42nd Street Moon Blog: 42nd Street Moon (Theatre)

10/11/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals. As of this post, the Biz Blog Profile Series will be including arts organizations.

Blogging for arts groups is a natural fit. At its heart, art is about an emotional connection between artist and audience. At their best, blogs are about creating a connection between author and reader. Both strive to open the doors of self just a little wider and provide an experience that makes a difference. Be that difference a new awakening of the soul or a new understanding of a company.

42nd Street Moon is a regional theatre group based in San Francisco that stages "lost" or "forgotten musicals." The name is derived from the bright lights and the home of American musical theatre at 42nd Street & Broadway in, of course, Manhattan. The theatre has an interesting blog story to tell; not the least is that they've hired a blog copy writer, Elisa Camahort, to pen their posts. (Who just happens to be a Diva Marketing blog buddy and one great blogger.) Thanks to Elisa for providing the back-story.

Come along and listen to the lullaby of broadway ... in San Francisco at the 42nd Street Moon!

42nd_street_moon_logoBiz Blog Profile: 42nd Street Moon Blog

About 42nd Street Moon

42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre. They contribute to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting staged concert performances of classic and rarely performed musical works.

Worker Bee's Involvement

I (Elisa Camahort) acted professionally with the 42nd St. Moon, appearing in about a half a dozen productions during the course of four years. Although I hadn't performed with them since 1998, I still knew the folks involved with the theatre and their PR firm's president. When I began working with theatres (on marketing projects) it was natural for me to approach the theatres which I had existing relationships.

I didn't pitch them solely on a blog; I pitched them on an online marketing program that included search engine marketing, online community outreach and yes, a blog. I was able to make the blog pitch based on work results from another theatre I was working with; I could also speak to the culture of the theatre and the nature of its audience in language they could relate to.

The Artist Director happens to be a great writer, but is also very busy. He wanted the freedom to contribute sometimes, but not be responsible. Because they knew me, knew I knew the theatre, they were confident that I could write engagingly about their theatre and the world of theatre in-general.

Why 42nd Street Moon is Blogging

Live theatre audiences love the gossip, the inside scoop. And live theatre audiences are often motivated by knowing someone involved with a production, or something about the piece itself. Since 42nd Moon focuses on rarely-performed gems, they've built more of a following around their actors and artistic staff. By blogging they could increase even further how close the audience felt to those people. Plus blogging could help the audience develop some familiarity for the material that was being produced.

Theatres often struggle to get single-ticket buyers to come back and maybe even subscribe the next year. The blog was a way to make audience members feel more invested in the company's personnel and its success. And yes, they hoped it would broaden their audience and bring in a more youthful demographic.

I believe that one of the reasons that this theatre, in particular, has an affinity for blogging is their own work in reviving and restoring classic, but rarely-performed works. There is a great deal of archival work in what they do, and I think they like having their daily life chronicled for posterity. This has never been a stated goal, but I sense that it is nonetheless, one of the qualities they appreciate about having a theatre blog.

How Blogs Fit Into 42nd Street Moon's Marketing or Community Outreach Strategies

Some productions show a bigger pop in sales than others, but what the Managing Director most often passes along my way is when an audience or Board member mentions how much they enjoy the blog to her. It's very literally word-of-mouth response that seems to carry the most weight with the theatre.

How 42nd Street Moon is Marketing/Promoting Its Blog

The blog was featured prominently in the 2005/2006 Season brochure that went out, and link is featured on every page of their traditional website. I also send a weekly email to an opt-in group to tell them what stories were featured on the blog the previous week. In addition, we do one email blast per production to the theatre's entire database, telling them about the show, the blog and the blog reader's discount.

The blog reader's discount consists of a promotion code (and associated discount) created just for online promotions. But the theatre actually limits the availability, particularly on shows that they expect to sell well. (The house is quite small) They mostly seem to provide the discount because I insist that blog readers have to have something that's exclusively theirs. They (the theatre) seem remarkably unconcerned with calculating a quantitative ROI. Which is a little disconcerning for me, the marketer, although nice for me the writer.

Reactions From Artists, Patrons & Staff

99.99% positive. Some actors get much more into it than others, but every production finds me getting at least a couple of actors who really get into participating. The Artistic Director actually seems to love it when he can correct me on some bit of theatre trivia or lore :-)  As I mentioned, the Managing Director passes along info about feedback she's gotten more often than she passes along ticket sales information.

Selling-in To Management

It was started as a short-term experiment. We were going to do it for last year's fall season and see how it went. And we have been continuing ever since...over a year now. The biggest challenge is balancing content when the theatre is dark. I talk about Broadway; I talk about other local theatres; I talk about what Moonies (our affectionate name for regular 42nd St. Moon performers) are doing in the world. Being a blog I feel it has to stay pretty active, but when the theatre's dark there isn't always as much going on to talk about. They don't mind my doing that, bu they prefer that a 42nd Street Moon post is always "top of blog", sort of traditional website thinking. So I plan my posting to accommodate that request.

Blog Strategies Gaining Acceptance With Arts Organizations

I think blogs will catch on with arts groups. I noticed that California Shakespeare Festival had a few of their actors blog this summer, and a couple of other theatres have made some attempts. The problem is you need consistency and commitment...and theatres often run so short-handed, and so over-loaded.

Most groups will either have to invest in someone on the development or business side who can commit to the consistency and ferret out stories that feed the creative side of the blog (which is basically what I do) or they'll have to find someone on the creative side of the business who is so passionate about sharing with the audience and will adhere to a schedule. It's like any other tactic: if it is given priority, and the group is willing to spend either the dollars or the time required, they will make it happen.

Lessons Learned

It is very important to decide ahead of time what you want from doing any marketing outreach. I have one theatre client who most definitely wants ticket sales, and we pay very close attention to that that. 42nd Street Moon seems more interested in creating word-of-mouth among its patrons. So we collect those stories.

The only "failed" theatre client I had, had an unstated strategy but didn't enable tactics to support that strategy. How do I mean? Well, they didn't give a promotion to blog readers. No promotion means no trackable code. No trackable code means no sure-fire way to measure quantifiably the results of the program.

Second, they didn't want to give me access to much inside, backstage info to me to write about ... meaning it was very hard to make the blog engaging content-wise. And therefore, tough to build readership. They enjoyed the content within their own team, but felt disappointed they weren't getting "their money's worth."

There was no point arguing that they had done almost nothing to support even knowing what they were getting, let alone having it be substantial. This was early on, even before I was working with 42nd Street Moon. The Lesson Learned was substantial. When I work with clients today I'm much more blunt about what they need to do to be able to measure, let alone get them! If they don't seem committed or prepared to participate (or give me access) then I may still work with them but I'm very clear about what they can expect.

