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« I'm going to Blogher | Main | Posting the words nonprofit organizations and blogs in the blogosphere »


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Bob from the American Lung Association of MN

Thanks, Beth. Having noted how pro-smoke activists in Minnesota were using blogs to communicate their views (mostly to like-minded bloggers, but also to anyone trolling for information on the new smoking laws in the Twin Cities), I felt we also needed a voice in this emerging new medium.

Our IT director Dave Larson, who already had a personal blog, gave me a quick overview on blogs and encouraged me to establish one. An hour later, our blog was born.

As luck would have it, our directors were meeting with our new CEO, who will take charge on July 1. Much of my presentation time at the directors meeting was spent explaining (with Dave's help) what a blog was, and why we need one.

I did not have a formal "blog communications plan" developed -- an important step I would recommend all other nonprofit bloggers -- but I had developed some overall guidelines that I shared with both CEOs and the fellow directors before I made my first posting:

1) This blog will be a communications tool of the ALAMN, the same considerations for content and tone made for print or website communications will apply to the blog.

2) This blog will be a tool for all divisions of the ALAMN, not just tobacco control. While much of the content is about smoking, we also have postings on asthma, fundraisers, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and our clean fuels program.

3) We will not allow (as many blogs do) unedited comments to be posted on our blog. While this decision may seem to run counter to what a blog is supposed to be, I felt it was important not to allow our new site to be highjacked by critics of Minnesota smoking bans. As I mentioned before, these pro-smoke bloggers are well-organized (they have several formal blogger organizations and meet weekly at a local bar) and are very sophisticated and experienced in the blog-o-sphere.

I was certain the one thing that would certainly kill this new communications tool was having to explain to the CEO, National Office or a Board member why an official communications tool of the ALAMN is being used as a pro-smoke forum. So, no comments.

At Dave's urging, I did add my email address (which is how Beth reached me). Other than a couple of messages from pro-smoke activists in NY and PA (I had no idea our blog was beeing monitored outside of MN!), I have not had many site-related contacts -- untill I heard from Lisa and Beth.

At this time, Dave and I are the only two individuals authorized to post on the ALAMN blog, I have encouraged other managers to send me items (a few have). Another blog was established for our clean fuels program staff, but they have not yet made their first posting -- it is not quite on their radar screen as a worthwhile communications tool.

The jury is still out on the value of our site as well, but I will do a report next month on its purpose, its rapid growth and its potential for the future.

Meanwhile, I promote it whenever I can, encouraging other bloggers to add it to their blogrolls as Lisa has.

Robert Moffitt
Communications Director
American Lung Association of Minnesota


Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I'll add you to the blogroll ..

Bob from the American Lung Association of MN

Beth emailed this follow-up question to my earlier comments:

"My question is: How will you measure value/success?"

We will employ "the usual suspects" to measure success of the ALAMN blog, including counting visits, links, etc.

Determining the blog's value to the organization and its mission is a little more challenging. Here I will look for any direct actions taken as a result of a blog posting -- a donation, a new volunteer, a media story, etc.

I will also be asking myself and others in the organization tough questions about our blog, such as:

Is this taking more time than its worth?

Is this the right medium for our message?

Are we reaching the people we need to reach?

Are we using this communications tool to its best potential?

I'm not sure we will have all the answers. But as long as we keep asking ourselves the right questions, and keep focused on our mission, I think we will find many new uses for New Media that we haven't even dreamed of yet.

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