Online Promotion Possiblities
Thematically, I think the best way to use the web to get people
involved with a campaign is to create a dynamic, informative and
timely online conversation that compels people to invest in a
relationship with your efforts. Email alerts, postings to
announcement boards and similar methods are a good way to call initial
attention to your efforts, but I believe that many people require
repeated interactions with an organization before they are most
willing to provide support. (Market research indicates this is
especially true of women, and my personal experience indicates that
members of indigenous communities often operate similarly.) In order
to keep people coming back to you, you need to be offering new
information frequently. In other words, I think you should use a
blog. If not multiple blogs. (Blogs are simple web pages that are
easy for non-technical people to add new content to, with short,
frequent articles, usually organized chronologically, allowing
comments and heavily linked to other sites.)
The best way to start and sustain a buzz in the blogosphere is to
utilize communication methods already in use in the medium. Blog-use
training and promotion are skills I can offer. I can also offer help
in automated and accelerated research methods so that there is never
any shortage of up to the minute information to discuss on a blog. I
think that your tour promoter should be blogging, and it would be very
cool if at least one participant on your tours was blogging as well
from the road. At the very least, I think that you should be
promoting even a relatively static web site in the newest online
So those are my suggestions described thematically. I am presuming that you are not familiar with some of the tools discussed below, so please forgive the over-explanation if I am incorrect. Specific recommendations would be as follows:
*I think that whoever currently does your web design should format a blog template using either blogger.com redirected to an URL of your
own, or using the Typepad system.
*I would recommend that your tour organizer set up an RSS feed reader
account to centralize and automate breaking news intake from all relevant news sources. I have a short explanation of RSS, as well as a demonstration feed reader account available via http://digbig.com/4dspa
*Included in your RSS feed reader inbox can be persistent search results regarding your issues of interest and the communities your tours are headed towards. In other words, you can easily create a system to have Yahoo News, for example, search automatically every day for the words "Coos Bay" and "Sustainability." Using RSS, the system can then deliver any new content to you as soon as it\'s available. It would otherwise sit silently in the background, invisible to you until new search results became available online. This way, when your tour rolls into any given town, everyone involved can already be as up to date as the web allows on what issues are underway there.
*Your organizer should use a Social Bookmarking Service (SBMS) (I
highly recommend Furl.net) to save clippings and articles that they come upon, for later reuse from any computer, as a source of involvement in the SBMS community, and as the soil from which regular blog posts can be developed.
*A blog written by one or more participants in the tours could
compliment the issue-based research and writing that a promoter could
engage in. From-the-road blogging would be a way to personalize
what's going on and provide emotional impetus for people to get
*The above three tools (RSS intake, SBMS archiving and blog writing)
form a whole system for high-quality, rapid intake and output of
information. A dynamic, informative stream of new content will, in
and of itself, bring in potential supporters - but below are some of
my suggestions for maximizing attention for your efforts.
*Site traffic is maximized for social change efforts, I believe,
through participation in conversations elsewhere. If your tour
organizer is up to date on what other people are discussing regarding
the issues you focus on, and makes effective, valuable contributions
to those discussions while clearly identified as part of your
organization - that will bring people to your site to see what you are
doing. Using search engines like Technorati.com, Technorati.com/tag,
Feedster and Pubsub you can keep up with who else is discussing any
given issue. Your group has a built in contribution of high-value to
make to any pertinent discussion. Everyone loves real world action
that goes beyond words. Anywhere people are discussing the issues is
an appropriate place for your group to post a comment saying, "We are
currently acting on these issues by...You can read about our efforts at http://xyz.com/
*Blogs are now a huge part of public discourse, and some promotion
efforts should target them specifically. See, for example, Russel
Sadler's recent op-ed in the Eugene Register Guard about a huge story
almost dropped by the mainstream media but blown up huge by blogs.
("Political Parties Lose Touch with Oregonians" via shortcut at
*Blog editors and writers are fickle, however, and promotion in that
medium cannot happen via traditional press releases. It needs to be
far more conversational and reciprocal. It also helps if the
conversation is in part about blogs themselves, as well. I would
suggest offering bloggers the option of syndicating the headlines of
the tour blog on their sites as a way to help support your efforts. I
think that could be an exciting way to build buzz around the campaign.
You could offer a few simple lines of code that people could cut and
paste into their site to make your newest headlines appear
automatically beside their content. I think some people would be into
*Skilled bloggers are aware of when you write about them, using
persistent search reputation tracking. When you write about what
someone else is doing, they come to see who you are, and they bring
their readers with them. You too should be kept up to date on what
people are writing about you online.
*Podcasts. Podcasting is an exploding medium with a very enthusiastic
community of users. (If you are unfamiliar with the term, I've
defined it here: http://digbig.com/4dxgf ) I think that a well
produced promotional audio announcement would go over well in the
podcast world. I also think that a podcast series from the road could be an exciting way to build and sustain interest. Audio interviews with people met on the road, posted to a campaign blog, would be great.
*Additionally, making sure your campaign offers an RSS feed, email subscriptions, and informative introductions to the concepts are all key.
If you've read all the way to the end of this post, congratulations! It was a long one. Feel free to let me know what you think.