Monday, December 8, 2008

Are You Taking Advantage?

Chicago Tribune buildingImage via WikipediaTweets were everywhere yesterday and today, publicly mourning the loss of several daily newspapers all over the country and the disappointing, though not entirely unexpected, filing of Chapter 11 for the Chicago-based Tribune newspapers.

Here in Santa Cruz County, California, my marketing director friend at California Greybears was delighted to find the Sentinel had given coverage to the annual seniors' dinner on Sunday, but lamented that it was a struggle lately to get any ink from them.

Papers Are Shrinking and It's Hurting Nonprofits

Even before the economy took a dive off the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, newspapers were suffering financially and staving off oblivion as best they could. It's all gotten worse, though, and as they say - poop rolls downhill. So the news that the local papers used to share about community nonprofits has dwindled along with the size of the local paper and nonprofits now have to compete against one another for it. You think you had to jump through hoops for coverage before?

Sure, people still subscribe to the local paper - but not nearly as many as when it was the go-to place for news about your neighbors and a fountain of the information needed to grease the wheels of workplace conversations. But despite newspaper literacy programs in the elementary schools, those days will probably never return. Younger generations get their news from social media and the internet.

Is Your Small Nonprofit Taking Advantage?

Most social media vehicles don't require anything but registering. They're free. Yes, it takes some time and attention, but so did cultivating the reporters on the features beat, not to mention their editors. You're still building community and asking people to get engaged with what you're doing. You're just approaching them directly.

Will Newspapers Completely Disappear?

Maybe not. But the ones that survive will be doing things a lot differently. And if you want to survive, you're going to have to stop wailing about the lack of ink coverage you get and ramp up the number of Stumbles, Diggs, and page loads.

For those of you of the Luddite persuasion, get over yourself or get someone in who understands social media. Fat times will come again, but so will lean times, and the more avenues you have to get out the word about the good works you do, the more likely the message will be heard.
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Seth said...

I have relatives who work in small non-profits and I am continually amazed at how restrictive their views tend to initially be when I ask them about doing their own publicity online.

"What? I can't afford to do google ads and what would some guy in china want with my summer camp?" Was a recent reply to my media query.

These are very interesting times and I'm so very glad you are taking such interest in the lives of small non-profits. Your work is needed!


Geni said...

And here I have been thinking us accountants were the last ones to get behind the social media craze.

You are so right about the abundant opportunities for non-profits to use these tools to full advantage. Great post.

Robyn McIntyre said...

Just today, one of my twitterville friends was asking, "where are the charities on twitter"? Good question.