Future Directions

So far I've been blogging and posting photos, but it seems like audio and video are the next steps. It's a little tough when there are professional actors involved. I would love to have guest bloggers. I often do get blog posts via email from guests, and I post them as is. But so far no one has authorship rights directly.

Elisa Camahort's Take On Blogs

Artists seek to communicate and connect with their audiences. As do bloggers. Blogging lets artists continue the communication, the connection, the conversation even after patrons have left the four walls of the theatre. In a way blogging is a marketing tool that is uniquely suited to promoting the arts because at its best, blogging is an art.

 

Biz Blog Profile Series: Nick's Blog - Windber Medical Center

09/27/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Nicholas Jacobs', President and CEO of Windber Medical Center & Winder Research Institute, blog story began with a suggestion to blog from an 80-year old friend. Nick is no stranger when it comes to innovation, risks or pushing the envelop. He quickly got it and realized that a blog could help him connect to "...the people who are making your personal future possible. I write, they comment we connect. That's what it's all about."

What makes Nick's Blog important, from a blog history perspective, is that it's one of the first blogs written by a hospital. And I love that the blog is not buried deep within the website. Not only is it linked from WMC's home page but is prominately highlighted.

Nick is using the blog to communicate to multiple audiences from employees to patients to docs, the public, and of course, his board. On May 25th he leveraged the blog for crisis management - to hault rumors about a layoff. Nicholas Jacobs' Nick Blog is an excellent example of how to do a CEO blog right.

Biz Blog Profile: Nick's Blog

Windber_medical_center_logo_1About Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute

At both WRI and WMC, we are attempting to change the delivery of health care in the United States. Both Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute are organized and run unlike any other hospital or research institute in the United States. We don't want to deliver what people will like. We want to deliver what people will LOVE.

While offering all the latest technology found in only the best hospitals, the people of Windber Medical Center understand that the true power of healing lies not only in the tools of medicine but in the hearts of the people providing the care.

The Windber Research Institute is a catalyst in the creation of the next-generation of medicine, integrating basic and clinical research with an emphasis on improving patient care and the quality of life for the patient and their family by providing clinical answers to the problems posted by physicians, translation medicine.

Why Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute is Blogging

In 1985, the former publicity director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Zane Knauss, came into my life as a consultant and a friend, and he has been there ever since. Although Zane is approaching his eighth decade, his mind is a as active and exciting as ever. Several months ago he called us and said, "Why aren't you Blogging?" After he explained what he was talking about, we replied, "Okay we'll start today." And we did.

How Blogs Fit Into Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute's Marketing/ Community Outreach Strategies.

As one of my former CEO's use to say, "The secret is there is NO secret." We have always tired to run an organization that shares everything with our employees. The Blog serves us well.

We are in an area where the average person has lived in their own homes for 38 plus years, and we have had a very difficult time becoming "heroes in our own home town." Even though we have appeared in the Wall Street Journal twice, Fortune, Forbes, USAToday, The Today Show and a dozen other prestigious media outlets, we are still just Windber Medical Center to many of our local citizens. Consequently, we have tried to pull out the stops to ensure that our public has as much access as possible to our successes and challenges. The Blog services us well.

Marketing & Promotion
How Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute is Marketing/Promoting Its Blog

Obviously, it's promoted on our website. Other than that it's been word-of-mouth, and the fact that only 5,000 people have hit the site so far tells me that we are not dong a real bang up job of promoting it.

>Is the blog integrated into other marketing or community outreach strategies/programs?
Because my background is marketing, our community outreach and marketing strategies are an integral part of this effort.

>In addition to the great article in Fortune, has there been much media coverage?
None

Selling-in Management
Reactions of peers, physicians, patients, staff and board members

Truthfully, the only feedback that we've gotten from our docs, boards, patients and staff has been "I read it in your blog." With issues that cost under $50K, my philosophy has always been don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.

>Did you have to first gain permission from your board?
Actually, I never even considered getting permission from our board.

>How are you handling HIPPA regulations?
HIPPA is a daily part of everything that we do, but every time we believe that we have taken every possible HIPPA rule into consideration, we walk into a semi-private room and realize how very stupid this program can be because there's nothing HIPPA between those curtains.

>What were the reactions from your peer?
"I saw that on your blog." " Read Nick's Blog if you want to know what he's really doing."

Do You Think Blogs Will Gain Acceptance With The Healthcare Community to the Extent that Blog Strategies Will Be Adopted?

It's been my belief that, unlike me, hospital administrators are usually very conservative and don't want to be first in most things that could have backlash of any type. They're not typically risk takers when it comes to public relations. It will be interesting to see.

>What will it take to get hospitals, docs and other healthcare providers blogging?
What did it take to get them to use computers? A wave of public support or outcry, or the chance that they will be left financially in their own dust?

Lessons Learned
What would you tell other healthcare organizations and docs that are considering launching a blog?

What are you waiting for. It helps to fill in those extra 50 minutes a week that you would have spent "having a life." I love it but I love to write.

Has Blogging Been Worth Your Time, Energy and Resources?

Sure, it's worth it. It's worth it every time an employee thanks us for the update or a perfect stranger says, "Yeah, I read that in your blog." It's getting the word out in ways that would never have been possible even five years ago.

Nicholas Jacob's Take On Blogs
Having started my professional life as an educator, the one thing that has made hospital administration difficult is not having a daily shot at the people you care about most away from home, the people who can impact your life the most deeply, and the people who are making your personal future possible. The Blog has returned a small sense of connectedness to my life. I write, they comment, we connect. That is what it is all about.

Biz Blog Series: The Evotional Blog - National Community Church

09/13/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Biz Blog Profiles
: The Evotional Blog - National Community Church

As Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor of National Community Church says - You never know who you'll bump into in the blogosphere. The story of how I met the good pastor is a testimonial to the integration of networking - online and off. I read a story in the NYT about a church that was godcasting. Sounded like a great post so off I went to find out more. In researching the post, Amen To Podcasts, I visited the blog and dropped a comment. Soon the Rev and I were volleying emails. Pretty cool.

Rev. Mark Batterson is a visionary when it comes to understanding and leveraging blogs and podcasts. He is using social networking strategies not only to inform but to engage his congragation, as well as, people who are interested in learning more about his church. Would you expect any less creativity from a church that meets in movie theatres at Washingon DC area Metro stops?

This mini case reads longer than usual. But I strongly encourage you to stay the course. Rev Batterson talks about many issues that business bloggers face and his Top Ten Lessons Learned are worth saving or even blogging or podcasting! And in the Future Directions section you just might find a few ideas that will help your business.

Sidebar: Sorry for the mixed up fonts...I have not a clue what happened with Typepad. I'm just a marketer not a geek.

About the National Community Church
National Community Church National_community_church_logostarted with a core group of 19 people in 1996. It has morphed into one church with two locations - the movie theaters @ Union Station in Washington, DC and the movie theaters @ Ballston Community Mall in Arlington, VA. The vision of the NCC is to meet in movie theaters @ metro stops throughout the DC area.

