Monday, September 26, 2011

Taking a #cancer fundraiser blog post to the next level

Mone included this photo
of her son, Harry, and his
swim coach
There's nothing I like better than to hear from clients who are putting in action the strategies we've worked on together. Last week, client Amy Mone sent me her recent blog post Making Waves to Fight Cancer, on the Johns Hopkins University Cancer Matters blog. Mone directs public affairs for the university's Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, where I've worked with her team on using blogs to reach key audiences and developing strategies for sustaining blog coverage of the center.

Her post is a great example of a post that makes a nonprofit blog worth reading. It's not a pro forma announcement, nor a rambling 5,000-word feature. But its four paragraphs are packed with factors that take it to the next level, because it:
  • Shares her many personal perspectives to connect with readers: Sure, she's the director of public affairs, but in this post, Mone writes from a swimmer's perspective about the form of the Olympians at the event--and about involving her son Harry in the swim competition, a way for her family to remember her mother and grandmother, who both died of cancer. Recreational swimmers, moms, daughters, sports fans all might find something here. As I like to say, if you don't have a personality in social media, you need to go out and get one. That's not a problem here, and it makes the post sing. 
  • Reflects the doubts and wonders of non-participants: One great way to inspire more participants is to describe, in real terms, what this type of competition looks and feels like. So Mone shares the chilly weather that Sunday morning, her moment of wanting to get out of the pool and quit, the speed and skill of the top swimmers. Those are all details that a non-participant and not-yet-donor might want to know about--the very kind of detail that rarely makes it into a calendar notice or standard news release, but might inspire someone to sign up or pledge a donation next time.
  • Shares the motivations participants don't get to see: Mone takes the time to note that $400,000 was raised at this event, and takes the reader behind the scenes where the Olympians visited the pediatric cancer wards the day before the event. That adds the big picture, but also reinforces the success and meaning behind the event.
The Hopkins blog has taken this approach with other fundraising activities for the cancer center, with Why They Swim and Why I Walk posts from participants, to move the activity from a mass of people to individual perspectives. But there's no reason why staff posts shouldn't also share personal perspective.

One last thing: Mone's one of the best writers I've worked with--we started out in communications together at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She's always had a wonderful sense for conveying what patients and practitioners really think and feel, a skill that builds connections that can lead to donations and volunteers. Today, even though she's the director of her public affairs office, she's contributing to the blog with personal perspective and skilled writing, something more communications directors should do. It's a treat to read her work here.

Can I help your team come up with a blog strategy--or ways to sustain what you've already created in terms of building content, promoting your blog to build readership, or training your team to report and write a blog more effectively and efficiently? Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

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