Your Brand + Your Causes



Dresden Shumaker, @dresdenplaid
Laura Fuentes, @mobabies
Julie Gunlock, @IWF
Christy Horton, @christy111Luv
Moderator: Shannon Traeger, @feedingAmerica

Shannon: Introduction -- how to associate with causes & give back. I work for Feeding America

Purpose: How effectively to use your blog and business to trumpet your philanthropic causes.

Initially we thought about 4 people on the panel to support 1 cause, but not.. plans changed to address different causes.

Dresden: Hi I'm Dresden and I write for Creating Motherhood, to chronicle my path to becoming a parent, while writing I now incorporate guest post on living on food stamps. I tweet about hunger.

Laura: I do kids' food all day .. my website.. I talk about school lunch and feeding kids. I teach moms how to make school lunches, blog on Huff post.

Julie: My cause is food freedom and about school lunches to enccourage women to take a greater role in their kids food. Initially wrote for independent on homeland security, but my personal interest changed towards on policies of food. Economic think tank, now focusing on food and encourage women to opt for makingn their kids lunch rather than school lunches.

Christie: I work for Austin food blogger alliance.

Shannon: Chicken & egg story.. did you write first or had a cause first?

Laura: I had 3 kids, quit corporate job, personal blog initially created to document lifestyle and found other moms with a common cause. Initially went for packaged food, cause allergies in my kid, so a common interest arose on paying attn to what I feed the kids (e.g Pancake sandwiches), then started emailing recipes to about 50 moms. Folks needed help on tips, how & what to feed their kids. I'd try simplifying food and work on ways to optimize freshness etc.

Dresden: Mine was similar but my cause happened because my family needed it. Endured homelessness and public assistance for 2 years. Once we no longer qualified for food stamps, I started talking about it, other people were interested in their shared experience. I'm proud that I survived with a system that helped us, and my cause evolved about infertility, kids, hunger and became a group for a common cause.

Christie: Local, part of the Austin Food bloggers alliance. I've always volunteered and decided to blog and tweet about it, and found a common volunteer group, and this helped for a food blog volunteer group.

Julie: We saw an uptick in food regulations and also indiv restriction, eg unable to buy raw milk. Response to inc policy interest from DC & states, and also int in school lunch programs, concerns about the solutions in expanding healthier school lunch. Sore & more parents relying on school lunches.

Shannon: How has your blog/life changed since integrating your cause? The pros & cons? Dresden, talk about your food and incorporate your cause.

Dresden: No disagreements, but yea some murmuring about what I do, little pushback from audience, but not bothered by it.

Question: How do you handle negative responses , don't want to lose the audience, but want to push my point

Julie: I wrote a piece on BlogHer, but I believe you should be able to exercise your freedom, encouragement is OK, but the details can overwhelm women at times, but its not easy to eat organic always but there needs to be a balance, to deal with the guilt of not providing the best. There needs to be an understanding but compromises need to be made, even as they do their best.

Dresden: It's your cause, but its also your blog, so you can delete negative comments.

Laura: Unless its derogatory or mean, it should be published. No blog is always smooth, sometimes the discussion moves best with such "negative comments."

Christie: The delete key is always there if it gets too derogatory.

Shannon: Don't be afraid to be political!

Julie: From a policy making basis, you may have a mom who are right of center but will agree with someone with a different political view, but there is a fear of alienating anyone.

Shannon: Christie, lets talk about your SNAP challenge.

Christie: We did a challenge -- living for a week on a food stamp budget, since we all cooked and did not rely on packaged stuff. We compiled our recipes and shared with the local food bank. The president of AFBA did a bake sale and raise 120K $ for the Tsunami and another sale raised 100K.

Shannon: Dresden, tell us a little bit about your food stamps columns.

Dresden: About food stamp columns, many people agreed with my experience, thanks to the common thread of concern, I could connect these folks together. I went shopping and experienced the shame & the guilt from the check out clerks and the general condescension from others. All these anxiety issues regarding suddenly had a channel of support from my site and they share experience and advice.

Shannon: The impact of such posts is massive.

Shannon: Ways that people can give back, ways to partner with others.

Laura: Ask How can I help , can I write for you. You need to be humble, and say I just want to help. I have this experience, and can I share this story? If you're passionate about something but are too scared to put it on you blog, find someone who can express that for you, that's how I got involved with Huff post, and can express openly an be puhsy more than you can on your personal blog.

Christie: Blogs are supportive or other bloggers, but I try to identify people with similar messages, and we often promoteeach others work. We're trying to figure out how those folks with Food stamps can prep a decent meal for their kids. Policy decisions should account for personal factors and imp to promote like minded folks.

Laura: Introduced Amelia.. ( ... ) influence that you have to push causes retweeting, gest blog posts, get stories out, from ist hand perspectives, some examples of ways to influence change.

10 takeaways to show support

Dresden: 1.Invite others into your spaces to share first person perspectives (guest blog posts from families on public assistance)

2. Non stop integration in social channels -- tweet, or RT info daily about hunger encourage followers to actively share info.

Laura: Don't be afraid.

Laura: Participate, sponsor & lead twitter parties; opportunity to educate others about healthy food for kids and provide participants with tools to better feed their kids (thru giveaways).

Create content specific to your cause that educates and empowers others to take action.

Christie: Share everything u write on Facebook and interact with those who comment. Don't be afraid to debate the issue.

Promote the work of other groups with similar missions and ask them to promote your content: this increases your reach beyond those who follow you.

Form your own volunteer corp, its always fun with friends and there is power in numbers

8. Be a good volunteer.

Laura: Blog about your volunteer experience. Join your cause's blogger council, reach out to them & share the idea and tell them you're in it to help promote their cause FOR FREE.

Blogger Day of Service - Who's with us?? Fire people up to do something together on a single day, promote their cause on the blog - I'm fired about it, and would like to get media to promote it.

Question: Interested in concussion (???), when you ask guest bloggers to write about experiences did you think about training your community ,
why did you decide on what you went with?

Dresden: I was particular about inviting only specific bloggers to share, I try to keep it an intimate and protected space.

Question: My blog is region focused, when I started expressing an interest in 1 particular cause, others would come out of the woodworks and start asking for help; how do you deal with such issues?

Christie: I volunteer a LOT, but you have to balance that with your time, as women we're trying to say yes to everything, but you need to find the line.

Dresden: Find what is the lowest level of commitment to that cause, maybe you can spare a minute if it interested you.

Laura: On a charitable side, I reach out to celebrities, but even then don't over commit yourself, don't be afraid to say no.

Question: I work for the Celiac council, please let me know how we can help. What is the driving motivation in giving their time and commitment?

Laura: Incentive for bloggers: opportunities to attend conference, we don't pay out council, we retweet, repost every Feeding America post. Large reach on Facebook, large incentive and increases your following.

Laura: Advance sneak peeks to events, access to subject experts. Bloggers are advocates for causes, it's a mutual relationship. If you're passionate, reach out to the causes.

Amelia: Looking to an audience interested in their causes, meeting folks face to face is a motivation for me, talk to ppl & tell them about what you do, benefits become immaterial when furthering your cause
honing in on passions is ..

Laura: Thanks everybody!