London Bloggers Meet-up on Tuesday May 14 was Blogging for Good. It looked at how non-profit organisations use blogging and social media to engage with their communities, build fans and followers and ultimately drive donations.
The three special guest speakers were: Eve Critchley from mental health charity Mind, Amy Agnew from Save the Children, and Eva Keogan a blogger from the Save the Children Blogladesh campaign. And what follows is the gist of what I was able to decipher from my scribbled notes on the night.
The big takeaways were: writing about real life can be therapeutic for yourself and others; bloggers can and do change the world for the better; and to know a blogger you need to woo and understand them.
Eve and the Real Mind
Talking about blogging at, and about, the mental health charity Mind, Eve Critchley highlighted the importance of real stories in getting across messages around crisis care for those in hospital as a result of being suicidal. She also noted the therapeutic benefits of ‘being heard’.
Mind provides ‘static’ advice on the website so the charity’s blog posts and podcasts are important in providing something dynamic and of the moment. The blog also enables greater transparency and provides a vital channel for communicating with key stakeholders such as fundraisers and supporters.
What are they looking for when it comes to blogging? Eve says they are always on the look-out for first person, direct experiences, and they monitor Twitter for people who have something relevant to say.
Eve shared the positive impact of a new online community called Elefriends, managed by Mind and supported by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund. This has grown organically and is in the words of one user ‘a bit like facebook for beautiful people whose brains are wired differently’.
Amy and Blog Campaigns
Amy identified two priorities for the social media team at Save the Children: exerting pressure for political change and fundraising for programmes.
Charities struggle to get issues into the mainstream media even with lots of statistics and the support of celebrities. Bloggers use the stories, the media follows the bloggers, and politicians follow the media, so blogs exert influence: ‘Politicians really care about what people are saying and what they care about’.
Amy valued bloggers for being ‘amazing storytellers’ and ‘they know their audience and how to speak to them’. Illustrating this she cited the impact that bloggers had in the charity’s 2011 campaign ‘No Child Born to Die’.
This was the first time a UK charity hosted a conference to inspire bloggers across all disciplines to write about the campaign and raise awareness of the millions of children who die from preventable diseases each year.
A key objective was to pressure breast milk substitute companies Nestle and Danone to stop any conduct that undermined breastfeeding – a powerful, natural antidote to hunger and disease. If all babies were breastfed within the first hour of life, 830,000 children’s lives would be saved every year.
It worked and today Danone is committed to publishing its practices online. Save the Children now hosts an annual bloggers conference in the autumn to brief the blogging community and engage them in campaigns such as the current IF: Enough Food for Everyone.
Eva Been to Blogladesh
Eva related her experiences of blogging for Save the Children while maintaining independence and credibility. You can see her blogs here under the name of NIXDMINX. Eva had some tips for PRs looking to engage with and ‘woo’ bloggers:
- Follow on twitter and retweet the good stuff
- Read the blogs and comment where appropriate
- Allow one month to get to know the blogger and their audience
- When you make contact, make it personal
And you can find out about the campaign she is involved in Save the Children Blogladesh.
I missed lots … so if you have anything to add, please add in the comments section. And when it came to communicating with a younger audience then you need to be looking for innovative YouTube bloggers like Charlie McConnell.