The Theaterchurch.com podcast was added to the iTunes library in July of 2005. Lead Pastor, Mark Batterson has been blogging since 2002.

Why the National Community Church is Podcasting & Blogging
NCC is driven by three core convictions:
1. The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet.
2. The greatest message deserves the greatest marketing.
3. The church is called to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Podcasting is a creative way of redeeming technology to foster spiritual growth. By downloading messages, NCCers can feed their spirit while they commute, relax or work out. It's digital or downloadable discipleship.

Blogging is a way of supplementing the spiritual diet of NCCers. Every week, Mark Batterson sends out a written version of his weekend message. That evotional™ is the heart and soul of the blog. Daily blogs touch on a variety of topics related to life and leadership. Most blogs fall into two categories: to make you think or make you laugh.

How Blogs Fit into The National Community Church's Marketing/Community Outreach Strategies
As any organization grows, it's easy for a leadership to become isolated and insolated. Blogging is a way for people to hear the head and heart of the Lead Pastor. The comment function even turns the blog into a dialogue.

Blogging has had an impact on a number of different levels. It allows guests to get to know the personality of the pastor before they visit the church. It allows NCCers to feel like they are carrying on a real-time conversation with the Lead Pastor. And it allows readers to become NCC "insiders" by getting the inside-scoop on NCC.

National Community Church has an extremely young demographic. 80% of NCCers are single and twenty-something. The congregation is very tech-savvy so podcasting and blogging are second-hand nature to them. The weekly evotional is not just posted on the blog but sent out to several thousand subscribers. That enables readers to easily forward evotionals to friends. The evotional also generates traffic for the blog by linking to it.

The most important and most difficult job for any pastor is creating culture. Blogging is a way of creating culture. The blog is an expressions of the core values and core convictions that drive National Community Church. The blog reinforces the talking points of NCC.

As more staff members begin to blog, NCC will institute a standard policy. Staff blogs will post a disclaimer stating that not all views expressed are the views of National Community Church. That gives latitude to bloggers and protection to the church.

More and more people are finding National Community Church via the podcast and blog. The podcast and blog use to be side doors into NCC. They are now front doors into National Community Church. The evotional.com blog got more than 8,000 page views in August 2005, a month when most Washingtonians are out of town because Congress is in recess. In an average month, NCC may have a couple of hundred visitors. The blog had nearly 2,000 unique visitors in August. The podcast is growing exponentially each day. It's only been in existence since the end of July, but it has gotten more than 6500 hits in the last month.

Currently, the blog and podcast are linked to the home page of www.theatrechurch.com. The weekly bulletin highlights the blog and podcast as well. The primary means of promoting the blog and podcasts are word of mouth and word of mouse. It boils down to buzz - friends emailing friends.

Lessons Learned
Here are a few lessons that Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor has learned:

1. You have to start somewhere.
If you wait until you have blogging and podcastng figured out you'll never begin. NCC has a core value: everything is an experiment. Once you've blogged for a while you'll find a writing rhythm. I took me a year to integrate blogging into my lifestyle. Podcasting is just like blogging. It takes time to find your voice. The key is authenticity. Be yourself. Find your niche. But you've got to start somewhere. Right here and right now!


2. It it's worth preaching, it's worth podcasting!

3. It it's worth preaching, it's worth blogging!

4. Who you know is as important as what you know.
When you enter the blogoshere you never know who you'll bump into. It's networking theory on steriods. Link, link, link. Blogging is a great way to connect with more people and help more people connect with you. I never cease to be amazed at who visits my blog. Blogging allows me to impact people I'll never meet this side of eternity. Blogging allows me to interface with people half way around the world in real-time.

My core calling is to help people reach their God-given potential. Blogging is one one I do that. It's my way of being a good steward of my ideas and experiences. I've blogged 144,820 words YTD (as of August 31, 2005). That's equivalent of three books in eight months. But I don't regret an ounce of energy or second of time in blogging.  The return on investment (ROI) is exponential.

5.Blogging is good stewardship.
A God idea is worth a thousand good ideas. Blogging is one way of taking thoughts captive (II Corinthians 10:5).

6. Blogging is good for your physical health.
In his book, If Only, Dr. Neal Roese, says, "Blogging may be good for your health." He cites two primary health benefits to blogging. First of all, it is a form of "processing emotions." There is an old aphorism: confession is good for the soul. The process of verbalizing or writing helps us untangle our thoughts and emotions.

The second benefit is more psychogical. Social psychologist Laura King says that writing "may serve to integrate life experiences into a larger, more sensible framework." In other words, blogging helps us make sense of our lives. Dr. Roese says, "It is merely the act of looking back in detail -- reviewing and integrating -- that is the most basic ingredient underlying the value of blogging."

7. Blogging is good for your spiritual health.
I am more and more convinced that blogging is a postmodern spirtual discipline. It's the way I write down the Revelation (Habakkuk 2:1). It's the way I ponder things in my heart like Mary in Luke 2:19. It's a form of cyber-meditation. Blogging is one way I reflect on life and the Lord ala II Timothy 2:7.

I had a thought the other day. Someday my grandchildren will know what I was doing and thinking on any given day because I was blogging. I wish my grandfather had blogged. All I have is a Bible with some notes in the margin! Blogging is autobiography. It is one way I live and learn and pass it on.

8. Leaders are bloggers.
Good leaders cast vision in lots of different ways. Blogging is a vision casting vehicle. I use my blog to dream out loud. 

9. Blogging turnes outsiders into insiders.
Blogging is one way "outsiders" can become "insiders" so to speak. I think blogging is about sharing inside information. It enables pastors from around the country to get some insight into what we're doing and why we're doing it.

10. Blogging is biography.
I wish my parents and grandparents had blogged. I'd love to know what was happening in their minds and their lives when they were at my stage of life. Blogging is a way of writing your autobiography.

Blogging is a corporate biography. The primary role of a leader is storyteller. A leader is the creator, collector and keeper of stories! A blog is a great way to share stories.

Future Directions
The Lead Paster's blog will continue to be the primary blog featured by National Community Church. But several other blogs are in development stages. Other staff members will begin blogging in their area of  expertise.

National Community Church will transition from a "static" announcement format to a dynamic announcement blog. The announcement blog will be more interactive and help NCCers stay in the loop. The announcement blog will add pictures to spice things up.

A blog targeting twenty-somethings and the quarterlife crisis is in the works. The endeavor would be a group blog consisting of writers/pastors who have a unique passion for twenty-somethings. The blog would revolve around quarterlife issues. 

Other blogs will also be launched in conjunction with writing projects. For example, a book for pastors is in the conceptual stages right now. Once a title is determined, a blog will be launched to begin creating a network of readers.

