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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

NFOIC Summit: Technologies you should be using

Lisa Skube, principal of Creaturekind Communications; Jeff Lennan, chief operating officer of Winning Mark; and Karl Pearson-Cater with MinnPost.com spoke about the technologies that can be used to strengthen state FOI coalitions. Here are the notes from their session at the 2009 NFOIC Summit:

  • The most fundamental technology to get higher visibility is syndication. RSS feeds will allow your content to be rebroadcast. Most free blogging tools already have these built in.
  • Make your RSS feed link visible on your Web site.
  • Free blogging tools include: WordPress, TypePad ($5 per month), LiveJournal, Blogger.
  • The key is getting people to link to your content. In that way, those people become your sales force.
  • Set up your feeds so that they are automatically posted on Facebook and Twitter.
  • When creating blogs, re-package information. If it's a story with a lot of jargon, simplify it. Localize it. Mention the location in the headline or first sentence. People are searching for information relevant to their area. Tag your location as well.
  • Headline writing is crucial. Sometimes Google News will pick up your headline, exclude the summary you wrote and use a picture from another site. Therefore, our headlines should be clear and straightforward. Avoid cute heads that refer to the first paragraph or the photo.
  • Post consistently.

Other technologies:
  • Sign up on Alltop.com. This is an aggregator of RSS feeds. Freedom of Information has a channel: http://freedom-of-information.alltop.com/
  • Create a presence for your coalition on LinkedIn. It's a site that's easy to use but often overlooked.
  • Choose one or two technologies to get your feet wet.
  • Using these technologies no longer requires a Webmaster. However, try to get a Web services person on your board or heavily involved. That person will know about all the latest, free tools and can point you in the right direction.
  • Get a Twitter account in your coalition's name.
  • Drive content back to your main site or blog. You want to inform using different technologies, but you don't want to lose visibility that this is your organization.
  • Sign up for Google analytics to find out what people are looking at online. Do more of what works.

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