Areavoices wants to help you spread the news about your school or team. We’re looking for ALL schools, from institutions of higher education, to high schools to elementary schools. In my years in television news, one of the complaints I heard most was, “Why did your station cover so much of Team A, when our team should have gotten some coverage?” or “We have some great things going on in our school, but you guys don’t report enough of the good news.”
Areavoices blogging can help. By starting a blog, school officials, teachers and even students can tell the public, first hand, about school-related announcements, events and activities. You can spread the news yourself. The way you want it. Unfiltered. Unedited. Positive. You can also use the blogs to manage any negative news that might be coming from your school. You can post your press releases the way you wrote them. You break the news, instead of waiting for the media to do it for you.
Let’s look at four types of blogs related to schools:
1. OFFICIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT BLOG: Written by the school district media relations professional (or whomever you select). Use the blog much the same way you would use media release to deliver school news or make special announcements. It will be your words unchanged and unedited on our websites.
● 1. You are in control of your message. Every time you post to your official school blog it is published unchanged and unedited. Unlike, media releases you are not dependent upon the media to filter your message. You won’t worry that the media has left out important facts and gotten something wrong. It’s your message and as soon as you post its out there on your terms.
● 2. More people will see your announcements than if you rely upon them to solely access your website. More than 1.3 million people a month visit Forum Communications websites in the four state region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Chances are parents of your students are logging onto at least one of our 35 sites at least occasionally. You will have nearly instant contact with parents. For example, if you need to let school out early because of a blizzard, you can put it on your school blog and it instantly goes online.
● 3. Blog only as much as you’d like. The blog is there for you. You are not expected to meet blogging quotas. Just use the tool whenever you need to get information out to the public.
2. PROGRAM OR DEPARTMENT BLOGS – These are blogs written by teachers or professors in various departments or programs of a school.
● 1. Can share announcements with students who are enrolled in department classes. For example: a theatre department of a university can share information about their upcoming production, audition schedules, help needed, etc.
● 2. Great place to share the latest developments in that field of study. For example, a science department can share recent research or links to science journals.
3. ATHLETIC OR ACTIVITIES BOOSTERS BLOGS - These are blog written by parents, coaches or fans about sports teams or other school-related activities. One of the biggest complaints heard by broadcast and print journalists regarding coverage of school news is that they’re not adequately covering what they think needs to be covered. “Why didn’t you cover my kids’ game” “ Why did you spend so much time (or ink) on Team X, when Team Y deserved more attention?” “Why do you spend so much time covering sports when you should be covering theatre or speech and debate?” Now parents, coaches, and fans can supplement media coverage of their favorite sporting team or activity. They can write a recap of the game or a review of the school play complete with photos and video.
● The athletics/activities blog becomes a central clearinghouse for information, pictures and announcements regarding a particular sport, team or club. Special tabs have already been set up with each schools name, giving parents easy access to information both for necessity (when are team pictures? ) Or for fun (someone snapped a great shot of a receiver making a catch in the end zone)
● Greater awareness creates greater potential for successful fundraising for school clubs and organizations.
4. CLASSROOM BLOG -This would be a blog set up and run by a journalism class. Let’s face it, students leaving high school today are going into a world much different than in previous years. These students will not just find jobs working for newspapers, television and radio. These are students that will be expected to know the world of digital communication both as they go off to pursue employment or college. This offers them the chance to get their school news published on a real news website.
● This allows the journalism teacher to give his/her students a real life publishing opportunity while still being in control. IMPORTANT: Each journalism teacher would be set up as administrator or editor of the blog. Students will be authors or contributors. Nothing would get on the blog without the approval of teacher.
OTHER SCHOOLS AND BUSINESSES
North Dakota State University has a blog called NDSU News. In it, the media relations professional, posts news releases on such topics as the latest enrollment numbers or interesting speakers coming to town. It has given NDSU the ability to break news and do it in the way they like. In addition, the NDSU chemistry and biology departments have started a blog which makes science more understandable to the common man. Clubs at NDSU are also taking notice. The NDSU bowling club has started it’s own blog to post results. Most likely, you’d never see bowling results on a typical sportscast.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
No one can tell you what to write about. The best blogs are from people who are passionate about their topic. Write what you know. Write what you like. That’s where blogging gets fun! And that’s how you can start to build a solid network of friends and followers on areavoices.
That being said, I can tell you what topics create the most web traffic. According to our reasearch, these five broad subject areas are the most searched on the web. Devlyn Brooks, the digital content operations director here at FCC, compiled these definitions and suggested topic ideas:
Information that helps readers make informed decisions about the health and well-being of them and those around them. This may include information regarding diet, exercise, visiting a physician, vitamins or alternative health care. It is not limited to just the health news of the day, but also includes information about trends, new discoveries or developments regarding the vast subject of health. The goal is to provide information that helps address readers’ curiosities about their own mental, emotional and physical well-being, and it can be as general as how work stress affects one’s body, or as specific as how to treat a child’s sunburn.
