Just another CRAFT site


by jhenke

Organizations often run into a wall when they try to expand their advocacy into new media. A common reason for their failure is their insistence on running their internet operation in-house.

That approach is fraught with problems.

First, at a structural level, most organizations are not designed for the direct advocacy and campaigns at which blogs excel, and many organizations (like 501(c)3 orgs) face strict legal restrictions on such activity.

Even if the organization has some legal elbow room, large organizations have institutional barriers to effective new media advocacy that are part and parcel of the bureaucracy. Everyone wants to have input or tell you what you can’t do, when what you really need is a clear, interesting voice and the ability to nimbly take calculated risks.

Which brings the organization to the problem of who can act as that voice. A prospective hire’s ability to build an audience and move the needle on an issue isn’t immediately obvious unless he’s already done it.

As you might imagine, that’s a rare commodity. So we have many organizations demanding somebody to handle new media for them, and a limited supply of proven talent.

So the impulse to run their own new media operations forces organizations to choose between (a) competing for a small number of bloggers who have demonstrated value and (b) hiring someone who’s unproven in new media based on some other, dubious criteria. That’s a choice between high costs and low probability of success.

The foolishness of that would be obvious in other contexts. You don’t buy a TV station when you want to communicate, nor do you put the new kid on your staff in charge of marketing to the 18-34 crowd just because he happens to be young. You go to the professionals and you buy some of their time.

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Don’t frustrate yourself trying to make your organization do something it wasn’t designed to do. In short, embrace specialization.