your ad as a mini website or an opening to a conversation. You want to lead people to your site and make people think about your issues. Also remember to change your ad frequently so it doesn't become stale and boring.
One interesting internet success story the Internet Advocacy Roundtable brought up was PETA's profile on Myspace.com. Myspace has become a popular place for everyone from bands to college or high school age kids to singles to post a profile about themselves and link to other people. PETA jumped on the Myspace bandwagon by creating a profile of their own. By doing this, they could instantly link themselves to thousands of other Myspace profiles. They have over 32,000 friends as of now and can quickly send messages and announcements to all of these people, who can then pass them on to their friends and so on. They've effectively created a community of their own, where they can advertise, comment and pass the word on about their issues.
Blogging in the Non-Profit World
At a recent Skill Swap held by Moving Ideas, several bloggers from non-profit organizations shared their tips and tricks on non-profit blogging. While every non-profit blog out there isn't the same, whether because of the issues it is touching on or because of the main purpose of the blog, there are some universal tips that can be followed.
Meghan Scott of the Public Campaign Action Fund, who writes for The Daily DeLay, explained that timeliness can be important. It's a good idea to keep your blog current, especially if you have members/readers who read your blog for the most up-to-date news on your issues. It is also useful to include links to other blogs that relate to your writings. By creating a friendly relationship within the blogosphere, your own blog could see traffic driven to it as other blogs link to yours in return.
Don't use jargon or technical language in your blog. Adam Hughes, who writes for OMB Watch's Budget Blog, explains that your blog should be informal in language and prose. Depending on your blog's main focus, it can also be a great way to post quick updates about the issues you cover. That is a great way to connect with readers who may not look at the rest of your site or care to read the more technical reports or analyses you release.
A great point from David Elliot, who writes for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's Blog, is that you need to see the difference between your website and your blog. What is the point of your blog? Also, use storytelling to connect with your readers and make the work you do on certain issues more personal. You can go beyond current events and use your own experiences to give your blog a more realistic and personal feel.
Your blog is also a great place to post content that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else on your homepage. You can also use your blog to point readers to other places on your site, potentially bringing in new members or activists.
A great blog to check out is Moving Idea's Ideapolis. They frequently have guest writers from their different member organizations that blog about issues in the progressive community.
Do environmentalists blog?
I am not sure this is the right question...but lots of people that work on environmental issues blog personally and professionally (GMT not on the list) and more and more groups are setting up blogs as communicaitons and campaign tools.
What's a Blog, and Why Should Nonprofits Care?
Another interesting push for the nonprofit community to consider the value of making more of the thinking and learning of the organization available to staff, friends and the public. while the topic is not new and there are old blogs and rants on the nonprofit use of the blog as a tool in their work, Zafa makes a contribution to the chorus pushing nonprofit staff to be more transparent through use of the blog as an easy content tool.
My favorite clips from this new article:
When she encouraged her staff to blog about their work, Sisnett recognized another benefit of nonprofit blogging: She could now easily keep up to speed on her staff's work and the progress of various, concurrent projects. Soon, between the executive director, the technical staff and volunteers, Austin Free-Net had three staff blogs full of updated and archived information that could easily be incorporated into strategic plan updates, VISTA reports, press releases, newsletters and grants. When a colleague, a sponsor or even a journalist needed information about a project or issue, Sisnett could refer the interested party to a blog.
blogs with an "internal focus" have made it easier for organizations to capture the knowledge of teams and support their collaboration. "Rather than only a linear discussion list for a team," she points out, "individual and collaborative blogs make it possible to see ties among team members and issues they are working on."
While blogs entail a requisite amount of timely attention and care, the work you put into them is not "just blogging," Sisnett adds, thinking about how the research and learning behind her blog have improved Austin Free-Net's projects and partnerships. "That work affects all of your organization's work."