A big thank you to Danielle Cook for this guest blog post!
A vital element of any thriving relationship is communication. This truth extends to the dynamic between an organization and its stakeholders, and a blog is an effective channel for dialogue with those circling its orbit.
Organizational buy-in is key for any new endeavor. Your colleagues might ask, “What is the value of having a blog? We already have a website, isn’t that enough?” After taking a deep, cleansing breath, you can start enlightening them on the impact of breadcrumbs. Yes, you read that correctly. Breadcrumbs.
Thought provoking content designed to address the specific needs and curiosities of your community is the trail of breadcrumbs driving traffic to all of your assets, including your website. A blog allows an organization to demonstrate that it is a thought leader and offers an opportunity to be transparent about the organization’s opinions and processes, which helps to build credibility. Blog content can also be repurposed for your social media channels, newsletter, advertising, training and onboarding. It’s a cost-efficient way to share your mission beyond your current stakeholders, creating potential for new partnerships. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits:
Be a thought leader
A blog is a great place to showcase your organization’s excellence by spotlighting your expertise and accomplishments. You can prove your effectiveness by examining the issues impacting your stakeholders, sharing insight into how you arrived at decisions, and what led to your current processes. Have fun revealing your unique voice and abilities. You’re in control of your own narrative. Be empowered by the 1 percent rule: Only 1 percent of Internet users create new content, while the other 99 percent simply view it. If you want to effect change, then it’s crucial to stand out and be heard.
Stay informed and relevant
In order to create engaging content, your blog’s contributors must stay attuned to trending topics such as new legislation or evolving approaches to best practice. This might require collaboration with subject matter experts outside of your organization. The editorial process can help your organization stay informed and allow it to confidently participate in conversations that influence the field.
Nothing is more important than understanding your audience. Your staff will need to explore ways to gain information about your audience’s needs. Perhaps colleagues can shed light on the most frequently asked questions or common challenges among the population you serve. Ask to join departmental meetings, advisory committees and panels to gain insight into the issues being discussed. Look at existing surveys distributed by your organization. Learn from analyzing both the data and how your organization is asking the questions. Perhaps you can find an unexplored angle by approaching a familiar topic differently on your blog.
New partnerships and opportunities
A blog welcomes conversation. Your readers will be able to share feedback, experiences and knowledge in the comments section, which might inspire a new post or be “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. A blog is better than a business card. It allows you to establish familiarity with new clients, volunteers, donors and funders, which can convert to valuable professional relationships. This can lead to new business or an invitation to contribute to an influential blog, participate on a panel or advisory committee or present at a conference. It might also attract influencers interested in contributing to your blog. Being associated with influencers can help build brand awareness. It can also be a way to reintroduce your organization to your community, leading to new partnerships with organizations with a shared mission or service population, thereby, strengthening the overall impact of your work.
Contributing to an organization’s blog not only allows staff to hone their written communication skills, but also allows them to practice communicating and understanding their mission. This challenges them to think about their mission beyond their day-to-day work. It forces staff to understand their skills, organize their thoughts and learn how to articulate their ideas and knowledge. Writing a blog post is a measurable performance goal and allows staff to expand their comprehension on a subject. It also encourages staff to form and express opinions, which can galvanize them to question the status quo and motivate them to recommend improvements within your organization.
A blog can be a helpful resource for new staff to learn about an organization, the services they provide, their unique culture and vernacular and the community with which they associate.
Once you get the green light from leadership, start mobilizing the troops! Form a blog committee and recruit staff to join. Work with leadership to create a communication plan. Be clear about expectations around participation.
Meet with your technology team to discuss where the blog should live. Ideally, your blog will be a part of your existing website, driving traffic to your website and giving your organization complete oversight.
Don’t fret if this isn’t possible. There are plenty of easy-to-use blogging platforms available for a nominal cost. Determine what you need before shopping around. Most platforms don’t require much maintenance, are friendly to beginners and have 24/7 customer service. There will most likely be limitations around customization, but this is often not an issue for those less tech savvy. You’ll find that most platforms will integrate with a customer relationship management system or software like Google Analytics. That said, most blogging platforms have built in analytics. Tracking analytics will assist you with communicating with your audience. As you gain a better understanding of your audience’s behavior you will be able to tailor content to their interests and improve upon the blog’s user experience.
Educate your committee about best practice for creating a blog. There are many elements to consider beyond aesthetics, although a style guide is useful. This will include developing policies and procedures. Check in with your technology team, because they probably already have policies and procedures in place related to media and technology for existing assets.
Every organization will approach this process differently based on their expertise and resources. No matter where you start, push yourself and your organization to dive a little deeper to find new ways to examine your organization’s important work. Learn about what challenges and motivates those in your community and the impact of their hard work.
Danielle Cook is a freelance content creator and editor. She is passionate about developing valuable resources for those in the human services field. If you can’t find Danielle playing Attack from Mars at her local pinball laundromat (yes, she lives in Brooklyn) then she’s most likely writing songs with her husband for a friend’s birthday (it’s the gift that keeps on giving).