On the podcasting front, NCC will release an NCC iPod at the end of 2005. The NCC iPod will come pre-loaded with selected NCC message series.

Lead Paster Mark  Batterson On Blogging

You never know who you'll bump into in the blogosphere.

Blogging is a postmodern spiritual discipline.

BlogOn!

Biz Blog Profile Series: Share - March of Dimes

09/06/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

The design aspects of the Share Community set the tone for the March of Dimes blogs that provides a safe place for families to share their stories and experiences about having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). How could you not feel safe in a world where you can almost smell the baby powder freshness?

The March of Dimes has innovatively integrated blogs into an established rich micro site that supports a current program to provide a community for its members and volunteers. Patty Goldman, e-Business Director, is showing us that there is an exciting world beyond 'babble blogs' that hang off a website and swirl where the winds take them. Blogs can support objectives, enhance strategies and add value to 'customers.'

Special thanks to Nancy White, Full Circle Associates, for helping provide some of the  back-story and introductions.

Biz Blog Profiles: Share: March of Dimes

About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes isMarch_of_dimes_logo a not-for-profits organization. Our mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. We carry out the mission through programs of research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies' lives.

Why the March of Dimes is Blogging?
Actually it's not really the March of Dimes blogging, it is our community of families affected by premature birth and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) families that are blogging. With the exception of one or two blogs, the bloggers are not staff of the March of Dimes. They may be volunteers, they may be donors, but mostly, they are simply people ("Share" community members) who have been affected by our mission.

We are giving them a safe place to blog, release their thoughts and commune with others who understand. It's the least we can do, given all that they are struggling with in the physical world. Blogging is a common form of expression for parents on parenting issues in general, we felt that this niche in particular was under-served and needed a place to share. This is echoed in the comments we see on Share about how important it is to be able to "talk" with others who have babies like their own. No one knows better.

How Blogs Fit Into The March of Dimes Marketing/Community Outreach Strategies
Actually, we started with message boards and people began to really pour their stories out. The format didn't allow them to come back and serialize their experiences. Nor did discussions (boards) create the "personal" space quite like blogs, a place for one person to really let their story unfold.

When we first launched, our blog tool was not quite user friendly, so the community sprung up mostly around the discussions (boards) with some exposure to blogs by our "Ambassador" families. Once we made the blog tool user friendly, blogs began to spring up like wild fires. The need was there first, then some exposure to the form, and we simply enabled it. Now the community uses a thriving blend of blogs and discussion boards. The latter are used for more topical, resource-focused interactions.

Why Volunteers vs. Staff Bloggers?
We have a few staff bloggers, and they are always welcome, but in this particular environment, the subject matter really lends itself to these families. The community IS by and far for the families. We consider ourselves a volunteer organization - much of our strength comes in the form of a deep-seeded foundation in volunteer mobilization - back to the polio days, so why not give families tools they need? "Share" is just the first step in this direction. We are currently revamping our foundation Intranet - once the new tool is in place, we hope to allow internal blogs to take off there.

 

What Are Some Of The Challenges Of Managing And Motivating Volunteers To Blog?
Quite frankly, we aren't doing much at all to motivate people. The option is just there - very apparent - but just there. We've created a very beautiful template for the blogs including easy insertion of photos which really lends itself to families' story sharing.

The motivation is coming entirely from the community members. Parents in general love to chat about the trials and tribulations of having and raising kids - this group has even more to say, and those that seek support find us and some even get "addicted" to blogging, both as an outlet for their experiences and to connect with others. In fact, the most rewarding thing about introducing this functionality is that they are keeping up with their blogs for the most part - not abandoning them. It is now their personal journal, and I think they don't want to lose that. Some are now starting to point their extended families to their blogs as a way to keep them informed about their baby's progress in the NICU and beyond.

Selling-in To Management
We didn't have many. I think enough time had passed that the idea of community wasn't scary anymore. Plus our Senior VP of Revenues at the time championed the idea after the Dean campaign had so much success. In addition, the conference set up by the American Cancer Society in Atlanta put blog bee in our management's bonnets.

As long as we are monitoring the site to make sure inaccurate health information was not circulating, the worries about content are mitigated and it's clear that the opinions do not reflect the positions of the March of Dimes. We just couldn't hold out any longer.

How The March of Dimes is Marketing/Promoting Its Blogs
>Volunteers
We aren't really promoting blogs per se. We encourage any member to start a blog. We are promoting the community. It has been proven to us that if they come, they will create blogs. We just need to find these families and tell them we are here. We are doing this with a combination of print PSA's and web banners.
>The Blogs
Our two consultants, Nancy White and Lee LeFever, who helped us build and maintain the site are making an effort to notify the blogosphere of our project and we've already seen some great feedback from around the globe. We also feature blogs and quotes in other things we do both on and off the web. We expect parents will also be telling other parents.

Lessons Learned
Find the set of community members (soon to be bloggers) and help them see how the blogs will serve THEM. Then they are really going to be committed - and passionate about their blog. From that the benefit will flow through them to the organization. Focus on their needs firs.

Make sure the blogs are contextualized - in our case, they are part of a community. Find the right place for them in your own environment, rather than linking out - that way relevant content is right there.

Finally, if there is community, those members will encourage and support each other as they discover how to make a blog that works for each of them.

Future Direction
Really, for us it's about additional communities, for which the blogging tool will be available. We're thinking about a lot of areas - we have a thriving youth program and Spanish language volunteers that we'd like to address. To do it right takes some resources but I hope we'll get there.

Patty Goldman's Take On Blogs
*sigh* I can't wait until the killer app of taxonomy of blogs comes out. I don't think we've found the best way to organize the blog universe yet. I love them, but it's time consuming to keep up with them.

Continue reading "Biz Blog Profile Series: Share - March of Dimes"

Biz Blog Profile Series: Real People Real Road Trips - PA Tourism Office

08/16/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Hipsters, Hogs, Vultures, Thrill Seekers and History Buffs. Nope, it's not an MTV reality show ... but you're close. It's real tourists blogging their travels around the great state of Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylania Tourism Office launched a series of customer-written blogs this summer -  Real People Real Road Trips. Videos were included and comments opened. Innovative use of the medium to provide a 3-dimensional experience of the product. Thanks to David Gong,  Ripple Effects Interactive, for his help with this case.

Biz Blog Profile
: Real People Real Road Trips

Pa_tourism

About the Pennsylviania Tourism Office

The Pennsylviania Tourism Office is dedicated to fulfilling the needs and aspirations of travelers by presenting them with the information and resources they need to plan and enjoy the activities, attractions and destinations that are uniquely Pennsylviania.

Why the Pennsylviania Tourism Office is Blogging

Blogging has become one of the most popular forms of online communications, because it's often transparent and authentic. Blogs provide the ideal outlet to have a direct and unfiltered conversation with an audience. The PA Tourism Office was interested in using user-generated comments on its site, allowing visitors - actual tourists - to share their views and tell their stories in voices that are natural and authentic.

