Want to change the world? Blogging may be a great place to start. I'm at the 2012 No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C., listening to a presentation on Advocacy Blogging by John Sibley of In Dog We Trust.
I am blogging this live; hit "refresh" periodically to see new material. Since this is live, there will be typos. And only things in quotation marks are direct quotes. Everything else is a paraphrase.
My presentation on getting media for your cause or organization was right before this,so I missed the very beginning as I was in the hall answering questions. So jumping in mid-stream...
John reviewed a few blogging platforms like Blogger and Wordpress, and recommended against Examiner. (I agree!)
He said advocacy bloggers need to be always gathering information. Google alerts, follow other advocates on Facebook, RSS readers (blog readers), Be active in your chosen community -- attend board meetings, lectures, protests. Personal contact means a log.
Get tips from readers through email, Twitter, Facebook.
FOIA (Freedom of Information) requests. Gave huge props to Shirley Thistlewaite at Yes Biscuit for doing a great job of advocacy blogging in general and with FOIA requests specifically.
If you see something important on the web, take a screen shot in case it's scrubbed!
John Says, "Blogging is not journalism!" (I don't agree, but I think he means, it's not "neutral" in viewpoint. I agree with that.
John says, "Think about your style." Read other bloggers... cited me (thank you!), Brent Toellner of KC Dog Blog, Shirley again, Kathy Pobloskie at Wisconsin Watchdog, Valerie Hayes at Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World... will fill in later with links etc, falling behind.
Avoid these common pitballs:
- "Spewing" constant negativity. Frothing at the mouth? Stop blogging. Get it out, but don't publish it.
- Reliance on shock/graphic photos and techniques.
- Spelling/grammar mistakes -- draft in Word if you need to
- Too much unnecessary detail; Boil down to essence.
Know your target audience. Each post should stand on its own.
Stalkers, psychos, and Pat Dunaway: Managing the Comments Section (Inside joke)
He says this is how it works for him, other people may handle differently. But think about it before you start blogging.
"I prefer and advocate an open but moderated forum. Exchange of ideas is always allowed, but personal attacks are deleted and disruption, bullying, or thread-jacking will get you banned."
Blogging software has ability to block specific IP addresses. use it. "You are under no obligation to provide a forum for crazy."
Expect pressure -- it's a sign of succness.
HSUS objected to something he wrote in 2009, and his boss told him to take it down or he was fired. He linked to a video of a news story about the organization. They were only able to reach me because his former employer was connected to HSUS, now he's in a different field and if HSUS called his boss, they wouldn't care.
So know you will get threats, pressure, cease and desist letters, if you continue this and annoy enough people.
At the time it was very traumatic for him, but now he says if HSUS filed a lawsuit against him,he'd be overjoyed. "Wow, I've got material to write about for months!"
I'm not saying you'll be sued, but there will be some degree of pressure, people trying to get you to shut up. Don't.
I told my boss my ability to speak was very important to me and I wouldn't take it down, and I wasn't fired.
Spreading the word: Now that you've written it, how do you get people to read it?
These rules are changing all the time.
Facebook is King, Twitter a close second.
FB drives more traffic to his site than anyone.
Still worth having RSS feed, but not as important as it used to be.
Use FB to reach people directly and Twitter to reach power users who will spread the word.
Participate in FB/Twitter communities, not just when you have something to promote.
Many people find email annoying. He does. Contact him through FB.
Don't bother with G+. We got into interesting discussion on this, and agreed you should have an account and use it enough to keep it active, but don't consider it as a traffic source. I agree.
Make sure your posts are Facebook-friendly. Make sure when you share a link on FB a good image and good copy accompany the link. Manually edit within the blog software's meta data! if what it defaults to isn't right!!!!!
It doesn't matter when you post your blog posts, but you DO need to time when you announce it. Don't share it on FB and Twitter in the middle of the night... share it the next day during peak hours.
Use utilities that allow your readers to share posts on FB and Twitter on EVERY SINGLE POST. (Which I don't do because I suck.) He uses and recommends Sociable.
Post title: "Be the New York Post, not the Wall St. Journal."
Recent Weiner People puff piece trying to rehab his image:
WSJ: Weiner Won't Rule Out a Run
NYPost: "Weiner shows off his little one" (with photo of his baby)
Maintain relationships with other writers, bloggers, power users, others who can help "seed" your story and help you out -- tech expertise, sources, tips.
Link the posts of other bloggers, comment, participate.
Always make time to talk to reporters. Be a source.
First case study:
Gloria. Cat left at ASPCA Mobile Clinic, and brought to ACC. Found out when someone emailed him photo of her cage card.
Rock solid info starting with reader tip and first hand observations and medical ifnormation
The involvement of the ASPCA
Second case study: ACC's new computer system that doesn't work
Was sent records, internal records, by ACC staff member that showed agency knew the computer system was messed up, even though publicly denied it.
Turned into big story on New York Post. Next day, he got email from Daily Mail in the UK. Told John they needed photos of cats involved -- in 45 minutes. He did it.
NBC 4 in NYC picks it up.
Rock solid info , inside info, great photos.
Case study 3: Killing the Quick Kill Bill
Blog became a clearninghouse for information that turned into an online AND offline campaign.
Went to the heart of donor base for the Paulin, legislator behind bill. Drove so much attention to sponsors and legislators.
Because John branded it so quickly and well, it caught on -- EVERYONE, even legislative staffers, called it "Quick Kill Bill."
Branding, repitition, good visuals
A community of activists playingg off of each other and contributing theri skills
Legwork: scouring NYS Assembly site for updates
Crossover into mass mmedia
Superior speed -- NO MEETINGS!
Note: You can see earlier liveblogging here.