By Carla Kalogeridis
Blogging is now part of the media mainstream, and an association without a blog is in danger of looking like an organization without a soul. Here are five good reasons why association editors and writers must have a blog, based on comments from Adam Westbrook, a web and content management developer for Puddle Media in the U.K.:
1. You’re a specialist in your field. If your association’s editor(s) don’t blog, how will members really know that your publication features journalists who are specialists in their field? An association’s blog is a great place to update new ideas and gives you a platform for research. Furthermore, if your article ideas are drying up, a blog keeps you in the loop hunting for stories.
Goal: Create a blog which is the homepage for your association’s particular industry niche. If your blog is the first place members go to find news on green technology, for example, you have established yourself (and your association) as an expert in the field.
2. You’re a freelance journalist. If you’re working for yourself, trying to tout your wares in a crowded association publishing marketplace, a blog is one of the best ways to remind people you’re still alive – and prove you know what you’re talking about. Ideally, your blog should be connected to your portfolio website. You can write about anything, although a niche expertise is best. Use it as a place to sound out stories, or even just practice your specialty – for example, if you’re a freelance photojournalist, make sure you update your blog with new images every week.
Goal: Run a blog so interesting, association editors are reading it regularly and approaching you (yes, approaching you) with work.
3. You’re a foreign correspondent or reporter working on an article overseas. For journalists covering an international beat, a blog is a lifeline. Use the blog to create regular updates about your work in whatever country you are in. "I’ve been researching a piece on the Rwandan elections today…” or "I’m filming a piece for The Times Online this week”. Your blog can actually become a stream of articles, video, and audio that association members (and potential members) can tap into.
Goal: Run a blog which establishes your association as having a global perspective.
4. You work for a big association. Association editors can publish a blog as a great way to connect to members on a new level. Include business news about your association’s industry and add a bit of personal comment. Not only can a blog help you connect with your members, but also it can build your association a community of fans, and even turn into a source for stories and case studies.
Goal: Create a blog which makes your association look less like a "machine” and more "human.”
5. You love something related to your industry, but outside the association’s general scope. If you can’t muster the energy to blog about your association’s initiatives, then blogging about a hobby related to your association’s industry is just as good (e.g. you are an amateur pilot who works for an aerospace association). Why? Because if you’re into something related to your association’s industry, then chances are a significant number of your members may be, too..
Goal: Create a blog and build a community around a passion related to the industry your association serves. It keeps you writing and helps you practice audience engagement (vital skills for association journalists) – as well as helps you pursue personal interests.
Carla Kalogeridis is editorial director of Association Media & Publishing. Thanks to Adam Westbrook for allowing the excerpting of his ideas for this article.