The goal was to allow users to contribute content not just consume it. Instead of professional marketing copy, PA wanted to use its website to open an exchange of travel ideas so that consumers could share experiences, offer advice, and recommend trips to other people/tourists/visitors.

The roadtrippers - who are real people not spokes models - have passions that match the interests of PA's targeted audiences:
-outdoor adventure
-history and heritage
-culture and entertainment
-amusement parks
-motorcycling

An additional goal is to position Pennsylvania as a pioneer in the interactive medium.

How Blogs Fit into the Pennsylvania Tourims Office's Marketing Strategies

The PA Tourism Office understood storytelling is one of the most effective ways to showcase PA's unique and athentic attractions. Blogging was a natural extension of a marketing strategy that focused on storytelling.

The ultimate objective of the blog was to attract tourists to the state. By giving potential tourists stories of real people (told by real people) with interests similar to their own, and their adventures in PA, the state believeed many will be motivated to visit and experience what PA has to offer.

In addition, the roadtripper bloggers extended the Ready-Get-Go brand promise - fun, spontaneity, an adventure around every corner, the journey is as fun as the destination - to a promotion that allowed real people to experience these first hand and allow others to relive them.

Selling-in To Management

The main challenge for Pennsylvania Tourism Office's agency, Ripple Effects Interactive, was making PA Tourism Office comfortable with the freedom variables involved in hosting bloggers. Once PA Tourism was satisfied that a minimum level of direction and control would be maintained over the campaign, it was very much behind the project.

How The Pennsylvania Toursim Office is Marketing  Real People Real Road Trips

The marketing strategy was rich and diversifed including both online and offline tactics. Two 15-second Real People commercials ran on cable in PA and contiguous states. Rich media Roadtrip blogger online video banners were included on sites such as accuweather.com, WashPost.com and NYTimes.com. Keywords were purchased on search engines such as Google and Yahoo!. Press releases went out on the wire and to selected publications. There was an on-going media relations effect to reach out to strategic bloggers to build momentum in the blogosphere.

Lessons Learned

The selection of future roadtrippers will likely be more open to the general public. For the sake of the speed to launch, the casting call for this round of roadtrippers was limited to acquantancs and word-of-mouth from the various promotional agencies involved.

Future Directions

Without a doubt, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office will continue to explore the strategic avenues possible with having visitors submit their own stories to the site, whether it is future bloggers or some other form of user-generated content.

Sidebar: The Pennsylvania Tourism Office's next innovative project is podcast tours. Cool!

Biz Blog Profile Series: Stonyfield Farm - Stonyfield Farm Blog "Cow"munities

05/17/2005

Stonyfield Farm "got" talking to customers long before the internet and long before blogs. In the good ole days, back in 1983, when the company was milking cows, they use to write "Let's hear from you" on the back of yogurt lids. Flash forward to 2004 and this innovative organization is still creating emotional ties with customers but this time through the World Wide Web and with the talents of Chief Blogger, Christine Halvorson. Yes, dear divas there is such a title as chief blogger and if you're very lucky you may one day hold it too.

Biz Blog Profile: Stonyfield Farms Blog "Cow" munities

About Stonyfield Farm

We are the world’s largest producer of organic yogurt and began business in 1983 with “7 cows and a good yogurt recipe.”  Today we produce something like 18 million cups of yogurt a month, and have a staff of about 280 people working in our Londonderry, New Hampshire plant. That’s not to mention the many organic family farmers who supply us with milk and, of course, the cows.

Why Stonyfield Farm is Blogging

Our CE-Yo (yes, that’s what we call him) Gary Hirshberg really saw the potential for blogging as a way to continue to stay connected to our very loyal consumer base as we grow and grow.  He has referred to blogging as “a handshake with the customer” and really wants us to be real and authentic in our blogs. After he saw the success of Stonyfield_farm_cow_computerblogging as used in presidential campaigns, he took the idea by the horns and hired Christine Halvorson as Chief Blogger. But---here’s the catch---she didn’t just do one blog, she started in April 2004 with 5!

Baby Babble A daily web log, or blog, where parents can meet up, rant, offer and seek advice, or just tell us their trials and triumphs.

Strong Women Daily News
The latest news and insights from our Strong Women partners

The Bovine Bugle
Daily moos from the Howmars Organic Dairy Farm

The Daily Scoop
Daily life at the yogurt works, and daily ways we try to nurture and sustain the environment

Creating Healthy Kids
Daily updates from our Menu for Change healthy food in schools program

How Blogs Fit Into Stonyfield Farm's Marketing Strategies

Well, we really aren’t seeing it as a marketing tool, per se.  We continue to do the usual things: We have four e-newsletters. We have a great and very popular web site. We do promotions and contests.  We talk about the blogs in some of those other tools, and vice versa.  In the Strong Women Daily News and Creating Healthy Kids blogs, we occasionally talk about two p.r. initiatives we have—Strong Women Summits about women’s health and “Menu for Change”, a program that seeks to rid public schools of junk food!  All along, it’s kind of an experiment—the blogging—and we so far see it as worthwhile. Our customers are relating to us in a unique and different way now.

Selling-in To Management

See the above comment. I give Gary a lot of credit for seeing the potential of blogging and how it could apply to his business.  I think he would say that he talked the rest of his management team into the idea—he says they hadn’t even “heard” of blogging before he brought it up—and he worked to allay their fears.  There were concerns with maintaining a consistent company voice but, really, it only came down to worrying about giving away proprietary information. Other than that, we haven’t bogged down the blogs with a lot of rules or restrictions, and the company has really embraced them.

How Stonyfield Farm is Marketing Its  Blogs

As mentioned above, we do talk about them in our e-newsletters. We have had some banner ads running now and then on affiliated sites, to pique people’s interest and get them to click through.  We sent out press releases when we first launched the blogs back in April 2004 and I hope people are using our RSS feeds to stay in touch with us once they do come to visit.

Does Stonyfield Farm have a Specific Strategy For Each Blog?

Not really. We have specific topics we try to stick to in each one—though we often stray from the cow path, if you’ll pardon the expression—and we keep an eye on each of the blogs.  If one becomes less-visited or we can’t keep up with it, we’ll probably drop it and do something else. The Bovine Bugle, the blog of ours written entirely by one of the organic dairy farmers who supplies us with milk, is very popular. Readers love it. I’ve also now enlisted the help of five or six Stonyfield employees who are the parents of very young children—ages 3 or less—to write for our Baby Babble blog. With the help of these folks, the blogs are becoming very popular and I think our readers find them fun and entertaining.

Lessons Learned

1) Have something to say! Don’t do it because everybody’s doing it and you feel you have to.

