Guest Post by Shanan Sorochynski
Okay, you’ve had nearly half a month to sink into 2011.
You’ve steadied your nerves.
You may have decided that this is the year you finally run that marathon, visit Paris… or get your boss to listen to your idea about launching a blog.
Good for you!
If you landed on the latter hopefully the following helps you out.
I manage the University of Regina’s blog. When I built a case for creating it, I focused on showing how the site would be a greater asset to our institution than the internal print publication I managed.
With budgets the way they are, I don’t need to tell you that the option to have both is becoming rarer and rarer. It’s either/or.
Side note: In the beginning I didn’t refer to the site as a “blog” to anyone. I always referred to it as something like “a website with dynamic content and social media capabilities.”
I found that when people heard the word “blog” their heads seemed to immediately fill with images of dancing cartoon babies and funny cat photos.
It was a lot easier to present a new idea than try and get the listener to un-learn an old one. Anyway, onward…
Here are a few key points:
Will your project help your department’s bottom line? By switching to a blog we saved printing and distribution costs.
Yes, a blog still costs us in terms of time. Sure. But that was the case even with the internal print publication… unearthly, jaw-dropping amounts of it.
The switch from print also meant that we didn’t need to hire outside writers and other professionals to deal with the overflow of work. Our community was now creating the bulk of our content.
Meets the organization’s goals
Your project needs to fall in line with your organization’s goals.
Environmental sustainability is one of the pillars of the University’s strategic plan. So pitching the merits of going paperless was a no-brainer.
If you aren’t measuring your progress, how do you know if you are successfully meeting your goals?
With Google Analytics I can see if people are engaging with our blog’s content and then use that information to adapt to the preferences of site visitors.
Efficiency. It’s a good thing.
New audiences mean new opportunities.
The blog gave us a chance to connect with people based on their subject interests, not just their relationship to the organization. Someone sitting in Brazil, for example, likely won’t randomly search out our institution.
But, they might find us if they are searching for information about climate change, cancer research, computer science, etc.
My favorite thing to do in the morning is check Google Analytics to see where our site visitors are coming from.
It’s nice to know there are people from across Canada, US, and the UK who read us.
But, Brazil? Tanzania? Those are readers I know weren’t on our print distribution list and I can see that they are engaging with our content.
Another benefit is that our blog content providers and their networks take the content right to people they feel will be interested in it.
That wasn’t necessarily the case with our print publication. We mailed out copies, put them in drop boxes and hoped people would read them.
Guidelines and comment moderation can keep your blog from descending into chaos.
Fears about the types of comments that could appear on our blog seemed to be quelled by the fact that I was going to moderate the site and post a set of participation guidelines.
There would be recourse if a discussion went off the rails.
As of this posting the University’s blog has only been live for less than four months. But I’m happy to report that so far *knock on wood* I’ve yet to have any problems.
Even with contentious issues, commenters have been respectful with each other.
These are only few of the things I used in my argument.
What would you add? What did (or does) your boss need to hear in order to give you the green light?
Shanan Sorochynski manages the University of Regina’s first official blog: YOURblog. Previous to this she was the managing editor of U of R Report, the University’s faculty and staff internal publication, and a print journalist in Manitoba.