Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Time to Distribute News?

A continual challenge in communicating with donors is the time it takes to develop news stories, formating the newsletter, and distributing it. The labor intensive project consumes just as much time sending an e-newsletter as a print newsletter. If time is an issue, consider a different alternative: a formated news microsite.

I worked this year with Delta Zeta Sorority's national headquarters staff in creating a news bulletin board. They needed a way to post immediate news that could be accessible to members, parents, prospective members and the media. However, the logistics in sending out a newsletter was a concern. As an alternative, a news microsite was developed.

The microsite is essentially a one-page website with full back-end administrative functionality. Staff members log into the microsite and can news articles and relevant photographs in four main areas: news about the National organization, updates from the National Council, news for collegiate chapters and members, and news for alumnae members. Additionally, a media player was established for Delta Zeta to upload videos on a regular basis.

The videos are a great feature in and of themselves. PowerPoint presentations are developed and through our good friends at Apple, can be saved as Quicktime videos on a Mac. This allows for a simple and very fast option to produce basic videos.

The microsite also features the following:
  • Link to the Sorority's main home page
  • Links for additional news articles
  • Link for members to update their contact information
  • Link to make a donation to the Foundation
  • Link for user to submit their own news and photos
Graphically, the site is contemporary, uplifting, and fun. The response from members has been outstanding and thanks to a screen shot and link on the home page, it is one of the most frequently visited section of the website. Take a look at:

If considering a similar microsite, I would recommend one additional step to aid with news distribution. Add an RSS feed for your constituents to automatically subscribe to the site. As new updates are posted, the material is pushed out to members who receive an update in their RSS reader or email box.

The microsite provides an efficient and timely way to post news articles and updates for your organization. Overall, the cost for development is less expensive than printing newsletters. And unlike a traditional newsletter, a news microsite is available 24/7. The key is still to update on a regular basis to continue to draw viewers and to be effective for those using an RSS.

To add your own newsboard to your website, contact: