Local Government Innovation & Redesign

To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.

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"Hyperlocal" Blogs - a new tool for nonprofits?

I recently read an article in Newsweek by Johnnie L. Roberts titled "PeytonPlace.com." The article examined the recent surge of blogs covering small town news. Blogs like Patch.com and TheLocal, funded by the likes of AOL and the New York Times respectively, are focusing on what's news in towns the size of Maplewood, New Jersey, population 24,000. These "hyperlocal" blogs are largely run by unpaid student and citizen journalists.

The potential relationship to community organizing goes without saying, but what came to mind as I read the article is how hyperlocal blogs could be used to benefit nonprofits. I've been in many an event planning meeting where someone shouts, "We need some publicity!" Two hundred press releases and phone calls later, the event has a quarter-page write-up in the local college student newspaper, but nothing else.

I once worked at an organization where the executive director's favorite saying was, "The job's not done until the story is told." I'm sure lots of nonprofit workers have heard something along those lines; after all, "telling the story" is how people learn about an organization and ultimately decide whether or not to support it. But perhaps with the current state of the press - rapidly decreasing print media for starters - we need to start telling our story in different ways. Perhaps the most efficient way is through citizen journalism. Realistically, wouldn't you be more likely to support an organization if your mom or neighbor told you about it, rather than if you read about it in the Star Tribune?

The only mention of nonprofits in the article was a reference to John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, who "put up seed money for EveryBlock.com and other hyperlocal sites such as PlaceBlogger.com and Rural News Network," but I would be willing to bet that there's a couple connections already established between these blogs and the nonprofits located in their "beat."

So my question is this - are rural and suburban Minnesotans getting connected to hyperlocal blogs? For that matter, are Minneapolitans? And if so, would it be beneficial to the nonprofit sector to get connected, too?

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