Common New Media Crimes: The Launch

Maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo, and prefer careful, tiered approaches with achievable goals–but nothing drives me crazier than a “do everything, be everywhere, ” approach to web strategy.

Big organizations with substantial resources have a habit of “going big” on the web. But does it work? Most of the time, no. In this respect, smaller orgs actually stand to benefit. They often share a more specialized sphere of influence, and are accustomed to focusing limited resources on gaining traction in that arena. But even smaller nonprofits commit the occasional new media crime.

New media crime #1: The BIG website launch

Most likely to be heard, one week out: “We’re launching a major, one-stop-shop website on the issue of ________ on April 22nd. We need a press release, and possibly, a press conference. Can someone seen if there’s room at the National Press Club that day?”

Most likely to be heard three months later: “The website hasn’t been updated in a month. Can someone change the photo on the homepage? I don’t care what–just find something on iStockphoto.”

The solution: Try backing away from the “launch” concept. It places too much emphasis on the first day and not enough on the critical weeks and months that follow. And really, in the wake of new media and community participation, a brand new website doesn’t have too much to offer on day #1 (or even week #1, for that matter).

Most websites benefit from a phased-in build-out of features and community management tools. Afterall, many of your enhancements will depend on your audience. What is the most trafficked area of your site? What tools can you build out to meet the needs of your organization (political goals, membership goals, etc)? What feedback are you getting from community members/visitors?

Resist your Director’s need to publicize your new site far and wide. Instead, suggest a press release around a major website-related accomplishment. (Besides, we all know that no major news outlet is going to cover the launch of a campaign website.)

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