Social Media: Blogging Adds Fresh Content to a Website
I encouraged a nonprofit organization client to start a blog a few years ago because their website voice did not match their functional reality. In person, on the phone, and at events, the organization projected an image that was touchy-feely, compassionate, informal, accepting and embracing for the people it was trying to help, who had suffered terrible trauma in their lives. Their online voice through their website told a different story. It was a formal representation of the organization and its programs. While professional and competent, the website felt brand dissonant from the way the organization operated and behaved.
There was a real need to inject the voices of real people touched by the organization into the website. The solution was simple – a blog. The webmaster was engaged in setting up the technical aspects of the blog. Since they did not have much staff time available for blogging, a dozen individual people touched by the organization’s work were recruited to blog. The organization assigned someone on staff to liaison with the bloggers, remind them of deadlines, and edit their pieces. This spread the workload of maintaining the blog around, but also ensured that what was published would be professionally edited and share the organization’s voice.
An effort was also made to keep some evergreen content in a special folder, so if a blogger missed a deadline, the organization would still have some other options for sharing and able to maintain the schedule. They began with one blog a week from the new bloggers, and supplemented it with a weekly post that had been an email newsletter that went out weekly.
The blog posts were first person accounts that discussed how the individual was coping after going through a tragedy, and often discussed how the organization had assisted the person. These stories raised awareness about the needs of the people served by the organization and helped a variety of audiences see them in new ways – whether it was other people seeking assistance who identified with what the bloggers were sharing, donors, partner organizations, volunteers, or the news media.
In addition to keeping their home page updated and looking fresh every week, the blog posts were recycled into social media. Links were posted on Facebook and Twitter and draw engagement. Over time, the number of blog posts helped build a library of content that was populated into other areas of their website using a content management system with topic tags, giving them lots of fresh first person material that related to the population that they served throughout their website.
The blog also drew media attention to the organization. A couple of reporters – one for a national television network, another a recent Pulitzer Prize winner – went through the blog posts and contacted the organization asking to interview specific bloggers. One story aired on a national television network and featured the actual blog post written by the blogger, supplemented with photos she provided. The newscast even showed the blog and the organization’s website. The other story featured multiple people assisted by the organization, as well as the original blogger the reporter asked to speak with, and the stories were part of a month-long series published by a major online news network.
This client story is a great example of how a blog can add to an organization’s communications effectiveness and nurture content creation. By featuring the voices of real people touched by the organization, the addition of a blog to the nonprofit organization’s website touched heart strings and demonstrated how effective the organization could be for a variety of audiences.
Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.