Stonyfield Farm has a particular point of view about the world—we are about nothing less than changing the world in terms of responsible environmental practices, educating business and individuals about those practices, and supporting sustainable agriculture.  That gives us lots to talk about and lots to have opinions about! And that makes for good blogging material.  If your company is boring, skittish, or just not that interesting, don’t do it!

2) Once you’ve decided to blog, go for it with all four hooves. Set your parameters and then go!

Future Directions

I think our blogs will be fluid—some may come, some may go, and they’ll morph into something we can’t even imagine today. This technology is changing and society is changing around it. Who knows what it all may mean just a year from now?

Christine Halvorson On Blogs

I’m just an English major with a great job. I tell folks I have the best job in the country with one of the best companies in the country.  And I’m not just saying that.  Get paid to blog? Who knew?!

Biz Blog Profile Series: Monster's Blog - Monster Worldwide, Inc.

05/10/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Biz Blog Profile: Monster's Blog

About Monster Worldwide, Inc.
Did you know that one of the largest online recruitment websites has its roots in a small yellow pages ad sale company?  Monster.com has changed the way people look for jobs and how companies look for people. Today this online recruitment business services millions of job seekers in 20 local language sites.

Just to put things into perspective...Monster Worldwide stats as of March 2005
-Unique visitors: 22,020,000
-Page views per visit: 27
-Minutes per visit: 17.4
-Registered users: 58,879,1100
-Resumes: 46,311, 602

Monster.com surely didn't need to start a blog to increase search rankings or visibility. As Dan Miller, VP Content, explained to me, the Content team wanted to provide value-added information to their users. Couple that with the vision of Andrew McKelvey, Chairman and CEO, and his belief in the employees and you've got the makings of a monster blog (ouch! sorry about that one).

We are a company that never settles, embraces change, does what it says, and does it fairly and with great passion. Andrew McKelvey

Great culture for blogging!

Monstercom_monsterWhy Monster Is Blogging via Monster's Blog

Monster entered the blogosphere in December, 2003. We created a blog geared toward job seekers to help them find their way through the rigors of the job-search process.

Job seekers have been using our Career Advice area since Monster's inception to improve their job search and their work lives. We empower them with useful information, innovative services and supportive communities.

The blog complements this approach by letting individuals who work on the Content team comment on events of the day and issues that affect people looking for work. We are here to help. We are here to help people advance their lives. We are here to help job seekers create their future.

How Blogs Fit Into Monster's Marketing Strategy

They don't. The Monster blog was never part of the marketing strategy.

The blog was created by the Content team as a way to personalize the work we've been doing since Monster began offering career advice. We're not trying to actively promote Monster. We recognize the inherent viral marketing the blog will create, but there was no marketing plan, no meeting with the marketing folks for buy-in, no "project plan."

Yes, we're delighted for the traffic that comes to the blog, but traffic has never been an issue for Monster. We've been one of the top 20 visited Web sites in the world for for a while now.

What we like about the blog is that it's always been kind of "underground" here at Monster, flying below the radar. Senior management is aware of it, but they've been gracious to just let us do our thing. There is no heavy-handed editorial control.

The Content team is comprised of professional writers and editors, and we're not writing or saying anything that's out of the realm of Monster's mission -- to bring people together to advance their lives. The blog helps us do this, in a very cool, grassroots kind of way.

Blog Design Strategy

I had been using Typepad for my (Dan Miller) personal blog and it's easy to manage, so I recommended we use it for the Monster blog. The design is simple. It was important to use Monster colors, and we worked with our Creative team to make sure we got them just right. Of course it was important to add "Trump," who lives in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

We link to other career-type blogs on the left and include links to our best content on the right. Information about resumes, interviewing and salary is important to job seekers on the Monster Web site, so we felt it was important to include these links on the blog.

Search Optimization Strategy

We understand the power of blogs. We understand how writing about certain issues with good key words will give the blog strong visibility in search engine results. While the core Monster Web site performs well through search, the blog is complementary content to raise awareness.

Selling-in To Management

This wasn't a much of an issue. I went to a blogging conference in Boston back in June '03 and came back invigorated with the possibilities. I immediately put together a presentation for my manager focusing on blogs as a complementary way for Monster to extend its brand to an audience that might not be using Monster.

Shortly thereafter, I met with our Legal department to see if they had any issues with us starting a blog and got the OK. I was asked to add some legal documentation (similar to what we use on message boards), and we were ready to go.

I think it's been an evolving education here as not everyone is familiar with blogging and what this really means for Monster. Lots of blogging questions come to me and I'm happy to answer them. My message to everyone back in 2003 was that this was something we needed to do. Monster has always been cutting edge and creating a blog for job seekers made perfect sense, and still does. I think senior management likes the fact that we're part of the blogosphere.

How Is Monster Marketing Its Blog?

We are not doing any active marketing for the blog. Somehow, an active marketing campaign for the blog doesn't feel right. The spirit of blogging is that what you're writing about is good enough and important enough that people will find you. Hopefully we're writing something that resonates with someone, they'll read it, perhaps comment and pass the link along.

If we're lucky, people will think the Monster blog has valuable information and they'll link to us. That's how we'll build traffic. Our audience will decide whether or not we're good enough. Yes, we have a link on our Career Advice home page and we sometimes feature the blog in our newsletters. Our moderators on our message boards may sometimes point job seekers to a relevant post, but we are not doing any traditional marketing. We're here, like everyone else. If you find us and like us, great.

Lessons Learned

We knew from the outset that we didn't want to come across sounding corporate, even though the blog is an extension of a very successful company. So we've always tried to have a real, down-to-earth, passionate voice in our writing. This has played well for us.

We have five different content producers who contribute to the blog, and each producer writes whatever they feel like writing. What's touched them today? What did they hear on the news or read about that they may want to comment on? How does what we're writing about help someone looking for work?

Because we've low-keyed our approach, I get the sense that our audience respects us. Some large media outlets have had nice things to say about us. We feel like we "get it," and that we're enveloping the spirit and passion of what makes blogging such a phenomenon. You can't force it. There's no editorial calendar and there's no agenda. The reason we're blogging is to help people by offering our personal insight in a cutting-edge community that grows bigger every day.

Dan Miller On Blogs

As a student of communications, I have been fascinated with blogs as a medium that blurs the line between traditional media and this new art form. While blogs can be done badly (and should be recognized as such), each person is allowed to be their own publisher. Blogging is a way to circumvent gatekeeping.

Blogging mirrors Marshall McLuhan's philosophy in 1967 that technology would remove the barriers of time and space. Everyone has an opinion and they now have a place to share those opinions. The companies that get this right will be the companies that recognize that blogging is not a forum to issue press releases and company news.

If a company blogs, it needs to recognize the hip culture of which it is taking part, and that the audience will see right through a planned, structured message. A corporate blog should mirror a company's philosophy, but it needs to be done in a way that is respectful of this unique grassroots, viral culture. A company that understands this will have an easier time being accepted as a corporate blog entrant.