Information that helps readers make informed decisions about their personal financial situation. This may include information regarding how to manage a 401(k), using coupons to save money, how to reduce costs around the home or how to teach one’s children about managing money. The goal is to provide information that helps address readers’ become the master of their own financial situation. The information should relate to an individual’s financial decisions, or maybe a family’s, but the purpose is not to focus on which stocks performed well on a given day.
Information that will give readers insight into travel, whether it’s a day-trip to the regional amusement park or an once-in-a-lifetime African safari. This may include tips on how to pack, how to book cheaper flights or how to pick just the right accommodation, and this could include first-person accounts, or travel writer pieces or photo galleries from those who have traveled abroad. The goal is to provide travel information that allows readers to vicarious escape on that dream getaway, but also offers practical advice as to how to entertain children on a long road trip. Ultimately, the information should speak to individual readers about their travel experiences.
Information that will give readers insight into family life, whether it’s how to pick the best childcare facility or how to care for aging parents. This could include personal blogs, feature stories about unique families or columns from experts, but the information should be practical, relating to the lives of readers or someone they know. The goal is to provide information readers can identify with and use to enrich their own lives and relationships, or answer the perplexing questions they have about their loved ones.
Information about the rich topic of food, ranging from recipes and new dishes, to restaurant reviews and how to count calories. The information should speak to the fascination that readers have with food, whether they’re looking to learn how to eat healthier, splurge on something extravagant or where to catch a good burger in their region. The goal is to pique readers’ interests in a vast array of food topics, make them hungry for a decadent cheeseburger or teach them how to develop a meal plan for their family. The information should speak to the individual reader, answering their unique questions about food or giving them insight into how others use, cook and talk about food.
But again, the choice is yours! Don’t write a blog about health just because it’s a hot topic. If you aren’t interested in the topic don’t write about it. You won’t enjoy writing it and your reader probably won’t enjoy reading it. On the flip side, when you love a topic, it’s fun to write and fun to read!
And finally, an important tip. If you choose to write about any of those broad topic areas, include the terms in your tags (Health, Money, Travel, Family, and Food). Your writing is more likely to be found if you have one of those terms in your tag words!
You can blog just about anywhere. So why would you choose to set up a blog on areavoices?
Besides the fact that those of us who work here are fabulous people, we can point to concrete reasons why areavoices is a great choice:
1. Great Local and Regional Coverage – Areavoices is a great place to reach people in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. If you want to be read by your friends and neighbors this is the place to be. Some areavoices bloggers are chosen as featured bloggers on Forum Communications Companies 35 newspaper and broadcast websites. That means while your neighbors are reading the top news stories of the day or checking the weather forecast they have easy access to your blog as well. Sometimes, it might be right on the home page of the website. Other times, it could be featured in a special section of the website (life, sports, etc). Even those not featured on the website can be found easily by clicking on the areavoices link. More than 1.3 million people in the four state region go to an FCC-owned property website every month. That’s a lot of people who might see your blog!
2. A Trusted Resource – Forum Communications Company is a trusted, established family owned organization. It started with the founding of a small semi-weekly newspaper back in 1878 and eventually grew into what is now a mult-media company spanning 4 states. Being associated with Forum Communications and Areavoices lends a stamp of credibility to your blog. You know us. You can trust us. You know where to find us if you have questions or problems with your blog.
3. A Network of Friends - Areavoices, through it’s WordPress software. enables you to manage and build an audience and help that audience connect with each other! For example, let’s say you write a blog on cooking. Your readers can find other readers interested in cooking. They can share stories and track other similar blogs on topics they might like (cooking, wines, baking, etc). By being connected, they get more information and are able to keep up to date with the latest topics in their areas of interest. You’ll also be able to share private messages with your readers. You can also send messages to multiple readers and come up with a detailed profile of yourself tailored to suit your audience.
That’s the just the beginning!
Coming soon on Areavoices #101 – I know I want to blog. Now WHAT do I write about?????
So you can’t decide whether you should start a blog? What’s it all about? Is it worth my time and effort? Only you can answer that questions. But millions of people around the world call themselve bloggers and the number is growing every year. In fact, I’d love to give you the exact number of people around the world who have blogged at least once. But analysts say that number is virtually impossible to track. People start blogs everyday. Some are very active. Some blog once and then forget about it. If you’re on the fence about blogging, The Area Voices Community wants to help you out. Here are 5 quick reasons you might want to start a blog.
- It Gets Your Voice Heard – Some people are frustrated with the media. Others simply feel the media doesn’t cover what they care about. Either way, blogging could be the answer. Traditional media (TV, radio, newspaper) are going through some tough times. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs in recent poor economic times. The news is getting covered, but with fewer reporters, photographers and editors the number of stories may not be where it once was. Enter the community blogger. Bloggers are everyday people who have something to say about a topic. Many are not journalists, but they have information they wish to share. Alongside traditional media they are a powerful ally in information sharing and delivery.
- You Get to Share Your Passion – Let’s face it. Some traditional news content is a little dry. It’s the who, what, where, when, why and how. Just the facts ma’am. Bloggers have passion about their topics. Most don’t make a penny from their posts. Their payback is sharing a passion about something they love, whether it’s fishing, cooking or square dancing. When people write about something they love it’s usually pretty fun reading. Their passion comes through every word on the post.
