Why Your Environmental Blog Is a Mistake

So, you’re an environmental organization and you have a blog.

Terrific.

You probably think your environmental blog should be about the environment.

But, you’d be wrong.

Unless you are a blog that is written by journalists who report on the most recent environmental news (like TreeHugger, the Guardian, or Yale Environment 360), these are not the stories that should be on your blog.

The story of the Sierra Red Fox

For example, some weeks ago the environmental cyber world was abuzz over the exciting siting of the rare Sierra Red Fox, which hadn’t been seen in 100 years.

Where did I get this news? From the Sierra Club (rightly so!), and the National Park Service (who first reported on this) and from Defenders of Wildlife (okay, good). And… I also got it on the blogs and newsreels from an absolute slew of other environmental organizations.

Had they linked us directly to the originally published article that would be great. I mean, it was a very newsworthy event. But, most links sent me to their own blog.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m ecstatic this story spread so far and was so widely shared.

Spreading the word on newsworthy environmental events is super. And commendable. And is a great way to show your support of your fellow environmental organizations. And advances the environmental cause as a whole.

But your blog isn’t the place to do this.

Let me give another example of an organization that has this side of their communication methods figured out.

The Student Conservation Association has a blog fantastically titled, “Stories from the field.” Their blog is almost exclusively written by or about their students or staff members that are out in the field supporting their organizations’ mission.

Their social media management is another animal entirely.

This is where they support their fellow environmental organizations and spread the word about great environmental news. As a supporter, and potential donor, I value that. Every time I get on Facebook I can count on seeing something interesting, new, and personally valuable to me.

But, unless they are fundraising or promoting a story on their own blog, they don’t send me from Facebook to a link on their website to another link on the website of whoever wrote the article to a link to an AP article. (This is not an exaggeration… many environmental organizations do this!)

The reason I applaud SCA for this is twofold:

1) Their blog sticks to and supports their direct mission.

2) They fully support their fellow environmentalists and know exactly how to spread their successes.

Know when simply being the messenger scores points

The method of communication SCA undertakes for its social media is also great for environmental nonprofits that can’t invest staff time or money on weekly or daily new content of their own.

Directly sharing someone else’s success (regardless of the naysayers, political climate, or the conventional media, there is a lot of success to share), allows your supporters to connect with you.

In the long run, this helps both your name recognition and to uplift your cause.

How to write an environmental blog

The first question, of course, is: What should your environmental blog be about?

The very important answer to that question is that it should directly relate to your mission and what makes your organization unique.

To help you figure out exactly what you might write about, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
  • Who do you want reading to and responding to your blog?
  • What are your competitors writing about? Can you– or should you– compete with their content?
  • What are your keywords? (This seems ridiculously simple, but also downright ingenious. If someone types into Google “climate change and polar bears” and up comes a link to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation… there’s something someone is doing wrong… somewhere.) Use your keywords as guides for the content of your blog.

And then, start writing

As you start writing, keep in mind the purpose of a blog. It’s not necessarily to spread news.

A blog, any blog, is about building credibility in the minds of your prospects and supporters.

With well written regular content, you’ll build trust. And with trust, comes supporters.

And with supporters, comes donations, and a spread of your mission and goals.

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