Biz Blog Profile Series: SkyBox(tm) Matag(tm) Blog - Maytag Corporation

04/19/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profts and higher education institutes are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Gary Petersen, Project Manager, for Diversified Businesses, Maytag Corporation, has a job sports lovers and bloggers might envy. He blogs for one of Maytag Corporation's most innovative products - SkyBox Vendor. SkyBox, a personal drink vendor, positioned as a the ultimate trophy for the serious sports fan perfect for a “ManCave.”

And the work Gary is doing with the blog is pretty creative too! Recently the SkyBox(tm) By Maytag (tm) Blog strategy was honored with two Pubic Relations Society of America awards. The  Iowa Chapter presented Maytag Corporation with their PRIME award in the Integrated Communications Campaign category. Minnesota Chapter of PRSA's  Classic Award was for excellence in the New Media/Technology category.

Sidebar: Nice to see weblog strategies beginning to be acknowledged in mainstream marketing awards programs! 

 

Biz Blog Profile: SkyBox(tm) By Maytag(tm) Blog

About Magtag Corporation

Maytag Corporation is a $4.8 billion home and commercial appliance company focused in North America and in targeted international markets. The corporation's primary brands are Maytag(R), Hoover(R), Jenn-Air(R),Amana(R), Dixie-Narco(R) and Jade(R). 

The Diversified Businesses group is a small segment of Maytag Corporation focused on non-core products. The group's primary products are the SkyBox TM by Maytag TM personal beverage vendor, SkyBox TM Rookie TM Fridge, Jenn-Air TM Attrezzi TM Blender, Stand Mixer, and Toaster, and Maytag TM Cordless Irons.

Why Matag Corporation Is Blogging via  SkyBox (tm) By Maytag (tm) Blog
Skybox_red_sox_1
The Diversified Businesses group was created with the directive to do things different.  The SkyBox vendor and Rookie Fridge are different than any other products at Maytag.  Their very nature is about being a topic of conversation in someone's home.  Kind of a "Hey!  Look what I've got!" reaction. 

The weblog is a great way to get in on that conversation. It lets us talk with people who find our products fun and interesting. The weblog is also an ongoing project.  We can change it every day by writing new things, so we keep the conversation going.  And we can do it without making a huge investment.

How Blogs Fit Into Maytag Corporation's Marketing Strategy

For some of our products, perhaps even most of them, weblogs don't fit at all well with our marketing strategy. The SkyBox vendor and Rookie Fridge are different though. We really tried to develop them as cool, gotta-get-me-one-of-those gadgets.

Talking about them (and the things that our customers like to do) fits well in a weblog format. You can do things different when you can extend a conversation past a print ad or a television commercial and we've been trying different things on the weblog.

Selling-in To Management

Our team's leadership was involved in the discussion we had one afternoon about possibly starting one up, so we decided to try it out on the spot. I had been writing a personal weblog for a couple of years, so I volunteered. I added a separate page to my personal webspace that night and wrote a few test articles. Our team took at look at them the next day and decided this was something that could work out, so went forward with it.

How Maytag Corporation Is Marketing The SkyBox (tm) By Maytag (tm) Blog

Primarily through a link on the main SkyBox vendor and Rookie Fridge web page . We've also done some search engine optimization work to help people find our website and weblog.

Other than that, I watch for people writing about our products so I link to them from our weblog and comment on their weblogs, where appropriate. I have about thirty searches set up for various keywords, like Maytag, SkyBox, Rookie, and the like. I watch for hits through PubSub, Feedster, Bloglines, and Technorati, as well as a few Google News and Yahoo News searches. All of them are fed into my RSS news reader. All told, there are probably 150-200 hits per day and reading them generally takes no more than 15 minutes a day.

Lessons Learned

A product support weblog absolutely will not work if it is simply a place to post traditional marketing information, like press releases. A weblog is only useful if it enables your customers to talk with you in a way they couldn't do otherwise. That takes a bit of time and it needs to be driven by someone who is willing to commit that time to make it work.

Future Direction

We're trying some new things on the weblog, like asking our customers to send in pictures of their SkyBox vendors and Rookie Fridges "in action" as they have them set up in their homes.

We're also looking for new ways to tie into the events that our customers like to participate in. For example, I had an idea to host a March Madness basketball tournament bracket contest in which people would submit a bracket on the weblog to win one of our products after the tournament is over.  Unfortunately, I didn't think about it until watching the brackets being announced, so we didn't do anything with it for this year.

Basically, we're looking for ways to get people who aren't yet our customers to take a look at our products and ways to get people who are our customers to have fun using them.

Gary Petersen On Blogs

Writing a corporate weblog is work, but it is certainly fun work. Shot, I get to write on a weblog as part of my job. How cool is that? Everyone should find a way to do this!

Biz Blog Profile Series: American Cancer Society Blogs

04/12/2005

Biz Blog Profile: is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and Cancer_wrist_band___hopehigher education institutions are using blogs to support marketing goals.

About The American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is setting the bar high when it comes to developing innovative marketing strategies in the non profit space. For profits...take note!

Lisa (Meyers) Brown, VP of Marketing, American Cancer Society/Eastern is passionate when it comes to fighting cancer. I met Lisa at the Innovations Conference (on social networking) that was chaired by Randal Moss. I was immediately impressed by her creativity, as well as, the leadership position ACS is taking in terms of leveraging technology to support out reach programs.

Lisa is involved in several exciting social networking initiatives, including blogs. Fabulous at 50, is a unique program that supports colon cancer awareness. I love that a blog tactic is integrated into the overall strategy. Team ACS is an online fund raising program that Lisa created. It targets volunteers who participate in marathons, triathlons, bike races and other community events.

Biz Blog Profile: Fabulous at 50 Blog
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary heath organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

Why ACS is Blogging

Cancer doesn't discriminate, even in the blogosphere. In a broad sense, blogs offer another way for us to reach all kinds of communities and it's a medium that can help us fight cancer - whether staff is internally blogging about best practices and using the blogosphere to facilitate better communication, or whether we're recruiting those touched by cancer to share their experiences as a means to help raise awareness. At the end of the day, this is 100% about our mission and blogs are a means to help us make a difference in the fight against cancer.

How Blogs Fit into ACS's Marketing Strategy

At its most basic function, blogs are examples of how social networks can develop online and facilitate grass roots mobilization. They are starting to play an important role in our marketing strategies.

We are a community-based organization so blogs offer us another touch-point to raise awareness of early detection and prevention.

One key way we can continue to elevate awareness is through the personal experiences of those touched by cancer. We all know there's tremendous power in stories like this and blogs help us tap into this important part of raising awareness.

