Communications + Outreach Support

Neighborhood Association Communications Tips and Ideas

Generated by participants at a July 2010 Communications Roundtable

Contents:

  • Neighborhood newsletter tips and information
  • Alameda Newsletter example
  • Discussion of option for a Coalition-wide newsletter
  • Website tips and ideas
  • Options for how to set up a neighborhood website
  • Social media tips and ideas

Neighborhood Newsletter Tips and Info

  1. When recruiting for help in writing, editing, etc. do not call for volunteers, instead advertise “positions.”  Stress that these are positions where people will gain skills and experience.
  2. Many people read these newspapers.
  3. Getting writers to get you the materials on time for editing can be a challenge.
  4. Photos are good for front and back as well as other places.  You can ask for people to send in photos of street scenes, etc.
  5. When you want someone to do something new, give them an example of what you’re looking for.
  6. Ads can pay for papers. Get advertisers to commit to run ads for the whole year so you don’t have to recruit new advertisers every issue.
  7. The neighborhood newsletters aren’t really about news, people get their news other places, rather they can identify current issues, concerns, etc. in neighborhoods.
  8. If you don’t at least publish quarterly, people won’t know what it is or when it is coming

Alameda Newspaper Example

  • Alameda prints about 2400 copies of their newspaper.
  • Their printer is Community Newspapers in Gresham.
  • The cost for printing and mailing is about $500 – It can take about 5 days to print, 5 days to address and 5 days to deliver, but if timed well it can also be done more quickly.
  • Mail Right now is the company Alameda uses to address the papers.
  • The newspapers are addressed to “neighbor” rather than the specific name.

Thoughts about the idea of printing a Coalition-wide paper

  • Neighborhoods might lose a sense of neighborhood identity
  • Gain coalition cohesiveness
  • To stay within post office rules would probably need the outside pages to be about NECN and the inside could be about all 12 neighborhoods – or each neighborhood could have their own inside, but the outside shell about NECN would remain the same.
  • Is current neighborhood paper content of interest beyond individual neighborhoods?  It varies by neighborhood, but there is definitely some content that would be relevant to all 12 neighborhoods
  • In the neighborhoods that hand deliver their own papers, this delivery method is also a strong outreach tool, this could be lost if the coalition mailed the paper and the neighborhoods stopped doing their own.
  • Intereste in having some sort of focus for each issue
  • A robust event calendar would be included
  • It would give more visibility to the coalition and neighborhoods
  • More attractive to advertisers
  • Possibly 4 pages per neighborhood and 2 for NECN
  • Content that would be of interest to a wider audience includes:
    • Land use issues
    • Sustainability Issues
    • Neighborhood Clean-ups
  • Other neighborhood newspapers are going away so there may be increased interest in a paper like this

Websites – Tips and Ideas

  • Need a sustainable approach to a website – don’t rely on a friend of board member for hosting
  • The website becomes an archive of what you’ve done
  • It is available nationally and internationally, it is your face to the world.
  • The website should portray a vision of the community
  • Need to balance the local and national needs
  • There are many non-technical tools available to work on websites
  • Non-technical is better for volunteers and more sustainable
  • Use a content management system
  • Find a host that the neighborhood association pays for and take ownership of the domain name and hosting provider
  • You can put up information on your website that is similar to what goes in your newspaper and do it only once a month or so – or you can update much more regularly.
  • Blogs (either stand alone or as part of your website) invite conversation because people can comment on them.
  • Even if you are only using a free blog site, you can still buy the domain and redirect it to the blog so that you still have your own identity.
  • Neighborhood Associations should link to each other
  • Have links to articles, video, etc.
  • You can install forums on wordpress websites but they require a lot of monitoring
  • The NECN website might be a good place for forums.
  • Portlandneighborhood.com is a community site with forums
  • There are still significant number of people in our neighborhoods who are not online, so we cannot rely solely on websites to provide information

Options for Setting up a Neighborhood Association Website

1. WordPress.org

·         Host your own website and enable it with wordpress

·         WordPress is simple

·         Used by magazines, newspapers, etc.

·         It has lots of software so you can play video/audio, etc.

·         Many themes so you can easily customize it.

·         Can set up a basic website with wordpress in 1 hour

·         You can get the hang of wordpress by going to wordpress.com (different than wordpress.org) and set up your own personal site just to get to know how it works.

Social Media Tips and Information

Be sure to Like and Follow NECN Facebook.com/NECoalition + Twitter.com/NECoalition

·         Facebook/twitter/websites they all interact with each other

·         On Facebook there are

o   Personal profiles

o   Pages – probably best for NAs.

o   Groups (more private than fan pages)

·         Facebook  and Twitter can both help drive people to your website

·         You can post events on both facebook and twitter

·         With twitter people can search by subject so if people are searching for NE Portland or something else that you might include in your tweet, they may find you and your organization

·         When you tweet you need to use words that people would search for

·         With facebook you need to find ways to let potential fans know about your facebook page, custom URLs are available.

·         On facebook you can provide links to and post on other fan pages to get the word out about your own page.

·         The more active you are, the more people will get to know about your page

·         On a facebook page, you can also create groups, to get people interacting more

·         Encourage others to post on your facebook page

·         Link to your facebook page from your website