- You Get to Build an Online Community – Take the aforementioned square dancing blog. Pete and Polly have loved square dancing for 30 years. Polly starts a do-see-doe blog. Readers find her. They leave comments. Soon they’re sharing information about square dancing. These are people from Pete and Polly’s own backyard or they might be square dancing enthusiasts from Croatia. How else would Pete and Polly have connected with these people. Do they square dance in Croatia?
- Blogs are built for search engines. Millions of people search for millions of things everyday. Search engines LOVE fresh content and your blog might just get top billing. Just make sure you’re putting in the right keywords and tags and people will find your blog. If you write a blog about your travels across Minnesota and you make a post about the North Shore, somebody from across the world searching for a North Shore vacation can access your material. And not only that, but years from now, your memories of your travels to the North Shore will be documented, organized and easy to find.
- And finally, as one of my co-workers said, “It’s just fun!” She is a smart and talented working woman, but she has a passion for knitting. With her knitting blog she’s able to get away from her routine and have a little fun writing about something she loves.
Why not give it a shot?
You can get more information about starting a blog at www.areavoices.com.
Next on AreaVoices 101 – Why blog on AreaVoices?
Thanks to all of you who’ve sent me emails asking more about what it takes to set up a blog. I’ve heard some great ideas from you everything from baking to bird watching.
I’ve also gotten a lot of questions:
What should I blog about?
How long do they need to be?
How frequently should I post?
What’s so cool about blogging is the power is all with you. You get to decide the topic, the length and how frequently you post. And Area Voices and Word Press is making it extra easy to sign on and get started.
Starting tomorrow I’ll be zeroing in on the many questions surrounding blogging. Why should I blog? How do I decide what to blog about? What is the etiquette of blogging. Those topics and more will be addressed in this blog under the category “AreaVoices 101.”
Get ready for class. Tomorrow: Why Blog?
Welcome to the first AREAVOICES DIGEST!
Every week in the digest, I’ll be telling you about the newest additions to the Areavoices community. I’ll tell you more about their blogs and where to find them. I’ll also be giving you updates on some of our most popular blogs and uncover some hidden gems on areavoices – blogs that you might have never seen, but warrant your attention. So in no particular order here are today’s digest features:
(New) The Area Voices Community – http://community.areavoices.com/ - We set it up this week as a resource for bloggers about what’s new on Areavoices. I’ll be updating this blog daily offering suggestions for effective blogging and also trying to actively recruit bloggers in our suggested topic areas: food, family, health, money and travel. I envision this blog being a permanent storing house for information helpful to our bloggers. We’ll be linking to technical support as well as to online tutorials on Youtube.
(New) Artist Insight – http://artistinsight.areavoices.com/ – Scott Brusven is the theatre director for the Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre. He says, “This Areavoices blog is dedicated to bringing you information about the arts and the artists in the FM area. You will find conversations with artists from all forms of art and learn more about what they’re working on.”
(New) Our Students Our Future – http://ourstudentsourfuture.areavoices.com/ – Moorhead levy referendum supporters created a blog this week to raise awareness about the November 2nd operating levy referendum vote. They will use the blog to provide information about the specifics of the plan, where to donate or volunteer and where to vote.
MomStar – http://momstar.areavoices.com – Lisa Simony, aka MomStar, is a Grand Forks, North Dakota, blogger and mother of three. She says she writes “about family, health, money and travel (when we can get away with it!) … oh, and food (mmm, food.)”
AstroBob – http://astrobob.areavoices.com/ – “Celestial happenings you can see from your own backyard.” Many of you might be familiar with AstroBob. This blog originates in Duluth and is one of their most popular bloggers.
On November 2nd, Moorhead voters will go to the polls to decide whether to pass an operating levy referendum. A group of levy supporters has started a blog entitled, “Our Students Our Future.” Check it out here at http://ourstudentsourfuture.areavoices.com/
We’re off and running! What a week it’s been. After 22 years in broadcast media, I’ve started my new position as digital content development director for Forum Communications Company. I know. What does this mean to you? Bottom line, we’re making an even bigger effort to hear your voice. I’m going to be getting out into the community telling businesses, organizations, schools and groups about digital community publishing opportunities with our company. Normal, everyday people will be able to submit stories on everything from high school football to their favorite vacation spots to Grandma’s recipes. This information will flow into more than 30 newspaper and broadcast websites of Forum Communications Company which reach more than one million readers each month. Not only will you be able to blog through “Area Voices,” we’re also setting up a new social networking feature so users can comment on blogs and friend each other. We’ll set up the capability to follow “topics” throughout all of our websites in our 4-state region. We know you have a lot ot say. We’ve heard from you and you’ve left us wanting more! We want you to start blogs on whatever you like to write about. We’re particularly looking for blogs on FOOD, FAMILY, FINANCE, HEALTH and TRAVEL. In this blog, Community, I’ll be helping you navigate the waters. I’ll give you specific information about those categories, how to blog, what makes a good blog, and much more. Stay tuned and start blogging!