During National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, we launched a campaign to help raise awareness about the importance of colon cancer screening. We implemented a number of strategies, one of which was to develop a web presence where a limited number of volunteers blogged about their colon cancer screening experience. We then promoted these personal stories (with our bloggers permission) through traditional and new media.

We're also using blogs to discuss the future of the American Cancer Society, particularly as it relates to innovation and change. The Futuring and Innovation Center (FI Center) started a blog sometime ago in effort to increase the dialog about innovation, change makers, organizational change, social change and a host of issues that may affect our mission.

Selling-in To Management

We have an entity of our organization - the Futuring and Innovation Center (FI Center) - that is charged with identifying, testing, and fostering breakthrough innovations. They are constantly on the prowl for new ways to utilize technologies to help fight cancer.

A few months ago, the FI Center hosted a social networking conference and several of our national and division leadership attended. During the two-day gathering, we heard from several experts and well-known bloggers including Judith Meskill, Chris Allen, Stowe Boyd, Jason Calanconis, Liz Lawley and more. It was an intense two days jam packed with information but I think every organization there (ACS convened several national voluntary health organizations) and was sold after hearing from this group.

How ACS is Marketing Blogs

Aside from the colon cancer effort (Fabulous at 50 blog), we really haven't put that much into marketing our blogs. We're still new to the blogosphere and still trying to better understand how we can contribute effectively and strategically.

For the colon cancer awareness initiative we relied on viral tools - Fabulous 50 quiz - earned media efforts and some donated search engine optimization.

Lessons Learned

There are many lessons learned and to be frank, we're still capturing them. Most obviously, we learned that it's not enough to "build it and hope people will come." Our colon cancer blogs, Fabulous At 50, were developed to facilitate the chronicling of these experiences and at the time, we didn't really grasp the importance of regularly updating blogs.

Blogging provided the best technology to chronicle the experiences of our volunteers around Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Hopefully, through these shared stories, others will find strength, not feel so alone, face their fear of getting screened, and fight back however possible (if everyone over 50 got screened for colon caner alone, SO many lives would be saved...colon cancer is actually one type of cancer that can be prevented).

I should point out that this was our first time using blogs this way and that we learned a great deal. Primarily the importance of having volunteers update the blogs regularly and the importance of linking into the blogosphere.

But overall, using blogs in this way did reinforce the power of the medium, the power of personal testimony.

Future Direction

We really want to better integrate blogs into a broader spectrum of our efforts but are still learning about the medium. So our goal, over the next several months, really is to test ideas on a small scale, continue to explore the medium, start listening to the conversations already going on in the blogosphere about cancer. We're still very much in the student mode, trying to learn as much as we can about how this medium can further support our efforts to fight cancer.

Lisa (Meyers) Brown On Blogs

I find it very interesting that this new medium is the result of people wanting to share themselves (opinions, likes, dislikes, etc.) with the world. When you're talking about raising awareness about something like cancer, this type of energy and openness is a step in the right direction.

We all know that half of the battle is often getting people to talk about cancer -- it's still often a scary and intimidating subject. Remember when women dare not say the words "pap smear?" Remember when men dared not discuss getting a PSA test? It's now okay to not only talk about this type of stuff at the dinner table with your family and friends, but also okay to talk about it with strangers around the world ... via mediums like blogs.

Would it be too much of a stretch to suggest that blogs are saving lives ?!?

I'm also extremely interested to see where this medium goes in-general ... we may reach a point where every department of every corporation has a blog to communicate internally and cross-functionally (a la email). We may reach a point where academic courses are conducted on a sort of edu-Blog.
Sidebar: University of Delaware

We may reach a point where society re-defines corporate/social responsibility because of the blogosphere. We may reach a point when instead of having to physically to to the doctor, you visit your doc's blog to access quick remedies. We may reach a point where everyone has a blog and instead of a resume, you market yourself through your blog (alreaCancer__strivesdy happening). We may reach a point where blogging is a first step to dating (already happening). We may reach a point where blogs can help marketers determine product development (already happening).

It's an exciting time!

Sidebar: Lisa's personal blog, The Rhetoric of Me is a must visit also.

 

Biz Blog Profile Series: Intuit QuickBooks Online Blog

04/05/2005

Biz Blog Profile: is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Paul Rosenfield, General Manager for QuickBooks Online, is not afraid of challenging the status quo and pushing the envelope. Especially when it comes to implementing new strategies that bring his team closer to Intuit's customers and help customers establish trust with the product and the people who are the product.

Biz Blog Profile: QuickBooks Online

Quickbooks_logo_1 About Intuit
Intuit is the leading provider of personal and small business financial management tools, with such products as Quicken, TurboTax, and QuickBooks. QuickBooks Online Edition is the web-based version of the popular QuickBooks software that is used by 3MM small businesses.

Why Intuit is Blogging via QuickBooks Online
Because QuickBooks Online Edition is a service that you pay $20/month and access over the internet, we have found prospective customers want to feel confident in placing their sensitive data online. One way to achieve this trust and confidence is to share information about who we are, what we're working on to help customers and improve the business, and be honest about our "warts" when we have them.

How Blogs Fit Into Intuit's Marketing Strategy
Our key marketing strategy is placing our customers at the center of all our marketing. We do this because we have a service that revolutionizes our customers' lives via anytime/anywhere access and their testimonials speak far better to prospects than reading sterile marketing copy.

Selling-in To Management
I have long felt open, direct conversations with customers are an excellent way to instill trust and confidence. When an employee approached me about blogs, I greenlighted the effort. Two days later we launched our blog on Typepad.

How Intuit is Marketing the QuickBooks Online Blog

We have integrated our blog directly into our service home page, community boards, and prominently on our marketing website. We have much, much more we can do to increase our visibility. For instance, we will be bringing a RSS feed directly onto the service home page.

Future Direction
Improved integration into all marketing vehicles, especially our marketing website and service website. Inspiring and encouraging more employees in the group to blog. Inspiring the rest of Intuit to blog. Seamlessly weaving blog into the community board experience so we can more easily respond to posts. Creating a "development only" blog.

Paul Rosenfield On Blogs

At heart, blogs belong to all the employees - not the marketing organization. Just like Ted Levitt said, "Marketing is too important to trust to Marketers." So too, do Blogs belong across all the key processes of an organization. To place it within Marketing is to potentially defuse the potency and lose valuable conversations that Support, Operations, and Development can contribute to and learn from customers.

Blogs are also very easy to do. Don't ever let anyone say, "Well, blogs aren't a priority right now." Those who say that don't know what blogs are. The easy ability to publish a short blog entry on a volunteer basis makes blogs an ideal "just do it" initiative. Far too often big companies squash the initiative and drive of motivated passionate employees in their misbegotten zeal to "think big" and "be strategic". Our blog took two days to design and costs us $15/month through Typepad.

Sidebar: The Mona Lisa of Blogs, Debbie Weil, also interviewed Paul. Great read.