Monday, May 20, 2013

Social media: Diving in, the right way

Earlier, I talked about the value of adding social media to a nonprofit’s communications toolkit. Social media is free. Millions use it every day. So why not dive in?

Why not? Because a poorly run social media campaign may hurt your organization by making it look unprofessional, unhip or unpopular. As the marketing firm CAWOOD says, don’t use social media if you don’t have the time and resources to put into the campaign or if you don’t understand the specific social media platform you sign up for.

The key is to treat Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and any other social media platform as an individual community with distinct expectations about what you’ll say to them and how you’ll say it. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the habit of treating your social media accounts as online versions of your quarterly newsletter.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Slow Food USA: The message is the movement

Willamette Valley CSA farmer Derek Brandow introduces a
potential customer to his flock.
On the surface, the Slow Food message is simple: Everyone deserves access to “good, clean, and fair food.” Convincing U.S. consumers to buy into that message, however, is a herculean task.

Consider that agribusiness conglomerates, which receive the lion’s share of the $10 billion annual U.S. agriculture subsidy, pour an estimated $32 billion annually into advertising. What are they selling? The highly processed, sugar and fat dense prepackaged foods  that make up the average American diet.

Yet over the past two decades, organic food sales have skyrocketed while Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and thousands of farmers markets have sprung up across the country. Why is that? Has the Slow Food movement successfully countered the dominant American food narrative, which says the best food, even if not nutritious, is quick, cheap and convenient? 

To learn more about Slow Food USA’s communications strategies, I recently dug into Ashli Quesinberry Stokes’ academic study on efforts to brand the movement, recruit supporters and combat the agribusiness advertising blitz. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

FOOD for Lane County: Harvesting social media

For those of us who didn't grow up in the age of smartphones and constant online communication, social networking can present a professional dilemma. For every success story about a company making its mark online, there seem to be a dozen cautionary tales of public figures putting their virtual foot in their mouth in real time, or worse.

More importantly, from the perspective of a nonprofit organization, cultivating a social media following and
All images courtesy of FFLC.
maintaining multiple online profiles takes time and effort. Is the potential payoff worth it for an organization devoted to helping people in the community, not bolstering its bottom line?

Last week, I sat down with Dawn Marie Woodward to talk about adding social media to a nonprofit’s traditional communications toolkit. Woodward, the president of the Greater Oregon Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, serves as events and media relations coordinator for FOOD for Lane County (FFLC).